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 seats around the conference table were almost filled when Kacey was brought in with the doctors. She was pushed to the head of the table and the doctors on the other end. Two chairs remained empty.
"What the Hell is going on?" Kacey demanded.
"Everything will be explained as soon as the last two people arrive." Doctor Durand told her.
The door opened again to admit President Cord and General Millhouse. The military people jumped to their feet. Kacey tried to stand but was waved back down.
"Please everyone at ease." President Cord said as she sat down in the center of the table with the General opposite her.
"Now I want to know, what the Hell is going on and why is he here?" Natalia demanded.
"Please Mrs. O'Malley all will be explained." President Cord stated. "We," she passed her hand around the table to include everyone, "are all here for one reason. That is to insure that General O'Malley's health and safety is our top priority."
"With him?" Natalia interrupted. "He is the cause of each and every injury Kacey suffered."
"Talia, don't." Kacey said.
"No General she is correct. When all is said and done, I am responsible. From the very first orders I gave her to this last mission. I am responsible. I want to assure you that, that will never happen again. I meant what I said before your last surgery, General. You will not be sent on any more missions. Your one and only focus will be in running Ridgefield and training new hot shot pilots. When you get cleared for duty that is."
"We are just supposed to take you at your word?" Natalia sneered.
"No, and I do not expect you to." The President interrupted. "However, believe me, this was General O'Malley's last mission. You have my word as President."
"Thank you, Madame President, that means a great deal."
"Furthermore, any orders General O'Malley receives will come directly from me. She has more than earned the right to live a danger free life. As much as possible that is."
"Excuse me, but I am sitting right here." Kacey stated. "Do I not get a say in this?"
Every head turned her way with a chorus of voices stating "No."
Kacey held up her hands. "Okay."
"Can we continue now that we have all the disagreeable stuff out of the way?" The President said. "It will please you to know that all the factions both here and in other countries have been effectively put out of business. We are still rounding up some of the men, but all the leaders have been arrested. The courts will be busy for a long time with all the trials."
"General, the last direct threat to you has been arrested." Mike said. "Adam Frost was picked up yesterday, and has been very informative. With Manny's and Lieutenant Jackson's help we have access to the faction's main computer and all their plans for destroying as many lives and the peace."
"Who is Adam Frost?" Kacey asked.
"He is the person responsible for the infection that almost killed you." Doctor Durand told her. "He was acting under order from Willhelm to sabotage you surgery and recovery."
"Kacey you should know that Felicia spent many hours going over every second of that first surgery to find what happend to cause that infection." Rhea told her.
"Thank you Doctor. Seems like I owe you my life more than once."
"Nonsense General, you owe me nothing."
"Speaking of owning," the President said, your bill here has been completely taken care of. That will be one less worry for you."
"There was no need to do that. I can pay."
"You were injured performing you duties, therefore the bill has been paid. Consider it a thank you from a grateful world. You have no say in this either General. Consider it an order."
"Yes ma'am, thank you ma'am." Kacey replied.
"There is just one last piece of business to take care of. General it gives me great pleasure to inform you that you will be discharged tomorrow morning."
"Are you shitting me Doc?"
"I am not. You have regained sufficient use of your leg to let you continue your convalescence at home." She paused to let the news sink in. "However there are several restrictions for the next couple weeks. Some for longer periods of time. Restrictions that person sitting here today are willing to make sure you stick to." She passed papers to each person.
"You have to be kidding. There must be twenty things listed here." Kacey complained as she looked at the list.
"Twenty three to be exact. We tried to take in account how active you are." Doctor McCloud said with a smile. "We knew that if something was not listed it would not matter to you."
"The first few are the most important. Continue to wear the brace for the next week until your leg is back to full strength. Use the crutches for two weeks, then you can move up to using a cane for stability. No running for several weeks, although walking is the best way to get your leg up to par."
"I can live with those Doc."
"Absolutely no lifting anything heavier than your violin. While the artificial disc have been accepted by your immune system, you can not put any stress on your spine."
"Can I hold our children?"
"Yes if someone puts them in your arms." Doctor Durand stated. "There is one that I know you will find hard to do, but try to rest during the day."
"What about work and flying?"
"Give it a week before you return to desk duty for two hours a day maximum for the first week. After that your can gradually work your way to a full duty shift. General your body sustained a great deal of damage. While your recovery has been steady, you still have a ways to go. As for flying yes, but only as a passenger. Your reflexes and reaction times are not at full strength yet. The same goes for driving, what ever it is you military people drive."
"General are supposed to have a driver, or so I have been told many times."
"How many time did you tell me that you are a terrible passenger?" Kate joked.
"It is the truth. We all know that."
"Regardless, for now, that is how it has to be." Doctor Durand interrupted. "Unless of course you want to remain here in the hospital for the remainder of your recovery?" She said with a smile.
