Neil Burns (with editing assistance by Frederick P. "Freddo" Kopetz)
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO/STAR BLAZERS is owned and copyrighted by Leiji
Matsumoto, Sunwagon Productions et al.
This is an alt-reality "what if" story
twelve and a half years after FINAL YAMATO where Nova and Derek are divorced and have to
work together on the ship.
It was the year 2218….in the month of September
The hot sun beat down on the figure standing over the two fresh graves. The sun shimmered off his unruly brown hair. His brown eyes overflowed with bitter stinging tears as he looked down at the stones. They read:
ELIZABETH JUDITH WILDSTAR.
DENISE TRELAINA WILDSTAR.
His wife and daughter dead because of HER! Namely, Nova Forrester, his ex-wife of over ten years. Derek, again a Combat Group Leader and pilot had been crossing the street with his red-haired wife and little girl to get ice cream when a green car barreled around the corner and ran them down.
The girl had died instantly and Elizabeth went into shock. As he knelt down sobbing, he saw the driver get out to see what happened. It was Nova with all of her fresh damn brass and braids shining in the sun above her white slacks and boots, though through his tears, he could not tell if she was horrified or gloating.
"Well, Venture," Wildstar mused bitterly to himself. "I bet you and Trelaina are laughing your asses off somewhere right about now. I was married to the bitch, she dumps me, and then she goes and kills my second wife and my daughter, and she's not on her way to face a firing squad. Isn't it funny?"
He knelt at the grave site and gave a brief Japanese and Christian prayer before leaving. A slender blonde figure in a black EDF captain's peacoat, white skirt, and black boots walked up carrying two bouquets. It was Nova, to whom he gave a wide berth.
So she had the nerve to come here. What chutzpah you have, babe! thought Derek sarcastically. How was it that she was not in jail? What did the old man pay the jury to keep her out of prison? Wildstar walked by, averting his eyes as Nova passed, thwarting her attempt to speak to him. She knelt at the graves and placed the flowers at the bases of the stones, saying a prayer or two.
Derek snarled, shaking his head. Oh, don't give me that, you hypocritical hyper-Christian BITCH! You were probably laughing, weren't you?
Nova stood there, looking at the sad, angry figure of her bitter ex-husband in EDF blues and a junior officer's peacoat. Derek, I wish you'd talk to me, thought Nova. I'm so sorry for you. I really am. God's probably laughing at me right now and crossing me out of His Book. Good. I deserve to burn in hell. I've had a miserable life.
As Derek walked away in silence, Nova sobbed honest tears. They were for Elizabeth, for little Denise, for Derek, and for herself and the bitter cards that fate had dealt her. In 2200, she had almost died while working the Cosmo-DNA, which placed her in a coma. She had recovered from the coma, but the combined effects of the radioactive Gamilon gas and the radiation-removal device had left her sterile; unable to ever have children even though everything else worked just fine. She and Derek had only found out about this after they had married in 2206. After one good year and one horrible year, they had bitterly divorced, and had been enemies ever since. Nova didn't want it that way, but Derek did.
ONE MONTH LATER....
Late on a windy October night, the young widower who was Derek Wildstar went to a bar to drown his sorrows in alcohol. He hadn't ordered anything yet.
"Hi, Mr. Forrester!" Wildstar smiled as the older Forrester, Nova's father, sat next to him at the bar.
"Can I get you a beer, lad?"
"Bartender? Two beers please."
Wildstar mused as he lit Karl's cigarette. As much as he detested Nova, the woman he was divorced from for over ten years, he remarkably still had a decent relationship with her father. Terri, he figured, was glad for the divorce because she could play matchmaker for Nova again. Derek shook his head and thought, Maybe she'll hook Nova up with an abusive husband. Serve the bitch right.
"How are you doing?"
"I'm fine, Mr. Forrester. Thanks."
"Sorry to hear about your family."
"I know you may not want to hear it, but the accident affected Nova too."
"Really?" Wildstar's voice was politely neutral.
"Yes. Nova's a gentle soul, Derek. She would never hurt anyone intentionally."
"So her being with Biff, or whatever the guy's name is, didn't mean anything."
"It's Bradford and he's an old high school sweetheart. He was forced into the affair by Terri. Unfortunately...."
