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.



Chapter 25

"Your husband tortured you?" Veronica asked.

"He way always a difficult and demanding husband. But when our son was expelled from the Marine Academy for a stupid prank, he became harder and even more demanding. The final straw was when he was removed from the Joint Chiefs and asked to resign from the military."

"Wait, Willhelm is your husband?" Rhea asked.

"Unfortunately yes. He took up with a group of men a few months before your space mission. He spent many hours with that group, so I rarely saw him. Until the last year of the mission when he moved us into the bunker. There were other women already there. The first thing they did was give all the women a number that was tattooed on our shoulders. I am number thirty seven." She pulled down the shoulder of the jumpsuit to show them the number.

"What does the H.M stand for?" Veronica asked.

"Head Matron. That was added after I was given that dubious promotion. My first position was separating the children over the age of five from their mothers. From age five to twelve they were all given the basic in education, reading, writing, and math. After twelve the boys continued their formal education in their very warped version of History. The girls were taught cooking, sewing and cleaning. The training changed again when they turned sixteen. For the boys it was more indoctrination into how to control women and other inferior races to keep us in our places. For the girls their training involved learning how to keep the men satisfied. The girls were tattooed on their eighteenth birthday and sent out into the areas of the bunker where the men worked. I was responsible for deciding where the girls were best suited for. I was also responsible for making the final selection on which women were sent to the leader when he needed replacements."

"That does not tell us how they broke you."

"After the second young woman committed suicide because she could not deal with being raped over and over again, some of the men were brutal, I told Curt that I did not want to remain and wanted to leave. He got very angry and stormed out of our living quarters. He returned later with two guards who dragged me to the leader where once again I was tortured. This time it was the leader who did it."

"What did he do to you?"

"Damn it. It is not enough that I was tortured. Do you need to know every detail of what he did to me?" She yelled.

"Unfortunately we do need to know."

"Can you at least turn off the recording equipment?"

"We need to have a record of everything that happened to you. Would you like a few minutes to get your thoughts in order? Mrs. Willhelm those details could mean the difference between life in prison as a collaborator, a firing squad or a slap on the wrist."

She nodded. Rhea turned off the recorder. She closed her eyes, took several deep breaths before she said softly, "I am ready."

Rhea turned the recorder back on and handed the woman a glass of water. "The guard took me into the room and watched as two women stripped my clothes off. I was tied to the table with straps across my chest, stomach, arms and legs. There was also a strap holding my head in place. My legs were on these movable slats. Once the straps were in place the slats were moved up and out so that I was completely exposed. I could feel their eyes on me. The leader and Curt came in and together they attached small discs to my temples" she pushed her hair back to show them the scars. "On my wrists" she pushed back the sleeves to show them. "On my ankles and my, um, my private parts. The leader attached clamps to the metal tips on the discs. Then put them on my index fingers and my," she took a breath, "my nipples. There were wires attached to the clamps that ran to a machine. He turned on the machine. The low hum was the only sound in the room at that point. He pushed a button and I felt the electrical charge go through my body. Until that time he had not said a word, but he looked at me and asked, is it true that you want to leave? I said yes. He said that makes me both sad and angry. Do you know what happens when I am sad and angry? He did not wait for an answer. He said I get frustrated, then to relieve the frustration, I have to hurt some one. You are that someone." She stopped again and took a sip of water. "He turn the dial on the machine and hit the button again,. The electrical charge was stronger. He asked again do you want to leave? I said yes and again he turned the dial and pushed the button. Over and over again I do not know how many times this happened. Each time he held the button for longer periods of time until I felt ready to die. I wanted to die. Then he told the guards that they could..."

A knock on the door stopped her. Rhea turned the recorder off again, before she opened the door to General Millhouse.

"Mrs. Willhelm, there is no need to continue. We found video confirmation of your torture. That bastard recorded each session. Considering what was done to you, the Joint Chiefs have decided not to press charges against you for your assault of General O'Malley."

"What?" Rhea and Veronica shouted together.

"Bear with me, Commander, Sergeant. Mrs. Willhelm, you will be escorted to private quarters shortly. For your attack on General O'Malley, we will limit your sentence to time served. Give us a couple hours and we will get you settled into secure quarters." He told her. "Do you have objections?"

"Yes sir we both do." Rhea stated.

"Then shall we take this outside?"

"Indeed sir." Veronica answered.

General Millhouse opened the door and let them exit first. "What is your objection?"

"General permission to talk freely and honestly." He nodded. "That woman is the reason General O'Malley could not move out of the way of those rocks. You are allowing her to just walk away. How could the Joint Chiefs do that to her. You send her to do all your dirty work and then sit back and let the person responsible for almost killing her walk free? How could you?"

"Commander, we have seen the video footage."

"That could be doctored, General."

"We have had experts going over each frame of the recordings and can find no signs of tampering. These are what exactly went on in that room."

"I insist on seeing that for myself, General." Rhea demanded.

"As do I General." Veronica added.

"I expected no less from either of you. The video is waiting for you in room twelve. I must warn you both, what you are about to see is not pleasant to watch."

"Thank you for the warning sir."

