Year three in the Voyage of Andromeda. The adventure that started in Among the Stars, and Beyond the Farthest Planet continues in Far From Home.
Go To Part 1
Natalia woke early after a two hours of fitful sleep. She walked quietly through the living room trying not to wake Kate who slept on the couch. They were awake most of the night as they took turn pacing the floor until Liam put his foot down and made them get some rest.
"Is that coffee I smell?" Kate asked, her voice husky with sleep
"It is. Kacey always has the pot set to go." She pause when her voice cracked. She cleared her throat. "I'm sorry I woke you." Natalia pulled cups from the cabinet and set them on the counter next to the coffee pot.
"I was only dozing" Kate stated. "Were you able to get some sleep?"
"A little. I have problems sleeping when Kacey isn't here." Natalia stated. A baby's cry interrupted them. "Mommy time." She stated and placed two bottles into the warmer. She picked Caitlyn up, changed her and handed her to Kate. "Would you mind feeding her? Patrick is waking up."
"Of course I will."
Natalia went back into the nursery and picked up Patrick. She changed him and brought him out to the living room. She took the bottle from the warmer and sat in the rocking chair to feed him. She started humming a song Kacey always sang when she fed the children. Hot tears filled her eyes and her voice cracked again with emotion. She gave up trying to sing and cried. Her tears fell on the dark hair so much like Kacey's.
Kate listened to the sobs as she fought back her own tears. Caitlyn smiled up at Kate as she blew a milky bubble. "Your mama will be home with you little one. We all have to believe that." She whispered. "She loves you and Patrick very much." She looked up when the door chimed. "It's mom." She told Natalia. "Come in" Kate called out.
Natalia wiped her eyes and looked up as Patricia came in. "Has there been any change?"
"Kacey had a comfortable night. The doctor took some sort of scan. She said her condition was improving and if she continued to improve they may be able to remove the breathing tube later today."
"Thank God." Natalia said.
"Let me take Patrick while you go shower. Then I will get some breakfast for you before you go see Kacey." Patricia said and lay Patrick in his bassinette. She took Caitlyn from Kate and lay her down. "Kate you do the same." She ordered. "When Liam gets here I will go rest for a bit."
Kate left to shower and get a clean change of clothes. Patricia went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast for her family.
Anya stood outside Kacey's room while the Doctor ran another scan. She sipped a cup of tea. Natalia and Kate arrive and walked to the closed door.
"Do not panic, Natalia." Anya said. "The Doctor is doing another scan."
"How was Kacey after we left?" Kate asked.
"As far as I know and as much as the Doctor told me, she was good. She is running another scan to see how close her lung is to being inflated. When that is done the breathing tube can be removed and Kacey will be allowed to wake up."
"That would be great." Natalia stated.
"Darling, you should go get some rest."
"Go to our quarters first. Patricia was fixing breakfast for the girls when we left. She is probably waiting for you."
"Then I should go. I do not want her angry with me." Anya stated with a smile. She kissed Kate and hugged Natalia before she left Sick Bay.
The door to Kacey's room opened. The Doctor walked out. "Natalia, Captain, I am happy to say the Kacey continues to improve. Her lung is almost to the point that we will be able to remove the breathing tube sooner than expected. I will do another scan in an hour and make the decision then. The drainage tube is still in place. Hopefully that tube will be clear on the next scan and that can be removed also. Do not be alarmed if there is still drainage. It is normal and expected. She is still receiving blood. Hopefully this will be the last bag. We will check her blood count again in a few hours."
"Thank you Doctor." Natalia said. They went into the room. Natalia once again took Kacey's hand. Kate stood behind her. The Doctor stood at the foot of the bed and made notes in the chart. "Doctor will this injury cause any lasting damage."
"No there should not be any lasting damage. However Kacey will have to take it easy for the next week to ten days. While we used the bone knitters on the ribs we had to remove, it does not completely heal the breaks. The knitters get the process started faster and hold the bone ends together and stop them from moving. She will be sore for several days. Also the two holes have to close completely."
"She will definitely not like that." Natalia said. "What about the," She looked at Kacey. "Party next week," she whispered.
"You have to admit, that would keep her ass out of trouble for a little while." Kate stated.
