ACT FOUR: Evening of Delight
December 26, 2201
Denver Megalopolis--Forrester Residence
Wildstar, Nova, and the rest of the wedding party drove straight to the Forrester residence in their cars. There, Wildstar got rid of his white ascot and black peacoat, and was changing into flight boots and a black leather flight jacket in the guest room. At the same time, down the hall in Nova's old room in the rebuilt house, Nova removed her wedding gown, veil and gloves, carefully packing away the whole ensemble in tissue-lined cedar boxes with the aid of Natalie and her mother. When she was done, and was in only her lace undergarments, she asked her mother, "Why all the boxes?"
"Well, Nova, we'll want to preserve the outfit for YOUR daughter, won't we?" asked Teri.
"Mother! You know that's going to be way off in the future," laughed Nova as she unzipped a garment bag that had been hanging in her closet and began to pull out her standard blue duty uniform. Of course, Nova did not know yet where her life would take her six years later. "You know I'm still an officer in the Earth Defense Forces and I have my duties," she said as she sat on her bed to pull on the skin-tight lower portion of her uniform. She paused only to pull the stirrups around the soles of her feet and secure them to the mag-seals on the cuffs of her slacks.
"Where's your socks?"
"Mother, they make the boots so you can wear them with or without socks. I usually do without when I'm in a hurry," said Nova as she pulled on and zipped up the bodice of her new-issue uniform. The crotch flaps that formed the leg-seals flapped loose like shirt tails until Nova joined them at the crotch and used the seal to close it. "The old uniforms, some of which I still have, were one-piece uniforms. Natalie?" sang Nova. "Toss me my boots, please?"
"Certainly," cried Natalie as she tossed Nova's boots across the carpeted floor. Nova caught them and expertly popped them on without a pause as Natalie put on her own boots, which looked nice with her maroon-colored skirt and white sweater.
"Nova?" asked Teri as Nova pulled her black flight jacket off a hanger in the closet.
"Do you HAVE to wear that uniform? It looks cute, but it's not the sort of thing I wore when I left on my honeymoon."
"Mother, times have changed," said Nova. "I'm sure you didn't fly to your getaway with Father in a military spaceplane. I am, and I have to wear this for safety's sake."
"Procedure...in case something goes wrong and I have to eject. With my helmet and gloves, this becomes a combination pressure suit and space suit."
"You're going to be in space?"
"For just a few minutes when we're in the upper part of our ballistic sub-orbital trajectory to the island," said Nova. "It's just like flying in a jumpjet, or a commercial flight to the Moon once the damage on the surface is repaired. It won't take us long," laughed Nova.
"Nova!" called out Derek from down the hall. "Ready yet?"
"I will be...just a minute!" said Nova.
"Mother, Natalie..could you leave me alone for a minute?" asked Nova.
"Sure," said Natalie. "I'll go find Laurel because she'll be leaving with you."
"Nova," said her mother as her eyes misted over. "Take care now....."
"Mother..," whispered Nova.
"Well...I'm a little...nervous...but excited."
"Everything. Being with Derek...our life together...uhh...the wedding night," whispered Nova with a blush.
"Nova...you'll do fine...don't be scared..."
"I'm not! Nervous...excited...yes. Scared, no. It'll be a great adventure," said Nova with a soft smile on her face.
"But one you'll never come back from..."
"Mother, don't talk like that! You sound like I was going off to my death or something! Sure, I won't be back...but everyone's got to move on with life some time. And you know we'll be back to visit...someday with your grandchild in a porta-crib, Mother!"
"I know. But...you'll always be my baby...Nova."
"And you'll always be my Mama," said Nova softly as she hugged her mother. "Let me alone for a minute before all of us leave for the air base...Derek's waiting."
"Okay," said Teri as she shut the door and left Nova alone in the near-empty room holding her white flight scarf in her hand.
Nova looked around, looking at her old white and pink dresser, chest of drawers, and bed, all of which were now cleaned out pending the conversion of her old room into a second guest room. For most of her life, whether in this house or in the underground city of Denver, this room, with its white carpet and oval wall mirror had represented home to Nova, even when she had been in college and RTC and afterwards assigned to her post at the military hospital in Great Island near the old Yamato's resting place.
