Earth in Turmoil

by Psyche_b

Go To Part 1

The adventures of the Star Traveler Andromeda that started in Among the Stars, Beyond the Farthest Planet, So Far From Home and The Voyage Home continues in Earth in Turmoil.


Kate and Natalia wore grooves in the carpet of the Conference Room as they paced and waited for any word from the Operating Room. Patricia sat with her head in her hands. The only sounds were their muffled footsteps on the thick carpet and the faint sounds of the P.A that filtered through the closed door. They did not speak.

The door opened and Anya walked in. Kate rushed into her arms.

"I am so glad you are here." Kate whispered.

"Rhea and Bella are with all the children so that Liam and I could be here. He is talking to one of the Sentries and will be here shortly. Has there been any news?"

"Nothing since they took her into surgery three hours ago."

"After the last marathon session, three hours is nothing, Kate."

"My brain knows but my heart doesn't."

"How are the children?" Natalia asked.

"There are fine and having a great time with our girls. Patrick asked me a few times if it was 'morrow' yet. I am not sure exactly what he was asking."

"The day Kacey left for the mission she told him and Caitlyn that she would be back and see him tomorrow. Which would have been the day after the mission. That was five days ago." Natalia explained, her voice cracking.

"I believe that the tomorrow she talked about will come. Kacey has two of the best doctors taking care of her." Anya said as she placed her hands on the younger woman's shoulders.

"Do you ever have doubts?" Natalia asked.

"I do but I choose not to dwell on them."

"I envy you Anya. There is only so much abuse the human body can take before it gives out completely."

"Very true, but remember this is Kacey we are talking about and not just some weakling. Have faith, Natalia."

"I will try."

"Good. When this is over and Kacey is well, I want you to know that I am going to kick her backside for making us worry about her yet again."

"You and Liam are probably the only ones strong enough to do that."

"We are family and that is what we do. We love and support each other and when necessary do some butt kicking. Now it is time for you to buck up while we wait this out. Have a seat. Liam has hot drinks for everyone." She led Natalia and Kate to the empty chairs. Kate shook her head no until Anya gave her a pointed look and she too sat down. Liam entered and placed steaming cups in front of them.


"Continue with the antibiotics. Keep a close eye on her vital. And also on her output. We did a lot of work around her kidneys. We do not need her experiencing renal failure on top of everything."

"Yes Doctor."

"If you have the staff I want someone in here at all times."

"We have the staff Doctor and can call in additional people if we need to."

"I do not want her left alone for a single minute. Rotate the bed every thirty minutes. If there are any changes good or bad notify me and Doctor McCloud immediately. We will go talk to the family then grab lunch if you need us. If the brass comes in, notify Security immediately, then us. I will not allow her to be moved no matter what that pompous ass says."

"Understood Doctor."

"Watch for any signs of movement in her legs. It is too soon for the nerves to have regenerated, but watch anyway."

"Will she be kept in the coma?"

"For the next few days. We poked around quite a bit and she will be in tremendous pain if allowed to wake up now. Any other questions or concerns?" They shook their heads. "Then we will be with her family."

------------------------------ -------
The cabins were hidden in a remote section of the mountain forest. The cluster of cabins sat in a circle around a central area. A large garage held snow machines. Each cabin had a large wood stack. Smoke circled from all the chimneys. The ground around the cabins were snow that had been packed down by foot prints and snow machine tracks. Solar panels helped heat the cabins.

The cabin's windows were all shuttered against the cold and prying eyes. The sub freezing temperatures kept outsiders away from the cabins.

The inside of the main cabin was barely furnished with only the basic necessities. Boxes of supplies were stacked on the thread bare carpet. The sleeping areas were separated from the main rooms by dirty blankets that were nailed above the doorways.

The only items not covered with a thick layer of dust were a small arsenal of weapons and a state of the art computer. When the door opened a man dressed in rugged heavy clothing brought in another box of supplies. He kicked the door closed and yelled.

"Boy get your lazy ass out of that bed." He pushed back the hood of his parka and stamped his feet to remove any remaining snow. "Did you hear me boy?" He yelled again, and headed towards one of the sleeping rooms. "Boy?" He yelled a third time.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm up. Quit your damn yelling."

"Get your ass out of that bed and put these supplies away. Then do something constructive and get this place cleaned up. We will be here awhile."

"You have said that every day since we arrived. Tell me you at least got coffee."