"Terri and her damn sister Yvona never liked me from the start, Karl. And, of course, Nova didn't object, either."
Wildstar sipped as Karl puffed for a minute or two. He then pulled back a good swig of his beer.
"What about you and Maria? And those fights with the cadets?"
"I guess I didn't take the news that Nova was sterile very well."
"I'll say. Getting hammered. Mouthing off to your superiors. Need I go on?"
"No. Point taken." Wildstar sipped sullenly.
"The illness and radiation treatment devastated Nova as well. She was set on having a family. She told me if it was a boy, she would name it Derek or Alexander."
"What about a girl?" Why do I even give a shit?
"Either Teresa or Starsha."
"She still cares for you, Derek. She would do anything for you, but you made her agree that after the divorce, you two would leave each other alone."
"It worked. Until now. Now two people I love are dead and she is walking free. She's probably snickering at me under her sanctimonious expression."
"Derek, can I give you some friendly advice?" Karl asked, finishing his beer.
"What is it?"
"Man to man. Sooner or later, you are going to have to let this go and forgive her, even if you never are involved with her again. The guilt is killing her. Maybe not now or tomorrow. Or even next week. But sometime at some point, you are going to have to forgive her."
"Someday I will."
A WEEK LATER, AROUND HALLOWEEN OF 2218...
Captain Nova Forrester was sitting in her office going over the duty roster for the rebuilt Yamato's next voyage. Captain Forrester, she thought as she considered the idea. God. I never thought I would hear those two words in the same sentence. She glanced over to an old wedding picture and a sad smile creased her lovely face. Derek. What had happened? We had a dream right out of a fairy tale. The quintessential Romeo and Juliet happy ending. Then there was my illness spawned from the Cosmo-DNA Then mother played matchmaker and hooking me up with Brad Maxwell, my old high school boyfriend resulting in an affair. In the meantime, Derek had an affair with a nurse, and he was constantly getting drunk and into fights. There were other indignities that finally resulted in our divorce.
I married Brad afterwards. He died suddenly two years later, and he's in the same cemetery where Elizabeth and Denise are. I then married an arms merchant and an oil tycoon. Both were failures with generous alimony. Yep, guess I'm a rich girl. Rich, but very, very unhappy.
Nova's sad smile turned ironic as she looked outside the window at the top of Yamato's bridge tower, seeing IQ-9 chasing a girl down below on the quay leading up to the ship. The robot was a crewmate and friend that elicited reactions ranging from amusement to annoyance, but such were things that Nova tolerated IQ's joking "advances", which were now no longer physical.
Nova's eye fell on a name that was halfway down the roster. LIEUTENANT COMMANDER CLASS DEREK WILDSTAR, COMBAT GROUP LEADER.
Oh, God, what's he doing on my command? Nova thought with a shake of her head. She shoved her blond bangs out of her dark brown eyes. In her thirties, she still looked almost as young as she had when she had first boarded the ship years ago. This was going to be interesting to say the least, but she was professional enough to keep her personal emotions in check. The door opened and a familiar face stuck his head in.
"Nova?" It was Commander Stephen Sandor, the Yamato's new XO, or Executive Officer, also known as the Deputy Captain. "The crew's waiting for you."
"Thanks, Stephen," Nova smiled." I'll be right there."
Stephen Sandor. He had been Alex Wildstar's friend and classmate at the Academy. Sandor had lost his limbs in a childhood roller coaster mishap, resulting in cyborg replacements. The situation had changed during Yamato's last voyage a year ago under Yamanami's command. During that cruise, a voyage where Nova had been the XO, their travels took them to an alien world where the inhabitants grew new limbs from Sandor's DNA and attached them, allowing him to have real limbs for the first time in thirty-odd years.
Nova stood and straightened out her uniform before leaving the office. Here's hoping all goes well and that Derek and I don't kill each other.
"TEN HUT!" Sandor barked as the crew snapped to attention on the ship's foredeck in dock below gun turret #1. "Crew parade rest! The captain will speak with you. Give her your undivided attention."
