he adventures of the Star Traveler Andromeda that started in Among the Stars, Beyond the Farthest Planet, and So Far From Home, continues in the final chapter The Voyage Home.
Go To Part 1
"If everything goes well, today will be the last day of debriefings." General Millhouse stated. "I would like to get through with as little animosity as possible from anyone. Is that understood?"
"I will try General." Kacey stated.
"I believe we left off with your helping the Vidag."
"What led up to your providing help to them?"
"We discovered that we had a common enemy, sir. We were attacked shortly after we came back through the Kuiper belt. Several of the Bridge crew were injured from the consoles exploding around the same time we were attacked. They were driven from their homes by the same raiders who attacked us and chased them into this solar system."
"This attack on Andromeda, where were you at the time?" Wilhelm asked.
"I was in my shuttle doing my scheduled scout flight."
"General Wilhelm that attack has already been discussed and we have moved on. Let's return to the Vidag."
"The Vidag landed on the planet that we had named Athena, looking for a place where they could live in peace. We helped them with shield generators and technology to protect them. We used some of the diamonds to enhance the shields using a system that I was finally able to integrate into Andromeda's shield generators after we were attacked by the raiders. By helping the Vidag we now have allies in this corner of the solar system."
"Very true, but due to the Vidag you were once again put at death's door for what the seventh or eighth time?"
"It was not because of the Vidag general, but rather an antiquated rule that needs to be taken from the rule book. The rule that forbids inter species relationships."
"Colonel it is not your place to lecture us on what rules are antiquated. Those rules are there for a reason."
Kacey sighed in frustration. "Yes General, but several are outdated. We are trying to establish ties with other civilizations. What better way to strengthen those ties than allowing relationships to develop."
"There are those that believe races should be kept separate."
"Let me ask you a question General Wilhelm. Did you listen in school when they taught us how intolerance almost destroyed this planet? That was less than a hundred years ago. Surely they covered that when you were in school." Kacey stated angrily. "Or are you one of those people who believe that only white men are superior? That women, and all other races are inferior? That sort of intolerance is against the law."
"We are getting off the subject here." General Millhouse stated to stop another blow up between the two. "Can we get back of track?"
"Certainly General. Lieutenant J.G. Adrian Jessup was caught in a relationship with a Vernan woman by Ensign Albert Devoe. He blackmailed Lieutenant Jessup into helping him with the attacks on myself and planned to attack Captain Jensen." She took a sip of water. "I had just come back to work after taking a few days off since working double plus shifts to get the shield generators up and running for the Vidag."
"Why were you working yourself so hard?"
"I will tell you the only reason you need to know and it is the same one I told Captain Jensen. The sooner the generators were up and running the less likely my people would be used as cannon fodder should that warring race find Athena."
"There were other reasons?"
"There were and they were personal problems that I was going through at the time."
"What personal problems?"
"That General Wilhelm is none of this panel's business. Personal means it impacted me alone and had nothing to do with Andromeda."
"I beg your pardon Colonel, but anything that went on during that mission is our business."
"Then you can wonder until Hell freezes over because you will never be one of the chosen few who know why." Kacey stated. " As I stated I was returning to work after taking a few days off. I went in early to catch up on any reports that needed to be done, when I was attacked. I was knocked unconscious, tied up and tossed in an access tube. I was still in that tube eighteen hours later when Captain Jensen found me."
"Why did you get so sick?"
"While I was confined, I was given a virus."
"What was the purpose?"
"So that Devoe could come to the rescue. He expected Captain Jensen would be so grateful that she would drop the charges against him and stop his court martial."
"If you were already infected how did he expect to come to the rescue?"
"That General is the question no one has the answer to." Kacey said. "They did not take into consideration, the difference between the Vidag and human bodies. That a virus that would make one race slightly ill could mean death for another. What they also did not take into consideration was the tenacity of the Marines who worked nonstop to find the cure." Kacey finished. "That was my last adventure until we landed."
"Is it true Colonel that you have been offered twelve recording contracts?"
"Not hardly General. It was only eight."
"Eight then, will you be accepting any of them?"
"That has not been decided yet."
"I take that to mean you are considering a music career?"
"Not at all but I am leaving my options open. I believe that I could have both if certain considerations can be met by the recording companies."
"What about Natalia returning to the throne?"
"No decision has been reached there either General. Once again whether or not she does return to the throne is personal and none of this panel's business."
"She is correct General Wilhelm. That decision is between two married people and none of ours.."
"General there is a report that was skimmed over rather quickly and I would like to revisit that report."
"Very well General. Which report is that?"
"The battle with the space pirates." Wilhelm stated. "According to your report you were over twenty thousand kilometers from Andromeda when you were attacked. You were normally no more that three thousand kilometers away. Why were you so far away this time? How did you plan on protecting Captain Jensen from that distance?"