"I did and while you are looking for it you can put away the supplies." He snapped and turned on the computer.

"Did you hear anything in town?"

"I did and none of it is good. The leader has been neutralized and the women freed to spread their lies."

"Yeah but we both know that the women won't be telling lies will they father?"

"You are a damned fool boy. A drunken damned fool. Let that be the last time you speak those words."

"Listen old man, I am sick and tired of you talking to me like I am incompetent."

"You are incompetent. You could not even set the timer right on the explosives. I told you an hour. Those explosions happened way too early. We could have been killed."

"So you have said every fucking day since we escaped. Have you even stopped to think about mother and what happened to her? I am going into town." He grabbed his Winter gear to leave when his arm was grabbed.

"No you don't boy. There are soldiers all over looking for those who managed to get out of the bunker."

"That leaves us stuck here staring and hating each other for excitement. I will pass. Besides you were just in town."

"Yes and I have the brains to change my appearance. Although with the smell of you, you just might pull it off. No one can get close to you for a good look."

"Go to hell father." Peter yelled and slammed out of the cabin.

------------------------------ -----
"After a few tense minutes, Kacey came through surgery. She is still in critical condition and will remain in I.C.U.

"Tense minutes? What do you mean tense minutes?" Kate demanded.

"We almost lost her. Her heart stopped. Fortunately we were able to restart her heart and stabilize her enough to finish the surgery."

"Do you know what caused the infection?" Patricia asked.

"Yes, we found a miniscule slice in the small intestine that was obscured by the damage. The slice has been closed and the infection cleaned out. All remaining breaks have been repaired. The artificial discs have been accepted by her immune system. That is a plus."

"Will you allow her to wake up now?" Natalia asked.

"Not for a few more days. With all the poking and repairs we did, she will be in tremendous pain. So we will continue the sedation. We will revisit that question in two or three days if she is stable."

"What about her legs? Will she regain the use of her legs?"

"It is too soon to tell. There was nerve damage and nerves take a long time to regenerate."

"If they do at all." Kate stated.

"Unfortunately that is true. That possibility does exist. That possibility drops with the internal regenerators we received from Healer Ji." Doctor McCloud added quickly. "Natalia with your permission, I would like to ask Brina to come talk to you all."

"I trust Doctor Demarco, Natalia." Patricia stated.

"So do I" Kate added.

"Yes, she helped me after Marcus Prime was destroyed. I think we would all benefit from talking ti her." Natalia agreed.

"I will call her, then."

"Doctor Durand you will not be having any more problems with General Millhouse. I contacted the President and she has ordered him to back off. Unfortunately, the military guards will remain for Kacey's safety. I could not talk her into rescinding that order."

"The guards are no problem. They are quiet, polite and do not hinder the staff in any way."

"I know it is outside the regular visiting hours, Doctor, but is there any way we can see Kacey?"

"Yes. I will make an exception in this case. You can all go in together this once, but please only for fifteen minutes. Give me ten minutes to let the staff know and make sure they have finished getting her settled."

"Thank you for taking care of Kacey, Doctor." Natalia said.

"You are very welcome Mrs. O'Malley."
------------------------------ ---

Peter huddled in his coat against the cold as he walked the streets of the small town. His scraggly beard was caked with the snow that fell. His hat pulled down low to further add to his disguise. Soldiers approached causing Peter to turn and look into the shop windows. They stopped behind Peter.

"Have you heard how long we will be searching for those bastards that escaped? If they had half a brain they would have headed for a warmer climate."

"Yeah, but who is to say they have half a brain. They were worse than animals."

"That is very true. Has there been any word on General O'Malley's injuries?" Peter started to move away until he heard Kacey's name.

"The last I heard she was still in critical condition, even after eleven hours of surgery."

"Eleven hours? Damn I hope they were able to take pee breaks."

"They have to step away from the operating table every two hours. My uncle is a surgeon and that is what he said they have to do. Something about avoiding fatigue and mistakes during long surgeries."

"I was there when they pulled her out from that cave in. I thought she was dead."

"I for one would love to get my hands around the neck of that bastard that set that explosion in the tunnel."

"You would be one in a very long line. Lets get a coffee and warm up a bit."

Peter followed them with the hope of hearing more information. "Maybe the old bastard will be happy with this news." He thought.

