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.
The surgical team waited for the all clear. During the time they cleaned up all the used instruments and tossed the soiled garments into the laundry and the bloody waste into sealed containers.
The doctors checked Kacey's level of consciousness by talking to her. Doctor Chan ran his finger over the bottom of her foot to check her reflexes or any sign of movement.
The sentries walked the corridor outside the Operating Room and in the corridor leading to the surgical suites as they all waited for the all clear to come through.
Peter was thrown into a holding room in the basement of the Administration Building. Armed guards stood outside the door. The room was bare except for a table and three chairs. There were no windows. Cameras in every corner recorded his every move. After the heavy metal door was slammed shut on him, he heard the lock thrown.
He paced the perimeter of the six by six room. The shackles on his hands and feet clanked as he paced. He was angry. Angry at the women who took him down. Angry at the thought of his plan being thwarted and the thought of his father's wrath. Angry at his so called friend who ran out on him and did not even try to come to his aid. "The old man will..." He thought. "As soon as he hears he will come for me. He will not leave me here to rot." "Christ I need a drink." He said out loud.
Peter could not tell how long he had been stuck in the room. They took his watch when they strip searched him and forced him into the shower. He was equally angry at being forced into the chair while they cut his hair and shaved off the beard he spent months growing.
While he paced, his before and after photos were sent out to all the women that were rescued asking the questions, Do you know this man? Did he sexually assault you?"
Within minutes replies started to arrived. Answers of Yes and His name was Peter. He made us call him Big Pete. He was the ringleader of the worst group there. They liked to gang up on the women.
Lassiter knocked on the door before entering. "I was just informed that this floor and those leading to the surgical floor have been cleared."
"That is fantastic." Kate stated. "Thank you for letting us know." Rhea cleared her throat. "And for bringing us coffee."
"You are very welcome Admiral. I have also heard from Doctor Durand. Kacey is semi awake. She will be brought here instead of going to recovery. She will be here shortly."
General Millhouse entered without knocking. The service people snapped to attention. Natalia turned towards the window still not ready to see, or talk to him. And no where ready to forgive him.
"Captain Torrino, Major Lassiter, I need to speak to you both privately."
"Of course sir." Rhea said. They left the room.
Kate turned to Natalia. "Is something wrong Natalia?"
"I cannot stand that man. In fact I think I hate him."
"No. I do not think for a single minute that you have it in you to hate anyone."
"Regardless, I will never forgive him for what he tried to do when Kacey was first injured."
"Do you Kate? Do you really?"
"Yes, I do."
"I will never understand the blind faith you service people have in your Commanding Officers." Natalia admitted. I hold him personally responsible for each and every time Kacey has been injured. I admit it has cause a few problems between us."
"Kate, no one knows this and I would rather your parents not find out, especially your mother. Patricia would give Kacey a hard time, but we have had a few arguments over her position."
"If you are worried about her safety, General Millhouse said that this was her last mission."
"Until he needs her to put her life in jeopardy. I do not believe he will keep his word and keep her safely on the base. I am not sure I can go through this again."
"Hold on there a minute. Are you talking about separating?"
"Not at all. When we married it was forever and not just during the easy times. Neither of us is a quitter."
"You know that if given the choice between you and the children and the service, she would pick you."
"That is just it, Kate. I do not know. Not for certain."
The door opened and stopped their conversation. The staff moved the hover bed through the door. They moved out of the way to give the staff room to work. Kacey was smoothly transferred from the hover bed to a regular bed.
"You want us to question Peter?"
"The man who raped and abused so many women?"
"Captain you were in the interviews with the women. The two of you were responsible for taking him down, who better to keep him off balance."
"Any special way you want us to handle him General?"
"Treat him the same way he treated those women. Show him no mercy."
"Very good sir. What are the charges against him?"
"In addition to Treason, there is kidnapping, rape, attempted murder, evading arrest, and whatever else we can come up with."
"Treason. Good. The one charge that we do not have to honor his rights and which carries the death penalty."
"Can we use that as a bargaining chip to get the information we need?"