"We can only hope Captain." Doctor McCloud stated before she left the room. "As for next week that should not cause any problems as long as she takes it nice and easy until then."
Natalia held the still hand and once again the long fingers curled around her own. They did not speak for several minutes as they watched the machine assisted rise and fall of her chest.
"She is still so pale and fragile looking." Natalia said.
"I would say that is because of all the tubes and machines. Natalia, She came through the surgery. The Doctor is happy with her progress. She will come back from this latest injury."
"How many more times can she return from the edge?" She asked. "I know it is who she is and I would never ask her to change. I love her no matter what. That will never change."
"But she can drive us crazy at times. I promise that when we get back to Earth, if mom does not kick the Joint Chiefs collective asses for those orders they gave her I will. They had no right to put that on her shoulders."
"Do you honestly believe that if she had not been given those orders, she would do anything differently?" Natalia asked.
"No. She would still be the same. That is just who she is."
"What is Earth like?"
"In a way it is a lot like Marcus Prime was, with the exception of the seasons. The four seasons we have can either gradually go from one to another or change quickly. One day you can have temperatures in the seventies, the next there could be two feet of snow on the ground. Depending where you lived. Where we live, it is more moderate. The temps can range from the thirties to nineties. We do not get snow in Florida. But if that is what you like, it only takes a short time to get to an area that has it. Many areas of the world will never sustain life again in hundreds or even thousands of years because of the last war."
"Which paved the way for space exploration."
"That actually started in the nineteen hundreds, but with so many parts of the world in Nuclear Winter, humans moved their energies from destroying each other to finding a way to survive. That meant living in space." "What about your homes?"
"We have our three houses on fifty acres of land. Kacey's house is between ours and mom and dad's. The property is completely fenced in. Kacey's has stables on her section. She used to raise and train horses. Maybe she will get back into that when we go home. She can teach you and the twins how to ride. We talked about getting the girls ponies before we left. There are riding trails. We have a swimming pool that we all share. Our places are across the road from a playground where the girls liked to go. The schools there are some of the best in the country."
"We will not need those for a few years but that is good to know. Will you and Anya really leave the service?"
"We have put off that decision until a later date."
"I think Kacey will."
"Really? Has she said anything to you?"
"Not really, but she has been doing research on different occupations. I know when she is ready she will tell me what is going on."
"What sort of occupations?"
"Music teacher, horse trainer, even civilian contractor to the service and a couple others that I have no idea what they are."
"She will figure it out." Kate stated.
The Doctor came into the room and checked the readouts of all the machines. "If you will step outside, we will run the scan and hopefully remove the breathing tube." Kate and Natalia left the room. They stood outside the closed door and waited. "So tell me about her house?"
"She has a three bedroom home. On the first floor there is a large kitchen. Why I am not sure because like me she can only cook the simplest items. There is a large living room, dining room, den but the most impressive room is her music room. She spent a great deal of time setting up the music room. Then she converted the basement into a rec room with all sorts of exercise equipment. There are three bathrooms. One down stairs and two upstairs. The master bathroom has a large double shower and whirlpool bath. She spent a lot of time fixing it up just the way she wanted, and yet most of the time she was only there to sleep. I am so happy you came into her life."
The door opened and Doctor McCloud walked out. "Natalia, Captain, I am happy to tell you that Kacey's lung has completely inflated. We have removed the breathing tubes and will allow her to wake up. Depending on what the blood tests show we may be able to stop the transfusions after this bag is empty. There is still some drainage so we had to leave the drainage tube in. When she wakes up she can have sips of water. I know it is an impossible task but try to have her keep quiet. Her throat will be sore from the tube as you know first hand, Captain. She should not stress her voice for a couple days."
"Thank you Doctor." Kate said. They entered the room. Natalia once again sat by the bed and took Kacey's hand in hers. The longer fingers curled around her own. Kate pulled up a chair next to Natalia's. The head of the bed was still raised. Oxygen was piped in through a nasal cannula. She was not as pale as she was right after the surgery, but still had a long way to go to return to her normal ruddy complexion.
They sat without talking while they waited for Kacey to wake up. Patricia pushed the carriage into Kacey's room.
"They wanted to visit their moms."