------------------------------ ----
The machines that monitored all of Kacey's vital signs beeped softly. The whoosh of the breather kept oxygen flowing into her lungs. Soldiers still guarded the doors leading into the I.C.U and Kacey's room. The staff went about their duties caring for the patients. The soldiers snapped to attention any time a person walked by. The staff smiled at their deference. There were allowed to remain as long as they did not disrupt the staff in any way.

The faces changed every four hours but all were cut from the same mold. When asked if they were bored, they all had the same reply. "She is our C.O. We will not abandon her."

Three days after the second surgery, the tech wheeled in the portable scanner. The doctors watched the computer screen as the scanner moved back and forth over Kacey's spine.

"There is remottling on all the breaks. Her spine looks good. No additional signs of infection." Doctor Durand stated.

"Will you allow her to wake up?" Doctor McCloud asked.

"It is time, but I want to remove the breathing tube first to see if there are no problems. To make sure she can breathe on her own before we tell her family."

"What did her last E.E.G show?"

"Lower than normal due to the sedation, but still within normal parameters. Her breathing should not be affected once the tube is removed."

"Doc do you need any additional scans?" The tech asked.

"No thank you Danny. We have what we need. Would you send the scans to my hand computer?"

"Will do. I will be out of your way shortly."

"You do what you need to Danny."

"Felicia what are the chances her nerves have started to regenerate?"

"Doubtful but only time will tell. Once the sedation wears off we can test her responses. Are the stories true about her lack of patience?"

"Yes and no. When we were in space, she injured her left arm and lost the use of several fingers. For a musician that was devastating. She went into a deep depression until we returned to Verna. Their healers were able to fix the problem. After the surgery she was quite impatient for the feelings to return. When that did happen she was extremely patient and did not rush her recovery. As long as she has the hope for a full recovery, I believe that rare patience gene will kick in."

"Good. She will need all that patience and not try to rush her recovery. You know there was a great deal of damage. The chances of being one hundred percent are very low. Does she have a therapist that she trusts?"

"She does. I have spoken to her family and doctor already. She knows Kacey and the best way to treat her."

The tech left and the doctors entered the room.

"The latest scans show that everything is healing nicely." Doctor Durand said. She pointed to the image on the large computer. "The artificial discs have been accepted by her body and show signs of regrowth. All the breaks have been repaired and are stable. No sign of infection anywhere. We will keep her on I.V. antibiotics for a few more days to be sure the infection is gone. The breathing tube has been removed. She is breathing on her own."

"Will you allow her to wake up?" Natalia asked.

"Yes Mrs. O'Malley. We have stopped the sedation. Let me caution you, it can take twenty four to forty eight hours before she is completely awake."

"What about her legs?"

"Right now she is still too heavily sedated to check her reflexes. As the sedation wears off we will test her involuntary reflexes."

"You know from past experience that these things take time. It is important that she does not get discouraged. While she is still critical, we are cautiously optimistic that her condition will be upgraded once she wakes up."

"What of the good General?" Doctor McCloud asked. "Will this mean his orders will change? Can we expect another visit from him making demands?"

"No. He has been ordered by the President to back off. She has him overseeing the statements from the women that Kacey and her team rescued."

That is good to hear."

------------------------------ -----

Rhea and Veronica sat at a table in the complex assigned to the women. The room was used for taking the statements of the women that were rescued. They read over the list of questions that had been asking since the questioning began.

"Four days of hearing their statements really puts what I went through into perspective." Veronica stated.

"Same here. These women were assaulted over and over again. I want to find everyone of those men and cut their wangs off."

"I believe we would in a very long line Commander."

"Please Veronica, call me Rhea."

"Thank you Rhea."

A knock on the door stopped their conversation. "Come in." Rhea called out. The door opened to admit a slight woman with brown hair and hazel eyes. "Please have a seat." She sat across from the two women. "We will be recording this interview to gather evidence against the men. Could you please state your first name, last initial, age, where you were taken from and how long you were held captive?" She asked softly while Veronica poured her a glass of water.

"Thank you Sargent. My name is Alice T. I am twenty one years old. I was taken from Rhode Island four months ago. I think. There were no clocks and we were not allowed outside the barracks unless it was for chores or if a man wanted... you know." She stated softly. "Do you have to record this?"

"Alice, these recordings will be used as evidence against those men. The statements will be reviewed by the tribunal judges and the legal representatives."

"What do you need to know?"

"Are you married?"

"Yes, but my partner and I were separated when we were taken. I do not know if she is alive or dead."

"What is her name?"

"Diedre Flynn."