They left and went to the viewing room where the tech waited for them. "I have the recording all set up, Commander. If you do not mind, I will leave you. Watching it once was more than enough for me."

"Of course, go get coffee." Rhea said as they sat down to watch the recording.

Three hours later they walked out of the room to where General Millhouse waited for them. "We withdraw our objections Sir." Rhea stated.

"I figured you would, Commander."

"General, I am logging us both off duty for the rest of the day."

"Good idea. Both of you head over to the Officer's Club. I have taken the liberty of calling your partners to meet you there."

"Sir I am not an officer." Veronica stated

The General pulled a box from his pocket and handed it to Veronica. "You are now Lieutenant Hasting-Montoya." She opened the box to find the Lieutenants bars nestled inside. "Stop at the Uniform Depot and pick up your new shirts."

"Thank you sir." She shook the General's offered hand.

"You deserve that promotion Veronica for your exemplary work of that mission.. And any time you want to transfer here, there is a place available for you."

"Thank you again sir."

"Commander, Admiral Tacher will meet you at the Officer's Club with an offer for you. So if you leave right now you will have time to stop for your new uniform and still be on time to meet your partners. Dismissed."

Both women snapped to attention and saluted, before they turned and left.


"How are ye feeling lass?"

"Like a ton of rocks fell on top on me." Kacey rasped.

"Which it did, sweetheart."

"My team? The women and children? Did everyone make it out safely?"

"Except for a few minor cuts and scrapes, everyone made it out safely. You were the only one who was injured."

"Not my fault. The cavern collapsed."

"It did not just collapse, Kacey. That cavern as well as several others were brought down on purpose. Our clean up crews found close to a hundred explosive devices."

"A hundred? That sounds like they planned to bring down the entire mountain." Natalia stated.

"The doctors walked into the room. "Well General, it seems that even on Earth you can not keep out of the hospitals." Doctor McCloud joked. Kacey shrugged. "This is Doctor Felicia Durand, she is responsible for you being here with us today."

"Then I owe you my thanks Doc." Kacey stated. "I am pleased to meet you."

"The pleasure is mine General. Olive has told me about your exploits in space." Kacey blushed and cleared her throat. "I imagine your throat is tender." Kacey nodded. "You were on a ventilator while you were in a medical coma."

"Been there, done that, did not like it one tiny bit. What were the damages this time?"

"Four crushed discs, cracked scapula, broken pelvis in seven places, breaks in both legs and dislocated knee. In addition to punctures to your bladder, uterus, intestines, veins and a few severed nerves from the bone chips. All the damage has been repaired. We did have to remove your uterus. It was badly damaged. Luckily, there was no damage to your head or neck and your spinal cord was bruised, but not punctured or severed."

"Yes we did luck out there. Your hard head of yours came through unscathed." Doctor McCloud joked.

"Will I walk again?"

"As I said you spinal cord was bruised not severed. The nerves running to you left leg, however were not so lucky. You might regain full use of you leg."

"Might? So that means I might not."

"Yes the possibility exists. We have made great strides in medicine in the last century, but nothing is perfect yet. You are familiar with the slowness of nerve regeneration."

"I am."

"Then you are also familiar with the dangers of depression should the desired results not be instantaneous."

"I promised my, umm someone that I would not give up"

"That must be a person of great importance to elicit that sort of promise." Doctor McCloud said.

"She is."

"Who? When?" Natalia asked.

"I will explain everything later." Kacey told her.

"General, we are going to start you out with a clear liquid diet for a day or two."

"Yummy, my favorite." Kacey said sarcastically. "Does that include coffee?"

"I am afraid not. Herbal tea to start. To make sure everything stays put before we work you up to regular food. Now for a subject I am told you hate. Therapy. While you were in the coma we had therapists doing passive exercises on your arms and legs. That will continue until we get you out of bed. Then we will work up to more intensive exercises. Hydrotherapy, massage and range of motion to get the muscles into shape before we get you on your feet."

"All right."

"No arguments?" Natalia asked.

"None." Kacey stated with a smile. "When can our children come to visit?"

"Lets give that a couple days. To give you time to regain some of your strength."

"Great, that way I can keep my promise to Patrick. It may be a few weeks late, but I will keep it."

"He keeps asking if it is 'morrow yet." Natalia added.

"There is a standing order for pain medication. What is your pain level now?"

"Four if I do not try to move too much."

"Do not let it reach seven. It will take the medicine longer to dull the pain. Try to rest your throat, it will heal faster. You will remain on the I.V. until we know that anything taken by mouth will not come right back up. You can have ice chips as tolerated"

"Doctors, thank you for saving my life."

"You are very welcome General. Do not tire yourself out. Keep the head of the bed elevated. Laying flat at this point will do more damage than good. We will lift the family only rule in a couple days, but, for our safety, we will need a list of approved people that will be allowed to visit."

"How long will I have the security detail?" Natalia looked at her. "I heard you talking about it. Plus I can see them through the window."

"That I cannot give you an answer to. General Millhouse ordered that detail. Now rest General O'Malley. We will check back later." The doctors left the room.