Time to say goodbye, I guess , she thought as she looked in the mirror to throw on her white silk scarf and tuck it into an ascot as she zipped her flight jacket closed.
Well, everything I really need is in these bags...or is downstairs with our wedding presents, or is already back in the Megalopolis at...our new house thought Nova as she reached down to look at the leatherette nametag on her flight jacket. It still read "LT. NOVA D. Y. FORRESTER" below the gilt representation of her wings on the patch.
Nova slowly peeled the nametag off the mag-seal on her jacket and left it on the bureau. From her jacket pocket, she pulled out a new nametag, wrapped in cellophane, and fresh from Supply in the Megalopolis, where she had picked it up before leaving. She opened the cellophane and pulled out a nametag just like the other one, save that it was newer and it read "LT. NOVA D. Y. WILDSTAR."
With a happy, wistful smile, Nova picked up her two bags.
"Nova, what was keeping you?" asked Wildstar as he came down the hall carrying his bags in a similar fashion.
"Sorry...I was just getting ready. It took a minute."
"Are you ready now?" asked Derek, who paused when he looked down at his wife's flight jacket and noticed the change.
"I'm ready now, Derek," said Nova. "Let's go."
II. BEST WISHES FROM THE
December 26, 2201
Denver Megalopolis--Lowry Field Earth Defense Base
Derek and Nova finally arrived at the Officers' Club at Lowry Field Base at a little after 1845. They now looked more relaxed as they went around the bar talking to the Honor Guard members who would be acting as their fighter escort to Sunrise Island. Finally, they found Venture and said hello to him.
"Sorry we took so long," said Wildstar. "We were pretty busy back there at the house."
"That's okay," said Venture."It must've taken a while to get that gown of yours ready to take back to The Megalopolis, Nova."
"No, Mark," said Nova with a smile. "It's back at Mother's in the closet in a cedar box. According to Mother, it has to be bagged and preserved for our daughter," said Nova with a chuckle and a blush. "Derek...?"she whispered.
"Uh..., Nova?" asked Derek with a quizzical look on his face as his wife leaned back on the bar and basically began to giggle her head off as a nice red blush colored her face. "Nova, are you all right?"
"Derek," she whispered through giggles, "I want you to promise me something...."
"Huh?" asked Derek, as Venture turned his head, leaving them their privacy for a momennt as Nova whispered into her husband's ear while stroking his hand. He didn't know what was said, but the general tenor of the conversation was made somewhat clear when Derek put his arm around his bride's waist and gave it a nice, tight squeeze.
"You got that right, Nova," replied Derek with a smile..and a wink. "You're great."
"Thank you....," said Nova as she laid her head against Derek's shoulder. "Oh, Mark, I'm sorry about all that!"
"That's okay," chuckled Venture. "You know..."
"I'm just too excited," gasped Nova. "Derek and I are legal as of now, and, in a while, we're going to be alone for five glorious days. We've both got a great deal of things to catch up on. I'm sure I don't need to elaborate, Mark. You know how close we are."
"I know," said Mark in a soft voice. He clasped both of their hands and put them on top of each other. "I wish you two all the luck in the world. I'm glad you finally decided to stop waiting!"
"Thanks, Mark," replied Wildstar. "Nova..we'd better tell everyone else to get ready to move. We'd better get flying before that storm hits."
"Just one last thing,....," said Venture.
"Uh..yeah?" asked Derek.
"on your honeymoon..have a great time. You deserve it."
"We will," said Nova, putting an arm around Derek. "We sure will, Mark. Derek, let's get going, shall we? Mark, if you wouldn't mind, please tell everyone we're leaving, and have them meet us outside before they get into their planes?"
At that, they left.
III. THE HONOR GUARD'S
December 26, 2201
Lowry Field Earth Defense Base
A number of ships were lined up on the tarmac at Lowry Field. They consisted of three Type 1 Cosmo Tiger II's; which were the single-place fighter variant, two Type 2A Cosmo Tiger II's; which were the three-seat Attack/Recon variant, one Type 100 Astro Fox "Starseeker" recon plane, and one Type 14 Astro Mallard (also known as a "Starvoyager") Jet Recon Boat.