Veronica checked the list of women they had already talked to.

"She is not on our list." Veronica said.

"Does that mean she is dead?"

"Absolutely not. These are the names of the women we have already talked to. We have several more days yet. She may turn up yet."

"Will you take us through what happened when you arrived at the bunker?"

"We were all blindfolded until we arrived. The Matrons met us and we were instructed to remove our blindfolds. We were handed clothing, dresses without under clothes. The dresses were a dull blue that told everyone that we were new. Once we had changed we were taken to our dorms. Any woman with children were allowed to stay together until the trial period ended."

"How long was the trial period?"

"Two weeks I think." She replied. "After the trial period ended we were given another set of clothes. Red this time."

"Is there a significance about the colors?"

"Yes. The blue was that we were new and not to be touched. Red meant just the opposite. Any man, any time could claim us. It was at this point that the children were separated from their mothers. Boy went to one dorm. Girls over five to another. Under five went to yet another dorm. While we wore blue we were expected to remain in the dorm where we had to learn the rule book."

"The infamous rule book" Veronica stated.

"Yes it outlined what we were allowed or not allowed to do. It stated in no uncertain terms that as women we had no rights. We were to do what we were told to do, when we were told to do it. We were let out of the dorms for short periods to learn our way around the bunker or to learn our new duties. We could not speak unless asked a direct question and that we were only there to serve the men. Any man could take us at any time in any place they wanted. If our chores took us out into the main room, it was common for some of the worst men to grab a woman and have their way with them. There were times when groups would band together and force themselves on her at the same time."

"Did the women try to go into the common areas in a group?"

"Yes but that did not deter the men, only give them more targets."

"I realize these questions are painful for you, but we need to gather as much information as possible to make these men pay for what they did." Rhea said softly.

"I know that Commander."

"Would you like to take a short break before we continue?"

"No, lets just finish. Commander, can I ask you a question?"

"Certainly Alice."

"The General who rescued us, we heard that she was injured. How is she ?"

"She is doing better. Her condition while still critical is improving."

"That is good to hear. We all owe her a debt that we can never repay, but we would like to thank her."

"As soon as she is allowed visitors other than immediate family, I will see about arranging a meeting."

"Thank you."

"Did you know the names of any of the men who abused you?"

"I wish I could say no, but unfortunately I did know some of them."

Rhea handed her a pad and pen. "Would you write their names please?" She wrote for several minutes then pushed the pad back. "What about the Matrons? What part did they play?"

"Mostly they were supposed to keep the women in line. They were those that had been there the longest and among the first to be taken. One Matron was better than the rest and tried to treat us with a little respect. They taught us the rules and handed out punishments. Some really enjoyed the punishing. They also chose who was sent to the leader to special handling. Will they be punished also?"

"That is a question I cannot answer. Not because I don't want to, but because I do not know. From what we have been told there were extenuating circumstances."

"Commander, there is one person that I did not put on the list. I just remembered his name. It was Peter or as he referred to himself, Big Pete. He was a heavy drinker and I think related to one of the big shots. I am afraid I don't know his last name."

"Can you describe him?"

"Over six meters, blonde hair, brown eyes, he might have been considered handsome if he was not so arrogant and cruel."

"I think we know his identity and we have troops out looking for him and his father." Rhea stated. "Alice if you need to talk to someone about your ordeal there are doctors available for that. Housing is being prepared for when you are released from the hospital and we are trying to find your family."

"Thank you Commander, Sargent."

"Thank you Alice. We will be here if you remember anything else."

She stood up and left the room.


Chapter 24

Peter bought several bottles of whiskey before he left the town. Mindful of the snow covered roads he hurried to w here he parked the snow machine. Stowing the bottles in the saddle bags he started the machine and with a roar took off into the forest to the cabins. "This information should get the old bastard off my back" He thought as he pulled into the circle an hour later and parked the machine. Carrying the bottles he pushed into the cabin with a bang.

"I have news." He shouted as he stormed in. Several heads turned in his direction.

"Is that right boy?" His father demanded. "Tell us this earth shattering news you bring with you."

"I overheard several soldiers talking in town. Take a guess who was injured in that cave in?"

"Yes we already know the O'Malley bitch was injured. But she is still alive and from the sound of the latest report will recover. Your great news is several hours old, boy. So sit down, shut up and let those of us who have not rotted their brain with whiskey do the thinking."