"Good afternoon," Nova smiled pleasantly. "I am Captain Nova Forrester and I will be commanding the Yamato on her voyage. I previously commanded the space destroyer Westmoreland and the space cruiser Miyaga in two three-month tours of duty. I am pleased to see that all of you look so alert today...I would like to let you know that I expect every one of you to give me no less than a one hundred percent effort. I am aware that I have had differences with some of you...but we have served together in the past. Together, I believe that we can be a professional, tight-knit crew once again!"
Wildstar stiffened as he stared at his ex-wife on the podium dressed in a Captain's peacoat, skirt, and boots. Is this a joke? Derek thought. She's no Captain! It was bad enough she cheated on me and ran down my family. It was bad enough she got off scot free, but she is now in command of the Yamato and I am now expected to take orders from her?! Damnit, Venture must be howling with laughter on the Other Side.
After her speech, the crew snapped to attention as Nova and Sandor inspected them.
Nova engaged in a little small talk with each member as they stood in ranks facing the mighty ship's bow. The two officers came up to Wildstar who stared icily ahead averting his gaze, determined not to give them the satisfaction of seeing him lose it.
"Good morning, Lieutenant Commander Wildstar," Nova smiled. "How are you?"
"I said 'how are you', Derek?"
"Wildstar," Sandor put in, "when the CO addresses you, protocol dictates that you reply."
Still nothing. A few of the others looked over in amusement.
"Do you not have a tongue?" Nova asked. "Did the new ship's cat get it, perhaps?"
The crew snickered at that one. Nova silenced them with a hard glance.
She's tough, thought Eager. Damn, she ain't taking no shit from nobody. And she used to be nice. Damn bitch.
After a few more minutes, Nova and Sandor gave up and walked away.
So Wildstar did not feel like talking. Nova did not blame him and let it go. There would be plenty of time and opportunity to work things out so they could at least work together as professionals.
Later on that day, after takeoff, the crew was on the first bridge at their stations, Wildstar at his usual spot at Combat and Jordan Venture, Mark's younger brother sat at Navigation. Sasha of Iscandar sat at the cosmo-radar a few feet away. Derek found that he could not look at his niece either due to her resemblance to Nova, especially in her black on gold Living Group Leader's uniform.
The crew was going through exercises on their way to pick up Desslok to escort him to the new Garuman homeworld after he had commanded a fleet in another exercise near the Procyon Sector.
"Crew, status reports," snapped Nova from the Captain's station at the aft portion of the bridge. "Let's see how we did after that second warp. Eager?"
"Battle radar is normal."
"Mechanical Group checks out."
"Navigation is fine, ma'am?"
"Radar is normal. No reaction and I'm not picking up any unusual feelings with my clairvoyance."
"Analysis is normal. Like your skirt, ma'am."
"That's enough, Mister," said Nova. "Dash?"
"Artillery checks out."
"Communications are normal."
"Engine functions are normal."
The crew went silent as Nova called the last name on the list. "Wildstar?"
There was only silence.
"Commander, I gave you an order to give me a status report," said Nova. "Didn't you hear me?"
There was still silence.
"Commander?" said Nova. She got up and walked over to Derek's station.
"The station is normal, ma'am," he said in a robotic voice.
"Do you need help?" asked Nova. "Maybe some time in the sunroom?"
"Not with you, ma'am," snapped Derek.
"I didn't ask you to go with me," said Nova, keeping her emotions in check. "I just asked you if you need to see the ship's doctor or the Living Group Leader? Are you all right?" she said in a softer voice.
"Fine, Captain. Just leave me be."
Nova gazed at him for a long moment. Then, she turned away and went back to her post.
Later on that day, as Derek sat at his post running checks, the taskbar for his e-mail program flashed on and off, indicating that a message was in his inbox. Wildstar grumbled and looked at the message.
Skipping over the header, he read:
I know this cruise must be hard for you, and I'm truly sorry. If you ever want to talk, the door to my cabin is always open to you.
Oh, drop dead, mused Derek to himself. Why couldn't that bitch and I have been born Gamilon? That way I could just kill her instead of divorcing her? Maybe that way, I'd have the shrimpy little fink out of my hair?
Later on that day, in the port-side observation deck, there was a crew mixer going on where the new and old crewmembers could get to know each other.
Nova smiled at Sasha, her brainchild, as they chattered on, but the smile faded seeing Derek standing alone.