"She is right lass. Rest and regain your strength. The family will be in later."

Natalia sat next to Kacey and took her hand. Kacey closed her eyes.

The women sat around the table. With drinks in hand they toasted Veronica's promotion. Officers from different branches of the service filled the room. The door opened to admit Admiral Tacher. Everyone jumped to attention until he waved them back down and made his way to where the women waited.

"Please be seated." He said softly as he took a chair from another table. A drink was placed in front of him, followed by a silver ice bucket with a bottle of champagne. The waiter placed a tray with five flutes on the table. He filled each glass.

"Champagne sir?" Rhea questioned.

"There are two reasons Commander. The first is for Lieutenant Hastings-Montoya's promotion. The second has to do with you." He pulled an envelop from his pocket with a small box. "Your exemplary work on this mission has earned you this." He handed Rhea the envelop.

She opened it and read the single sheet of paper. "A promotion sir?"

"Yes Captain Torino. That is if you accept the promotion."

"If I accept this, do you mean that I will be in command of a ship? I was never interested in or trained for being a ship's Captain."

"No unless you change your mind and want to become a ship's Captain, you will remain in your current position. We are not about to break up the winning team of you and Admiral Jensen."

"I do wish to remain in my current position, sir."

"Then that is where you will remain. Do yo accept the promotion?"

Rhea looked at Bella who nodded. "Yes sir I do accept."

He handed Rhea the small box that contained her Captains pips. They picked up their glasses and toasted the new Captain and Lieutenant. "One other item then I will leave you all to continue your celebration. Before I left the office, Admiral Jensen called to tell me that General O'Malley was awake and talking."

"That is great news Admiral. Any word on when she will be allowed visitors?"

"Not for a few days. They are putting together a list of approved visitors."

"Did Kate say how she was?"

"No only that she was awake and talking. Oh and that she will see you later. Now I must return to the office. You are all off duty for the rest of the day, so enjoy your celebration. Dinner is on me."

"Thank you Admiral." The women stood when he did and saluted. He turned to leave as they returned to their drinks.

"We have a crude drawing of the floor that bitch is on. It will be difficult, but not impossible to get into her room. There are around the clock security on her room, the elevators, and every entrance to the hospital. The room is directly across from the nurses desk
which is always occupied by at least one person. The desk is never empty."

"We do not have nearly enough people to cover every door to that place."

"We don't need to cover every door. Just the elevators, stairwells on that floor and her room. Fifteen men tops will cover them." Peter said as he downed a shot. "When can we be ready to move?"

"What is the hurry, Pete?"

"We need to get to her before the old man. Plus I have a personal score to settle."

"Pete this mission is not something we can rush into half cocked. We all know what you have to prove. Your old man is a real bastard and we will be with you. But man, we have to be perfect in executing this or we will end up in prison or worse, dead."

"Then what do you suggest?"

"Get someone inside to do a little recon. Get an accurate picture of exactly how the floor is set up, where security is."

"Who do we have that is not on the government's watch list?"

"I know someone who has all sorts of electronic gadgets and can get us exactly what we need to get an accurate picture of the layout. We will have full video of the hospital floor."

"Is he one of us?"

"No, but he has family. He can be persuaded to work with us if he wants to keep his family safe."

"Do it Ken." Peter ordered. "We need to get there first."

"We will, Pete. We will."



Chapter 26

Kacey sat in the comfortable chair by the window and watched the drizzle turn into rain. She rested to regain her strength from the rigorous workout she had in therapy. The lap top on the table in front of her was open. She had work to catch up on. The non classified work that could be done off base, waited for her. Along with reports that needed her signature of approval.

She waited for the doctors to finish reviewing her latest internal scan and report their findings. Her right leg was working, but so far there was no improvement in her left. That was why she was still in the hospital a week after waking up. She sipped from the cup at her side. The lukewarm coffee tasted bitter.

"Is the coffee here that bad?" Kate asked from the door.

"It is not the greatest hot or cold. What are your doing here this early? Visiting hours have not started yet."

"Here drink this." Kate replied as she handed Kacey the second cup she carried. "Doctor Durand called asking us to come in. Natalia and mom are talking to the nurses. They will be in shortly. How are you doing?"

"Okay I guess. I would really like to get out of here."

"Any improvement in you leg?"

"None. If anything the feelings I did have are less than before. That is what is holding everything up."

"I have to tell you, I am impressed by how well you are handling it."

"The doctors will be here shortly." Natalia said as she walked into the room directly to Kacey's side. She leaned down and kissed her. "How was therapy this morning?"

"The same as yesterday and the day before. The right is getting stronger, but nothing with the left. I have not heard anything on the latest scan yet."

"I think that is why the doctors wanted us to come in."

"That could mean the news is either really good and I can go home. Or really bad and they expect me to go off the deep end."

"Then we all need to think happy thoughts." Natalia said with a smile.

"You must be reading Peter Pan to Caitlyn and Patrick."

"They both like that story." Natalia said. "What are you working on?"

"I have been getting all the facts from the last mission down before I forget anything. I expect General Millhouse to come in and debrief me."