Karl Forrester's 2200 Chrysler Park Avenue aircar, a rather large vehicle in dark blue, was parked near the edge of the tarmac. As Teri Forrester watched, Derek, Karl, and Nova picked up three bags from the car's trunk.
"Do you have everything, Nova?" asked Teri as she followed the trio to the Jet Recon Boat.
"These are the last things from the list, Mother," said Nova brightly.
"How did you get that box in there? Isn't it dangerous to have something like that behind you in such a small ship?" asked Teri.
"These boats have modular seats," explained Wildstar. "You can take the aft seats out, as the mechanics did, and have one of these cargo compartments anchored down in place of the seats."
"Since it's just the two of us, we don't exactly miss the passenger seats, Mother," added Nova.
Not far away, Hardy came up to the group in his blues and flight gear, followed by Rosstowski, Sam Josiah, Sandor, Venture, Hartmann and Royster, and, finally, IQ-9.
"Wildstar, we're ready," said Venture.
"Great. Everyone...to your planes."
"You're getting quite an escort," said Karl as the others left.
"Well, because we're all heading east, Venture and Sandor thought it would be a nice idea if they acted as an honor guard right up until we break off course for the island; so we're making part of the trip together," said Nova. "When we head in to land on the island, they'll break off and head back north for the Megalopolis."
"Nova, I think we'd better commence our pre-flight checkouts," said Derek.
"Mama...Papa..thanks for all you've done for us today," said Nova as she hugged both of her parents."
"Derek...take good care of her," sobbed Teri.
"I will...I promise you," said Wildstar as he hugged Nova and gave her a peck on the cheek. "She'll be as safe as possible with me."
"Derek...let's go," whispered Nova.
"See you in a couple of weeks, around Easter," said Wildstar.
"You'll be getting leave then?" asked Karl.
"We're planning it."
After a few final pleasantries, Derek and Nova got into the Jet Recon Boat, sealed its canopy, and began their checkout. As Karl and Teri walked away, the engines came up, and the boat began to taxi away over the roar of the nearby Cosmo Tigers switching on their engines.
"We're ready," said Nova as Wildstar finished the last of his checkout. Both of them nodded to each other as the Jet Recon Boat taxied up towards the runway.
"Tower to Foxtrot-Tango-Delta-four-eight-niner," came a voice over their helmet earphones. "You're clear for takeoff on Seven- One."
"This is Foxtrot-Tango-Delta-four-eight-niner; acknowledged," said Wildstar. "Taking off."
As Karl and Teri watched, the Jet Recon Boat gathered speed as it rolled down the runway, finally lifting off about midway down the long runway. The boat roared up into the sky, followed a moment later by one of the maroon-colored Cosmo Tigers. Over several minutes, plane after plane launched until all of the Tigers, the Starseeker, and the Starvoyager boat formed a nice V-shaped formation over the field. Then, with Karl and Teri sobbing and yelling out goodbyes, the flight roared into the southeast, gaining altitude with an imposing roar before disappearing into the winter clouds that now covered the Denver Megalopolis.
The planes roared on, with Derek and Nova's Starvoyager/Astro Mallard boat flanked on one side by Sandor and IQ-9 in a Cosmo Tiger and flanked on the other side by Venture, flying alone in his Starseeker/Fox recon plane. At the reception, Natalie had offered to accompany him back to the Megalopolis, but Mark had refused, knowing that Natalie had wanted to stay an extra day with her parents in Denver if at all possible. So, he was alone, his heart growing about as dim and grey as the clouds they were flying through in the pale moonlight.
A moment later, they broke through the cloud cover, revealing the dark night sky, which was only deepening as they climbed higher and higher. Venture looked down for a moment, and thought he recognized the lights of the Dallas Megalopolis far below.
"Wildstar, isn't that Dallas?" asked Venture over his radio.
"My readouts say it is," said Wildstar. "We're to the north right now."
"That's the Denton District," chimed in Nova over their earphones. "I was there as a little girl with my father on a trip when he had to litigate a case there."
"What was it like?" asked Wildstar over the intercom.