"Yes, because you will not be the ones making that final decision. But he will not know that. We need to know where his bastard father and the others are hiding."
"We will get that information, General. Where is Peter being held?"
He handed them a piece of paper. "I apologize for the mystery, but we know there are enemies within the hospital. Tell no one where you are going. Not even your partners."
"Yes sir." The saluted and left.
General Millhouse watched them go. He called out to a passing soldier. "Lieutenant, go down stairs and escort General O'Malley's family to her room."
"Hi honey, I'm baaack." Kacey mumbled still groggy from the anesthesia. Natalia leaned over and kissed her.
"I can see that. How are you feeling?"
"They have some kick ass happy juice here that is really good shit."
"Mrs. O'Malley she is still out of it from the anesthesia. It has not all worn off yet. This reaction is what the staff in the recovery room see all the time, but we bypassed that and brought her right to her room." Doctor Durand told her. "We hear all sorts of things. As the drugs continue to wear off she will start to feel pain."
"Was the surgery a success?"
"We are cautiously optimistic. There are reactions when her foot is touched."
"She never has liked anyone touching her feet." Kate said. "Did she kick you?"
"I was forewarned about her reflexes and stood off to the side. The brace she is wearing helped prevent that also." Doctor Chan informed them.
"How long will she have to wear the brace?" Natalia asked.
"At least two days until we run another scan to make sure the artificial nerves have been accepted by her body. During that time, she cannot be out of bed or move around too much. If there are no problems, then she will go into a smaller brace and be allowed out of bed."
"Can Talia stay?" Kacey asked. "If I have to stay in bed, can Talia sleep over again. We won't make any noise?"
Natalia felt her face redden. "Behave."
"General in a few hours that sort of thing will be very far from your mind. The numbing agents we used will wear off and you will be in a lot of pain. We will try to keep that pain at bay" Doctor Chan told her. "Now I am going to check your reflexes again."
He raised the sheet and ran his finger across the sole of her foot. The foot and leg jerked away. He repeated the process twice more with the same results. "Very good" He covered her foot. "I will leave you to visit with your family."
"Doctor Chan, thank you for taking care of Kacey." Natalia said. He nodded in response.
"The staff will not be able to look the other way tonight, Mrs. O'Malley." He winked at her. She blushed again.
"Natalia, this is a military hospital. There are cameras at every entrance, exit, elevator and stairwell. Every single one. No one enters of leaves without it being caught on camera. The staff notified me as soon as you snuck back into Kacey's room. I told them to leave you alone. That is why the staff did not run their usual checks and the guards moved a few feet from the door. A patient's mental state is very important. Your being here was a tremendous boost to Kacey's mental state."
"She certainly did that doc." Kacey mumbled. "several times."
"Hush." Natalia ordered as her face reddened again.
Kate laughed. "Will she remember any of what she says now?" Kate asked when she managed to stop laughing.
"She may. Every person is different."
"That is a good sign." Patricia said as she entered the room. "We heard you laughing from the desk. Natalia dear are you all right?" Kate laughed again.
"Talia gave my mental state a gi-gan-tic boost last night when she ummm." Natalia covered her mouth. Kacey licked the palm.
"Yow, that was not very nice."
"That is not what you said last night when you were keeping my morale up."
"What is going on?" Patricia demanded.
"Kacey is still feeling the effects of the anesthesia."
"Really? Why is that?" Liam asked. "What is going on? Why were we held downstairs?"
"There was an incursion by enemies sir." The guard informed him. "The person entered the hospital and we believed he was here to do harm to General O'Malley."
"Is he still here?"
"No ma'am. He was taken to a secured location after his arrest."
"Who was he lad?"
"I am unable to give you his name sir."
"Unable or unwilling?"
"I do not know his name sir. Before you ask, I do not know where he was taken either. There are several who would like to know that information. General Millhouse called in a special team and they took him out. Major Lassiter and Captain Torrino left with the General.
"I wondered where she went." Kate stated.