Peter slammed out of the room. He took a bottle from the bag, twisted off the cap and took a long drink of the whiskey. He sat on the unmade bed and took another long drink. "That old bastard has gone too far this time. I will show him. I will find her and take her out." He snuck to the door and listened while he drank.

"Do you know which hospital?"

"Academy Hospital. Our man inside attempted to sabotage the surgery when the bitch doctors had to take their mandatory two hour break. She quickly developed a fever and the doctors found the problem and fixed it.. Unfortunately he was not in the O.R. for the second surgery. He has also reported that she has around the clock armed guards."

"Is she still in I.C.U?"

"Yes and will be there for a time. We cannot touch her there, but if she continues to improve they will move her to another, busier floor. That will give us the time we need to get our people assigned to her guard detail."

"Is it true that the leader is dead?"

"That is what I have heard."

"Any plans to regroup?"

"Yes. Get yourselves a computer and go to this site." He passed each a piece of paper. "The first is the site, the second is the password. It is hyper secure. If at all possible find a hidden area like this one. Contact as many of our people as possible and have them look for secure areas like those bunkers. From now on all our correspondence will be over the computer. We will not meet again. As soon as you are set up send a email with the words, hunting for bear. Nothing more that that. I will know you are set up and ready."

"Will, isn't it dangerous to have all our meeting over the computer. Any computer hack can break into our meetings."

"The name is Wilhelm, jackass. Do not forget that again. We have an expert of our own who will be persuaded to join us with the right information. We have that information. Now clear out and try not to draw attention to yourselves."

Peter listened to the men talk as a plan formed. He picked up his phone and sent out a text to his friends asking for them to meet.

"We have good news." Doctor Durand said as they walked into the waiting room. Kate and Natalia stood to meet them. "Since we have discontinued the sedation, Kacey is showing the first signs of waking."

"How long until she is awake?" Natalia asked.

"It is a long process. She was sedated for almost two weeks. Rushing this part could be dangerous. It could take as much as forty eight hours before she is lucid. Try not to be discouraged by the seemingly lack of progress. Her heart beat is strong, blood pressure steady and breathing is steady. There are no further signs of infection and all the breaks are healing."

"Will she be in any pain when she wakes?" Natalia asked.

"We did a large amount of repair work so yes she will be in some pain, but it will be manageable, without having to over medicate to make her comfortable."

"Will she walk again?"

"That is the question of the hour. Right now the best I can give you is it is possible. The damage to her back was extensive. The spinal cord was badly bruised, but not transected or severed. There was nerve damage so right now we take a wait and see attitude."

"As she comes out of the sedation, hearing is the first sense to return if it has not already, so be careful what you say around her."

"Would it be possible to bring some of her music in? To help her find her way back?"

"She is off most of the machines so yes it will be allowed. I have heard her taste in music is fantastic."

"Most of the time it is Doctor." Kate added.

"I have heard the stories about her reflexes so I will advise the staff not to touch her when the music is on unless one of the family is present." Doctor Durand stated.

"I have seen her reflexes in action, Felicia. The stories are all true."

"The family may not be able to help there as the only person safe is Natalia." Kate told them. "No matter how out of it she is, she knows Natalia's touch."

"But what about the visitor rule in I.C.U?"

"Now that she is no longer hooked up to all the machines it is possible to move her to a private room with private duty nurses."

"Is that safe doctor?"

"Yes I believe it is Admiral. The nurses have reported some flinching when they have to touch her." Doctor McCloud said as she consulted her hand computer. "It is only a matter of time before she is awake enough to take a swing at someone."

"Doctor Durand, please do what you have to. Can I make a suggestion on one of the nurses?"

"Certainly. Who do you have in mind?"

"Maria Montoya. She was the Head Nurse on Andromeda. She is familiar with Kacey."

"Good choice Natalia. She is a very good nurse and familiar with passive exercise that Kacey will need until she has recovered enough to begin therapy."

"That settles it. I will arrange a private room for her now. With luck we can have her moved by this afternoon."

"I also have an idea to keep the nurses safe." Kate said. "Natalia is the only person that can touch Kacey without getting knocked across the room. What if we have her say holding Kacey's hand while we bring in the family and have Natalia tell her who will be touching her and that it is all right. If it works we can try the same with the nurses."

"That is worth a try."