"Smallish. Suburban. I think I vaguely remember Papa telling me it was like that since the twentieth century," said Nova.
"Isn't that the Gulf of Mexico down there?" chimed in IQ-9 over the radio as they gained more altitude.
"You heard the Captain, you tinwit," growled Sandor irritably. "Pipe down before we crash in the Gulf!"
"Oh no...I hate swimming!" chirped IQ-9 before he shut up.
In the Starvoyager, Nova giggled softly behind one gloved hand.
A while later, the deep night turned into the jet black of space for a while as the flight headed up and around in a ballistic course that made everyone momentarily weightless in their harnesses. A short time after that, the flight began to plunge back down towards the Caribbean, with the planes' re-entry surfaces glowing red with their controlled dive back into the atmosphere.
Finally, the glow subsided as the flight plunged on downwards in a cloudless, moonlit night.
"We've just picked up Dominica," said Samuel Josiah over his radio from his Tiger.
"Two-Four-Oh, I copy," said Laurel from her plane. She glanced back towards a shaky Royster and smiled. "Don't worry. We'll be home before you know it."
"I hope so...," he said querulously, but with a hint of excitement.
"Nervous back thah?" asked Hardy from his plane.
"You'd be, too, if it was your first ride in a Cosmo Tiger, sir," said Laurel as she came to Daniel's defense.
"Did everyone's chronometers auto-compensate?" asked Wildstar.
"Roger," called out the other pilots as they glanced down and noticed that the local time, one hour ahead of North American Eastern Standard Time, was now 2327, after about an hour and a half in flight.
"We're over Guadeloupe and are now approaching Dominica from the north," said Wildstar as the flight visually acquired a chain of islands glittering in the moonlight. "Venture, assume command."
"Roger," he said as he acclerated so that he was abreast of Wildstar and Nova. He saluted and gave a thumbs-up, which was returned by Derek and Nova right before Wildstar pulled back his control sticks and caused the Mallard boat to drop down below the rest of the formation, which tightened up around Venture as the flight leader.
"Wildstar, I've got the flight now," said Venture.
"Okay," said Derek. "I think you know what to do..."
"Wildstah, do you know what ta do?" asked Hardy.
"Of COURSE, Hardy!" yelled Wildstar into his lip mike while Nova turned beet-red.
"I'm sure YOU know what to do, cousin," chuckled Samuel.
"None of your BUSINESS, Sam!" snipped Nova.
"Take care, you two," said Sandor."
"You too," said Wildstar.
"Bon voyage!" called out Rosstowski.
"Asta la vista!" said Laurel.
"Uhh...have fun..," said Royster.
"Take good care of Nova!" chirped IQ-9.
"I will," said Wildstar as he approached the island, startled as a set of landing lights came on beneath them. A chime rang in his headset and a readout appeared on one of his computer screens which said:
IS A RESTRICTED FEDERAL INSTALLATION.
ASTRO MALLARD FTD-489
YOU HAVE BEEN EXPECTED.
YOU HAVE BEEN CLEARED FOR LANDING BY THE
AUTOMATED DEFENSE SYSTEM
GREETINGS, CAPTAIN WILDSTAR AND MRS. WILDSTAR."
"Wildstar: by the way, I'm picking up the greetings of the compter on my sensors," said IQ-9. "It informs me that the R and R bungalow set aside for your use at Portsmouth, the other two R and R compounds at Castle Bruce and La Plaine on the Atlantic shore, and the President's Camp at Pointe Michel in the south are all vacant. My sensors also indicate no human lifeforms on the island below."
"Great!" said Nova with a smile.
"I'll bet you can't wait to be alone with Captain Wildstar, Nova," added IQ-9. "It doesn't take a genius robot to figure THAT out!"
"Oh...YOU!" hissed Nova. "Goodbye, you TINWIT!"
"You two...good luck..," said Venture.
"Thanks," replied Wildstar.
"..And goodbye," cried Nova as the recon boat flew in over a lovely brownish grey sand beach towards their bungalow at the old site of the village of Portsmouth, which was long gone, and now only lent its name to the small cleared R n' R reserve just to the northeast of the Indian River on the island.
"Over and out," said Venture with a smile. "Okay, everyone....our last manuever's coming up..."
