A POWDER-BLUE DRESS, REVISITED
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO/STAR BLAZERSis owned and copyrighted by Leiji Matsumoto, Sunwagon Productions, et al.
Story and concept by NEIL BURNS
Story written by NEIL BURNS with assistance from Frederick P. "Freddo" Kopetz
It was several weeks before the Yamato reached Galveda, the new Garuman homeworld and new center of the Garuman Empire. It was also three weeks since Wildstar and Nova had their heart-to-heart and pretty much solved everything except one or two issues, and had their talk broadcast courtesy of IQ-9. Nova sat in the chair glowering at the robot standing behind Sasha. The Captain liked IQ and enjoyed working with it since she was an intern for the now deceased Dr. Sane, who had died during the cruise, but at times she wanted to shove a blaster up its transistors and pull the trigger or shove it in the channel while the Wave Motion Gun was being fired. As the surprisingly uneventful trip neared its conclusion, Nova said a small prayer of thanks that the Universe seemed to be leaving them alone.
"OK, Wildstar," Eager chirped. "Whaddya have?"
"A Royal Flush," Wildstar smiled as he lay the cards on the table.
"Shit. That beats my Full House."
"What can I say? The man's on a roll."
The crew was relaxing in the recreation hall and a few, including Wildstar, decided to pass the time playing poker. Wildstar was a notorious cardsharp, even more so than the reserved Sandor, and was taking his mates to the cleaners. The door opened and Nova walked in followed by Desslok. The two walked over to the poker table and stopped behind Wildstar.
"Mind if we join you?" Nova smiled.
"Pull up a chair," Wildstar replied without turning. "See if you're any good."
"I am intrigued as to how this game is played," Desslok smiled.
"Don't worry," Eager grinned." We'll be gentle."
"Be gentle on me, too," Nova smiled. "It's my first time as well."
Wildstar and Sandor looked at each other, eyebrows arched knowingly. The little sneak had cleaned out the both of them a number of times with the "babe in the woods" routine, especially since she had an uncle who ran a casino on the Nevada-Colorado line. Desslok, as expected, was getting hammered and Nova was indeed raking in the chips, but Wildstar and Sandor teamed up to outdo her. She was down to her last few chips when Sasha entered and announced that Galveda was in sight. The black-and-gold calico Mimi II purred in Sasha's gentle arms.
"Well, Des ol' son," Eager drawled. "Home sweet home."
"Yes," the Gamilon leader purred. "Captain Dragin says hello, Wildstar."
"Dragin?" Wildstar queried. "I don't think I know him."
"You captured him and later gave him food before letting him go."
"I remember him. How is he?"
"He is well. He is a Captain with a bonding mate and several children."
"Good for him," Nova smiled. She lowered her head against Wildstar's ear. "I want to see you in my quarters tonight. 2100 hours."
Wildstar pondered what she wanted. The talk a week ago was very therapeutic and had solved a number of issues though it was left with one or two unsolved. The talk resulted in Wildstar being much more social and professional, especially with Nova. Desslok gave a final well-wishing to the Yamato before leaving. That evening at 2100, Wildstar stood outside the door to Nova's quarters with a slight smile on his face. He had dealt with jokes and wry cheers on the way and knew that IQ would probably broadcast this as well. Screw the robot. It was only a talk and if the junkheap wanted the Captain, it was welcome to her. He knocked on the door and opened it.
"Derek Wildstar reporting--"
"Good evening, Derek," Nova smiled. "Thank you for coming."
Wildstar saw that Nova was reclining on the bed in black silk pajamas sipping wine and reading a Bronte novel. She gestured him to sit on the edge as she slid over a little. Derek complied as he received a glass of wine. Nova then got up and, gesturing Wildstar to be quiet, walked softly to the door and opened it. There was IQ-9 with his head attached to the door and accessed to the intercom. Smiling wickedly, Nova took out a tape recorder and played an ear-shattering squeal that nearly scrambled the robot's audio sensors and more than a few eardrums.
"Sorry, guys," Nova purred sweetly into the intercom. "This conversation is private. Find your entertainment somewhere else."
"You know," Wildstar mused as Nova entered, "the little trashcan will probably make up something about this anyway. Nice that it still likes you all these years later."
"Well," Nova smiled dryly. "When this is done, I'm gonna find the 'gentleman' who built that mechanical marvel and we are going to have a talk."
"Like the one we're having now?"
"No." Nova's smile broadened as she took a sip. "So how are you doing?"
"I'm doing fine. I'm now actually all right with having my ex as my CO."
"Glad to hear it. I was thinking about when we first met."
