ALTERNATE TALES OF THE STAR FORCE
STAR BLAZERS---IT NEVER RAINS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA…
A Postscript to THE NEW COMET--- BY: Frederick P. Kopetz
This Story is being completed with the Cooperation and Assistance of Derek A.C. Wakefield (as usual)---Freddo
Thanks to SAMANTHA NOCERA (aka Steel Hyaena) for artwork and ideas contributed to this chapter. The character of Captain Kalevi Denneman (referred to in this story) is © 2010 by Samantha Nocera and is used by permission-All Rights Reserved. Ms. Nocera’s artwork of Nova Wildstar is © 2010 by her and used by permission.
Also, thanks to Gail Kopetz, Yuki Wildstar, and Ami Meitsu for ideas used in this chapter.
PART FOURTEEN: TWILIGHT (CONCLUSION---part two “training and homecomings”)
I. PORT OF CALL: PHILADELPHIA
The Philadelphia Megalopolis
Space Battleship Argo
Wedenesday, July 6, 2208
1120 Hours Local Time
It was thus, after quite a few adventures and battles in the past few days, that the Argo sat an anchor again, in peace, on the East Coast of North America in the waters of the Delaware River in the Philadelphia Megalopolis Region, not far from the heavily rebuilt memorial ship known as the USS New Jersey. The New Jersey had incurred heavy damage in the planet bombings and had been thought to have been lost until her wreck was again found after the Cosmo-DNA had been fired off. With her wreck found, it took some doing, but the ancient ship was taken to an EDF dry dock near New York. She sat there, while a few officers in the EDF offered a report of her material condition and stated that her materials could serve as the raw material for conversion into another Space Battleship as had been done with the wreckage of the Yamato, which had been in even worse material condition when the shipwrights had gotten their hands on her.
The Earth Defense Council voted down the idea, even though Commanding General Singleton had privately thought that the New Jersey would have looked rather good sailing the Sea of Stars beside her one-time wartime enemy the rebuilt Yamato, whom she might have met in battle near Leyte Gulf if history had gone differently and Admirals Halsey and Kurita had made different decisions.
Instead, such as it was, the Argo sat at anchor ready to fly again, while the New Jersey had only been rebuilt to the extent where she had been given a fusion reactor deep in her bowels to power her rather than the ancient oil-fired boilers that had once burned in her engine rooms. She was kept in the sort of material condition that she could actually sortie again as a last-ditch defense if given a crew, missiles, powder, and shells. A small EDF historical team, dressed like US World War II-era sailors, helped man the New Jersey at anchor as her museum docents while the retired antique hosted tourists, schoolchildren and other such community groups.
It was a fate that Commodore Wildstar hoped never befell the Argo…at least while he lived…as he stood on his command’s deck in the hot summer air of Philadelphia watching some of his Mechanical Group working on patching up small rents in the Argo’s hull and decks with portable torches while another work gang of men and women in Living Group gold and black worked on the space battleship’s wet foredeck barefoot with hoses and automatic deck scrubbers and holystoners to clean the ship’s decks.
“C’mon, people!” Derek heard a familiar voice saying over the somehow faraway mechanical din, mingled with laughter, song, and good-natured cursing. “We have to get this deck shining by fifteen hundred for the Skipper and our dignitairies!”
Derek thus confronted his XO; Nova stood there herself running a deck scrubber, barefoot. Nova was wearing a variant of her Living Group uniform that left her long legs fetchingly bare in the sun sans the high boots that were her leggings for this issue, just like some of the other young girls who worked with her in this uniform. Nova worked munching an apple as she worked herself on part of the deck running her deck scubber with a squirt hose. Nova kept her authority even though her wet uniform, with its zipper unzipped to her breastbone, clung to her in such a way as to show that her boyish 30-year old form was unabashedly naked beneath the thin cloth like a Vargas swimsuit pin-up. “All right. What are you doing out here? You have Ensigns and Sergeants for this sort of thing, Nova…” Derek said as he directed Nova to a spot near the back of one of the Argo‘s massive main gun turrets…an isolated little spot on the deck between the huge turret and one of the access hatches that led back into the ship.
“I’m following what you taught me, Derek. Never give a subordinate any job that you aren’t willing to take a hand in yourself. Sergeant Blakeley told me they needed an extra hand and asked me to let Private Kofsky out of the brig. I said, no way; I’d rather work on the ship myself than let that guy out. Besides, Derek…I was getting bored up in our cabin. Although when we take a liberty call, Derek, I want to put on a skirt or shorts and walk around downtown Philly for a bit. Care to join me?”
“I’d join you now if you’d put on sandals and zip up a little and go to lunch with me dressed like that!” Derek whispered with a wink.
Nova laughed and kicked some water on him from off the deck. “Hey! Nova, why’d you do that?”
“To cool you off, Derek!” Nova said with a laugh.
“We have a meeting at thirteen hundred,” Derek said. “Please leave this job to one of your subordinates in a while, and meet us in the Central Strategy Room.” He looked Nova up and down and winked and said, “Much as I hate to say it, please meet us dried off and with more clothes on.”
“Oh, you’re no fun anymore,” Nova teased. She then squealed softly as Derek pulled her close to him, and did a quick unzip of her uniform down to down past her navel. She squealed and pretended to hit him as he tickled her belly button and saucily slipped his hand down her uniform and copped a quick feel while he shut her up with a kiss in the hot sun in that little alcove, feeling her bottom as he embraced her and suddenly wishing (although they both knew that it was not possible to do so now) that he could just strip the uniform off her and touch her naked in the sun like he often did in their yard behind their hedges and walls back at home. Then, he quickly zipped up her uniform again and said, “That’s because we can’t have anyone else seeing you dressed down like that…”
“you bad, bad, Commodore,” Nova said with a mock scowl while her eyes shone with repressed mirth, happiness, and maybe something more. Derek had copped his feel in such a way that Nova was still recovering from the pleasant, melting shiver he had caused. “Go away before I splash you and that bulkhead with this hose and make us both have to change!”
“Why would you do something like that, Deputy Captain?” Derek said.
“Because if this goes on, I will want to be late for that meeting.” Then, Nova stepped back and saluted. “Uhhh…my group might be watching, sir. Please leave us?”
“Will do, Commander,” Derek said, returning the salute. “Carry on! As you were, Commander.”
Nova nodded, thinking, Why don’t I just leave now? No one will miss me. Ohhh, better not!
Nova actually met Derek at 1230 in the messhall, in a fresh, dry uniform and boots. She looked as serious as a heart attack as she looked at her husband and whispered, “I received a very disturbing call from Dawn Hardy in our quarters a while ago….”
“What sort of phone call?” Derek asked as he sat down beside her with his lunch.