The flight gained some altitude and began to bank as Wildstar switched on the recon boat's landing jets, cushioning its landing on a paved landing pad between the river and a lonely bungalow in the moonlight.
As Wildstar shut off the ship's engines and cracked the canopy after pushing up his clear helmet visor, a combined scent of fresh, exotic tropical flowers and salt air filled his nostrils. He smiled at Nova as she doffed her helmet entirely, throwing her hair back in pleasure and delight as she shut her eyes and took a nice, deep, breath.
They jumped out of the Starvoyager, and looked north, towards the little bungalow that would be their home for the next few days. They noticed that the lights were on; most probably activated by the automatic systems that had sensed their approach. They smiled at each other knowingly, looking up as a distant roar blasted over their heads. Above them, six points of light roared overhead as Venture's plane flew just ahead of Sandor's, which formed the point of the "V" formation the others were flying in.
Derek and Nova watched the planes until their exhausts were mere points of light no bigger than the distant stars, and then were gone altogether as the sound of the breeze and the ocean waves became the only sounds to be heard.
"Well...here we are," sighed Wildstar.
"Yes...alone at last," said Nova with a shy smile.
IV. THE LAST DANCE
Earth Federal Preserve
Portsmouth House Rest and Recreation Facility
December 26, 2201
"You're sure we'll be alone?" asked Wildstar impishly.
"Derek...there's not going to be anyone around the installation for several hundred kilometers, at least. Very few people ever moved back into those island chains after Earth was healed last year, let alone after Zordar's defeat."
"Really?" said Wildstar with some of the denseness that occasionally came out in moments like this.
"That's what they told me when we were planning this, Derek! They said only Puerto Rico and Cuba were beginning to be resettled, and they're several hundred kilometers off to the north!" said Nova with a tiny bit of annoyance as she took off her flight gloves and quickly unzipped her jacket, which was getting FAR too hot.
"I know, Nova. I was informed that the only people here on this installation in the past few weeks were the maintenance crews who came here after Zordar's attack and found the private Governmental compounds pretty much untouched, and the logistics crew who came by and left our things here at Portsmouth House. They both said it appeared that Zordar's dreadnought didn't really fire on this portion of the Caribbean at all, and the wave fronts from the other parts of the bombardment didn't do much damage here."
"So why were you asking me about the place if you know so much?" teased Nova.
"Easy. I wanted to be sure we're going to be alone for the next few days."
"Good," purred Nova.
"Why's that?" teased back Wildstar, knowing perfectly well what she meant.
"Silly! Because...for quite a few of the activities we have in mind...we'd better be alone!"
"Nova...we will be...I'm sure of it. Remember when I said we didn't have much time together on the ship?"
"Yes..." she said with glistening eyes as she shrugged off her flight jacket and threw it in the cockpit with her helmet, gloves and scarf.
"Well....consider this the beginning of the rest of our lives together."
"I certainly am," replied Nova.
"WHEW...It's warm here," said Wildstar as he walked back towards his side of the boat's cockpit before opening his flight jacket. "My readouts say twenty-four degrees centigrade. I'm melting in this!"
"However hot it is...it feels heavenly," sighed Nova as she loosened the collar of her uniform and opened the cargo box behind her seat in the recon boat. She began to pull out bags, pausing at the third bag to open it.
"What are you doing?" asked Derek as Nova fumbled around with something that he couldn't see because the recon boat's fuselage and the lid of his cargo box were in his way.
"Getting acclimated to the climate," said Nova as she winced momentarily at something Wildstar couldn't see as he heard something snap onto the pavement. "Ohhh...where IS it?" murmured Nova. "Ouch! Ooch! There...that's better."
"I'm okay now...never felt better," said Nova as her head popped up again as she merrily threw something into the cargo box in a blur before tossing something to Derek.
"Your beach sandals, Derek," said Nova airily as she came around carrying another bag...and with her uniform top about half- unzipped, which looked a little startling for the normally modest young woman. "Like mine?" she said as Derek scanned her down to her feet, now clad only in a pair of white, flat sandals.