"Captain Jensen was safe as long as she was on Andromeda. Lieutenant Commander Torino, who was my back up for the Captain's protection, was there. As well as the entire security department and most of the Marines. In addition there was a squad of Marines flying guard duty around Andromeda. During the battle, the pirates focused their attack on my shuttle."
"You had cloaking technology. Why did you not utilize it?"
"It would not have been fair to the stingers with me as they did not have that technology."
"The decision to be so far out was yours, correct? Even though you were ordered to return."
"The reason for my being so far out was between Captain Jensen and myself. I informed Andromeda that I would return when I reached the halfway point as I did on every flight."
"This panel needs to understand the reason. Why were you so far away? Did you expect an attack?"
"As I just stated, the reason is private and personal. It did not interfere with the well being of Andromeda."
"How can you sit there and say that, when Andromeda had to come to your rescue? By having to rescue you, they were drawn into that battle." General Wilhelm asked. "Did you expect an attack?"
"No I did not expect an attack."
"General Wilhelm that will be enough." General Millhouse ordered.
"Unfortunately General Millhouse there are holes in this story that need to be cleared up."
"No they do not. I believe we can end these debriefings now. Colonel O'Malley you are excused."
Kacey stood and picked up her hat. "Thank you sir." She saluted and left the room.
"Captain perhaps you would like to explain to this panel, how you allowed your ship to be put into danger with a warring civilization?"
"First of all Admiral Wilson, I did not allow anything. Up until they attacked us, there were no overt actions against us."
"According to your report, they shadowed you for days before they surrounded your ship. I do not know what your definition of overt is, but that seemed like an overt action to me. Why did you not try to get away from them? You stopped for several hours knowing full well those masses were there."
"We stopped to study a gas cloud. We were the first to be able to send drones into the cloud to take readings from inside."
"Ah yes the cloud that destroyed two drones to the tune of ten million credits each."
"We had no way of knowing that the chemicals inside the cloud would do that."
"So you stopped, and the masses stopped."
"Yes sir, but at that time we had no way of knowing what they were. They only showed as masses on our sensors. We had no reason to be suspicious. Until they stopped when we did. Then when we got under way again they did also. We realized then that they were closing the distance between us and were maneuvering to surround us."
"How did you find out they were war ships?"
"Colonel O'Malley came up with the idea of using the shuttles and stingers that had cloaking technology to get as close to the masses as possible. She arranged for her people to use a code which they sent to her. She translated the code and relayed the information to the Bridge." Kate replied. "It was then we decided to get away from that area."
"You ran again."
"No we made a strategic retreat. What we found out about those warships was that our shields were no match for their guns which were electron charged particle cannons. In addition their shields were chronoton based and nothing we had could penetrate that. The only thing we could do was to get out of there. Their top speed was warp six so we could get away. So yes we took the opportunity. It was at that time that our Navigation and Tactical consoles exploded, injuring several Bridge officers. At this point I can only tell you what I was told and read in the reports. When the consoles exploded I was thrown into the Bridge railing and knocked unconscious. We took a hit on our aft quarter which took down the shields." Kate stopped.
"We have that report. Commander O'Malley directed the crew to bug out. Then he informed Colonel O'Malley of the injuries to the crew. He had to, in his own words, get stern and order Colonel O'Malley to remain in her shuttle and find a safe place to land in order to make repairs."
"He would have to become stern considering who was hurt in the attack." Kate responded. "Colonel O'Malley found a safe place to stop and make repairs. She worked almost non stop to make sure all the repairs were completed. That stop gave Lieutenant Commander Bella Torino the chance to completely tear apart engine two as it had been acting up from the first year. It was at that point that Colonel O'Malley was finally able to find a way to integrate the diamonds into the shield matrix to increase our shield output."
"Did the shuttles actually tow Andromeda?"
"That they did Admiral. We found that the masses were tracking us using our propulsion signatures. Colonel O'Malley found a way to install propulsion scrubbers on all the shuttles and stingers. Andromeda's engines were too big and it would take too long to install the scrubbers. We had at that point only a four day lead on the masses. Until I was cleared for duty, Colonel O'Malley would run the engines at warp nine for two hours each shift which gained us a day's lead each time. By the time I returned to duty, we had about a ten day lead on the masses."
"Ten days sounds like a good lead. If you could out run them why go through all that?"
"Not really sir. Propulsion traces in space are not like vapor trails from jets. Those will dissipate with the slightest breeze, that does not happen in the vacuum of space. Those trails can be found for months. Our main concern was not leading them to Earth. This world could have been destroyed. We could not take that chance. The engines on Andromeda were shut down, we closed the blast shields, and the shuttles lined up just off the bow. They used tractor beams to pull Andromeda. We changed direction and headed away from the masses. Twenty four hours later we were seventeen millions kilometers away. We might have gone further, but an ion storm forced us to stop, get all the smaller ships inside and get away from the storm. That storm also helped as it headed right for the masses and wiped out any residual trails we left."