Nova sighed. “You know our so-called ‘friend’, Lord Ekogaru? He started haunting her dreams last night. Dawn said she had this disturbing dream where she fought the fictional Darth Vader from the old 20th Century Star Wars movie series, who turned out to be me, and then turned out to be HIM. Naturally, his appearance had all of the regular hallmarks of one of his apprearances; cold, death, dread. Dawn told me that HE was trying to make her believe that I was the Dark Lord’s new host. Fortunately, even she has enough common sense to see how ridiculous this is.”
Derek sat musing and said, “If he had caught her in the state of mind she was in two weeks ago…she may have fallen for it. But we observed that she seemed to be quite calm and collected at Victoria.”
“Which gives me a therory, Derek. What if her problems were partially severe post-partum depression, made worse by his mucking about with her mind? We know how insidious his attacks can be.”
“How do we defend her against an attack like that, Nova?”
“Simple. Encourage her to believe in her love for Jeff, for David, herself. We’ve found out that where there is goodness, love, and peace in a heart, Ekogaru tends to give up on someone like that. Not worth corrupting, I guess?”
“With Dawn, that’s a tall order, Nova.”
“With Dawn, it’s the only thing that might keep her sanity,” Nova added. Jefferson Hardy then came over because he overheard what they were talking about. Nova had him sit down and she filled him in as to what had happened in her talk with Dawn while Nakajima came up to Wildstar with a salute and said, “The condition of the ship is pretty good; except that we’re having a little bit of trouble with the repairs to one of the aft gun turrets, and there are some temperature readings on the port side auxilary engine that are a minor cause for concern, sir.”
“Is there anything that would keep us from powering up that engine?” Commodore Wildstar asked.
“No, sir,” said Nakajima. “When we get underway again or get to Moonbase, I’d like to check it out. What is our agenda after we leave Philadelphia, by the way?”
“Our mission profile has been slightly expanded because I got new orders,” Derek replied. “We’re leaving Philadelphia tomorrow morning, and heading to Moonbase, as you’ve no doubt heard, for two days’ worth of ground maneuvers, attack runs by the Black Tigers, simulated boarding and defense ops, that sort of thing. On the ninth, we’ll leave Moonbase and return to Earth, landing near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. In Vietnam, we have three more days worth of simulated fighting planned in the jungles past the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. We’re scheduled to leave Vietnam on the twelfth and to return the Argo to the Tokyo Megalopolis at that time, so we should be home on the twelfth. That’s if all goes well.”
“Derek, I don’t like the idea of us being in Veitnam,” Nova said.
“Why is that…ma’am?” Nakajima hastily added.
“They had real activity by some of the Josiahites around the border with Laos. If they penetrate further into the country, Derek, things could turn nasty. In a hurry.”
“How many people are we going to be working with in ‘Nam?” Hardy asked.
“They’re loaning us a Battalion of Space Marines at Moonbase,” Nova said. “For these ground manuevers, Derek’s going to be in charge of the Assault Company of five platoons, while I’m going to be in charge of the Headquarters Company, which includes Admin, Medics, Transport, and Support Platoons in the field. In other words, Derek’s in charge of the assault and defense, and I’m in charge of his backup. We’re going to have somewhere between four and five hundred Marines. They’re going to be crammed aboard the Argo for a while, so, get ready for the usual fights, thefts of food, assaults, people belching in the messhall and throwing chicken bones, et cetera. I will have pepper spray on me at all times,” Nova added dryly.
“The yahoo brigade rethuns,” said Hardy. “Wonderful news, Nova.”
“Which unit is it?” asked Eager.
“Fifteenth Battalion,” said Derek. “The bunch that successfully defended Pluto near the end of the Second Cometine War. Their usual skipper is a Colonel Mick Gaylord…tough little guy from North Carolina. The exec in command of the Headquarters Company is a Major by the name of Karen Underwood. When Nova and I are in command of those companies, Gaylord and Underwood will be our immediate subordinates.”
A moment later, a Corporal from Communications came up to the table and saluted. “Mister Hardy, sir. There’s a private message holding in the comm room for you from Georgia. Both you and Commander Nova Wildstar are wanted.”
“They want you?” said Nakajima.
“Derek, it must be that business I told you about with Hardy’s father,” Nova said without elaboration, but Derek knew what she was talking about; that potential deal with the Gamilons. “We may have to make some calls later…”
“Yes, we needed to call him to give him an update with the situation with the Bolar Federation, anyway,” Derek replied. “Jeff, you and Nova go tend to that message.”
Both officers saluted and left.
As Jefferson had guessed, the person on the other line was his father Nathaniel Hardy. Juliet sat beside him, with a tight-lipped, annoyed expression on her face. Oddly enough, she was the first one who spoke when she said, “Hello, Jefferson. When your father ran the numbers for me on this…deal…..I began to see just how this might help us from a financial standpoint. I do not agree from a moral standpoint, but, financially, I had to concede that the sale to Gamilon would help us. Provided they stick by their price.”
“So, you mean?” asked Jeff.
Nathaniel cleared his throat. “We’ve agreed to the sale of that shipment to the Gamilons. Therefore, Nova, we do ask your help…as we discussed the other day.”
“We’re supposed to be talking to the Throne later today about some other business, so I’ll mention it,” Nova said. “What was the name of the Gamilon officer Murchison was working with?”
“A Colonel Dracha,” said Nathaniel Hardy. “I’ve received messages from him, but have never actually spoken to him…”
“Nathaniel, are those beastly blue people going to come to Victoria to pick up the goods? Remind me to go have the vapors and hide if they do,” said Juliet.
“No, dear. Everything is being done through Murchison and his usual shipping agents here on Earth,” Nathaniel said.
“Thank heavens,” said Juliet. She looked at Nova and sighed. “You can really arrange this?”
“I feel I sure can,” Nova said.
“Well, sugar, I wish you luck,” said Juliet. “Better you talkin’ to Desslok than me. Oh? How old is your Dawn again, Jefferson? She seems so danged young!”
“She was born in 2184,” Jeff said. “She’s about the same age as my friend Wakefield; she’s twenty-four now; gonna turn twenty-five next April.”
“Quite an age difference given you were born in May 2178 and you’re thirty, Jeff,” said Juliet. “You’re always going to have to be the more mature one in that marriage.”
“Just like me,” sighed Nova. “I was born in February 2178; Derek was born in July in the same year. We’re just getting around to his thirtieth birthday.”
“Oh, for land sakes, Nova,” laughed Juliet. “You’re comparin’ apples and oranges. Your gallant young Commodore is very mature for his age with all the responsibilties on his head and he’s not that much younger than you! Jeff is having to look after two babies in this marriage. His son and Dawn.”
“Yeah, you can say that again,” chuckled Jefferson. “Nice talkin’ to you and Dad again, Mom,” he said as he noticed Nova gently tapping her wrirst chrono. “Duty calls.”
“I’ll be sure to mention the grain deal to Desslok,” Nova said. “Very nice speaking to you again, Nathaniel; Juliet.”
“Take care, Jeff…you too, Nova,” said Nathaniel as Juliet said, “Goodbye, both of you! Keep an eye on that Dawn for us! For David’s sake!”