The two reminisced about when Wildstar and Venture had gotten back from Mars with Astra's communication capsule and how the ex-cadets ran into Nova and Sane, who was trying to persuade a pig to return to its pen for dinner. Since then it was like a roller coaster ride with the Gamilons trying to stop them from going to Iscandar. The Comet Empire. The Bolar Wars. The Black Nebulans. The Dinguilians. They also said a silent prayer for those fallen comrades, including the grandfatherly Abraham Avatar and their friend Mark Venture who revealed just before dying that he had also loved Nova but it seemed destined that she be with Wildstar.
"Derek, I was thinking," Nova intoned softly.
"Uh, oh," Wildstar replied. "That could be bad for your health."
"Smartass." Nova playfully whacked him with a pillow. "I was wondering suppose it was Mark that I loved and I married him instead."
"I would be happy for you and glad that when the divorce went down that he had to deal with it instead of me."
"If the divorce went down."
"Point taken. I was thinking. Alphon just let you go?"
"Yes. I was a surprised as you are. He saved my life, but somehow I didn't feel like a guest. Yet he did absolutely nothing."
"He just said 'You're free to go'."
"And if I beat him, he would tell me the secret of the bomb."
Wildstar found himself starting to respect the now dead Black Nebulan more. Honorable intentions and he told Nova the secret of how to disarm the bomb. The smell of perfume increased when he saw that Nova suddenly seemed a bit closer. Yet, he found that he did not mind. In fact, he actually discovered that he missed the Captain leaning gently in his arms, her perfume tickling his nose. Nova smiled sadly as she coiled warm arms around Wildstar and found him accepting. Oh, Derek. I miss this. I miss our being together. What happened to us? Can we ever get this back again?
Suddenly, she found that her face was almost touching Wildstar's. Wildstar saw this and part of him wanted to shrink back in disgust. Was the murdering bitch trying to rape him?! But another part--
"Oh, fuck it." His eyes closed as his lips closed on Nova's.
The two leaned back, entwined in each other's arms and their lips interlocked. It had been ten years since they had done this as a married couple or otherwise, yet it strangely felt right. Like they were supposed to be doing all along. Suddenly, like an explosion, the two divorcees found themselves nude and frolicking all over the cabin with the intensity of ten years worth of pent-up passion and desire finally freed. Unbeknownst to them, Desslok appeared on the viewscreen as if to talk to them but, seeing they were occupied, chuckled as he faded out. The next morning at about 0830, Nova and Wildstar woke up and found themselves in bed nude. Nova started a bit, a little embarrassed, but did not pull away. Wildstar got out of bed and began dressing wondering what happened the previous night.
"That was--interesting," he mused.
"Did we actually do it last night?" Nova replied, trying to comprehend. "I thought we were dreaming."
"Well, it felt pretty real to me." a mischievous smile appeared. "Why, Mrs. Robinson. Are you trying to seduce me?"
"I think I already did."
"Yeah. You're older, but no wiser," he said with a smirk.
"We're older but no wiser," said Nova as she corrected him. She tried to sound prim, which was a little hard to do when one has messy hair and nothing on.
"Shut up," said Derek with a grin. Nova socked him with a pillow... and the lovers were soon having a giggling pillow fight in the wide bunk. It had been made wider on Sandor's orders when the ship had been rebuilt, since he had expected Derek and Nova would be sharing it together. That had never come to pass because of the divorce...not until now, that is.
Both Wildstar and Nova examined their uniforms and tried to appear professional, but they could only giggle conspiratorially. What the hell! The night was terrific. They had the absolute best "talk"/sex in over ten years and it felt pretty damn good. Now to keep it from IQ-9 knowing the robot would blab all over the ship. Yet, it felt so good that they wanted it again.
"I think we better be discreet about this," Wildstar mused. "Word might get around."
"Indeed." Nova's smiled broadened as she stroked his cheek. "The captain flirting with one of the crew is simply not on."
"Especially when they aren't married anymore."
"True. Although things do change." A small iota of hope appeared in her tone.
"Perhaps. But it's breakfast time and I'm hungry. Thank you for our talk."
Wildstar smiled as he saluted Nova who returned it, each suspecting that they would run into each other again.
On the bridge, the crew was running simulations on their way back to Earth. Mimi II purred as she sat on Wildstar's lap, her fur being gently stroked. Wildstar followed commands to the letter and even scored several "kills", to the Captain's approval. Occasionally, a Bolar Fleet appeared to shadow them, but it kept its distance from Captain Forrester's fifteen-ship Task Group. Derek knew that the fleet was best left alone.