"Hi, Uncle Derek." Sasha walked up, a cheerful smile on her childlike face.
"Oh," Wildstar replied underwhelmed. "It's you."
"Nice greeting. 'I'm fine, Unc.' Thanks for asking."
"What do you want?"
"It's a party. Loosen up and have fun."
"Leave me alone."
"FUCK OFF! Just leave me ALONE!"
"What's with you, Uncle?"
"You remind me too much of that murdering bitch I used to be married to! Why did Alex have to have you anyway?"
Sasha snarled at her uncle. "You know, the Captain's right. Your brain is made of Swiss cheese!"
"So that's her opinion of me?" said Derek. "Get out of my sight, you clone of my fucked-up ex!"
At that, Sasha slapped her uncle and turned away. The slap echoed around the room as a very pissed Sasha stormed off, ignoring the curious spectators. Nova smiled tightly as she walked over to Derek downing a gulp of Doctor Sane's sake. Very professional, Derek, she hissed to herself. Real classy.
She stopped just short and cleared her throat as Derek, smelling her violet perfume, stiffened noticeably.
"Interesting conversation?" Nova queried with mock politeness.
As usual, Wildstar averted his eyes and said nothing.
"I know subtlety is not your strong point, Derek, but if your brother heard that just now, he would clean your clock."
"He's dead." Wildstar hissed before walking out.
"Permission to knock some sense into Wildstar," Sandor growled walking over.
"Not yet," Nova sighed. "But maybe eventually."
The days went on but Wildstar had shown no signs of changing his behavior.
The crew had war games on a deserted desert world where Sasha was captured by Wildstar's team and she was tasered and slapped for information. During meals and mixers, Wildstar would be chatting away, but when Nova joined the group, he would abruptly leave. Overall, to Nova's dismay and disgust, it was not that he would not talk to her, but that he was so blatant about it. Soon, the other crew members started talking about what was wrong with "the golden couple". They knew about the divorce, but no one knew how bitter it had been.
They went through a very unpleasant three months as the Yamato cruised through space on either exploratory runs or military exercises with EDF or Garuman units near the edge of the Bolar Commonwealth, which was still a threat after all those years. They had a near run-in with Bolar forces in mid-January of 2219, but Nova finally observed that they had probably just been there to spy on them, nothing more.
Derek thought that Nova should have pulled off a sneak attack and wiped them all out. At a conference in the briefing room, Captain Forrester asked him several times over what his problem was.
"Why are you being so disagreeable about this?" asked Nova. "I mean, we do not need a diplomatic or military incident with anyone, let alone the Bolars. Desslok told me that their fleets have grown again since their loss to him in 2205 and they're trying to break the armistice with probes into both our territory and the Garuman Empire's territory. You remember what they did to the Nuevo Mayaguez last year. Those men and women were prisoners in their gulag on Sarafin for three months, Derek! We don't need useless battles! And you're not an eighteen-year old cadet any more."
"Captain," he snapped. "I think your decision was ridiculous. You wimped out. We should've hit them with a pre-emptive attack. Our gun range is up to fifteen megameters now. We could've kicked them into next week, but you belayed my order. Nice. Should have expected it from a girl who wishes on stars."
The crew snickered, but Nova replied. "That's not funny, Wildstar! I'm putting you on notice, Commander. If you show disrespect to me again at a shipboard meeting, I will have you on report faster than you can comb your messy hair."
"Yes, ma'am," he said in a low, mean voice.
And it went on like that for weeks....
MANY WEEKS LATER....
One day, months later, in February of 2219, it all came to a head when Nova was commanding exercises with Emperor Desslok himself observing on the bridge on his way to a conference on his new homeworld of Galveda, a world that the Garuman Empire had taken under Histenberger's command back in 2205. It had become the new homeworld of the Empire four years after Garuman's destruction in 2206 when the Great Red Galaxy had appeared at the same time Aquarius had.
As usual Wildstar would execute his orders, but this time deigned his ex with a perfunctory grunt. He found it particularly annoying when Nova would walk around the bridge stopping at each station. Jordan Venture was sitting right next to him in the Navigation station and the two made an excellent tandem, almost as good as the original team of Venture and Wildstar. Nova stopped and placed a friendly congratulatory hand on each of their shoulders. Wildstar slapped the hand on his shoulder off and got up to leave.