"Oh God, I was not paying attention to the time. I am so sorry, Patricia."
"Natalia, they have not lacked for attention or love." Patricia stated. "Family is here to help at times like these. Even the girls have been helping."
"Did Anya rest?"
"She is resting now. I will be doing the same when I leave here. Liam will be down shortly. He had a few things he needed to do."
"Thank you Patricia. We are just waiting for Kacey to wake up."
"I will be back later. I left word with the Mess Hall staff. They will bring lunch down for you both. I have something for each of you now." She handed Kate a coffee and Natalia a tea.
"Thanks mom." Kate said.
Patricia left the room. The sipped their drinks and waited.
"Is that coffee I smell?" Kacey rasped. Her voice hoarse from the tube.
CHAPTER 11 B
Natalia jumped up. She put her cup on the table and gently lay her head on Kacey's chest away from the surgical area. "Sweetheart, I am so happy you are awake."
Kacey tried to move and gasped with the pain the movement caused. "What happened?"
"Try not to talk. The Doctor said you should rest your voice.
"Afraid so little sister. Now stop talking." Kate ordered.
"Would you like some water?" Natalia asked. Kacey nodded. Natalia handed her a glass of water. Kacey took a sip and noticed the tubes in her arms. Her eyes tracked to the bags above her head. She looked at Kate.
"You lost a lot of blood from the time you were stabbed until they were able to get you into surgery." Kacey frowned. "You were stabbed at the ball. The knife punctured your lung in two places." Kate told her. "If Mike had not yelled at you the knife would have hit your heart or severed you spinal cord."
"Anyone else hurt?"
"Shh. No one else was hurt. You made your self the target of any assassin that first day."
"Guilty." Kacey rasped.
"Why? For the love of God why?" Kate asked.
"Before you strain your voice, use this." Natalia handed her a pad and pen she found in the drawer.
" Orders Kate ." She wrote.
"Bullshit, Kacey. Those orders are total bull shit."
Kacey wrote. " Not bullshit, Kate. You are my sister. I am not about to let anything happen to you." She showed Kate what she had written. The wrote more. " Besides I have better reflexes than you."
"I certainly can not argue with you on that." Kate admitted.
"Are the babies here?"
"You mom brought them earlier."
" Want to see them. Hold them ." She wrote.
"Later. Give yourself time to wake up." Kacey nodded.
The Doctor walked in. "Colonel how are you feeling?"
" Lousy " she wrote.
"That is understandable. You will be sore for a few days. Now let me take a look at your side." Doctor McCloud stated. "I think we will be able to remove the I.V and catheter. Would you step outside please?" She spoke to Kate and Natalia.
"Doctor can she have coffee?" Natalia asked.
"Yes, I will approve that."
Kate pushed the carriage out of the room. The Doctor closed the door.
"Kate, while you are in space, who is taking care of your property?"
"The service takes care of such things as mowing, pool cleaning, checking the buildings to make sure kids don't get in and destroy the buildings. They will have cleaning crews go in and dust and air the places out before we land."
"When we get back, you said that I will have completed the required two year service. What do I do to leave the service?"
"They will ask you if you want to re-enlist. Just tell them no. What would you do? Have you discussed this with Kacey?"
"We have not yet discussed that. As for what I would do, I don't know. I am not really qualified for anything. From the time I was a little girl I was trained and groomed to be the queen."
"You once said that queens had to have knowledge in many areas."
"I do, but not enough in any one area to make a living at it."
"Here is what we can do. For our remaining time, we will work together to find what area you like and work on training."
"Natalia, we are family. No thanks are necessary."
"Colonel in a few words as possible, I want you to tell me what your level of pain is." She pressed on her side.
Kacey winced. "Six."
"How about here?" She pressed near the cut.
Through clenched teeth, Kacey hissed. "Damn Doc that hurts."
"After what you have been through, that is to be expected. We had to remove two ribs to get to the punctures. The soreness is because the ribs have to heal."
"How long will I be a guest at this hotel this time, Doc?"
"A couple days. We need to make sure those ribs do not move. The bone knitters only go so far. Now I think it is safe to remove the catheter. Just relax. This will not hurt."