The other crewmembers said nothing, but they suspected something was up as they snuck looks at Wildstar and Nova glancing at each other with familiar loving looks. IQ-9 miraculously said nothing or noticed it, being too busy helping Sasha with Analysis. It was a few days later and Nova was reading in her quarters when Desslok appeared on the viewscreen.
"Good afternoon, Nova," the Gamilon's purring voice greeted.
"Desslok," Nova replied. "What a pleasant surprise. How is everything?"
"Everything is well. I see that everything is well domestically on your end also."
"I called you the other night, but you and Wildstar were, shall we say, 'occupied'? It must have been quite an interesting 'chat'."
"Well, as you may or may not know, we hit a rough patch for awhile and were trying to work out one or two things."
"It looked to me like they were working out, as you say, quite well."
"So far. I'm hoping we can get it to the point where we might give it another try."
The blue alien smiled mysteriously as if he somehow knew something. A month later, the Yamato sat in a tranquil ocean on the planet Tolzan and the crew was on leave taking in the sights and enjoying a day of fun.
Wildstar was sitting on the observation deck having returned from lunch in town. For that past month, he and Nova had been "accidentally" running into each other and discussing the good old days when they were a couple, the talks usually ending in a romantic session of pure unadulterated carousing and screwing. The door opened and an absolutely radiant Nova danced in, her lovely features set in a dazzling smile that lit up the room. Wildstar wondered the reason that she was so cheerful. The captain, resplendent in her powder blue dress, plunked down and slid one bare foot out of an open-toe slide mule and began rubbing Wildstar's ankle.
"Well," Wildstar smiled. "Somebody's in a good mood. What's up?"
"Nothing much," Nova sang. "I was just at a lab."
"And what happened?"
"My sterility's GONE!" Nova's exclamation echoed throughout the deck. "I don't know what they did, but I can have children again!"
"That's great!" Wildstar took her hand in his. "I'm really happy for you."
"Care to celebrate in my cabin at 2200 hours, Mr. Wildstar?" a wicked grin.
"Your wish is my command, milady."
At 2200, Wildstar appeared right on time with two roses that he picked on the planet's surface. The door opened and Nova appeared in a much shorter version of the blue dress that she wore. Derek wondered where she kept her Parisian designer clothes at in her cabin. She took the roses and led Wildstar inside where a delicious meal was awaiting them. With a clink of champagne glasses, the former married couple turned lovers again began to enjoy one of the cook's culinary triumphs. Of course, having worked in Paris' finest restaurants, the cook knew how to accommodate the crew's varying tastes. Wildstar took a long sip as he looked into those doe-like dark eyes looking back at him across the table, his leg being caressed gently by a bare foot.
"I miss this," he stated. "I miss our time together."
"So do I, Derek," Nova replied. "I'm hoping that maybe we could bring it back."
"I'm not there yet. I may not be there for a while, but we have time."
"We do. I can wait as long as it takes."
"You're quite a piece of work, Nova. You know that?"
"My parents tell me that occasionally. Sometimes, I wonder if they thank God that they had me or if they ask Him why are they being punished."
"Like me the last ten years or so."
"Well, that is history. Let's not dwell on the past, but instead concentrate on the present."
"That's fine with me."
The dinner slid down their throats into their stomachs smoothly and their taste buds were still sobbing with absolute joy. Afterwards Nova turned on the stereo and Bob Seger's "We Got Tonight" was playing as she kicked off her pretty mules to dance barefoot across the deck like she had at their wedding. The couple danced gently as Seger's raspy tenor serenaded them. It was shades of their wedding day with them commanding the floor and feeling like they were the only two people in the whole world. The song was followed by the even more bittersweet "Faithfully".
Finally, Nova smiled, and played both "Suspicious Minds", followed by "Scarlet Scarf" The latter of the two had been their song, and Derek had avoided the song like the plague for about eleven years, now. Hearing the song rolled back the long and bitter years, and, for a moment, he and Nova felt like they were in their twenties again, with all of their lives ahead of them and the ability to whoop the butt of the Universe.
After they sat on the bed and began talking again and, like several times before, the talking dissolved into sweet raw and satisfying sex. Whatever hostilities existed before the voyage were almost completely gone, save for a few little peccadilloes.
EARLY APRIL 2219.
The Yamato was now almost home again. The First Mobile Fleet, an interstellar Earth Task Force of which the Yamato was the flagship, consisted of fifteen ships...Yamato, the escort cruisers Miyazaki and Brooklyn, the screening patrol cruisers Tan Hang and De Ruyter, and ten space destroyers. Nova, as a top Staff Naval College graduate and former member of the Star Force, was, of course the commander of this fleet, which had been in space for maneuvers and patrol, exploration, and diplomatic visits around the Garuman Empire.