"This was another of Colonel O'Malley's brain storms?"
"Yes sir it was. I know there were members of the Joint Chiefs who were against her posting to Andromeda, but she proved herself time and time again. I also know you consider her to be young, but she has earned a promotion. She deserves to be recognized for her actions on this mission."
"Thank you Captain Jensen. I believe we have everything we need. These debriefings are concluded." Admiral Tacher stated. "The Admirals stood up and left. "Captain we will see you next Saturday night at the banquet." Kate nodded and walked out of the conference room.
Patricia carried a tray with a teapot and cups that she placed on the table. She poured three cups and handed one to Anya and Natalia. The children played on the floor while they talked.
"There is a restaurant for sale less than a mile from here. Liam and I went to see it yesterday. It seems ideal. We took pictures." She opened the computer and put the card in the slot. The page opened to the pictures. "These are from the outside. It is in a great location. The building is in very good shape. We then went in and looked around. This is the kitchen. It is quite large with all new appliances, with a large walk in refrigerator and freezer. Everything goes with the building. Appliances, furniture, dinnerware, linens and glassware, the owners want to sell everything." The video moved to show the whole kitchen then changed. "This is the dining room. It can seat two hundred people. There are large windows that overlook the lake. There is also a balcony with a retractable awning for people to eat outside if they choose. There is another dining room that the family said was used for meetings and corporate lunches. The walls between that room and the main dining room retracts to make one large room. This was Liam's favorite spot." The video should the large cherry wood bar. "There are two dance floors and two stages for live bands or entertainment. One dance floor and stage is upstairs and the other is downstairs in the banquet hall that holds two hundred people. We did not count how many vehicles the parking lot can hold but it is large."
"This looks great. Why are they selling?" Natalia asked.
"The owner died and the family does not want to bother with running a restaurant."
"What are they asking for it?" Anya asked.
"Two million credits."
"Meeting the asking price would not be any problem between the three of us." Natalia stated.
"Hold on a minute. I know this place. Kate and I ate there several times before we left. The name is perfect also."
"That is what Liam said. But we could change it to whatever we want."
"Hey new person in the neighborhood here. What is the name of this perfect restaurant?"
"Patsy's" Anya stated.
"Count me in." Natalia said.
"So am I." Anya agreed.
"Wait both of you. This is something you need to talk over with your partners before you make any decisions."
"Kacey will agree with us."
"So will Kate, but you are correct. We should discuss this with them."
"How long are they willing to wait?"
"We put a deposit on the place so they are willing to wait" Patricia stated. She closed the computer. "I know you have both resigned or retired, but what will you be wearing to the banquet?"
"I am not sure. My resignation was accepted immediately, so I talked Kacey into going shopping after my ultrasound."
"How did you manage that? She hates shopping." Patricia stated.
"I said please." Natalia said with a smile. "What about you Anya?"
"Seeing as my retirement kicks in after our vacation, I will be wearing my dress whites."
"Liam is wearing his also. I do not understand why they could not make your retirement immediate. Why make you wait until after the vacation?"
"They must have something planned or they would not have asked that we hold off." Anya stated.
"I do hope this is the last day of debriefings. Kacey get more on edge every day."
"Is she giving you a hard time? Do I need to talk to her?" Anya asked.
"No Anya, she is not giving me a hard time at all, but there is this one General who has been stomping all over her last nerve."
"Let me guess, Wilhelm?" Patricia asked.
"How did you know?"
"It was his son's arm that Kacey broke just before graduation. He has carried a grudge ever since. He was also the one of the two members of the Joint Chiefs who were against Kacey's appointment to Andromeda. He is a real bastard."
"What?" Anya and Natalia said together.
"Ah it seems that I can still shock people." She laughed.
"You so very seldom swear that it is a shock when you do." Natalia stated.
"In my vast years I have learned when to use them to the best advantage."
"I shocked Kacey last week that way." Anya said. "I dropped, what she called the "F" bomb and really surprised her."
"I found that certain words lose their potency if used to often. I would like to cure Kacey of that. Especially now that the children are picking up words easily. I told her the other day that the first time I hear one of the children say any of those swear words, she would be spending a lot of nights on the couch."
"Good for you Natalia." Patricia said.
"Did you go through that with Kate?"
"Yes and all it took was a glare when one of the girls came out with a swear word. You should have heard her trying to explain why they should not use those sort of words. Now at least she tries to temper her use of swear words when the girls are around. She was easy to train."
The three laughed until they were breathless.
To be continued...
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