"That will not happen. He is under orders to stay away from the hospital."

"What? How? Who?"

"That is a story that is too long to go into now. Lets just say that he hand his ass handed to him by Doctor Durand and ordered by the President to keep away. He is not allowed anywhere near you until such a time as you request a meeting."

"Damn I wondered why he has not come in. I mean he sent flowers and a card, but I expected a visit. I will call him later."

"Please wait until after I have left before you do that. I have no desire to see or talk to him." Natalia said angrily.

"What the Hell went on with him?"

The door opened to admit the doctors along with a small man. His dark hair slick down and neat. Dark eyes smiled at her from a slightly wrinkled face.

"General, how are you feeling today?"

"Well enough to want to go home Doc."

"I am afraid that will not happen today. General this is Doctor Lee Chan. He is the foremost authority on damaged nerves. We have been going over the latest scans. I took the liberty of calling in Doctor Chan."

"Doctor Chan it is a pleasure to meet you. This may be a silly question, as Chan is probably a very common name in your country, but I had a Sergeant Chan in my crew on Andromeda. Any relation?"

"She is my daughter. When she returned, she had only good things to say about you. So when Felicia asked for my help, I was quite happy to come."

"She was a good Marine and an excellent pilot." Kacey replied. "May I introduce my wife, Natalia, my sister, Admiral Kate Jensen, and my mother Mrs. Patricia O'Malley." He nodded to each woman. "Please Doc have a seat."

He sat on the bed. "When you were trapped under those rocks, several discs were shattered. Bone pieces severed the nerves on your left side. Surgery has not repaired the damage done by the pieces. Now the nerves are dying."

"That is why whatever sensations I felt are less?"


Kacey lay her head back and closed her eyes. She let out a breath. "Damn that was not what we were hoping to hear. What does that mean?" Natalia asked, taking hold of Kacey's hand.

"It means that a useless leg is a small price to pay for still being alive." Kacey said.

"Not at all General. We are not out of options. We have developed a brace that will bypass the damaged sections of nerves. However that is just a temporary fix. It has it's drawbacks. You would never be able to remove the brace. And as the nerves continue to die, the brace would do more and more of the work. Which means the brace would become bigger and bigger."

"Is that my only option? Will the rest of my life be in a hover chair?"

"No. There is another option. It is experimental at this point and we have begun human trials."

"What is it?"

"Artificial nerves. We have developed the technology and have had fairly good results with it."

"Define fairly good." Patricia demanded.

"Our success rate is eighty seven percent since we started the trials two years ago."

"What would you have to do?" Kacey asked.

"We would connect one end of the artificial nerve to the still living nerves. Bypass the dead areas to connect to another section of living nerves."

"Sort of like I did with the wires under the scanning console that blew when we came back through the Kuiper Belt."

"Exactly like that."

"What would happen if the damaged areas start working again?" Kate asked.

"The nerves that would be replaced are dead. We would remove those dead areas."

"How dangerous is that?"

"If we do nothing, more of the nerves will die."

"When would you do the surgery?"

"Kacey think about this before you make that decision." Patricia said.

"There is nothing to think about mom. Without the surgery, I am looking at a life in a hover chair. That is not what I want. I want to go home. Hold my wife and children whenever I want to and not just during visiting hours. If there is a chance that this surgery will allow me to do that, then I am all for it." Kacey argued. "Talia, tell me you understand why I have to do this."

"I do understand sweetheart and I agree with you."

"Thank you. Kate time you you to add your two credits."

"Little sister, you will never be really happy until you are able to walk out of her on your own two legs. Go for it."

"Kate the doctor himself said the surgery is experimental." The doctors looked at each other.

"Doctor Chan, how long after the surgery could we reasonably expect to see results?" Natalia asked.

"Within minutes, or rather immediately after she wakes up."

"Will it be a long surgery?"

"Several hours depending on how many nerves need to be replaced."

"When will you operate?" Kacey asked again.

"In two days. I need to get my team here with my instruments and the artificial nerves."

"Then do it Doc." Kacey said and looked directly at Patricia. "That will give me a chance to talk to General Millhouse."

"Do you think that is wise dear?" Patricia asked.

"Yes, but before I call him, you all need to tell me exactly what went on."

The doctors left the room.


General Millhouse sat at his desk as he read the reports that come across his computer. These reports included the many daily updates from the hospital, the questioning of the women who had been rescued and the search for those men who had escaped.

A few were picked up after the attack but several were still in hiding. Their number one fugitive was Curt Wilhelm, followed closely by his son Peter. Although after listening to the testimony of some of the women, he felt Peter should be number one. With his temper, his drinking problem and his enjoyment in sexually abusing women number two was not high enough. The buzzer sounded on his phone.

"Yes what is it?" He growled into the receiver.

"Sorry to bother you General, but General O'Malley is on line one."

"Thank you. Please put the call through." There was a brief pause before Kacey's voice came through.

"General Millhouse, I need to see you as soon as possible."

"Kacey how are you doing?"

"About the same General." Kacey answered. "I will be having additional surgery in a couple days and need to talk to you before then. Can you come by tomorrow morning?"