"As much as I appreciate all the excellent care I have received in this fancy hotel, Hell no Doc." Kacey laughed.
"Did not thinks so." The doctor winked at Natalia.
"Is there anything else I should or should not do?"
"Continue with the therapy to strengthen the leg. At this point as we stated before, walking is the best form. But for the sake of everyone's sanity, while you still use the crutches, do not go out alone. Have a walking buddy and not more than an hour at a time."
"Okay. Doc, I can never thank any of you enough for what you have done for me. I can not ever repay you."
"General there actually is a way."
"Name it Doc."
"It is a silly request, but if I bring in my copy of your disc, would you autograph it for me?"
"Of course. How about I got a step further. When I return to the restaurant, come for dinner, my treat. You are all invited."
"I for one will not turn down an offer like that General. We can settle the day when you are closer to returning."
Rhea and Mike ran into the Administration Building as soon as they received the call from General Millhouse. They went directly to his office.
"Is it true General?" Mike asked as they entered the office.
"It is Colonel. The guards found him dead in his cell this morning."
"Do they know what happened?" Rhea asked.
"It looks like assisted suicide. The doctors are doing an autopsy now but from what I heard, the smell of almonds really told the story."
"How the Hell did he get it? Don't they check for things like this?"
"They do. The full body search turned up nothing suspicious. That is why they are saying assisted suicide. Someone snuck a pill into him. Security is going through the visitor's footage now. According to the logs, his only visitor was his lawyer. We are looking for him now."
"I can honestly say, I expected him to take the cowards way out. When we hit that huntin camp, he was hiding in the closet while the fighting went on."
"I for one am surprised that he was actually able to find a lawyer to represent him." Rhea stated.
"If he were in fact a lawyer." Mike added. "Anyone can come in and say they are a lawyer. It is not like they check credentials."
"Very true Colonel. Which brings up another problem."
"What do you mean sir?"
"Was that person an ally of Willhelm's or a vindictive relative of one of the women kidnapped and raped by those bastards."
"If it is the latter General, then I say good work. He did the world a favor." Rhea said angrily.
"Personally, Captain, I agree with you. Unfortunately we cannot allow vigilante justice."
"Has his family been notified?"
"Not yet. We are holding off until we get the autopsy results."
"They will probably celebrate that the bastard is dead."
"We are sitting on this news. Needless to say, no-one outside this room can know. That includes General O'Malley." He continued. "Speaking of her, when is she being released?"
"Kate said ten hundred hours tomorrow morning sir."
"I realize that does not give you a lot of time, but is anything planned?"
"We have been working on this for a few days, sir, and we have it covered." Mike stated. "As soon as we left the meeting this morning, we sent a notice out to the base. The transport will pick her up and there will be a ship line up as they approach the base. Once on the ground there will be a line up from the landing pad to their residence. Many of the women that remained on the base have asked to be present. She will leave the transport and get into a rover to drive down the main road. The Marine band will lead the procession. All those who took part in the mission will be part of the parade."
"Bella is organizing everyone. President and Mrs. Cord will meet her in the secured area."
"A heroes welcome, as it should be."
"We would like everyone taking part to be lined up by nine thirty hours, General."
"Do you have any idea when we will be able to return to our homes General?"
"We have a meeting next week."
"You are certain that all the factions have been put down?"
"Can we ever be certain, Captain. For now we feel that we handed them a death blow and effectively put them out of business. There will always be haters. History has taught us that time after time since the universe began, there will always be those who think they are superior and try to purge the world of those they deem lesser individuals. We hope that any remaining will crawl back under the manure piles and die off."
"There is always hope." Rhea responded. "Will you be at the base General?"
"Yes. I know I am not Mrs. O'Malley's favorite person, but I and Manny want to be there."
"Then we will see you there." They saluted and left the office.
"The transport will be here in thirty minutes to pick you up." Kate stated. "Do you have all your instructions?"
"Talia has them. Kate I want my homecoming to be a quiet as possible."
"As far as I know it will be just a few people to meet the transport."
"Define a few people."
"Rhea, Bella, Mike, Jeremy, Daniel, Veronica, Maria and I believe Manny."
"All right then. Kate do you remember those pictures I commissioned?"
"Of course. Why?"
"I know I missed Talia's birthday, but as soon as I can return to the restaurant, I would like to have a surprise birthday party for her. Would you be able to complete them?"
"They are complete. I finished them after we knew that you would live." Kate stated. "Have the doctors been in yet?"
"They were here early and signed my release papers. I am a free person at last."
"How do you feel about General Millhouse's news yesterday?"
"That I will be a full time desk jockey part time teacher slash test pilot for the remainder of my career?" Kate nodded. "I have a lot of mixed feelings about that."
"Any you want to share?"