"Liam she is still groggy because we brought her here instead of recovery after we received the all clear. Her brain is still foggy so she could say anything."
"Did everything go well?"
"Extremely well. There are already reactions in that foot and leg.."
"And no one got kicked." Kacey said. "Unlike Kate, they all knew enough to stand off to the side."
"Hey." Kate protested.
"She has you there Kate." Anya spoke as she carried in a tray of drinks.
"Yup nailed her every time. Even knocked her on her butt a couple times too."
"Once that happened once." Kate argued.
From the control room, they watched Peter pace the holding room. They could see the perspiration on his face. He wiped his face with a shaky hand.
"The poor boy looks like he is beginning to feel the effects of withdrawal."
"From the testimony we have heard, he was a heavy drinker."
"That gives me an idea." Major Lassiter said. "General, I know this is against regulations, but can we get a bottle in here?"
"I am way ahead of you Major. The guard has what you will need. The files of those women who specifically named him as their rapist are on you hand computers."
"Any additional instructions, sir?"
"Just one Captain. Break him. Break that son of a bitch so that he gives us the names and location of his father and the others who escaped. You two break him."
"Understood sir." They left the control room and made their way to the holding room. The guard handed them a bottle and metal cup before he unlocked the door.
Peter turned at the sound of the door opening.
"It's about damn time you bastards." He stopped as the two women walked in, then started laughing. "They sent you two bitches in here? What are you, my sexual playthings?"
The two women looked at each other.
"Sit down, pretty boy." Major Lassiter ordered.
"Sorry sweetheart, I don't take orders from bitches. I give them."
Lassiter walked close to Peter and stared at him for a long moment. When the wink came she was ready. Her hand shot out and grabbed his throat and squeezed. His eyes bulged as he fought for breath.
"I said sit down Pretty Boy." She said again and shoved him into the chair. He coughed and greedily sucked in air. "Now Pretty Boy we are going to have a little talk. You will tell us exactly what we want to know." She walked around the table and sat next to Rhea.
"You have a nice long list of charges against you Pretty Boy. Kidnapping, rape, attempted murder, impersonating an officer, oh and lets not forget the best one, Treason. That one along guarantees you a firing squad." Rhea said. "There are hundreds of volunteers for that lovely chore. You see the men and women here have great respect for General O' Malley. They all want a chance to take a shot to end your life. How many bullets do you think a human body can absorb, before they die. I am guessing hundreds as long as no major arteries or organs are hit. You could suffer for hours before that final fatal shot is fired." Rhea told him. They watched the sweat run down his face
"Hours Pretty Boy. Hours or you feeling every single bullet tear into your body." Lassiter added. Peter began to shake.
"Now let's talk Pretty Boy."
"My name is Peter." He shouted with a bravery he did not feel.
"Nah Pretty boy suits you. Just like you calling everyone woman who crosses your path, honey, sweetheart, or babe. You do that to degrade them. We are just giving you a taste of what you forced them to listen to."
"I am entitled to a lawyer."
"That is true for the lesser charges. We could let you try to find a lawyer, if there were one with no morals at all that is willing to take your case. I doubt ever happen.that would. Except for the charge of treason."
"That is against the law. I do not have to talk to you."
"That is not necessarily true. But then again we could just throw your worthless ass into a cell and forget about you. Then we will all watch you go through the effects of withdrawal. You are feeling the effects already. Sweating, shakes and soon you will feel like there are a million pieces of glass tearing at your insides. Or your skin will feel like there are hundreds of insects under your skin. Then the highlight will be the hallucinations that will come at any time, and last for days. We will watch every second of your descent into screaming agony." Lassiter informed him.
Peter's hands shook more. "That is inhuman treatment." His bravery failing with each passing second and a waiver sounded in his voice.
"The word is inhumane, asshole. We can do whatever we want because of the big charge against you, treason. Would you like to hear another little nugget of information?" Rhea said. "Only a very select handful of people know where your worthless ass is. Each of us has ties to General O'Malley."