Nova had decided that she had had enough of this gross disrespect. She could be, and had been, patient with him. Her patience as a military officer had just run out.
"Commander Wildstar!" Her voice echoed throughout the silent bridge. "Where the hell do you think you're going?"
Again Wildstar gave no answer as he headed toward the hatch.
"I did not give you permission to leave, Mister! Get your ass back in your chair now!"
"Or what?" Wildstar snapped. "You'll run me down like you fucking ran down my wife and daughter?!"
That shut Nova up as her fist and jaw clenched. Desslok observed this with silent amusement. He had wondered why the two seemed less than loving toward each other. Now he had his answer.
"Why don't you!" Wildstar continued. "That way I won't have to serve under such a jealous, cheating BITCH who can't get over that she's FUCKING STERILE AND CAN'T HAVE KIDS!"
"Derek!" Nova gasped half furious, half choking back tears. "HOW DARE YOU!"
"NO! How dare YOU! How dare you kill my family and walk around free! How much did the old man pay to save your ass from jail?! You couldn't stand that Elizabeth could have children and you can't!"
"That's enough, Wildstar!" Sandor growled. "This is not meant for other people's ears!"
"Or mine," said Desslok. "Wildstar, if I were you, I would apologize to her for your dishonorable actions. I had more respect for you than that."
"FINE! I'm transferring off here! Nova, have a nice fucking life! Take that fucking clone of you with you when you go to hell!" Wildstar pointed to Sasha. "I'm gone! Go run down some other poor bastard's family, you fucking jealous, vindictive BITCH!"
Wildstar stormed off as the other members watched in silence. The horrifying but compelling silence of watching a train wreck.
"Hmm... I take it this is what the Earthers call a 'lover's spat'". Desslok mused out loud. He noticed Nova shaking and
visibly on the verge of breaking down in tears.
"We're not lovers any more, Your Highness," croaked Nova. "Steven, you have the bridge. I've got to go!"
Nova walked out with as much dignity as she could muster then sprinted down the hall and into an empty observation deck where she collapsed and began to sob uncontrollably. IQ-9 entered, but seeing Nova in such a state, wisely kept silent and offered a consoling hug to his crewmate/friend/crush. All the memories flooded back. The Cosmo-DNA affecting her and the treatment rendering her sterile. Her affair with Bradford and Wildstar's affair with her fellow nurse. Wildstar's drinking and constantly getting into fights and mouthing off to officers. The combat game where two cadets died and Wildstar was busted from Captain to Lieutenant Commander and thrown in the brig for nine months for gross negligence. Wildstar remarrying and finally having a daughter. Nova rushing to a meeting and running down his family years later. The look of hate and rage and pain in his eyes as she called for an ambulance and tried to help his wife, the daughter being already dead.
Wildstar was packing his gear after leaving a request of transfer on Sandor's bed. He wished to go to another vessel in Nova's task group...the First Mobile Earth Defense Fleet .where he wouldn't have to see her again...where no one knew him; where he could serve alone without being bothered. He opened the door after finishing and there stood Sandor, Sasha and IQ-9.
"Nova wants to see you, Wildstar. You're on report," the XO growled. "And, by the way, your request for a transfer to a destroyer has been denied."
"Nice going, Uncle," Sasha smiled acidly. "I hope she rips your balls off."
"You're lucky I'm a forgiving robot," intoned IQ, "or else I'd tear you apart limb from limb. You can't hurt Nova!"
The four walked down the hall, with Sasha and Sandor saluting passing crewmembers, until they came to the elevator that led to the upper decks. Finally, after they reached the end of the shaft near the first bridge, they went up a staircase to the Captain's quarters. At the hatch, Sandor turned to Sasha and IQ-9. "Make sure nobody enters or leaves," he ordered.
"Yes, sir," robot and clairvoyant replied.
Sandor knocked and opened the door, entering with Wildstar. Nova was standing at the high window, looking out with her hands clasped behind her back. A sad sigh escaped her lips.
"Thank you, Steve," she smiled. "You have the bridge. Assure Desslok that we're still at battle readiness if needed."
"Aye, aye, ma'am," the ex-cyborg saluted and left."