“I will,” said Jeff as he nodded goodbye to his parents.
II. LUNACY AT MOONBASE
EDF Main Base
Space Battleship Argo
Thursday, July 7, 2208
2145 Hours Standard Earthtime
The Argo left Philadelphia at around 6AM the next day, and she was soon airborne again, and back on Standard Earthtime, which was the EDF’s equivalent of “Zulu Time”, based upon the time in the Tokyo Megalopolis, which meant that it was the equivalent of 9PM when the Argo made her trek to the Moon and landed in a dock at Moonbase.
At Moonbase, the Argo was soon “invaded” by all of the Space Marines and landing ships who would board for this exercise. Three landing boats, all that the Argo had room for, came aboard in several trips with the Marines and their equipment.
Jonathan Hartnell-Wildstar and his Junior Space Cadet Corps cohorts were among the first to meet the Marines, who jostled, cursed, and yelled obscene marching songs as they trooped aboard the Argo. In fact, Jonathan was soon at close range to a particularly nasty, unshaven-looking specimen of Space Marine who grabbed him by the shoulder and yelled, after throwing some paper on the deck, “Hey, Space Jockey! Which way to the head!??!? Gotta take a leak!”
“Uh….down past two bulkheads, past that set of blast doors, and it’s right there, Private,” said Jonathan. “Can’t miss it!”
“Gotcha! They’re makin’ these punk Midshipmen awful young these days, huh, Harvey?” the Marine yelled to one of his buddies.
“Hey, Newmeat!” yelled Harvey at Jonathan. “Hope ya ain’t ascared of us!” Harvey gave Jonathan a shove and left laughing with his unshaven buddy.
Derek came down the passage a moment later, overhearing the laughter. “Junior Cadet Hartnell-Wildstar!” he barked. Jonathan came to attention when facing his father. “Yessir!” he said.
“At ease, Cadet,” said Derek. Then, he looked at Jonathan, the mess on the deck, and the loud laughter. “Jonathan, what’s going on?”
Jonathan sighed. “Marines, Dad. They’re acting like…well…Marines.”
Derek rolled up his eyes. “They’re obviously not a shipboard Trooper or Security unit, so, yeah….they would act like that. Did you order them to claan up their crap?”
Wildstar sighed. “Jonathan, as long as you’re embarked aboard the Argo, the people of your unit are considered the equivalent of Midshipmen. You do have the authority to, within regs, command enlisted people. Next time you see crap like this,” said Derek as he helped Jonathan pick up the papers, “tell them that they’re aboard a vessel and not out on a battlefield someplace and that they’re to obey the regs of the Star Force. I’m going to give them a lecture when I address this whole company in muster later on, and your Mom’s going to do the same with the company she’s got! Good thing we only have them on board for a few days. They’ll go through our food like locusts.”
In the Messhall, this was already happening.
The Headquarters Company was beginning to snarf up food like crazy.
Nova was expecting to see food vanish like crazy….but she had only semi-expected the Marines to start fights in the Galley. Two of them, ten minutes ago, fighting over some girl. Nova had gotten some Star Force Troopers from Combat Group to break it up. Their services were needed again five minutes later, when two more Marines began another fight over a move in a game of checkers.
Now, Nova was expecting a little better from a Headquarters Company, so, she was stalking the messhall like a Fluff Princess in high dudgeon, asking any Marine she could see in authority, “Where’s Major Underwood? Your CO? I want to talk to her? NOW?”
Nova got some ridiculous answers, ranging from, “She’s in the Head” to “She’s in a locker porking the First Sergeant!” Fnally, Nova’s glare got a response from a Sergeant of some authority in this anarchic unit, who told her, “The Old Lady’s over there at that table by the bulkhead.” He helpfully pointed out the table to Nova before belching.
Nova nodded, and she stalked off to the table, finding a group of Marines laughing as one Marine was chopping at the tabletop with a big combat knife while another boyish-looking Marine sat there with his hand on the table, laughing at him and daring him, in a high voice, “Go on, Mickley! Shove that thing in my hand! I dare ya! Ya lose, you owe me a hundred credits and I get to punch in your Goddman nose before I put ya up on charges!”
Nova looked at the laughing Marines with a glare before one of them noticed and yelled, “YO! Officer on deck!”
The boyish-looking one stopped. It was only then, as the officer got up and turned around, that Nova noticed the boyish-looking officer had breasts and hips. She then noticed Nova’s collar and saluted. “Good evening, Ma’am!” she said in an ironic voice.
“First one who’s saluted,” Nova snapped as she returned a fist-to-the-heart salute. “Do you know where Major Karen Underwood is?”
“You’re lookin’ at her,” said the young officer as she looked at Nova. “You’re either Nova Wildstar or the actress who played her in that weepy movie that came out a while ago.”
“I’m Commander Wildstar,” Nova said. “Major. Your crew is doing a major number on my galley! Haven’t you ever trained these people in the basics of shipboard conduct?”
“Sorry, ma’am. Lot of ‘em are as green as grass….first big trainin’ exercise for this bunch. The cadre of this group is a bunch of veterans. You would not believe the shit we saw on Pluto, and you would not believe the amount of green crap we captured,” said Underwood. “Took down eight of them myself,” she said as she pattted the AK-01 slung on her shoulder over her the armor pads on her shoulders; the young, dark-haired Marine with the short hair had on combat boots, tight green fatigue pants, an undershirt, and metal and Lexan shoulder pads. “Didja draw my combat issue yet? The armor on the shoulders is important. You got thin little shoulders, so if you spend days in a set of jump armor, it won’t rip your shoulders to hell. Your hair’s gonna end up straight as hell after about a day or so of wearin’ it, though. And you may start smellin’ kinda bad.”
“Uh…I’m familiar with how jump armor works. I helped design it, and wore it a little on manuevers and testing,” Nova said.
“Your role on the project?” said Underwood.
“Ergonomics,” Nova replied. “Thanks to me, we got some of that extra cushioning added inside the armor.”
“Yeah, it does help,” said Karen. Nova looked at her hard. “Yes?” Karen said.
“Would you mind playing mumbledepeg with your XO’s knife somewhere other than my Messhall?” Nova sighed.
“I kinda like you, so I’ll see about it,” said Karen with a wink. She then got up and yelled at her unit, “RULE NUMBER ONE! WE’RE GUESTS HERE! STOP ACTIN’ LIKE ASSHOLES!”
There were a couple of boos and hisses, but the yelling calmed down to a more dignified military grumble as Karen looked at Nova and said, “You gotta learn to cuss a little, XO. Not much, ‘cause it don’t fit you since you’re kinda prissy, and a little nerdy, but, trust me, it helps ya now and then. Be nice workin’ with ya, ma’am!” said Karen as she grabbed Nova’s hand, crushed it lightly, and gave her a strong, firm handshake. “And if you see Mick Gaylord, tell him Karen said he’d better get his shitboids to cool it! Right?”