"I will call the family and have them come in." Kate said as she pulled out her phone and left the room, returning minutes later. "They will all be here after they drop the little ones off at day care."
By early afternoon, Kacey had been moved into a private room across from the nurse's station. Glass windows allowed the nurses to watch over their patient, until the guards closed the curtains, citing Kacey's safety as the reason. Kacey was hooked up to the vitals monitor while oxygen flowed through the nasal tube.

Both doctors along with Natalia and Kate watched as the techs finished and left the room.

"The nurses will be here shortly to meet their patient."

"How long will she need private nurses?" Kate asked.

"Will it be only until she wakes up?" Natalia added.

"I think we will keep the number of staff at a minimum until the big shots decide it is safe to relax their guard. We can not let anything happen to our local hero."

"Doctor she hates that title."

"What would you call someone who managed to do what she did?"

"She would say she was just following orders" Kate stated.

"True, but the women she rescued think of her in that term." Doctor McCloud said. "Natalia, there is one thing no one has asked yet."

"What is that Doctor?"

"If there is the possibility that she will not wake up, even after the sedation has worn off."

"What is the answer?" Kate asked.

"The possibility is there."

"No, I do not believe that. Kacey will wake up. I believe it here," she pointed to her head. "And in here," she placed her hands over her heart. "And because we, her family and most importantly our children need to to wake up, to find her way back to us. She knows that."

"Natalia she is unconscious, she..."

"She knows we are waiting for her to wake up."

"I do hope you are correct Natalia."
"Granny I need to see you." Kacey called out into the mist. The mist parted and the old woman walked towards her.

"What is it child? Why have ye returned?"

"I can hear their voices. I am waking up. I just needed... wanted to see you one last time. I also wanted to thank you for your love and guidance."

"No thank yous are needed child. Watching ye grow and helping ye along the way has always been a pleasure. Ye are my great granddaughter. I will always love and guide ye. Remember the promise ye made to not give up if everything is not completely all right."

"I remember Granny. I will not let you down."

"Ye never have child. This will not be the last time ye will see me. I will be in your heart, thoughts and dreams. Now give me a hug and return to Natalia and your family."

Kacey hugged the old woman and kissed her cheek. "I love you granny." The older woman disappeared into the mist.

The voices became clearer. The soft music in her ears helped to lead her back. The oxygen that flowed through the tube tickled her nose. She tried to move her hand to brush the offending tube away, but her muscles would not obey her commands. She relaxed as the drugs continued to leave her system.

The earphone near her head played her favorite music. Music that she heard in the dream world. She concentrated on the voices beyond the music.

"Her body continues to heal with no signs of infection or rejection of the artificial discs. See these areas here and here?"

"The lighter sections?" Natalia asked.

"Yes, the artificial discs have been accepted and showing sign of being integrated into her spine. All the other breaks are fused and also showing signs of healing." Doctor Durand stated. "She was extremely lucky that none of those rocks hit her head. I am not one to believe in a higher power, but someone certainly was looking out for her that day."

"If our great grand mother was still alive she would say it was the little people." Kate joked.

"Who ever it was Admiral, saved her life." Doctor McCloud stated.

"Once Kacey is awake she will be fitted for a special brace to protect her spine. It will cover her from just below he breasts to her hips."

"How long will she have to wear this brace?" Natalia asked.

"At the very least eight weeks, but it will be more like four to six months."

"That long? She will not like that."

"Yes. Once she has the brace, physical therapy will begin. Until then we will continue with the passive therapy. Then eventually get her up on her feet."

"So she will be able to walk?"

"We are still in the wait and see camp. There is some flinching on the left side. Not as much as the right, but some. The nerves on the left side were badly damaged, but we are cautiously optomistic."


Outside noises continued to intrude on the soft music. The fogginess was almost gone from her head and she became aware of the areas of her body that throbbed with each heart beat. She could not stopped the moan of pain that escaped. The nurse heard the sounds that came from a voice that had been silent for two weeks and hoarse from the breathing tube. She started towards the bed. Liam stopped her. He went to the cot where Natalia dozed and lightly touched her shoulder. She woke immediately.

"Lass, Kacey is waking up."

Natalia stood and walked to the bed, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "Kacey, sweetheart, I am right here. Can you open those baby blues for me?"

Kacey licked her dry lips. "Ta gra agam diut granny." She spoke hoarsely.

"Sweetheart what are you saying?"

"D'airigh ni le fada an la ther."

"Liam, what is going on.?"

"She is speaking Irish, lass."

"Do you know what she said?"