"Or we could do this." Lassiter added as she placed the bottle and cup on the table. They watched Peter lick his lips. "You answer our questions truthfully. Every time you convince us that you are telling the truth, you will get a drink."
Peter stared at the bottle that sat just out his reach due to the shackles. He licked his lips again. He watched Rhea crack the seal and pour a little into the cup. She sniffed the contents. "This is nice." She passed the cup to Lassiter who gently waved her hand over the cup.
"You are right. I have an idea. When we finish with Pretty Boy, let's go to the Officers Club and order a bottle."
"Count me in." Rhea said with a smile. "Now shall we begin? Where is your father and his lowlife pack of deplorables hiding?"
Peter did not take his eyes off the bottle. Lassiter slapped her hand on the table. When he looked at her she asked, "is that too hard a question for you Pretty Boy?"
"Lassiter, maybe daddy is not hiding. He could be dead. How about it Junior is daddy dead?"
"No, he's alive." Peter replied.
"That was not too hard now was it. We believe you." She passed the cup to his hands. He snatched it and drank it quickly before they had the chance to take the cup away from him. Rhea reached over and took the cup to pour a little more whiskey.
"So where is your father hiding?" Lassiter asked again.
He hesitated before answering. "In the back woods of Maine" He reached for the cup. Lassiter stopped Rhea from passing it to him.
"Maine has a great deal of woods. Where exactly?"
"I am not sure." Peter responded.
"Not buying that. What about you Captain?"
"Not buying it either. What is the nearest town?"
"It is a little backwater place called Frenchville, up near the Canadian border.
"That is better." Rhea passed him the cup.
"Where exactly in the woods?"
"Hey do you expect me to draw you a map?" His courage returned with the second drink.
"Yes, we want the precise location." He smiled. "Did we happen to mention that when they put you in front of a firing squad, you are blindfolded. You would not see where the next shot was coming from. You will hear the guns being cocked and fired." His smile faded. "Each and every shot as it was fired."
"All right." He shouted. "Damn it. In the woods north west of the town, about nine kilometers there is a circle of hunting cabins. You will find him and forty or so others."
In the control room General Millhouse turned to Colonel Anderson. "Get your team in the air in thirty minutes."
"Colonel we would like them taken in alive if possible, but is not mandatory. You get him however you can."
"Understand General. I have to say General, those two could teach psychological warfare to experts."
"We are trampling all over his rights in there."
"I did not see a thing General." Mike said, saluted and left.
"How many cabins are there?"
"Ten or twelve. It is used as a hunting camp in the good seasons, but not in the blasted never ending winter."
"How many others did you say were there?"
"Where is my drink?" Rhea poured his drink and handed it to him. He drank it quickly. "Forty or fifty armed men. No women."
"That is surprising. You did not take any women with you to service your needs?" He remained silent until Rhea handed him another drink.
"That was not my idea. A man has needs. The old man thought that women would slow us down."
"Why blow up the bunker?" Lassiter asked.
"I know the answer to that one Major. They wanted to destroy all evidence of their crimes. Much like Hitler did with the death camps and that idiot in 2017 who hijacked the election and worked to start world war three when he targeted specific groups of people."
"Is that right pretty boy?"
"Yeah, the leader was related to that last one you mentioned. He liked to quote the first one at all our meetings. Not sure who he was exactly."
"Figures, someone as stupid as you would not bother to learn History."
"I ain't stupid." Peter protested.
"You are worse than stupid." Lassiter yelled. "You are a weak, pathetic, drunken fool who is afraid to stand up to your tyrant of a father."
"Is that right?" Peter yelled back. "Who do you think set that timer to go off twenty minutes early. And who convinced him that only a few were set up. I did. I could have brought that whole damn mountain down, but I didn't.".
General Millhouse watched the interrogation when his phone rang. "Millhouse."
"General, we have twenty ships with three hundred volunteers that will take off in about five minutes. Our E.T.A. is two hours. We have located the town Junior mentioned and have a tentative fix on our target."
"Be advised that there are approximately fifty combatants that are heavily armed."
"So are we General."
"Good hunting, Colonel."