“Sure,” Nova said. “Nice talking with you, Major.”
Nova took off, shaking her head and smiling to herself. Well, she thought. At least Underwood has the respect of her delinquents….
Nakajima was pissed.
The reason why Heero Nakajima was pissed was because the port side auxilary engine of the Argo was not working correctly.
The problem with the damn engine is that it’s drawing 10 more kilovolts than it’s supposed to be, he thought.
Nakajima, therefore, had to work on the engine. He brushed off the help of three of his subordinates, and said, “I’m gonna go in there alone. Only a little adjustment. I can handle it!’
So, Nakajima descended into the port side auxilary engine nacelle of the Argo.
The nacelles that held the auxilary engines were below the main engine room, reachable only by small maintenance lifts that went down a deck.
Inside the nacelle, it was very dimly lit. The auxilary engine, a standard, old-style fusion plant connected to the main energy generator by pipes and cables, was powered by its own set of turbines and had its own pressurized Fluorine-5 cooling system. The cooling system, while it usually worked well, could be tricky and inefficient if some of the pumps got out of adjustment.
As Nakajima looked at one of the control panels in the dimly lit space, he realized why the engine was not running right. Damnit. The second pump is running thirty percent below specs for some Goddamned reason. Have to shut down this engine and keep it down until we can pull that pump. Nakajima began working on shutting down the system. However, as he worked…he noticed a bad smell…the smell of a sharp, tangy gas.
He could dimly overhear scuffling and banging up in the main engine room above him. “What are they doing up there? Oh, that idiotic combat exercise! Having wargames in my engine room, how stupid! Those foolish Marines had better not wreck anything.” He kept on working at shutting down the auxilary engine, only looking up when he saw that the area two meters away was beginning to turn…pink. A pinkish gas filled the air. “DAMNIT! Coolant leak!” he said. A little of the Fluorine-5 gas hit his lungs, and he began to cough and spit. He knew that a small quantity of the gas could possibly hurt him; breathing in a larger quantity of the gas would burn his bronchial passages, and enough of the crap could easily kill.
He also knew that it could easily leach through to the main engine room. He hit an alarm button and tried to get his space helmet and gloves and decided to run for it and seal the space. As he was gettiing his gear, the main seal blew, and the hissing of the Fluorine-5 turned into a roar. Enough hit his trachea that he began to have serious spasms and he began to cough, gasping and wheezing as his throat burned. The space began to fill with the gas.
As he coughed, he heard the lift. To his shock, he could see a smallish, willowy spacesuited form running towards him at full tilt. What he could see of the spacesuit looked yellow, white, and black.
He inhaled more gas, coughing and gasping even worse than before. He grabbed for his helmet, but dropped it. He was barely conscious now.
He dimlly perceived what happened next. The spacesuited figure grabbed him and dragged him off for a bit, solo, in a fireman’s carry for a bit, before others came down the lift. Two spacesuited Marines helped the small, slender figure drag him out of there. As he gasped more and passed closer to unconciousness, he saw the spaceuited figure in gold running the lift, getting them up, signalling for them to drag him off, and then he saw the figure punching buttons very fast, closing the blast door.
Before he passed out, he saw the figure was not just boyish in build, but had breasts and hips.
When Nakajima passed out, the spacesuited woman in gold asked one of the Marines, “Corporal? Is it sealed? Is there any further hint of a leak?”
“No, ma’am,” he responded on the comm circuit.
The spacesuited figure scanned Nakajima with a small hand-held scanner handed to her by a Mechanical Group Ensign. “Good, no more gas around him!” She then pulled off her helmet and listened for a heartbeat. “Thready, but he’s still alive!” she said. “Koshima, are the medics here yet?”
“No, ma’am,” said another Corporal.
“You want something done right, Cripes, sometimes you just have to do it yourself,” Nova Wildstar sighed as she bent over Nakajima, cleared his airway, and began to give him mouth-to-mouth and CPR herself. “Going in there without gear? What an idiot!”
Nakajima woke up four hours later in Sickbay, with a breathing tube, tracheomotomy, and a respirator next to his bed.
He heard a somewhat squeaky, whiny voice saying, “Nova, he’s conscious now. You said you wanted him alone?”
“I do,” Nova replied. Nakajima noticed she was standing there in her nurse’s minidress, sandals, and a stethoscope. She sighed and nodded at Doctor Sane as she looked at the EKG track on the monitor connected to him, and she came up and listened to his breathing sounds, looking at his eyes, knowing he could not speak. “You’re awake, Nakajima? Nod your head if you can hear me and know who I am.”
Nakajima looked at Nova and nodded, twice. Nova then looked at him and said, “You can’t talk right now with that tube in you. Probably a good thing. Because I have some words to say to you.” Nova gave him a little poke in one of the bangaged parts of his chest. He winced. “”Good. You’re quiet. Do you know who pulled you out of there? Do you know who got Marines to help save your miserable butt? Do you know who noticed the gas leak near the hatch and kept you from dying? I did! And would you like to know why I saved your life?”
Nakajima looked at her, thinking, Yeah, so you can bitch at me.
Nova said, “It is because you are a very valuable member of this crew right now, and on this mission, we cannot afford to lose you. That’s why. Regardless of the fact that you are a moron, a sexist bigot, and a jackass, your services are needed here, Lieutenant Commander. Are we clear on that?”
Nakajima nodded. He saw a pen and a pad nearby and pointed and motioned to them.
Nova noticed. “Oh? You want those? Here,” she said. He took the pen and pad and wrote something. Then, he handed them to Nova.
Nova looked at his note. It read: I’M SORRY, MA’AM. THANKS. YOU BELONG HERE MORE THAN I DO. WHAT CAN I BUY YOU TO MAKE UP?
Nova smiled a little at him and wrote at the bottom of the pad, “SPACE JAVA…STRONG. WHEN YOU GET BETTER”
Nova handed him back the pad and said, “Don’t think I’m ready to kiss you or anything. I’m not. You’re still a jackass. But at least you’re a little less rude. Welcome to the Star Force. Get better.” Nova gave his hand a pat and briskly took off.
LATER THAT DAY….
Thursday turned to Friday.
On Friday morning, after the training on the Moon, Derek, Nova, Homer, Eager and the rest of the crew saluted as Desslok appeared on the Argo’s main screen. They had contacted him on Gamilon to speak with him about recent events, and he was returning their hail at last.
“I’m pleased to hear from you, Commodore Wildstar,” said Desslok on the screen. “Congratulations to you with regard to your recent victory against Admiral Rosskovsky. I am so pleased to hear you made fools of him!”
“How did you hear about that?” Derek asked.
“I have many means of gathering intelligence,” Desslok said. “I need not inform you of them all. Bolar has recently become a thorn in my boot, as well. They’ve been daring to attack some outlying bases I have in your Galaxy. Of course, we are making them pay for their impudence…along with R’Khell and this Spectran terrorist organization. I have an envoy visiting Spectra shortly to make some demands upon their Government, so I am sure that world will be dealt with. What concerns me somewhat is the rumor we have received that Bolar and R’Khell have created an alliance they call the Interstellar Axis. They appear to have aimed that alliance against us. I think they may well be trying to create further difficulty against us in the future.”