"C'mon...get your jacket OFF...you'll melt in it...!" said Nova in a high voice as she rolled the jacket off his shoulders, and then, without a second thought or even a by-your leave, she unzipped his uniform top all the way and stripped it right off him, leaving him in the white tank top he had been wearing since this morning in the Boulderado Hotel.
"Uhh...you're not wasting ANY time!" said Wildstar as he hugged his wife and gave her a quick kiss.
She returned his kiss, but gently turned her cheek to him when he tried to follow it up with a second one. "Just a LITTLE longer," she whispered. "I've got some plans for tonight. Besides, as you'll see when you get those silly boots off and get barefoot for a minute, this tarmac's a little too hot for that sort of thing...and not the best place on the island...for...that...sort...of... thing," said Nova slowly with a blush and careful emphasis.
"Hmm...what did you have in mind?"
"Getting these bags in...getting ready...and then, taking a nice, long, slow walk," said Nova with glittering eyes.
"Right to a place I spotted in the air while we were coming in for our landing," whisepered Nova. "It looked beautiful...and it'll be perfect..."Uh...you look hot, " she added.
"Yeah. I am," he replied as he reached into the container again for a rag.
"Derek...don't," cried Nova. "I can do that," she said as she ran over to him and found a soft cloth in the container. She began to tenderly mop some of the sweat off his brow and shoulders.
"Your hair's in your eyes," said Wildstar softly as he brushed some of Nova's ash-blond locks out of the way.
"Thanks. You're sweating your way right THROUGH this, Derek," said Nova in a low, sweet voice as she pulled his tank top off and threw it aside near a bag.
"Hey!" said Wildstar. "I thought you didn't like throwing things around your billet or the house!"
"This isn't our house and we can get those things in a few minutes, silly. No one'll take them, and it's just us here on this island," she said as she cuddled up to his bare chest. "Get your boots off...c'mon..."
"Just us," sighed Wildstar as he began to remove a boot. "OUCH!" he yelped as the boot and sock came off and his bare foot hit the tarmac. At that, Nova almost giggled before she thought better of it and knelt to relieve his misery by quickly sliding his foot into his brown thong sandal. Under Nova's guidance, the other boot also quickly came off, replaced by the other leatherette thong. "There? Feel better?"
"At long last," he said tenderly as he stroked his young wife's soft side beneath her uniform, which, he noticed, was getting quite sweaty. "Nova...you look so hot in that."
"Don't worry...I've got some other attire planned for our little walk," said Nova as she picked up two bags and began to head towards the bungalow, which was made up to look like a tropical hut with a thatched roof. Wildstar, carrying three bags, followed her.
"And what might that be?" asked Derek as the two of them went up three steps to a deck that surrounded the entire bungalow on all four sides.
"You'll find out soon enough." she replied in a soft voice with a wink as he gallantly opened the screen door and inner entry door for her.
Together, they walked into what they guessed was the bungalow's living room; it was a good-sized, open room with an earth-tone carpet, some brown cushioned chairs and a brown love seat, with a pair of simulated wicker chairs near a coffee table. The coffee table faced a video unit and entertainment center. Wildstar set one bag on the coffee table and looked around; he got a glimpse of a kitchen through a doorway closed off with simulated bamboo beads, and he glimpsed another room...which, as he saw through the open door, was the bedroom.
"Well...that looks comfortable," said Derek.
"We're not going in there until later," said Nova primly. "Leave the bags out here until morning, okay?"
"And, milady, what are you wearing to bed tonight?" asked Derek after he set down the package and nuzzled Nova's neck. She giggled, but snuggled up appreciatively against him.
"Well....hmmm..I'm sure you can guess, Derek. You're old enough to do that yourself, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am," he grinned. "Should we get back to work?"
"I guess we should," said Nova after a long, deliberate pause. "After all, we don't want the humidity getting into some of our stuff outside in the boat."
Finally, they were finished at last as they dragged in the last items they had packed; namely, the scuba rebreather units they planned to use while skin-diving over the next week.
After Nova hauled in her rebreather unit, leaving it in the living room, Derek spied her leaning against the entry door's doorframe.
"You forgot something," she said.
"Our portable comm-set. It's in the bottom of the cargo box on my side of the boat. Oh...come here."