Kacey lay her head back and closed her eyes. "Go for it Doc." She rasped. "Tell me Doc, who won the pool this time?"
"I did. Thank you, Colonel. I won eleven thousand credits." The Doctor stated. "Once that blood bag is empty, I will remove that I.V. As soon as there is no drainage, that tube will come out. When that is gone, you side will not be as sore."
"That is good to hear, Doc. So where are you going to take Dr. Dimarco to celebrate?"
"You need to give your voice a rest Colonel." Kacey laughed until her side reminded her that was not a good idea. Doctor McCloud chuckled as she opened the door. Kate and Natalia walked back in with the babies. Kate carried a coffee.
Kacey waited impatiently in the hover chair for the Doctor to bring her discharge papers.
"What the hell is taking so long?" She complained.
"Honey relax." Natalia stated. "I am sure the Doctor will be here shortly."
"How long does it take to print up a list of things I can and can not do?"
"Knowing you, she is probably making sure she has every possible scenario covered." Anya stated from the doorway."
"Would you check please Anya?"
"Be patient, Kacey." Anya ordered.
Kacey banged her head against the padded chair back.
"Here you go Colonel. Try to take it easy for at least ten days. Make sure everything has a chance to fully heal."
"We will all keep an eye on her Doctor." Anya said.
"Exactly." Natalia agreed. "I know how you can be so I called for reinforcements."
"I will allow visitors for the daylight hours only. Night hours belong to Talia and I alone."
"We will see." Anya replied.
"Colonel, these are your pain medications. Use them if you really need them. They will make you drowsy. Continue with these antibiotics for three more days. Absolutely no lifting or working out. If your ribs do not give you any problems, I will allow you to play your violin. You are officially off work."
"What about paper work? I have reports that need to be done."
"Give it a couple days. If at any time you feel an increase in the pain level or find it hard to breathe, or experience sharp pains on your right side, return to Sick Bay immediately. That is extremely important. Do not shrug it off. Do not stop for coffee or pass go. You life could depend on it. Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal clear Doc. I will not take the chance of a relapse." Kacey promised.
"Good now get out of here." The Doctor ordered.
Natalia pushed the button to raise the hover chair. She went to push it when Anya waved her off. She took Kacey's hand as they left Sick Bay. Lining the corridor on both sides were crew members and Marines. They snapped to attention as the door opened. They saluted as she went by. Kacey returned their salutes as passed. The corridor to their quarters were also lined. The door to their quarters stood opened. Anya pushed the chair inside. The table was filled with food. A large thank you card signed by the crew and Marines leaned against the wall.
"Thank you everyone." Kacey stated. I am not sure what I did to deserve this, but thanks."
"You don't know what you did?" Kate asked. "You pulled the bulls eye off my back and put it on your own. You made yourself a target to protect me." Kacey shrugged. "Just so you know, when you go to file the report on this, first of all I demand to see it because there have already been six versions already sent in."
Patricia handed her a coffee. "Thanks mom." Kacey said.
Throughout the day a steady stream of visitors entered Kacey's quarters. After several hours the crowds of well wishers dwindled down until just the family and a few close friends remained. For the past hour, Kacey was feeling more and more uncomfortable as the pain medication the Doctor gave her in Sick Bay wore off.
Natalia was in the nursery taking care of their babies. Kate noticed the pain furrows in Kacey's face.
"Hey little sister. How are you doing?"
"I am okay, Kate."
"Do not lie to me, Kacey. You are in pain."
"Yeah a little." Kacey admitted.
"More than a little I think. I also think it is time for you to take those pain meds the Doctor gave you and rest."
"Not yet. I will rest later."
"No now. That is an order."
"Come on I will help you get changed." Kate pushed the hover chair into the bedroom.
"What happened to my bed?" Kacey demanded when she noticed the raised head.
"The Doctor said you were not to lay flat, so your people made a wedge that raises the head of the bed. Oh and Natalia said you are to lay on then other side of the bed so that she does not hurt you during the night."
"That's my girl."
Kate helped Kacey to undress and get into her comfortable sleep clothes. She stood close by while Kacey took care of her needs before she lay down. Twenty minutes later she came out of the bedroom. She nodded to Natalia that Kacey was resting.
To be continued...
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