"Certainly. Will ten hundred hours work?"

"Yes, I have therapy at eight hundred hours, that will give me the time to shower before you arrive."

"We can go over your after action report tomorrow also."

"Yes sir." The call ended.

General Millhouse closed out the report he had been reading and brought up Kacey's after action report to read again. He read for several minutes and made notes as he read. "Typical O'Malley report. Clear, concise with no extraneous words. Even after three weeks she was able to recall most of the mission." He sent a copy to his hand computer.


The group of men sat in an old barn. They used hay bales as seats as they gathered around the computer screen.
"That is her room?" Peter asked.

"I have been past that room a dozen times Pete. That is her room."

"The routine never changes?"

"Not in the past few days. They get her up at seven. She has breakfast at seven thirty. The at eight she goes to therapy until nine. She showers and then the doctors visit around ten. Sometimes it is a little later. Then she is alone until visiting hours start at noon."

"So we have a two hour window."

"Not really. The doctors are not always there at ten. I would suggest we wait until after they leave before we act."

"Fine we wait until after they visit, but that can cut our time down to far. Do you all have the uniforms the bloody guards wear?" They nodded. "And you all know what you have to do?" More nods answered him. "Good we do this the day after tomorrow. We have wasted too much time already."

"Where is your old man?"

"Probably still freezing his ass off in that back woods cabin." He laughed.

"What about you Pete? It seems like we have done all the dangerous work while you sit back here nice and safe. We are the ones running the risks of being captured if we are recognized."

"I will be there when this all goes down. I will be the one to take the bitch out."

"Yeah, well just make sure you think with the right head."

Peter jumped to his feet, his face red with anger. "What the fuck does that mean?" He shouted.

"Face it Junior, when you see a pretty girl, your dick takes over your brain."

"You bastard." Peter yelled and rushed the man, knocking him down. The men around the makeshift table hurried to pulled the two men apart. Once they had pulled Peter off the man, he yelled again. "Get the fuck out of here." The man turned to go. "Wait. Keep your mouth shut or I will end you."

The man laughed. "Mighty big talk from a shit head who was beaten by a woman." He shouted and walked out the door.

Peter lunged for him again, but was held back. He shook off the arms that held him. "Anyone else feel like him, leave now."

The men looked at each other. Several more left, leaving just one other with Peter.

"What now Pete? Do we continue?"

"We continue as planned. That bitch is going down."

"What are my options sir?" Kacey asked.

"Options regarding what?"

"In the event this surgery I am having tomorrow does not work, I need to know what my options are regarding my position and career."

"Ah, all right. You have several options. You can retire at full pay because you were injured during the course of a mission."

"Option two?"

"You can remain in your current position as C.O of Ridgefield, except that you would be a full time desk jockey. You would be relegated to teaching those hot shot pilots in a class room instead of the cockpit of a ship. I can guarantee that you will not be sent on any other dangerous missions."

"That's it?"

"No you can think positively that this surgery will be a success."

"I am trying to do just that sir, but I am trying to cover all the angles."

"Kacey after the fact that you were caught in a cave in, critically injured, in an induced coma for weeks, and are still here talking to me is a miracle. I know you are not a religious person, but even you have to admit someone or something was looking out for you that day."

"There was sir."

"Maybe someday you will tell me."

"Maybe someday."

"Now lets get down to business and discuss your report. I have read several versions of what went on that night. Yours reads a bit different from the others. I understand that with your injuries there may be a few details that you have forgotten."

"I do not think I left out any details sir."

"Let me bring up a few of the discrepancies." He read the report. "Here is one that was not mentioned. This is Captain Torrino's report. Seems that someone pushed her and Lieutenant Hastings-Montoya against the tree to protect them from falling branches during the white out. Was that you General?"

"Yes that was me."

"Then there was an incident where someone stopped a Matron from beating the young girls. Who was that?"

"That was me sir." Kacey replied.

"Okay and then there is this one. Who pushed Captain Torino out of the way to safety when the cavern collapsed?"

Kacey sighed. "That was me also sir."

"Then what I will do is take all the reports and combine them to get the entire picture. Does that work for you?"

"Yes sir."

"Good. Now I am not sure if anyone has told you, but the charges against the Matron have been dropped."

"What? Whose bright idea was that?" Kacey demanded.

"That was mine. There are special circumstances here. You still see the world in black and white, right or wrong. But there are many colors, shades and hues. They broke her Kacey. I will send you a copy of her interview. If you are still not convinced you can view the video of her ordeal."

"Are you positive that what she said is even true?"

"There is video collaboration, so yes I am positive."

"I want to see her." Kacey stated.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. I want or rather I need to look into her eyes."

"Then I will see what I can arrange." General Millhouse replied. Now what is this surgery you will be having?" He asked changing the subject.

"From what the doctors said, the nerves that were severed could not be repaired. A section of the nerves are dead and the area is expanding. They have developed artificial nerves that they will use to replace the dead ones."

"I think I heard something about that. They have been doing clinical trials. So this will correct the problem?"

"That is what we hope."

"It is not guaranteed?"