Wildstar began to walk over and then stopped and stood puzzled for a moment as Nova stood there beckoning to him with one finger with a "come-hither" look.
"Uh...Nova...I thought you said you wanted to do that...well...outside?"
"You'll see," she said softly as he came over. "But I've got to get you ready, first."
Nova hugged him, gave him a kiss, and abruptly stripped off his tank top. "Getting rid of that, for starters," she purred as she rubbed his bare chest...with hands that he noticed were trembling. "Could you take that beach towel out of that bag, spread it out on the tarmac, and wait for me at the edge of the field with the comm-set on?"
"Okay..," said Wildstar. "Then?"
"Then...we'll take our little walk."
At that, Nova left.
Soon, Derek went to the plane and pulled out their portable tachyon vid-comm set, which was now their emergency communications link with the capital in case they were needed or in case they needed to make a call for some reason. Derek flicked the set on, running through the stations at random before sitting down on the beach towel to listen. He paused for a moment to pull off his thongs, which he didn't need now since he currently had no reason to walk on the hot landing pad. Then, he played with the commset a while longer, finally getting a Megalopolis radio station on the regular band-one of those that the unit was set to monitor. After making sure that the unit was programmed to monitor the EDF frequency they'd be called on if needed (the set would automatically switch to that band if a message came in on it), Derek turned up the volume and listened as some band played a contemporary rendition of the old Beatles' classic, "I Saw Her Standing There".
He suddenly noticed that the bungalow door was opening. However, Derek's mouth dropped open when he noticed Nova slinking out in an outfit he hadn't known she had with her, much less expected to see her in.
Nova was wearing a short little sarong that was wrapped around her slender body like a second skin. It began below her bare shoulders exposing a nice amount of cleavage, and it ended right above the middle of her thighs, showing off her long coltish legs. The sarong was white, decorated with a floral pattern in pink, blue and gold. In her hair, Nova wore a little cluster of pink and white tropical flowers, and she was still shod in her white sandals. However, Derek noticed that Nova had added an ankle bracelet.
"Derek, like my outfit?" asked Nova with a twinkle in her eye as she turned to face him, extending a long leg and turning a little more so that the part of the sarong (below the knot) that formed the natural slit showed. The slit opened far enough to expose more of her long, gorgeous leg, straight up to her hip and lower stomach; enough of her was showing for Derek to see one wonderfully enticing fact.
Namely, there was no hint whatsoever of anything on her lower body under the sarong. Given the cleavage Nova was showing, Derek guessed that even though the sarong covered her well enough for the moment, she was most likely naked underneath.
"Uh-huh!" replied Derek with wide eyes. "Like the music on the radio? I think it fits your entrance."
"Derek, the song's WRONG!"
"I'm not seventeen any more! I'm six years older than that!"
"Isn't it obvious, Nova? You look...gorgeous."
"Thanks," she said, turning on her toes to saunter towards Derek, with that sarong moving around her like a native's second skin as she walked. Grrrrrr thought Derek. "Now?" he asked.
"Now, Derek Wildstar, we are taking a little walk. Put your thongs on and bring the beach towel but leave the comm-unit. We're NOT going to need it."
"Right!" he said with a wolfish grin as he picked up the beach towel and flung it over his arm after putting his shoes back on.
Nova's walk took them along a path leading through the greenery that led to the northeast near another small river a little less than a kilometer away from the bungalow. Even though it was evening, there was still a warm breeze whispering over the songs of the crickets and frogs that lived in the underbrush off the path, and even the bit of sand from the path that kicked up inside their sandals as they walked felt warm. It didn't take long for Derek and Nova to slow down, hold hands, and exchange longing glances as they slowly walked through a grove of palm trees, listening as the roar of the Carbbean Sea grew stronger as they headed west towards the beachfront.
"Isn't it beautiful?" whispered Nova as she finally stopped near the end of the path, near a grove of beach grass.
Below them, shining in the moonlight under a full moon that was still glowing eeirely orange in places from Zordar's attack, was the beach. The gentle waves of the Atlantic washed in as Wildstar watched both the scene and Nova with rapture in his eyes.
"The path's nothing but sand now," said Wildstar as he shifted his foot around.