"Please sit down, Derek." Nova gestured toward the table across from her bed. Two chairs were out, and Nova had poured them tea. Her cup sat on a counter near the still-wide bunk that she and derek had once shared years ago. Derek's tea was on the table. "Have some tea. It's Japanese green tea...your favorite. I still remember, Commander."
Wildstar shrugged as he sat down and leaned back while Nova sat on the bed. Sighing, she looked across to the man she had loved since their voyage to Iscandar but was now divorced from for ten years. Wildstar stared at the woman across from him with a fixed smile, his dark eyes burning icy beams of black hate through her.
"You summoned, Captain?" Venom drenched the last word. "I believe I'm on report?
"Yes, Derek," Nova smiled tightly. "As Sandor told you, your transfer has been denied."
"Am I so terrible that you can't be on the same ship with me?"
"I think you know the answer to that, love," said Derek in a half-sarcastic, half-wistful tone. "I want to be on a destroyer by myself. This ship is full of too many ghosts. That's all I'm gonna say...got it?"
"You don't feel like talking, fine. But indulge me a moment, OK?"
Wildstar shrugged and mockingly gave her a go-ahead gesture. Nova looked out the window for a moment, as if to compose herself, then turned back to her ex, forming a smile although her eyes showed no humor.
"I know the pain you are going through," she said quietly.
"How do you know?" Hostility drenched Wildstar's reply. "Are you a fucking clairvoyant, too?"
"Because I feel it too, Derek. I care barely sleep at night because of the guilt. You know that?"
"That's reassuring," snorted Derek with a derisive laugh. "May the circles under thy eyes grow darker. They'll match your mascara."
"Go ahead and laugh, but I'm serious. I never meant any ill will toward Elizabeth."
"Yes, I talked to her after the wedding and I congratulated her on marrying you. I said that I hoped you two had a happy future."
"You did? Sure you did. In your dreams, jelly bean," said Derek sarcastically, but with a tiny bit of humor. He hadn't called her ":jelly bean" in about...oh...eleven years?
"I only wanted you to be happy, Derek. And if that meant you being with somebody else, then so be it. As for my condition, that is nobody else's damn business and may I ask who was getting drunk and starting fights after finding out I was sterile?"
"OK. So I took it worse, but who was screwing the ex-boyfriend from high school? For that matter, I bet that while we were risking our asses against the Black Nebulans, you were screwing Alphon or whatever-his-name-was."
"I am loyal, Derek. Even when I thought you were dead, I would not sully your memory. Besides, that would be rather hard given that he was machine from the neck down. It would be like trying to screw IQ-9."
A cruel joke pertaining to IQ and an adult sex toy crossed Wildstar's mind but, amazingly, not his lips. Could it be he still had a slight modicum of respect for the woman sitting across from him? He studied her. The long angular visage framed by close-cropped, dirty-blonde, shoulder-length hair. The dark doe-like eyes. The slender figure, shown off to advantage in her peacoat, bellbottoms, and tight boots. He curiously felt the bilious sting of hostility subside somewhat.
"As for your tasteless question," Nova continued, "My father paid no one to drop the charges against me. How was Maria? Was she good consolation after things turned sour towards the end of our marriage?"
"Actually, yes," Wildstar replied, "though Elizabeth was my soulmate. Like you used to be...but like you're not, anymore. What punishment are you sentencing me to?"
"I care about you, Derek. I really do. I was hoping that we could still be friendly after the divorce, but then you decided we should go our separate ways. As for punishment...I won't punish you."
"I should...but I won't. Maybe we should just keep to ourselves and just serve together."
"Yeah. It worked for ten years, didn't it, Nova?"
"Too well. Every card, letter, e-mail and present went unanswered. I didn't want us shut out of each other's life. That was your idea, Derek. Not a smart one. I wanted to be your daughter's godmother...did Elizabeth ever tell you that?"
"If you wanted to be in my life, there were better ways to say so than running down Liz and Denise. Of course, then Terri wouldn't be able to play matchmaker."
"Please. The two men I married after Brad died were duds. One boring. The other even more lecherous than IQ. If she forces me to play her matchmaking games again, she can just disinherit me. I haven't been happy with her choices, Derek. In fact, for the past eight years after Brad's death, I've been miserable."