"I am angry. Oh not at General Millhouse, but at myself because I let that bitch get the drop on me so that I could not get out of the way of that cave in. Then I am happy because I would not have to worry Talia and the family that I might not come back. Add that to being worried that I will get bored with just administrative work day after day."
"At least you are alive to have all those feelings." Kate argued.
"Very true. Knowing that I will be with Talia and raising our children with her makes me extremely happy."
"That is the most important emotion. You have come a long way little sister."
"Finally right? I know this will sound completely off the wall for me, but I feel at peace with myself." She fingered the ring on her right hand.
Kate watched her rub the ring that had been passed down through generation. "I take it that peace comes from the dream you had? The one I have heard about?"
"It does. When we have more time, I will tell you about it. Better yet, I will let you read about it."
"I would be honored, little sister. Now lets get you dressed. Natalia will be bak shortly."
"My uniform is in the closet. Talia brought my dress uniform. I told her to bring the dress blues, but she went formal." Kacey sighed.
"She must have a reason."
"It will be nice to sleep in our bed tonight."
"And other pleasurable things?" Kate joked.
"That goes without saying."
"Damn not even a hint of a blush."
"Transport one to Ridgefield Base."
"Go ahead Transport one."
"We are lifting off from Academy Hospital en route to base. Our E.T.A is seven minutes."
"Roger Transport one. The shield over landing area two is open. All is ready for your arrival. You have clear skies and a direct path to base. Sending coordinates."
The transport lifted off for the short flight. Natalia sat next to Kacey and held her hand. Kate sat across from them.
"Sit back and relax General, we will have you back to the base in a few minutes. Thank you for flying with us today." The pilot turned. Kacey smiled at him.
"A nice smooth uneventful trip back would be appreciated Major."
"Nice and smooth, I can guarantee. As for uneventful, there is a reception committee waiting. If you look out your windows you will see them shortly."
The transport flew between two lines on ships of all sizes. As they entered the area between the ships, the sky erupted with a laser light salute.
"Nothing was planned Kate?" Kacey accused her.
Kate held up her hands. "I knew nothing of this. I am as surprised as you."
"We only wanted to give you the welcome you deserve General." The pilot stated.
Kacey let out a breath. "Proceed Major."
"Yes ma'am." He said with a laugh.
As they passed the ships turned to escort the transport to the base.
"I wish they would have discharged me during the night to avoid this." Kacey complained.
"Then the children would have been asleep." Natalia reminded her.
"Just think about all the trees that have been saved by using laser lights."
"What are you talking about Kate?"
"Don't you remember learning about the ticker tape parades they held for returning heroes."
"I remember, but I hate that title."
"General we are approaching the base and will have you on the ground in less than a minute."
"Thank you Major." Kacey looked out the window as the transport descended. "Holy shit, look at that crowd. Do you still deny knowing anything about this Kate?"
"Yes, this was not my doing."
"Kacey stop accusing Kate and consider this honoring every person who took part in the rescue."
Kacey put her hands up. "All right, all right, I surrender."
The transport touched down. The ramp opened and the low hum of the engine quieted. Kate handed Kacey her crutches and stood back out of the way.
Mike entered in full dress uniform and saluted. "Welcome home General. As your adjunct, I am here to escort you to to the rover."
"Thank you Colonel Anderson. You may proceed."
As soon as she appeared at the top of the ramp the Marine Corp band started to play and every service person snapped to attention. The crowd cheered as they walked down the ramp.
"What a day." Kacey said as she lay in their bed. Natalia walked out of the bathroom shutting off the light. She lay next to Kacey and felt Kacey's arm around her. she allowed the arm to pull her close.
"I have missed this." She sighed.
"So have I sweetheart." Kacey yawned.
"You know as much as I want to have my way with you tonight, I know you are tired. But tomorrow night, General, you are mine."
"I will hold you to that." Kacey joked. "I have to tell you, I received orders today, Talia."
Natalia sat up. "What? Who? Do they not realize that you were just discharged from the hospital today? Is it that bastard Millhouse?"
Kacey pulled her back down. "Sweetheart relax, my orders came from Patrick. He told me in no uncertain terms that I am , wait how did he phrase that. Oh yeah, he said you not go away again mommy. I mean it. He had his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face."
"Do not do that again General or I will have to hurt you." Natalia scolded Kacey. "Did he really tell you that?"
"He did. He looked like a miniature mom with his hands on his hips and the scowl. It was all I could do not to laugh at him."
"Then you had better do as your were ordered."
"I have every intention of following those particular orders, my love."
"Good now go to sleep." She leaned over and kissed Kacey. "I love you General O'Malley."
"I love you, your Majesty."
Natalia watched as the blue eyes closed and soon the slow even breaths told her Kacey was asleep.
To be continued...
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