"Aye, she said that she loved her great grand mother or granny as she was called by all of us. And that she missed her. When Kacey was a child she had a very special relationship with her great grand mother. She was the first O'Malley girl born in over seventy years. That ring she wears has been passed down to the first born girl for two hundred years."

"She told me a little about it and why she never takes it off. But how can she be speaking Irish? She said that she regretted never having the time to learn the language when she was in school."

"Granny taught her a few words and phrases, but beyond that she did not have time to take it further."

"Why is she speaking it now?"

"I have and idea, that we can talk about later. Lets get her awake first. Talk to her lass."

"Kacey sweetheart, please wake up. Your father is here and Caitlyn and Patrick are waiting for you to return to us. Kacey's head turned towards Natalia's voice, as the fog continued to lift from her mind.

Before the last wisps left she heard, "Tis time to wake up child, your family is waiting. I will not be far away." She felt Natalia take her hand as her eye lids fluttered open.

"That's it sweetheart. You can do it. Show us those beautiful eyes."

Kacey's eyes tracked to Natalia. The image was fuzzy, but became clearer with eye blink. "Talia."


"State your name for the record." Rhea demanded as she and Veronica sat across from an older woman in an orange jumpsuit. The woman remained silent. "Look lady, you can speak with us now, or you can return to your cell where you will remain until you decide to talk to us. Or until the brass gets the go ahead for us to use drugs to force you to talk."

"That is against the law. You can not do that." The woman protested.

"Really? You were colluding with traitors to world peace. That makes you a traitor by association. That means all those rules can be suspended. You attacked children, chose women to send to the leader, attacked our General which caused an injury that hindered her ability to move out of the way of that cave in. She is fighting for her life as we speak. If she dies, you will be held directly responsible for her death. That means a very quick trip to a firing squad. And lady we will find the worst possible shooters we can find so that you will feel each and every shot before you die." The woman paled. "We will step out of the room and give you fifteen minutes to think about it."

Rhea and Veronica rose and walked to the door. The guard opened the door and stepped inside after the women left, slamming the door behind them.

"Rhea is what you told her true?"

"Not at all. Except for the firing squad if Kacey dies."

"Have you heard anything from the hospital?"

"Kacey has been moved into a private room. The doctors are allowing her to wake up."


"That it is. Veronica, is there any chance you will stick around after this mission ends?"

"Maria and I have discussed it. Elena loves going to day care. Maria enjoys the work at the hospital And I would would not mind finding a position at the base to get back into flying. While I enjoy my work, there are not many opportunities for flying there."

Rhea pulled the phone out of her pocket when it buzzed. "Commander Torrino." She said and listened to the caller. "Thank you for letting me know. That news is fantastic. Will you tell that old war horse that I will be in to see her as soon as they lift the visitor restrictions." Rhea ended the call. "Kacey is awake."

"That is fantastic news. Will that alter the way you handle the Matron?"

"Not in the least. I know I am trampling on her rights, but as long as she does not ask for legal representation, I will continue.' Rhea said. "She was advised of her rights when she was arrested. We are not obliged to state them again."

"I like the way you think." They reentered the room. The guard left.

"Your fifteen minutes are up. Would you like to talk to us now?"

"Before I say anything, I want the death penalty taken off the table."

"You tell us everything and I will talk to the Tribunal, tell them you cooperated. They would make the final decision."

"They broke me."

"We are going to need a great deal more information." Rhea informed her. "Lets start with your first name."

"My name is Sharon. I am or was married to a very dominating man. Life with him was difficult. Then about five years ago he joined a movement and life got much worse. Or so I thought until he forced me and our son into the mountain fortress. That is where I learned just how cruel men can be."


"Meaning any woman was fair game for every man who wanted her. Even women my age were not exempt. If a man wanted to relieve his needs, we could not say no. The only rules the men had were no woman under the age of eighteen and incest was forbidden. Other than that they had the right to any and all women. At first I refused until they made me watch," she paused. "They made me watch the leader with one of his victims. The whole ugly thing.. The torture went on for two hours. Afterwards they made me clean her up and move her to the special cells for his victims. I had to watch several sessions. Twice the women died and I had to take their bodies to the incinerator." She stopped to take a sip of water from the cup on the table.

"Did you participate in the torture in any way?" Veronica asked.

"No, but I ended up on the receiving end after I had taken the second body away."

"You were tortured by the leader?"

"No the leader would only touch someone like me as a final resort. My husband put me on that table."

To be continued...


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