“So, then we need to strengthen the bond between our races,” Derek said.
“I would say so,” said Desslok.
Derek looked at Nova, now at her radar, remembering what Hardy had asked of them. Commodore Wildstar said, “Desslok. It is my understanding that there is a pending commercial deal with Earth to purchase a sample of grain from one of our farmers that is being held up in your Foreign Ministry. The Terran agent involved is named Murchison, and the deal involves a purchase of grain and vegetables by our Empire from a farmer here on Earth known as Nathaniel Hardy. Could you look into this deal for us and see what is delaying it in your Foreign Ministry?”
Desslok nodded. “I certainly will, Commodore Wildstar. Also, as I see Nova in your background, I extend my congratulations to her on her promotion as your First Officer…has she served you well, Commodore?”
“She…she has,” Derek said. “And we thank you, Desslok.”
“Thank you for the congratulations,” Nova said softly.
“You are quite welcome, Nova. You and the Commodore can tell your friend Mister Hardy that the deal is as good as done. I will be in touch, and I thank you. I will pray, as usual, for your success in all of your endeavors,” Desslok said as he terminated the conversation with a salute.
Later that day, at the plantation of Victoria, Nathaniel Hardy opened up his e-mail and was pleased when he opened up a message from his sales agent Murchison. It read:
I’m not sure what has happened, but the logjam on that sale to the Gamilons that was holding us up in the Gamilon Foreign Ministry just broke today as if by magic! A new, higher-ranking General named Yaris has replaced the other agent, apparently by the personal command of Leader Desslok himself! The purchase has been approved by the Ministry; they only need details on delivery of the goods and payment that I’m sure we can work out in a few hours. Expect to be ready to consumate the deal within a week, and expect your earnest money share of the purchase in the next week. Don’t know what the Hell happened, but you sure seem to have some connected friends.
Nathaniel Hardy was very pleased to receive this particular e-mail. I don’t know how Juliet will take things; we had quite an argument over this business last night, he thought. But, like it or not, the die is cast….
Nathanile then read a second e-mail that confirmed the message of the first. This one read:
To Nathaniel Hardy:
I want to let you and Juliet know that Derek and I spoke to Desslok this morning as we promised. We had a very nice talk with him, and he was most amenable to breaking that deadlock in the Gamilon Foreign Ministry. You can expect something to happen shortly on your business. Good luck to you and Juliet.
Hoping you are well….
Mr. Hardy then smiled to himself. A nice, well, mannered young lady, he thought. I’m so glad she kept her promise….
III. INSPECTIONS AND INTROSPECTIONS
San Diego Megalopolis
Rio Amarillo Apartment Complex
Jefferson and Dawn Hardy’s Townhouse
Saturday, July 9, 2208
1300 Hours Local Time
Katrina Foxworth-Savela went up the steps of the townhouse that she currently owned in joint ownership with Foxy, and rented to Jefferson Hardy and Dawn Hardy as part of the agreement by which Katrina was being compensated for all of the wrongs and crimes Dawn had wrought upon her. It was very warm, but Katrina was dressed in a black skirted suit, white blouse, tie, and black sandals and she carried a clipboard. Kazuo Foxworth-Savela, her husband, had on a dark suit with a bright red vest and odd-looking psychedelic tie, and he wore weird-looking sunglasses. “Those glasses,” Katrina hissed. “You couldn’t even look serious for zis? Those glasses—are blue!”
“Dark blue,” said Foxy. “We sorta match, you and I.”
“Where did you get stupid glasses from?” whispered Katrina as she rang the doorbell to Dawn’s townhouse.
“Nova gave them to me. She likes pink psychedelic glasses better than blue ones.”
“She look better wearing stupid round glasses than you do! Ach!” snapped Katrina. She rang the bell again. “The little snot had better be home. I told her that we were to be expected!”
Dawn answered the door a moment later. She looked frazzled and tired. She was carrying David against her in a sling. Dawn wore shorts and a shirt that was sort of open and she went barefoot and had very messy hair. Little David, who was nursing, wore his diaper and a t-shirt. “Hi,” Dawn said. “Just finished tidying up a bit.”
“The place had better be tidy, Hardy,” snapped Katrina as she came in. She looked around the living room, letting Foxy help her inspect the place. “Dust up above the door,” said Foxy as he ran his finger over the trim above the doorway. “Five demerits.”
Katrina wrote it down, and then she looked at the coffee table near the couch. “What are these magazines all over the place?” said Katrina.
“Baby magazines,” said Dawn in a very small voice.
“Pick the damn things up and put them in your basket,” snapped Katrina. “I will not charge you. This time.”
Dawn responded, fighting back tears. She thought, Why does she have to do this? Not fair she owns the place for two years, anyhow. When I told Jeff the other day he was so mad he hung up on me. We’ve since made up, but…
Dawn did not know this, but Jeff was beginning to make a quiet arrangement through Nova and her father to buy out the lease and were quietly making arrangements to purchase another home in San Diego near the beach. with In fact, the house in question was Nova and Derek’s own townhouse a few doors down in the complex! The Wildstars were selling it because it appeared that the Argo was not going to be based out of San Diego for the next few years as they had thought, so they had no further need of the place. The closing was scheduled for later in the summer. The arrangement had been suggested by none other than Juliet Hardy, who was outraged that Dawn had lost their house to Katrina.
Katrina continued the inspection….and finally, when they were done, she turned to Dawn. “You owe me twenty-five more credits!”
“What?” cried Dawn.
“Did you read the lease? I inspect the place. I charge you demerits if messy, a credit per demerit extra rent. If you earn enough demerits, out on the damn street you go. Pay up!” Katrina snapped.
“Sure,” sighed Dawn as she opned her purse. This is a third of what I have, thought Dawn as she handed over twenty-five credits. I’ll just have to eat a little less, that’s all, she sighed. I think I am getting fat….
Katrina said, “I’’ll be back next month. Keep the place cleaner!” She slammed the door on her way out.
Dawn sat with David and began to cry.
Foxy and Katrina arrived back in the Great Megalopolis in Tokyo later that day.
When morning came around, Foxy had to be up early, well before Katrina.
He had to keep a promise to her, and make her breakfast in bed!
So, he worked at making it himself. He fried up some sausages, made some pancakes, all by himself, added a lot of kren, and then, he brought to tray to his Princess, who was lying in bed in a slinky nightgown as Invidia when he came in.
“What is zis?” she asked.
“Breakfast,” he said. Foxy opened the cover on the tray, and Invidia smiled as she smelled the kren.
“What are these?” she asked as she poked at the sausages.