"They have an almost ninety percent success rate. Mom wants we to think more about having it done as it is still considered experimental. She is not happy with my decision."

"You have more courage than I to go head to head with her. This surgery will allow you to walk again?"

"That is the plan." Kacey replied. "You know as well as I do, that I am not cut out to be a desk jockey, General. Even with teaching thrown in. I am not ready for a life of leisure if I retire."

"There is always your music. You would have more time to devote to that. Maybe even get another disc recorded." Kacey shrugged. "No matter what you decide to do, what I said earlier was true. That last mission was exactly that, your last mission."

"I figured that sir."

"Really?" Kacey nodded. "You never cease to amaze me."

"At one time sir, knowing that I was Earth bound or grounded would have pissed me off. This last injury, has made me re-evaluate my thoughts on that subject."

"Who in the world could have brought about this change?"

"General, if I told you, you would think I was crazy and have me committed."

"I doubt that."

"Well I have not told Talia yet and she should be the first one. If she does not think I am crazy, then maybe I will tell others." She stated. "Now General, I would like to hear your side of what happened when I was first injured."

He sighed. "What do you know already?"


Chapter 27

General Millhouse sat at his desk as he continued to work into the evening hours. He was finishing up the base reports when his computer dinged with an incoming message. He opened the mail, read the missive and quickly reached for his phone.

"Charles I need to see you immediately."

Within minutes the door opened and Admiral Tacher walked in. "What is wrong Tuck?"

"I just received this." He turned the computer around so the Admiral could read the mail.

"Damn it we need to get extra protection on her immediately."

"Colonel Anderson will know who to handle this. Captain Torrino can also be involved."

"I will contact her." He pulled out his phone as he left the office.


The surgical team stood around the table and waited for the go ahead.

"She is asleep Doctor." The anestheologist stated.

Doctor Chan stood with his eyes closed for several seconds before he looked around the table. "Are the nerves steralized and ready?"

"Yes Doctor Chan."

"Then lets begin. Scalpel." He ordered.
Natalia sat in Kacey's room after she was taken to surgery. She let her mind wander to the past night when she snuck back into room to spend the night with Kacey. For the first time in several weeks they were able to reaffirm their love and sleep with their arms around each other. She felt her face heat with a blush as she recalled their night of love.

"You either have a fever or a very nice blush." Kate joked from the door.

Natalia cleared her throat. "No fever, Kate."

"So the plan worked?"

"Extremely well in fact. It had been so long since we were, umm able to, well you know." Natalia said. "How were the children?"

"They were very good according to mom. Anya and dad will drop them off at day care, then they will head to the restaurant. Mom will be here shortly."

"They do still have their security detail with them, right?"

"Certainly. We dare not go anywhere without them. Our girls are quite taken with their guards."

"This morning I noticed an increase in the number of soldiers. Is there something going on that I need to be aware of?"

"I am not sure. I put in a call to Admiral Tacher earlier." Kate informed her. "I am waiting for a call back."

"You will tell me right and not hold anything back?"

"Of course I will. As soon as I hear anything I will let you know. How was Kacey this morning?"

"She was in very good spirits."

"How much of those good spirits were from your night together?"

"Such questions Kate. If you must know, it was a combination of that and and that this will be her last surgery. Good or bad, she will be going home." Natalia said. "They took her to surgery at six hundred hours and said it will take several hours to complete."

"Then have you had breakfast? Mom will ask when she gets here."

"No, Kacey could not eat so I did not have anything either."

"Then lets go grab breakfast before she gets here."

"All right, just let me tell the nurses where I will be."

The two soldiers walked into the hospital. They scanned the surroundings for any sign they were recognized by the numerous soldiers that patrolled the corridors. And they eyed the women who walked by.

"Don't loose focus Pete. We need to have our wits about us."

"I know, but damn, there are some fine looking women, that I would love to tap."

"Sure are. We can do that after we take care of that woman."

"What time is it?"

"Almost ten hundred hours. According to our source, she has finished with therapy and back in her room waiting for the doctors."

"Then lets get into position."

They walked off of the elevator and waited for the corridor to clear before they entered an empty room. With the door cracked they could watch Kacey's room for the doctors to leave. After an hour of watching without the doctors showing up, they wondered about the flaw in their plan.

"They should have been here by now."

"Yeah, we are losing what little window we had. Stay here, I will ask at the desk."

"That is not a good idea, Pete." He placed a restraining hand on Peter's arm. Peter looked at the hand until it was removed. "You could be recognized."

"Nah, with the beard, long hair and glasses, I do not look at all like me." He left his hiding spot and strolled past Kacey's room. He glanced in to see Patricia, Kate and Natalia, but no Kacey. He went to the desk.

The nurse looked at him. "Can I help you sir?"

"Yes sweetheart, I believe you can. I was wondering if General O'Malley is still in therapy?"

"Are you a relative?"

"No honey, I am just a friend." Rhea stepped off the elevator and glanced at the man at the desk. She had a funny feeling that she knew the man and slowed her steps to overhear the conversation.

"I am very sorry, Catain..?"

"Sorry babe, Captain Brennan, Peter Brennan. My friends call me Big Pete. Now about General O'Malley?"