Now, the Fleet was passing through "the Neck" near Planet Astret. Astret was a small, populated planet a thousand lightyears away from Earth that had been developed by the Garuman but was used by both Garuman and Earth as an outpost. The Bolar Commonwealth also claimed the planet, but had rights to maintain a small base there under the armistice. Needless to say, Garuman watched them closely from their base, aided by radio monitoring from the nearby Earth Defense outpost on the planet. The Bolars were allowed to bring no more than ten ships at a time to the planet. They had been allowed to keep their base there as only a supply station dealing strictly in non-combatant supplies.
"Attention, all hands," said Nova. "We are approaching Astret. Shore leave shall begin at fifteen hundred hours. All shore leave parties will leave the ship in groups of two or more. The Combat Group Leader and I have uh...conferred, and we recommend that everyone should be sure the are carrying sidearms on their person somewhere, since Garuman General Gaidel on his base has informed me that the Bolars have been up to petty trouble on the base. Fights, vandalism and the like. They are being carefully watched, but we should be armed...just in case. Homer, transmit my order to the rest of the Fleet."
"Aye, aye, ma'am!"
Nova got up and went around from station to station, talking to the crew. When she got to Derek's station, she threw her skirt-clad legs over the console as she sat down on a blank spot, looking down at Derek.
"Good idea you had, Derek," she said in a friendly fashion. "I'll be sure to have that gun in my purse when we go shopping on the base."
"You've got a holster on your peacoat belt."
"Who says I'm wearing my peacoat?" she whispered. "I'm gonna put on a dress again. The sidearm will go in that big handbag I got. It'll be nice to walk around with you again as a couple down there."
"Yeah," said Derek. "Scuttlebutt has it that this restaurant near our base has a really good French Onion soup. You love that, you Francophile."
"Ma'am," asked Jordan Venture. "Could you move your bottom, please? I need to see a readout."
"Oh! Sorry!" said Nova. She jumped down off the edge of the console and said, "Like to come to my quarters to help me pick out an outfit?"
"Sure," said Derek, not sounding as if he minded. He wondered what they'd be up to in the next few minutes as a surge of desire for his Captain ran through him all over again. He grabbed her hand and whispered, "Enchante..."
"Merci beaucoup," answered Nova. She turned to Sandor and said, "You have the bridge until we land. Then turn over command to the Officer of the Deck."
"Commander Wildstar, transfer standby control of your station to Mister Dash," said Nova. "Sandor, the conn is yours."
"Yes, ma'am," he said with a respectful salute. The crew snapped to and saluted as Nova left the bridge, followed by Derek.
"Not a scene that would have occurred a few weeks ago," said Dash.
"Yeah. A few weeks ago, they hated each other," said Eager. "Now, they're talking French on the bridge and makin' goo-goo eyes at each other."
"Ten bucks says they get remarried in six months," said Homer.
"I wonder what they're saying. It sounds romantic," said Sasha.
"Probably somethin' dirty," said Eager. "They've been up in her cabin a lot lately with the hatch locked."
"I got to listen in one night," said IQ. "When they were not aware."
"And what happened?" asked Dash with a smirk.
"They have recommenced intimate relations."
"All right!" yelled Dash. He, Homer, Jordan Venture and Eager cheered, and Sasha and Yamazaki stood up and smiled.
"Uh," said Sandor. "We are supposed to be busy..."
"Yes, right," said Venture. "You guys...chill out?"
The bridge went quiet as everyone returned to their normal tasks.
I'm getting a weird feeling about something, thought Sasha. But what?
In Nova's cabin, the blind had just gone down. Nova had her peacoat and boots off, and was dancing around, holding dresses in front of herself for Derek to choose.
"Like this one?" she asked. She was holding up a white dress trimmed in navy blue.
"Looks like a sailor dress," he teased.
"Well, I am a space sailor," said Nova. "I picked this up before leaving Earth, thinking I'd need it for a reception on Desslok's homeworld."
"Looks cute...put it on."
"Looks like the only shoes I have to match are my mules," said Nova with a shrug.
"Hey, I don't mind," he said. "Your toes are cute." Nova blushed at that. Then, she looked down at her feet. "I need to polish my nails again. Want to help?"
"Get the cotton balls to put between your tootsies, right?" said Derek with an amused smile.
"Boy, you've got a good memory," mused Nova. "It's almost scary."
"Where do you keep cotton in here?"
"Second drawer," said Nova. "And get the coral polish...I..."