“Sausages,” he said. “Try them…”
Invidia did not like sausages or breakfast meat that much (that was more Nova’s thing…she knew Nova was a decided carnivore at breakfast) but she tried Foxy’s sausages. “Not bad,” she said. “At least you tried. Did you make these yuorself?”
Foxy nodded. “I sure did.”
“You are not a bad cook. Far better than Derek. This might be useful.” Something they both knew was that Commodore Derek Wildstar was a horrible cook. He tended to burn everything for some reason.
As Invidia ate, Foxy climbed into bed with her and began to kiss her. She fed him little bits of the pancakes, and he ate them while making faces at her. That made her laugh.
When Invidia was done, she set aside the tray and pulled Foxy on top of her. “Come here,” she said.
“Yes?” he said. “What do you want?”
“Guess,” Invidia said. She began to kiss him like mad. “You made me breakfast. Now, I want dessert…”
The Region of Ho Chi Minh City
Monday, July 11, 2208
1400 Hours Local Time
On the Argo, only a few days remained for the mission.
The mighty space battleship sat just off the beach near Ho Chi Minh City.
There, the populace on the beach watched the space battleship as the exercise was underway.
Shuttles were taking off all throughout the day, flying Marines back and forth from the space battleship to the exercise site, maybe fifteen kilometers to the east of the city.
On the beach, a young woman in a brief bikini known as Natsuko Ono lay sunning herself as she worked on making some artwork of herself watching the Argo on her laptop. She was a news writer and commercial artist.
“What are they doing?” asked her green-haired friend Mio Shimada. Mio was a gymnast and professional dancer. Mio had a coverup in her bag, but her beach attire (which no one, of course, had any objection to) was to simply go naked….and she lay naked on her beach chair watching the Argo.
“Unloading ship after ship after ship,” said Natsuko. “My sources say that there’s some kind of exercise going on. They’re off to the east of the city. You missed it, but a few of their crew members got a little shore leave this morning. Guess who I interviewed, even though she was rushing around?”
“Who?” said Mio.
“Nova Wildstar herself. She was scouting the beach with her husband. They are so cute.”
“What were they wearing?” asked Mio, who was the more air-headed of the two.
“He had on a fundoshi. She had on sunglasses and nothing else! You need to work out! She looks waaay better naked than you do!”
“Does not!” said Mio.
“Does too,” said Natsuko.
The argument between the young women continued for a few minutes as another shuttle flew overhead.
It is the occupants of that landing craft to whom we shall refer to next.
That shuttle is more important to this story than Natsuko and Mio.
Far more important…..
TEN MINUTES LATER…..
When the landing craft landed, the hatch hissed open.
A massive blast of hot, humid, tropical air filled the craft as the Marines, Fleet Troopers, Star Force Troopers, and other Star Force members began to groan and curse.
“Damnit, ‘Nam is friggin’ HOT!” yelled a Sergeant.
“What do you expect, it’s fuckin’ cold?” cursed a Corporal
Commodore Derek Wildstar came after from the cockpit to find Nova sitting on a bench watching as her immediate unit subordinates cursed and marched off the shuttle. She had dressed in a leather top, metal shoulder pads that were designed to go inside her Jump Armor if she chose to put it on, along with fatigue tights (Derek didn’t quite know they existed, but Nova had apparently found them) and a nice new pair of black combat boots.
“Where do you find those things?” he teased. “They’re cute, but almost nothing you have on is regulation, Nova.”
“I scoured the procurement test area for these,” Nova said. “All of these things are things they are trying out.” She pushed her hair back; it was soaked with sweat, and her usual cheek-curls were gone because she had sweated them away. “Did you like my beach attire earlier? I loved yours…”
“What beach attire?” Derek teased.
“Precisely,” she said. She whispered to him, “I don’t want too many of these Marines to know I went naked with you earlier. They might want a repeat performance.”
“I don’t want that…for them,” Derek said. “Now, if I get you deep in the jungle someplace, and nothing is going on and I want to take a swim…”
“In that event, Derek, you shall see a repeat performance,” Nova whispered back. She kissed him on the nose and then turned to glare at a Private as Derek snapped, “Private, what are YOU looking at?”
“Nothing, sir! Sir!” said the Marine Private.
“Are you just off Parris Island?” snapped Derek.
“Yes, sir, SIR!” snapped the Private.
“Go get the Commander a Pepsi from the cooler,” Derek said. He looked at Nova. “Stay close to me. You’re my comm net to everyone else. You’re going to have the decoder radio on over your pack…sure you can carry it?”
Artwork Above: “Nova” © 2010 by Samantha Nocera, aka Steel Hyaena. Used by permission.
“Derek, I am NOT weak,” Nova snapped.
“But you’re slender,” he countered.
“So?” Nova said as she grabbed up her combat pack, the comm pack, and her helmet and weapon. She was soon weighed down with about thirty-five pounds of equipment. Given that she only weighed one hundred twenty-five, carrying this junk would be a major workout for her in the hot jungle. “I’ll bloody live. I’ve done this before. Awaiting your orders, sir,” she said with a grin.
“Get your unit organized ASAP,” Derek said.
“Yessir,” Nova replied.
A while later, Derek and Nova were advancing, on point, with a company of soldiers somewhere in the jungle in Vietnam.
“So where is this?” said a Sergeant who looked at Wildstar.
“We’re between Ho Chi Minh City and Thu Dau Mot,” said Wildstar as he accessed an exercise map on his comm unit. Nova did the same and added, “Derek, we’re exactly three clicks away from Thu Dau Mot, which is to the northeast of us.”
Derek nodded and said, “Relay that info to your men, Leibovitz.”
“Aye, sir,” said the Sergeant as he spoke into his own comm device.
A Corporal walked down the road slightly, flanking Nova by about ten meters. Nova said, “Fettman, there’s a funny-looking hillock over there....let me go over and scan it…probably a practice mine the other side planted.”
“Ma’am, let me scan it,” said Fettman.
Nova looked at Derek, who nodded at her. “Get to it, Corporal,” Nova said.
Fettman went over to scan it, and he began to say, “Hey…this thing is putting out live waves…it…”
Then, a moment later, there was an explosion. It was not a practice explosion.
Nova screamed as shrapnel filled the area. She threw herself on top of Derek, and gasped as she heard metal actually pinging off her helmet.
Wildstar then looked up. Fettman was lying there moaning with his legs mostly blown off.
A moment later, enemy fire raked the whole area near the rice paddy. Derek heard two of their privates screaming as they were shot through the gut with blue laser fire. Leibovitz was yelling orders in his radio. Nova looked up and said, “Derek, I need to get to Fettman! If I can stop the bleeding, we can medevac him and give him bionics…I…”
“KEEP YOUR ASS DOWN, COMMANDER! We’re gettiing shot at!” Derek snapped, physicially restraining Nova from running.
Then, a moment later, a screaming figure was running right for them. He was in uniform….a filthy, dirty uniform, and he carried an old AK-47 slugthrower with a bayonet.
He was trying his damndest to run Commodore Wildstar through with the thing.