The room was in semi darkness as day gave way to the night. A small light by the bed emitted a golden glow in the room. The soft humming of the machines around the bed was soothing. Staff entered the room periodically to gather readings from the machines.
Kate sat next to the bed with her computer open in her lap, as she watched her sister sleep. The soldiers remained outside the door and guarded every entrance to the floor.
"Kate?" Anya called softly from the door.
"Anya what are you doing back here?"
"I came to get you. Visiting hours are almost over. It is time to come home." Anya told her. "How is Kacey?"
"The numbing stuff wore off an hour ago and she was in a lot of pain. The staff gave her something that knocked her out. The doctors came in and they are pleased with the improvement in her reactions to stimulus."
"The surgery was a success then?"
"You know how doctors are. They will only say that they are cautiously optimistic."
"Well that is good then. So why do you look worried?"
"Kate, you can fool everyone but me. What is bothering you?"
"I am not sure?" Anya's raised eyebrow told her that was not the answer. Kate sighed. "Maybe I have been listening to Natalia, but I do not think General Millhouse will not send her on any more missions. I am also worried that Kacey will not take the time to completely heal before she throws herself back into work."
"Have faith in her Kate. Look how well she handled not having the use of her leg before we even knew the nerves could be replaced."
"I know darling. That is a miracle in itself."
"Then say goodnight and we will go home."
Kate leaned over the railing and kissed Kacey's head causing her to jump. "Whas goin on" Kacey slurred, her eyes glassy from the medication.
"Shh go back to sleep little sister. I am just saying good night."
"We talked her into going to to rest. You do the same."
"Kay." Kacey's eyes closed as the medication took her back under.
Kate took Anya's outstretched hand as they walked out of the room.
The ships hovered a kilometer above the cabins. Night had descended and the full moon lit up the clearing below. The ships were cloaked to hide them from the fugitives. Snow machines and cargo transports filled the center on the yard. Figures loaded the transports with supplies and equipment.
"There is a great deal of activity down there, Colonel."
"It looks like they are abandoning this site. That is something we are not going to allow. Are the ground troops in position?"
"They will be in less than five minutes, Mike."
"As soon as they are ready, take us down and deactivate the cloak."
"Understood Sir." The pilot stated.
"Lock and load everyone." Mike ordered. "We are going traitor hunting. Somewhere in those cabins is Curt Wilhelm, second in command to the animal who ordered the kidnapping, rape and torture of hundreds of women. And who worked to destroy the hard won peace. If that is not enough to motivate you to find that bastard, he was the one who gave the order to blow up the caverns and caused the near fatal injuries to General O'Malley. The brass wants him taken alive if possible and not make him a martyr to others who thought like him. However those below us will not go down without a fight. We have the element of surprise on our side. Once we land the cloaks will drop and the shields lowered over the ramps. Hit the ground running and aim for the center of the yard."
"What if they surrender, Colonel?"
"Then we treat them as the criminals they are."
"Ground troops are in position and have the cabins surrounded." The pilot reported.
"Take us down."
The ships landed silently. Within seconds floodlights blinded the men in the yard as the ramps opened and troops ran off the ships yelling.
"Drop your weapons."
"On your knees, hands behind your heads."
Several men fired on the soldiers who quickly fired back with deadly accuracy. The soldiers outside the circle of cabins also opened fire catching the men in a deadly cross fire and stopped any who tried to escape. The fight was over in minutes as the soldiers outnumbered the fugitives. They dropped their weapons and knelt in the hard packed snow."
"Half of you establish a perimeter around the cabins. Anyone who tries to escape, shoot them." Mike ordered as he walked around the captives. "Now, I am going to ask you this one time. Where is Wilhelm?" The men remained silent as Mike walked around them. "Four to a cabin. Tear them apart. Find Wilhelm." The soldiers split up and entered the cabins. Mike watched as the medic walked towards him. "Report."
"Eleven wounded, two of ours. Belden took a hit to the shoulder and Nickols in the leg. Neither life threatening. Four dead, none of which were ours. Of the casualties, two may not make it."