The ship suddenly shuddered hard beneath them, almost dropping Nova to the deck as she had her foot up on a chair. Derek was there to help her.
"What in God's name...?" she said.
"We just did a hard manuever," said Derek. "What's Venture doing with the ship?"
He got his answer when the general-quarters alarm went off.
"Attention, all hands!" said Sandor over the PA. "All hands to combat stations, repeat...all hands to combat stations. Captain to the bridge ASAP!"
Nova flew up, stepped into her mules (the closest shoes available) and threw her peacoat back on.
"Derek, help me with this," she said as she struggled with her belt buckle. "My peacoat belt's all twisted up...damnit."
He helped her, appreciating the physical contact.
"Get in my chair, Commander," she snapped.
"It's an order," said Nova. "We have to get down to the bridge ASAP. It's the quickest way."
Derek sat down, and Nova answered his unspoken question when she sat on his lap.
"Hold my skirt down, please. I've never used this thing before," she said.
"Right," he said.
She gave him a quick kiss before activating the chair-lift.
"What's that for?"
"Good luck," she said. She punched the button, and her chair moved backwards on its track like an amusement-park ride from hell.
A moment later, both of them were riding down the lift to the bridge. When it reached the bottom, Nova nimbly jumped up for a moment to allow Derek to run to his post. Throwing her cap back on, Nova said, "Sandor, what's going on?"
"The De Ruyter spotted a forty-ship Bolar task force coming in. Sasha confirmed it with a scan."
"Not good," said Nova while biting her lip. "Combat Group Leader. What are the terms of the armistice? Please refresh my memory."
"Aye, aye, ma'am," said Derek. "The Armistice grants the Bolar Commonwealth permission to have ten ships in this sector at any one time, and only ten ships at a time. It looks like we have a flagrant violation of treaty sitting right in front of us."
"I've got a visual on the fleet," said Sasha. "Video panel change."
An image of a Bolar fleet consisting of fifteen battleships, ten cruisers, and fifteen destroyers came up.
"Yeah, that's a violation all right," said Wildstar.
"Their heaviest classes," mused Sandor. "I think they're testing our defenses."
"Captain," said Homer. "Gaidel's requesting an update. He says that his patrol fleet in on the other side of the system and they can't get here for forty-five minutes."
"Let him know I'm conferring with the Bolar commander to ascertain his intentions," said Nova crisply. "We're not going to take this lying down."
"Yes, ma'am," said Homer as he sent a coded message. Then, he sat up. "Ma'am, I'm getting a signal from the Bolar flagship, the Densvolt. The Fleet Commander, an Admiral Gorakov, wants to talk to you."
"Good. It's time we settled this crap," said Nova, using language that surprised them. "Put him on."
"Yes, ma'am," said Homer.
The image of a bearded Bolar Admiral came up on the screen. His usual padded high-shouldered uniform looked nasty and intimidating. His ice blue skin looked pallid, as if he had spent all of his time on the cold bridge of his grey ship.
"Earth vessel," said Gorakov. "I am Admiral Gorakov of Bolar Commonwealth," he said in a heavy, semi-Russian sounding accent. "Where is your commander? I want to talk to him. Not his cute secretary."
Nova's lip curled at the insult. She stood up. "Admiral Gorakov, you've got her right here. I am Captain Nova Forrester, commander of the First Mobile Earth Fleet, and Captain of the Yamato and Commander of the Star Force."
"Earth fleet is pathetic, putting women in command of ships," snorted Gorakov. "I mean to go to Astret for shore leave. Myself and all forty of my ships."
"I can't permit that," snapped Nova. "The treaty only allows ten ships at a time in this space. You're already in violation of treaty now, as a matter of fact. Tell your other ships to warp out of this sector and maybe I'll let you go to Astret."
Gorakov laughed. "Cute girl, telling me what to do. I just conquered five planets and chewed up the armistice and spit it out. I know that Yamato is famous ship. Get out of my way or I will shoot."
"You'd start a war, just so all of your people can have shore leave at once and overrun our base? That's stupid," said Nova.
"You're stupid, you Earther...what is word...bitch."
"I'm a veteran, and my bridge is filled with veterans," said Nova as she tapped her foot irritably. "This is your last chance. Get out of my sector or else."
Gorakov laughed. "We're done talking, girl. Now we act. Let's see how you fight, you secretary."
The screen went dark, and, immediately, the Bolar fleet began to fire.
The Earth cruisers DeRuyter and Miyazaki took the first hits from the Bolars. The DeRuyter blew apart in a ball of flame, while the Miyazaki turned around, blowing smoke.
Nova got into her seat just in time as Venture turned a hard evasive manuever to port to avoid a barrage of enemy fire.