Rhea stopped when she heard his name.

"I am sorry Captain," the nurse said as she checked her list. "Your name is not on the approved list of visitors."

"I only have a few hours before I ship out again. Any chance you can make an exception for me honey?"

"Listen up Bozo. My name is Lassiter, Mrs. Lassiter and not sweetheart, honey or babe. Without permission from the family, I cannot give you any sort of information."

Rhea stepped into the room and closed the door. "Kate call General Millhouse. I think we may have trouble."

"What should I tell him?"

"Peter Willhelm is at the desk. I think he is here to hurt Kacey."

"Are you sure?" Natalia asked as Kate pulled out her phone. "What can we do?"

"Is there any way to warn the nurse?"

"I think so." She check the number for the desk and called. From the hall they could hear the ringing of the phone.

"Tenth floor, Mrs. Lassiter speaking how can I help you?" She said and turned away from Peter.

"Mrs. Lassiter, this is Captain Rhea Torrino. Try not to react to what I am about to tell you."

There was a very slight pause. "Hello Mrs. Mills." The nurse replied.

"Good. Is the man at the desk watching you?"

The nurse turned slightly and looked at Peter. She held up a finger for him to wait. "Yes he had a good night."

"That man is dangerous and you need to be very careful. We are calling for help. Can you contact security without alert him?"

"Yes, he ate breakfast and the doctors will take out his I.V. later today."

"Call security. Admiral Jensen is here and we will help protect you. Can you see the guards nearby."

"Yes I can pass that along to him. Thank you for calling." She hung up the phone. "I apologize Captain. Now where were we?"

In Kacey's room, Kate finished her call. "Lassiter is on board and calling security. She was really calm." Rhea said.

"She should be." Kate replied. "She is one of us."

"What?" The three women asked together.

"The brass was tipped off and are converging on this floor as we speak. You were right about the increase in military presence. The O.R. has been notified of the threat and will not move Kacey out until the all clear is given."

"Service or not, I am going out to give that nurse some back up. Do not open this door for anyone but me." She handed Kate the small gun she carried, pulled a knife from her boot, slowly opened the door and slipped out"

"I said I just got into town, heard about Kacey's injuries and will be shipping out right away. I was hoping to see her before I go."

"Well your name still is not on the list and I cannot allow you to go into her room" She watched Rhea come out of the door.

Peter reached the end of his patience and pulled a gun that he pointed at her head. "Now bitch you have one last chance to tell me what I want to know. Where is O' Malley?"

Rhea crept up behind Peter. Lassiter watched her progress.. When Rhea was directly behind him, she knocked his hand away and punched him in the throat. The gun dropped as he gagged and clutched his throat as he went down. Rhea kicked the gun away as Lassiter jumped the desk and landed on Peter's chest. One knee landed on his groin. He moaned in pain. The elevator and stair doors opened as soldiers flooded onto the floor. Lassiter stood, but kept her foot on his most sensitive area until the soldiers arrived to take over. They secured Peter's hands behind his back and hauled him to his feet.

"We have everything on disc Major." One guard stated as they led Peter to an empty room.

"That was one ballsy move Major." Rhea said. "He could have blown your head off."

"Not at all Captain. The stupid fool never took the safety off. I was in no danger."

"You had what, all of two seconds to notice that? What branch of the service are you in?"

"Army Special Forces."

"Thought so. I have only seen one other person use that move."

"Let me guess, Kacey?"

"How do you know her?"

"We spent two weeks training before your space mission. She was my training partner. Of course I was a mere lieutenant and she a lowly Colonel at the time." She joked. "Is she still as intense?"

"Probably more than when you met her."

Rhea left the desk and returned to Kacey's room. Kate hugged her friend.

"Easy, Kate, I am fine. We have the scum bag."

"That was an incredibly crazy move, Rhea. Thank you." Kate said.

"Hey the kid is my friend also. We have to take care of her."

"I still have difficulty hearing you both call Kacey kid. Why do you do that when she is taller than you both? Natalia asked.

"Height has nothing to do with it. It is because she is younger. We watched her grow up. She will always be the little sister or kiddo to us." Rhea told her. "One thing does bother me Kate."

"What is that?"

"He came to the hospital alone. A place that is crawling with military and security personnel. I know Kacey said he was not the brightest bulb in the box, but how could he come here without some sort of back up?"

"He is a drunk. Maybe the alcohol has eroded what ever brain cells he had left."

"Maybe, but I want to talk to Lassiter. Keep this door shut."

"You are sounding paranoid, Rhea."

"Kate, do not argue. Just do it." Rhea ordered and left the room.

He watched from his hiding place as Peter let another woman take him down. "Damn fool could not keep his attitude in check. I should have left with the rest of the men."

The hall outside the room was filled with armed troops. "Shit how do I get out of here now?" He held back as the soldiers surrounded the desk. Seeing an opening, he slipped out of the room. He snuck around the corner and nodded to the soldiers still guarding the elevators. Holding his breath he headed toward the far stair well where the troops were fewer. Inside the stair well he released the breath he held and started down. Floor by floor he kept his steps slow and steady until at last he hit the ground floor. Cautiously making his way outside, until he was away from the main doors. He stopped to sit on a bench under a large tree where he could catch his breath and watch. With in a short time a large number of soldiers manhandled Peter into a waiting transport.