"Let's leave our shoes here," said Nova softly. Derek smiled, agreeing that it was a good idea. He kicked off his thongs while Nova simply stepped on the heel straps of her sandals, pausing to remove her ankle bracelet, and then just stepped out of them into the soft, delicious sand, which felt just as nice as it looked.
"This is a wonderful place to be alone, Derek, isn't it?"
Wildstar began to answer. But, before he could get the answer out of his mouth, Nova was drawing her lips close to his.
He took the cue, and began to return the kiss. It was a long kiss, the sort that made even their long kiss at the altar seem short and perfunctory by comparison. They drew their arms tight around each other. Then, Derek's ability to think clearly began to blur as he picked Nova up, holding her under the beach towel.
"Why are you doing that?" she asked.
"Well...there's no threshold to carry you over, because we're outside...so I thought I'd carry you right onto the beach. Aren't those two big palm trees sort of like a threshold?"
Nova nodded softly while throwing her arms around his neck and snuggling close to him.
"Can we go?"
"Derek, let's go now."
At that, he began to walk down to the beach with his wife in his arms.
Wildstar smiled, recalling another time that came to mind with the intonations of Nova's soft Midwestern voice. He remembered that she had said the same thing in the same manner quite some time ago, when they had been in space gear, in the cold, on Titan...looking at the remains of the missile ship Paladin...at the ship that Derek had thought was surely the tomb of his brother Alex.
There, he thought. It was cold. I was alone with my shipmate. And...with the way you talked to me then, maybe...just maybe...that's when you stopped thinking of me as a mere shipmate...and began to think of me as something more.
As he walked slowly down towards the surf with Nova cradled in his arms in nothing but her new wedding band, she looked up at him with shining, happy, eyes and a smile...but a smile that faded a little as she noticed tears beginning to form in his eyes.
"What's wrong?" she whispered.
"Memories," he said. "Memories...of a time when I was carrying you...almost like this...and you couldn't respond to me. It was that time after you turned on the Cosmo-DNA...and I thought I had lost you forever when you were in that coma...Doctor Sane said that the sleeping gas would certainly produce a lethal effect...he..."
"But it turned out all right! I woke up in your wonderful arms like this, Derek. That's what I remember best about that time."
"What else...do you remember? They said you were almost..."
"All I remember is the sensation of the Cosmo-DNA being activated, the last few tendrils of that burning, choking gas entering my lungs, staggering up for air...being knocked out when I couldn't breathe anything at all...and then, waking up again in your arms, barely remembering what had happened."
"You don't remember anything else?"
"No. I don't. The time I was out...was like a dreamless sleep...and not like...what I'd imagine crossing the eternal river Jordan would be like."
"I just remember...you lying there...so pale...so cold...I thought you were about to..."
"Shh...," said Nova softly as she stroked his cheek. "You know I didn't. I'm fine, I'm alive, and I'm well...and I'm not about to go anywhere." While lying in his arms, she gently kissed his chest and held on even tighter as he stopped on the beach. "You're trembling...Derek."
"I know...and so are you."
"Can I tell you something else?"
At that, she whispered a gentle, soft plea into his ear; one that Derek Wildstar barely needed to hear...but one which he understood, for he knew it mirrored the concerns of a new, nervous bride.
"Of course...," he whispered. "I love you...Nova...," he said tenderly as he nuzzled his cheek into Nova's hair and kissed her ear before gently lowering down onto her feet. Derek spread out the beach towel with a quick flip and smoothed it down.
When he turned his head, he noticed that Nova was working on undoing her sarong. He stood and helped her, kissing her again as it fell to the sand. His guess as to what Nova had on underneath her garment was quite correct, and her nude form looked beautiful in the orange-tinted moonlight.
Nova kissed him, and without a pause, stripped him of the last of his garments. She stood there for a minute, admiring every centimeter of him before she fell into his arms.
They embraced, and held each other for a long time, caressing tenderly with their eyes closed.
Just before lying down on the beach towel, Derek's eyes met Nova's, and they exchanged a wonderful thought...
...namely...the knowledge that they were destined to have a wonderful honeymoon...where they could be all alone, at long last.
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