Derek kicked him, and he fell, but the man got up and retrieved his weapon again, stabbing at Derek’s leg, which he missed by a few centimeters. Derek flew his legs around, tripping him. As he fell, Derek flew on top of him, punching away, as Nova pivoted around to the enemy soldier’s head.
A moment later, Nova saw her opportunity to help, and she grabbed the enemy soldier’s hair and put her combat knife against his jugular as he tried to get Derek’s sidearm.
“TALK!” Nova screamed in his ear. “Who are you and where do you come from?”
“We serve the spirit of Yvona Josiah, whore!” he roared as he reached for something on his belt. Derek got his sidearm, and jumped up and gutshot the soldier, just as some hot blood sprayed his uniform. “What the…?” he yelled.
He looked up, and he noticed that Nova had just quickly and ruthlessly cut the soldier’s throat. “Sorry about the mess, Derek,” she quipped. “I’m fine…”
“Stop scaring me like that, Goddamn you!” Derek yelled as he slapped his wife on the bottom and signed for her to run.
She followed him, and, a moment later, they both tumbled into a hole as more enemy fire raked the area. In a secure position, Nova unlimbered the mike on the commset as Derek nodded. Safe in the foxhole, she softly said, “Pagoda, this is Crystal Palace, we’re at Foxtrot Lima four niner on the grid, and we’re taking live fire from Josiahites; I’m helping to cover Shogun; send assistance, over.”
“Crystal Palace, we read you,” said Homer back on the Argo. “Sending reinforcements when we can; Hardy reports engaging R’Khell planes; it’s a mess out here, XO. Over!”
“Over,” Nova said. She then whispered to Derek, “Help’s coming…but I don’t know how long the fire brigade’s gonna take. Homer says the Tigers are in action against R’Khells.”
“This is a fucking mess,” sighed Derek.
“Yeah, you’re telling me,” Nova laughed. “Thanks for keeping me out of trouble before.”
“No big one. I don’t want to bring you home to the kids in a body bag,” he said as fire went off in the distance. There was another blast and a scream; someone else had hit one of those damned booby traps. “Remind me never to let you get a knife against me throat when we argue…you’re kind of messy…”
“Doing what they pay me for; covering my Commander,” Nova said. “And my husband,” she whispered as she gave him a kiss on the nose.
“Hey, no nookie. It’s distracting.”
“Foxholes are not meant for nookie, sir. I don’t like making love to you in slimy mud,” Nova whispered.
“Too bad, might be fun to try,” Derek quipped back.
“Shut up!” Nova whispered as she tapped his cheek.
“There’s one thing to be said for being in a foxhole with you,” Derek whispered a few minutes later.
“It’s never boring,XO.”
“Thanks, Skipper,” Nova whispered back.
Day turned into night.
They were still coming sporadically, but they had gotten enough of a break to be able to dig a slit trench about five meters away behind some bushes. Nova was the first one to answer Nature’s call as Derek covered her, and then, she did likewise for him to allow him to relieve himself. They wondered which bidder had gotten the bid for EDF combat toilet paper, because the crap felt like sandpaper when they used it.
They returned to the foxhole, and shared a few combat rations and some water, realizing as they drank how fuzzy their mouths had gotten.
Derek then manned guard for a while while Nova fitfully slept. At about 0300 of the following day, they changed positions, and Derek tried to sleep as Nova knelt there in the crud and mud of the foxhole, looking out at the enemy positions over her laser AK-01 Carbine.
Derek slept. When he awoke, the sun was up, and Nova was still there, silently manning sentinel over him. She was not yawning, but he could see her hands shaking. “What time is it?” he whispered.
“0730,” Nova said. “I let you sleep.”
“How the hell are you keeping awake?”
“I’ve been eating instant coffee right from the pouch,” Nova said in a monotone. “It works.”
“Yeah, used to do it when pulling allnighters in the Academy. Eat too much of that crap, though, and you’ll be giving the kids space java right through your milk from those cute firm boobies when we get home,” he whispered as he caressed her breasts.
“Need to stay awake,” muttered Nova with an annoyed smile. Like him, she was now filthy, and she smelled like used blood, mud, assorted crud, and crap. She watched Derek trying to run a dry razor over his face and she asked, “Now what the hell are you doing?”
“Trying to shave,” he muttered. “Good thing you don’t have to do this.”
“Why are you doing this now?” Nova whispered.
“Trying to look halfway decent for my wife. She hates me with a beard,” Derek quipped. “You know that, XO?”
“Derek, it can wait,” Nova said with a grin as their radio crackled to life. “Crystal Palace,” she whispered. “You stab ‘em, we slab ‘em…”
“Hey, this is the ship,” Sasha said. “You guys can move. Rabinowitz cleaned that rathole out while you two were trying to sleep. “Meet us in town when you can move…”
“Roger that,” said Derek. “Nova, see who’s alive and kicking and get medics out here if we have any live wounded. Then we’re heading to Ho Chi Minh City for some real lunch.”
“Gotcha,” Nova replied.
That afternoon, stinking with the funk of combat, Derek and Nova tried three places; got thrown out of them because they smelled so bad, and they finally managed to meet Sasha in a fourth place, am outside bistro that consented to serve the smelly couple in combat gear and the neat little half-Iscandarian in her blue uniform.
Nova, Derek, and Sasha thus sat eating some Vietnamese food, looking at the city (there were a few small fires burning here and there, which was a leftover from the R’Khell bombing) and they talked about funny, inconsequential things.
While they spoke, Nova heard a voice, accented with a heavy East German accent, stating, “Interesting that we meet here, Commander Wildstar! Ahh, my Nova. I never forget a face!”
“Captain Denneman?” Nova said. The newcomer nodded and bowed to Nova.
“He’s the renegade we heard about!” Derek said.
“No, he’s the man who helped rescue the Danube back in 2205 when I was in command of her and we took some major damage in a little run-in with the R’Khells,” Nova said. Nova remembered Captain Kalevi Denneman on sight. He was a man who was hard to miss. Captain Denneman was about 6 foot 5 inches tall oldmeasure, and he weighed about a hundred and eighty pounds. Having been born in 2162, he was now about forty-six, but he didn’t look quite that old. It was the hair, most likely. His hair was very long, a deep red color. It actually extended to just beyond his hips, like Sasha’s hair. He had very pale skin, striking amber-colored eyes, and he had a crescent-shaped scar on his right cheekbone. This day, he wore a long black leather greatcoat with a high red-lined collar not that much unlike the sort of peacoat Derek wore, except that his coat was by no means military-issue.
Denneman was currently a Privateer. Derek knew that he was one of those who had been granted Letters of Marque to pursue the R’Khells and Josiahite cultists off Earth some years ago; he didn’t know when. But Nova had told Derek years ago that she had heard he had been “koshered” with his Letters of Marque sometime in 2204. Beforehand, she said, rumor had it that he was a renegade like the Great Pirate Harlock, only of a far bloodier sort, leading a shadowy terrorist cell known as The Coterie.