He pulled out his phone and dialed. He spoke softly when the call went through. "Peter has been arrested."

"What the Hell did that drunken fool do now? Never mind, where is he?"

"I don't know. They just took him away in a military transport."

"Get back here immediately."

"Will you try to free him?"

"No let him rot."

"How are her vitals?"

"Pulse seventy two. Blood pressure one ten over seventy, respiration eight. She is stable Doc."

"Excellent. Before we close, lets do a scan to make sure there are no additional problems."

The surgical team backed away from the operating table as the scanner moved into place. The machine hummed as it passed over Kacey. The images played onto the large monitor. The doctors studied the images for several minutes.

"The repairs look good. I am not seeing any areas that could cause problems later." Doctor Chan said. "What do you think Felicia?"

"Everything looks good to me. All the breaks are still fused and healing. No signs of infection. Olive?"

"I think we have finished the repairs."

"Lets close then." Doctor Chan ordered. "Time?"

"Seven hours forty two minutes."

"How long will you need to close Olive?"

"Just a few minutes, Lee."

"I will alert the recovery room that we will be bringing her over. Do we still have the guards outside?"


"Tell them we are about to move her."

The nurse left and returned a short time later. "Doctor the soldiers said we cannot move her yet."

"What? Why?"

"They did not say, but now there are eight soldiers instead of the two that came with her."

Felicia took off her mask and surgical gown and threw them in the soiled garments bag before she went into the hall. "I am Doctor Durand and I want to know why we are not allowed to move this patient to recovery."

"Doctor, my apologies, ma'am, but General O'Malley's life is in danger."

"Not this bull shit again. Is this from that pompous ass Millhouse?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Can you tell us what this threat is?"

"No ma'am. All I know is that we were ordered to protect General O'Malley at all cost. There are several additional soldiers in the corridor out side the surgical suite."

"It is doctor not ma'am"

"I am sorry doctor, but please remain in the operating room until we get the all clear."

"Can you at least tell me what happened?"

"All we were told was that unauthorized persons had entered the hospital with mayhem on their agendas." He informed her. "Please doctor return to the operating room."

Felicia turned and went back into the room. "Settle in everyone. We are not allowed to leave"

"What is the problem Felicia?"

"All they said was that someone entered the hospital planning mayhem or something like that."

"Then lets put this protective brace on while she is still asleep." Doctor Chan said.

Kate paced the room. "How long are we going to be held prisoner in the room?" Kate fumed.

"Kate relax. Let the soldiers finish searching this floor. Then I am sure they will let us out."

"Do you even know for certain that he even had an accomplice?"

"Not for certain, but some of the sentries recall seeing another man walk in with Peter. Whether they were actually together or just happen to walk in at the same time, they are not certain."

"Is Peter still here? I want to talk to him."

"Not going to happen Kate. He was already moved from the grounds to a secured location. And no I do not know where that is."

"Even if you did know, you would not tell me." Kate snapped at her friend.

"You are right. Look Kate this is for your own safety." Kate made a disgusted face. "Exactly as it was in space. Every time you fight us on this you pull our attention away from our primary goal of protecting you. Consider this. What is the best way to hurt Kacey? I will tell you, going after those she loves, her family, is the fastest way to hurt her."

"Rhea is correct, Kate." Natalia said quietly from the window. "Please do not fight her or take any chances."

Natalia''s quiet pleas dissolved Kate's anger. "I am sorry I yelled at you Rhea." She said meekly.

"We have been friends since childhood. If yelling at me is the worst that you have done in all that time, I am not worried."

A knock on the door stopped their conversation. Rhea reached for her weapon as the door opened. Lassiter poked her head in the door. Rhea relaxed.

"Doctor Durand just called from the O.R. The surgery is finished, but the security guards will not let them leave yet.. She said Kacey came through the surgery without any problems. They will remain in the O.R. until the room sweep is finished."

"How the Hell long will that take?" Kate demanded.

"With seventeen floors and about a thousand rooms to search it will take some time. This floor is almost finished. They found the room when the two men hid."

"So there was another person?"

"Yes, we have them on video coming in together and hiding. Descriptions of the second man have been sent out."

"Is he still in the hospital?"

"No we have him on video entering the stair well and exiting the hospital several minutes later."

"Then why continue the search if he is gone?" Kate asked.

"We have no idea if there are more that came in at different times. There are several teams going through all the video footage collected. That will take some time as there are almost two thousand cameras in this place."

"So we are going to be held here or hours?" Kate asked sarcastically.

"Not at all Admiral. We are waiting for the all clear between this floor and the surgical floor."


"Do not mind her Major. She is suffering from caffeine withdrawal and needs an extremely large coffee, black, no sugar." Rhea joked.

"Admiral, I will bring you all drinks shortly."

She quickly left as Kate gave Rhea a dirty look.


To be continued...


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