"Can the injured be moved?"
"Call for the Medical and prisoner transports to land to pick up the wounded and prisoners."
From the yard Mike could hear the sounds of the soldiers searching for Wilhelm. Their rifle butts banging against walls trying to locate hidden areas. He pulled the phone from his pocket and pressed a number.
"General we have secured the cabins. Wilhelm is still missing, but we are conducting a search for him. We have approximately forty prisoners."
"Two for us, neither serious. Four fugitives dead, nine wounded, two of which may not make it. We will transport the wounded and prisoners shortly."
"Any news from the hospital?"
"Nothing yet, but I am not the family's favorite person right now."
"It will straighten itself out sir."
"I wish I had your confidence, Colonel. Keep me informed on your progress finding Wilhelm."
"Yes sir." He ended the call and continued to wait to the search to finish. Several minutes later as the prisoners were being loaded into the transports, he heard a commotion from one of the cabins. A soldier ran out.
"We found him Colonel Anderson." He called out. "He was hiding in a closet like a frightened child."
"Or a bastard coward." Mike called back. "Bring him out."
The soldiers dragged a battered Wilhelm out of the cabin and pushed him over to Mike. One eye was swollen shut, his lip was cut and bleeding, and a cut was on his cheek. His clothes torn.
Mike smiled at Wilhelm. "Put up a bit of a fight, did he?"
"Not much sir, unless you could count holding onto the clothes rack. But we were there when General O'Malley was pulled from that cave in. This was personal."
"Well Wilhelm, you are not looking too good." Mike laughed at him.
"I may have been forced into retirement, Colonel, but you can call me General Wilhelm." He snapped.
"How about I call you what you are, a scum sucking pig bastard." Mike snapped back. "I do owe you one thing." He pulled back his right hand and punched Wilhelm in the face breaking his nose.
Wilhelm dropped to the frozen ground, blood pouring from his broken nose. The soldiers cheered.
Kacey sat in the hover chair in front of the horizontal bars in therapy. The therapist helped her stand.
"Remember Kacey, you are not running a race. Just take one step at a time." Kacey nodded. "Whenever you are ready."
Kacey took a deep breath and moved her left leg forward. The brace helped her stay upright as it supported her weaker left leg. She followed with a stronger step with her right leg. She moved her hands on the bars and took another step. Step by step until she reached the end of the bars twenty meters away. She turned and started back.
"Excellent job, Kacey. That is as far as you got yesterday. Do you feel up to passing that mark?"
"Let's give it a go." Kacey said and started back down the ramp until she completed the second trip and returned to the hover chair. She sat down.
"You are making tremendous progress."
"It does not feel that way."
"Kacey it has only been three days since your last surgery. You are making progress. This is not something that can be rushed. Each day you get better."
"I know, it is just that I am sick and tired of being in the hospital instead of at home with my wife and children."
"It will happen. When you come back this afternoon we will start you with crutches. That will put you one step closer to your wish. This is the time for patience." She stated with a smile. "Now lets get you back to your room. Your doctors will be there shortly."
The Therapist pushed Kacey out of Therapy.
Doctor Durand stood in front on the large screen as it played the recording of the first surgery. She scrutinized every frame, every move the surgical teams made during the almost twelve hour operation. A movement near the end caught her attention. She backed the recording up and replayed it in slow motion. Stopping and backing it up a second time to watch it again. She found what she needed and stopped the recording. "Got you, you little bastard." She said to the empty room. She pulled out her phone and dialed. "Olive I need to see you in my office before we go see General O'Malley."
"What is wrong?"
"I found something you need to see."
"I will be there shortly."
She ended the call and replayed the scene again. She was still watching when the door opened.
"Felicia what's wrong?"
"You know I have spent countless hours going over every minute of that first surgery."
"Yes, you said you needed to know what went wrong. How we could all miss that cut that caused the infection that almost killed her."
"I found it." Felicia stated. "It happened at hour ten when we had to step away and the second team took over."
To be continued...
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