"How can they be doing this?" said Sasha. "They're still seventeen megameters out, ma'am. They outgun us! Our range is fifteen!"
"Can we launch the Black Tigers?" asked Nova.
"Not in time," said Derek. "You recalled our fighter screen for the upcoming shore leave." Out in space, three more destroyers exploded. One of them blew up near Yamato, sacrificing itself to defend the flagship.
"Well, looks like we have only one weapon that can hit them at seventeen megameters," said Nova. "Homer, have the rest of the fleet shield us, leaving clearance around our bow. Venture, point us right at RPX-223 where they are. Then, stop all engines, Yamazaki."
The ship made its manuever as the fleet moved.
"This may be war, but they started it," said Sandor.
"I know," said Wildstar. "Good thing we're a team again," he said, looking back at Nova.
"Good thing we are," said Nova.
"Captain, the Miyazaki will be a little slow to respond," said Homer as more fire rushed in. "They took major damage. Captain Hewlett is dead."
"Brace for impact!" snapped Nova.
For the first time in thirteen years, the Yamato took actual battle damage.
The ship trembled as it began to smoke.
"The crew's quarters have been hit!" said Sandor. "Starboard observation post hit!"
"Isn't the Miyazaki out of the way yet?" cried Nova.
"They just cleared the bow," said Sasha.
"Yamazaki, stop all engines."
"Stopping all engines, ma'am."
The ship went quiet.
Nova smiled and said, for the first time under real battle conditions. "Yamazaki, transfer all power to the wave motion gun."
"Yes. Ma'am!" A moment later, the characteristic thrum of energy began. "Our charging time is quicker, now, but this'll still take ninety seconds," he said. "Wave gun energy is at seventy percent."
"Derek, she's all yours," said Nova.
"Aye, ma'am," said Wildstar with an evil smile. Nova smiled back, knowing he had been waiting to do this again for several weeks since they had tested the new gun in an asteroid field. "Bring up target scope!"
The scope came up. "We're right on target," he said. "Those guys won't know what him 'em. All hands, prepare anti-shock and anti-flash defenses!"
The crew belted in and everyone on the bridge put on the goggles that were needed to prevent blindness when firing the wave gun.
The Bolar fleet fired again. A huge shock rang through Yamato, and screams sounded on a speaker.
"Third Bridge is hit!" said Sandor.
"Get Doctor Bradford down to deck five to help the medics with wounded!" said Nova.
"Energy is at ninety percent!" said Yamazaki.
"Course correction completed," said Wildstar. The shock had thrown Yamato off target. "They're back in my sights. Ten seconds to firing..."
Over the whine of the wave gun, Derek put his hand on the firing grip. He began the final countdown.
"FIRE!" barked Nova.
"FIRE!" repeated Wildstar.
The bow of Yamato, with the firing gate glowing with the buildup of energy to the glittering magnetic shield that protected the inside of the barrel of the gun blossomed suddenly with blue-white light.
With a roar like an express train, a surge of compressed tachyon energy whizzed out into space.
"Yeeaaaaakkk!" yelled Gorakov on the bridge of his flagship as the blue-white surge raced in. "Warp us out of here! That bitch...she is crazy!"
"Too late!" yelled his navigator.
A moment later, Gorakov and his fleet dissolved in a wave of tachyonic displacement, their ships and bodies blown into dust in a single instant.
The wave-gun surge roared out into space, filled with enough energy to destroy a hundred more ships if needed.
"Sasha! Report!" said Nova.
"The enemy fleet has been completely wiped out," said Sasha. "We won!"
The bridge was filled with cheers. "We won," said Nova. But...people died in this battle." She put her face in her hands for a moment and let out a deep breath. "I'm trained to kill," she said. "But that doesn't mean I have to like it. I don't like hurting anyone...not even our enemies. And I tried to warn them. Why wouldn't they listen?"
At that moment, Wildstar's last tiny shreds of suspicion about Nova and her role in Elizabeth's death faded away like a dark cloud. If she's feeling regret over killing the enemy, he thought... no way did she mean to kill Elizabeth and Denise. It was a dumb accident. And she was just in the wrong place, that's all. The worst thing she did was drove like a maniac, which I've done myself far too many times. No reason not to let this go, now, hon. And I know you love me, he thought. We're still a team, you and I. But...can we make it work. Can lightning strike twice?
Later on, Nova sat with her shoes off in her cabin. She had summoned Derek there, and, to his shock, she had just had a good cry about the battle in his arms sitting on the bed.
"I can be tough," she said. "I can take them out when I have to. But killing makes me sick. War is such a waste."