"Could be worse," Wildstar smiled dryly. "Terri could have married you off to a religious nutcase not unlike a certain nameless aunt."
"Who is no longer with us, thank God."
Nova got up and walked over to the table, pulling up a chair and sitting down close next to Wildstar.
Surprisingly for both, he remained sitting. A slender hand stroked his hair. He accepted the physical contact and then held her hand for a moment. It was bare of rings. He remembered that their wedding ring had once sat on her hand, and he felt a twinge of nostalgia for a moment...a twinge he quickly suppressed.
"Derek, what happened? We would fight for each other and die for each other. When I was here on Earth and thought you were dead, I seriously contemplated suicide. When you were first attacked by the Dinguilians and poisoned, I almost shot myself. Now we never talk. Why?"
"I don't know, Nova," Wildstar replied. "I guess you being sterile hurt me more than I thought. I had my heart set on a son or daughter, but that damn Cosmo-DNA screwed everything up."
"Maybe Starsha should've put a warning sticker on it," smiled Nova. Caution. Side effects could include sterilization." Wildstar laughed at that.
"Thanks a lot, Starsh. You know, I feel bad sticking Sasha in the middle of all this. It's a miracle that I was able to keep her from going down into the Planet Dezarium, and that we were able to send a Marine Team down there instead."
"Yes. She did nothing to you. She loves you."
"It was because she looked like you that I took it out on her. And you're right. Alex would've put me through the wall if he could've heard me the other day."
"I don't suppose you want to try it again, Derek? You know the old song...'We Can Work It Out?" I have no one in my life, and I don't want anyone else in my life. Honestly, Derek, I miss your jokes and your protectiveness. Sometimes, even a Captain needs a friend at their side. You know that, silly."
Wildstar thought a moment. Did he want to try it again? It had been a very good two years. However, given the bullshit that went down on both sides, the last year had been hell. So much so that he could not wait to divorce Nova and get as far away from her as possible. A tiny voice in his mind said... Karl said you should forgive her someday. Now's as good a time as any.
But another voice said... Don't be stupid. She cheated on you with the ex-high school sweetheart. She probably cheated on you with Alphon while you fought the Nebulans. She killed your wife and kid in cold blood and is probably planning to do you in as well. Stomach her for this tour then get the hell away from her as possible.
"No I wouldn't," Derek replied. "I don't think I could trust you in that way again. Or myself for that matter."
"I see," Nova replied, disappointment evident her expression and voice.
"However, I suppose I could stomach serving under my ex for this trip. Maybe we could reach the point of almost being friends. But I'm not making any promises."
"That's good enough for a start," Nova brightened as she hugged Wildstar who, surprisingly, accepted. "I care for you, Derek. I would never hurt you and I am so sorry things happened the way they did. If I could make it up to you somehow, I would."
"Getting driving lessons would be nice," Wildstar quipped.
Nova hit Wildstar with a pillow in mock affront before hugging him again, something she had not done in the ten years that they were divorced. The door opened and Sasha and IQ-9 entered, wondering what had happened.
"Work out our differences?" Sasha smiled.
"More or less," Nova replied. "There are still one or two unresolved issues, but they can wait until later. His report problem was solved with counseling. No punishment is recommended or contemplated. Tell the XO that."
"Sasha, my darling," Wildstar smiled, coiling an arm around her shoulder. "Did I ever tell you that you are my favorite niece?"
"I'm your only niece," the Earth-Iscandar hybrid replied. "What's up?"
"Your uncle wishes to apologize for being a bonehead taking his hostility out on you when you had nothing to do with anything."
"That's why I love you. Because you are a bonehead."
The quartet headed back toward the bridge where the crew gave a standing ovation and raucous cheers. It was then discovered that IQ had listened in and accessed the loudspeaker in Nova's office so the whole argument was played throughout the ship for the amusement of the Yamato's crew. A part embarrassed-part flustered Nova chased IQ-9 off the bridge to the delight of the laughing crew. All things were back to normal.
Wildstar later decided to plan a surprise birthday party for Nova and, at a private dinner with her in her cabin, partially forgave her. They decided to talk to a professional as soon as the mission was completed to see if things could work out.