"Yeah," said Derek. "Victory can sure taste like ashes in your mouth, can't it?"
Nova nodded. "Thank God you're here, Derek. You were this ship's Captain, once. You're the only one who'd ever understand."
"How'd the debriefing with Admiral Pawlings go on Astret?"
"The Admiral agreed with me that they were clearly in violation of treaty and that we did the right thing in defending ourselves," said Nova. "Gaidel thought so, too, and, most importantly, so did Desslok via communicator. Since they also attacked the solar system in a probe, Garuman is gonna stand behind us if this turns into all-out war. Desslok has been in touch with the new Bolar Prime Minister, Halleze. He has already disavowed the actions of Gorakov and the fleet that attacked our base at Pluto as the actions of malcontents and sends his condolences."
"Yeah, right," said Derek sarcastically. "That's a crock of shit."
"My sentiments exactly," said Nova. "Merde," she said with a smile.
"You just said 'shit' in French. That's a new one, Nova!"
"I think being a Captain is giving me a nasty mouth," laughed Nova.
"You need some soap," said Derek.
Nova's eyes turned serious for a moment. "Derek..." she asked.
"If we're going to war...I don't want to die as a single woman," she said in a soft tone of voice. "I know this is unusual, but would you please consider marrying me again? I know we can make it work."
Derek grabbed her hands and they shared a kiss. He looked in her moist eyes for a while, and said, "This is like the time I asked you to marry me back in 2201..."
"I know," said Nova. "Can you give me an answer today?" she asked in a forlorn tone of voice.
"Not yet," stammered Derek. "It...it'll probably be yes. You're wonderful...but..."
"You need time to think?"
"I'll wait as long as we have to," said Nova quietly. At that, they kissed again before he went back to his duties.
TWO WEEKS LATER
The Bolars did nothing else in two weeks. The First Mobile Fleet buried its dead in space, licked its wounds with Garuman technical help at the larger Garuman base on Astret, and prepared to warp back home, missing several ships, and with the Miyazaki patched all over and under the command of her XO.
Two weeks later, the Yamato landed on Earth and the crew returned to their lives, but not before stopping for a brief visit at Hero's Hill. Derek Wildstar stood at the top looking at the two most recent memorials added to the row-those of Dr. Sane and Jefferson Hardy, who had both died during the cruise. Hardy had died when the ship had been hit during the Astret Incident. As he said a silent prayer, a breeze blew distracting him.
"Hello, Wildstar." that familiar nasal Amsterdam accent.
"Venture?" Wildstar replied turning and seeing his fallen friend sitting on one of the stones, enjoying a Marlboro. "But you're dead."
"As of...oh.. thirteen years ago. Just thought I see how you're doing. Got back with Nova yet?"
"I don't know. We're thinking about it...It's--"
"Oh, cut the crap, Derek! You went to her cabin at least six or seven times on your way back to Earth in the past two weeks. You run into each other every chance you get. You have enough sex to star in your own porno. You're talking about moving in with each other again. Even Elizabeth says you and Nova are a perfect couple. What the hell are you waiting for?"
At that point, Nova walked up the steps toward Wildstar. She wore her Captain's coat, skirt, and boots and looked quite attractive. She was shocked to see him talk to the deceased Venture and tried touching him, but her hand went through. Venture chuckled as he took another drag.
"It's me. I'm just visiting from the Other Side to tell you two to get back together already."
"Yeah. By the way, Elizabeth says she doesn't hold the accident against you. Never has. Or, in her words, 'Forgiven. Forgotten. Drop it and move on.' "
"Thank you. I feel a lot better," said Nova with a smile.
"She does ask that before you come to the Other Side that you take some driving lessons." a teasing smile creased his handsome Roman face.
"Yeah." Wildstar teased. "Can't feel too good having a car shoved up your ass."
"Fuck you." Nova mock pouted.
"Nice mouth. You kiss your mother with it?"
The next morning, the suspicions of many were confirmed as the headlines read DIVORCEES RECONCILE. PLAN REMARRIAGE IN JUNE. Derek and Nova's pictures were again plastered across all of the papers.
At around the same time, both of them were promoted. Nova was given a commendation for her handling of the Astret Incident and a promotion to Commodore. Derek was promoted back up the ranks to Captain and assigned the command of the space cruiser Miyazaki, which was Yamato's prime escort as the First Mobile Fleet's alternate flagship. In the weeks leading up to the June wedding, the lovers frequently visited both ships, which would be in refit until around Christmas, being upgraded for war if it came to that. Another Earth fleet had captured several Bolar battleships that had tried to attack the Pluto at about the same time that Nova, Derek, and Sasha had raised the alarm at Astret. Sandor discovered new technology that Yamato had to be refitted with in order to keep up with the Bolar Commonwealth's apparent new aggressive posture.
The wedding was on a warm June Saturday in Boulder, not far from the home of Nova's parents. The date was June 10, 2219.
Derek wore his new black Captain's peacoat and cap all over again. They were his perogative as the new Captain of the cruiser Miyazaki.
Nova found she could still fit into the white wedding gown she had worn at her first wedding to Derek years ago. She had even preserved the same headpiece, veil, pearl necklace, white satin gloves and sandals she had worn the first time around. Of course, new flowers were needed in her hair, but no one seemed to mind.
It was a glorious wedding with even Desslok and a few of his officers and staff present. They married in the same church they had been married in the first time. Terri Forrester had finally reconciled with Derek, and even IQ-9 behaved himself, only lifting the skirt of one of Nova's bridesmaids. As a gift, Nova gave him one of the trick garters from off her bare leg under the gown.
After the reception, the old/young lovers slipped off to a romantic honeymoon in Paris. They stayed at a chateau near the rebuilt palace of Versailles, and they had a beautiful, very arousing and passionate wedding night together. The thrill was increased a little by the knowledge that Nova could get pregnant for the first time, even with the contraceptives she was using.
The evil relations with the Bolars flared up again around New Years'. Back out on patrol, the first Mobile Fleet met another Bolar task force, which started to fire without even communicating with Nova. The Commodore ordered a gun-to-gun battle, and Yamato took out the task force with assistance from the Miyazaki and the other ships surrounding her. Later on, back on Tolzan for shore leave, the media got an adorable picture of the Captains of the Yamato and Miyazaki together in scanty swimwear on a jet-ski. The new Commodore Wildstar didn't even mind sitting later on for an interview in her bikini, sunglasses, and flip-flops, especially because her prime Escort Captain was holding her on his lap during the interview, protecting her in person just as he did in space, and he was also wearing a cute Speedo swimsuit and bright blue soccer sandals. Then, they returned to their demanding and dangerous jobs. Lots of comm time went back and forth between the two Captains when the Fleet cruised through space. They saw more battles, and shared more tears and laughter when they got together. Their shipmates thought they made the Fleet's most adorable couple when they were together.
The war became more vicious. At one point, while the Yamato was home for a quick one-week round of repairs, Earth itself even fell under Bolar attack. The enemy had even taken to bombing civilian targets in the Megalopolis. Jordan Venture had been over at the Wildstar house one day when Bolar fighters showed up to bomb and strafe an orphanage near their house. A picture he had taken during the battle of Derek and Nova in t-shirts and jeans defending their home with their cosmo-guns, which they fired up at the planes, became famous within seventy-two hours. Nova was particularly incensed at the attack upon the orphanage and ran over afterwards to help care for the wounded and dying children. Derek also lent assistance.
That night, they made sad love, commenting that this was beginning to remind them of the Gamilon war all over again.
"Derek?" whispered Nova afterwards as the Commodore lay naked and vulnerable in her husband's arms. "When is this going to end? And can we ever bring children into this kind of a world? What if they destroy Earth with a proton missile like they just did to Tolzan...the bastards?"
"Nova, I don't know," said Derek. "I know one thing."
"Whatever happens...we'll always be together."
At that, Nova sobbed in his arms. It was the night of their first re-anniversary...June 10th. The year was 2220. Even though the war was terrible, it had drawn them closer together than ever before. Their arguments were minor, usually always resolved with a kiss before turning in together for the night (when they had that luxury) and they knew they could, and would, never, ever divorce again.
A year later, the horrible war finally ended with a resounding Bolar defeat near Desslok's homeworld when Desslok finally killed off the Bolar Prime Minister himself, who was in personal command of a fleet of nine hundred ships that wanted to decimate Desslok's heavily defended homeworld. With that victory in 2221, Earth and Garuman guessed that the Bolar Commonwealth would be unable to threaten them for at least the next fifteen years. Nova and Derek received further commendations because they were both present beside Desslok's fleet during the battle, which had taken place while they had been on Desslok's planet for a wartime conference.
A year later, when the peace was well-established and the marriage was three years old, Commodore Nova Wildstar, now in medical school, gave birth to twins. Marcus Alexander Wildstar and Starsha Teresa Wildstar. It was a beautiful marriage and a happy ending to a sometimes rocky story. The full story of the Second Bolar War and its atrocities and heartbreak is a tale for another place and time. Right now, all that mattered was that Earth was at peace, and our lovers were together again.