The exact origin of The Coterie was one of those things already hidden in the official fog that surrounded the last days of the Gamilon War, but it was said that they were a group of men and women who began their own private war with the Gamilons when they didn’t agree with the methods the EDF used. No one quite knew how they got off Earth, or how their renegade vessel, the Geistdrache, had been built…except, perhaps, for Nova. She had never even told Derek the full story, since she considered herself bound in confidence to Denneman, who wounds she had treated once, but she had told the EDF that Denneman and his crew had saved her and her command from a very bad situation back in 2205 and had allowed them to continue with their mission.
“So, what are you doing here?” Derek asked.
“We heard about your…predicament…through our channels,” said Denneman. “We provided that indigenous nationalistic unit with some weapons that allowed them to help your unit when all of you were under attack from those Josiahites. One thing we both hate are those racist religious fanatics who favor none but a few Anglo-Saxons and condemn everyone else. Schweinehunden!” he snapped.
“I know,” said Nova. “I’ll…never forget it…when my Aunt went mad and went over to their side. Nor will I forget it that her son, my own cousin Samuel, is now on their side, carrying on his mother’s twisted racist legacy….”
“I wanted to thank you and yours for what you did today,” said Denneman. “That’s why I offered the aid I did. You and your spouse, the Commodore, aren’t like most EDF. You see, you have real ideals. You are not just robots following orders. You earned my undying respect when you rebelled against EDF to fight the Cometines. I feel…well, I feel as if I am here to perform a Tarot reading for someone.”
“A Tarot reading?” Derek said. “With cards?”
“Not just with cards,” said Sasha. “A good reader…he or she captures…more….”
“And so,” Derek said. “Who do you feel that this is for?”
“It’s for me,” Nova said. “Captain, I remember the last time we met that you said you were good at this. You have given us two favors, and I gave you one when I helped heal you that time after that battle was over. May I ask another favor of you, and ask you to perform a reading for me?”
Denneman paused. It felt right, somehow. Strange, but right. “All right, I will gladly do so. Let us do so.”
So, in that warm afternoon, after the battle, Nova sat with Derek at her side, looking at some of the mud dried into her undershirt. She thought, I’m probably going to have to throw this away after we get back to wherever I get our billet for the night here in Ho Chi Minh City. That was a horrible couple of days of battle. I remember Captain Denneman telling me that he was good at this. I wonder what the cards are going to say?
Sasha asked Nova (while Kalevi was taking his deck out of its box and wrapper) “Auntie, what is the basic principle behind Tarot again?”
“It’s an ancient art,” Nova replied. “It’s supposed to be something like a symbolic picture of the Universe, based somewhat on the data of the Holy Qabalah. The Qabalah was a system created by ancient, learned Rabbis and wise men. Part of it touches upon a science known as Gematria, a science in which the numerical value of a Hebrew word, each letter being also a number, links that word with others of the same value, or a multiple thereof. I used to pooh-pooh this until I did some reading, Sasha, and I found out that some of the ancient magical arts are actually a form of science….”
“And we always believed the same thing on Iscandar!” Sasha said. “In fact, a word we have for the Applied Psionic and Mystical Arts, known in the Iscandarian as the F’drajshina, translates to words in your Common English that mean, “The Science of the Mind and Spirit.”
“I don’t believe in this stuff, but it looks kinda interesting,” said Derek.
“It is most interesting,” said Captain Denneman, “Sasha, I find it interesting that on Iscandar you believe that these arts are a form of science. People like our good Commodore here have derided them as nonsense, or worse, as Devil Worship, for centuries upon centuries.”
“I never said it was Devil Worship!” said Commodore Wildstar as he exhaled a deep breath. “I just said…I’m not sure I believe in it. I didn’t say I didn’t believe in it…”
“Then your mind is open to the idea this could be of benefit?” said Denneman.
“Yes, it is,” said Commodore Wildstar.
Nova said, “Are these things shadows of things that will be, or may be?”
“It depends upon how you see them,” replied Kalevi. “But, Commodore, I forgive you your skeptical attitude, as I see that you are a man who deals with concrete details. Only now are people beginning to realize that there appears to be a science behind the science that makes this work. At least you appear to have something of an open mind. Anyway,” said Denneman as he picked up the Tarot Deck and smiled at Nova. “Shall we begin?”
Nova yawned, and flexed her toes in the flip-flops she had exchanged for her combat boots under the table. She looked at the deck and said, “That looks beautiful.”
“Yes, Liebchen,” said Kalevi Denneman with a smile. “It’s a reproduction of one of the ancient Thoth decks. I like the art.”
Nova then said, “Would you like me to shuffle?”
Denneman responded with, “Ja... hand over hand. Like this…” He then showed Nova how to shuffle the deck.
Nova followed his directions, moving carefully as she shuffled, trying to put her mind into a calm, peaceful, receptive attitude. When she had finished shuffling, Nova put down the deck. “Next?” she said.
Captain Denneman quietly split the pile into three. He said, “Choose….”
Nova looked at the piles. She said, “The second pile… This one.”
Denneman nodded and, he again whispered a blessing to the Da'at, or Goddess as he gently took that pile and then he set the remainder aside. He then picked up the pile Nova that chose…
Derek Wildstar sat and watched, filled with interest...but somehow apprehensive. He had seen a few Tarot readings years ago, some in the Academy. All of the readings he had seen were somewhat strange, and they all had odd results. He thought, Every time those cards seem to speak...something weird happens…However, he thought that maybe the result might be different here….
Kalevi quietly began to turn up the cards. He looked at them, but as he did so, a look of confusion entered his golden eyes. He pushed his hair off his brow and whispered, “This is... I have never seen anything like this before…meine Gotten!”
Nova looked on and she clasped Derek’s hand and said, in a very soft voice-almost scared, “What is it?”
“The vibrations I am feeling from this are strange,” said Sasha as she began to shiver. “I….”
“Is it HIM?” Nova demanded. She wanted to know if the unpredictable, dangerous, chaotic, and amoral spirit of the Dark Lord Ekogaru was disrupting this reading. Cold was a sign of the maliign spirit’s appearance. If so, she wanted to stop…NOW.
“Nein,” said Kalevi as his hands shook. “That verdamnte demon spirit and Deep Black Sorceror visited me once on the Geistdrache to mock me, for his own vile purposes, but I would never put my Arts to use serving HIS agenda. so I definitely know what he feels like. I feel…something else. Something older. Something more primal. I am a practitioner of the Magical Arts myself, albeit in a far different sense than your Dark Lord. But…once again... I have to ask you... do you want me to continue?” Denneman said while passing a shaking hand over his face. It appeared as if he didn’t want to continue! He again said, “Meine Gotten,” as he wiped his brow.
Nova sat, shut her eyes, crossed herself, and said, “Yes.”
Derek sat holding his breath. There was much fear and concern there in his eyes. He almost wanted to stop the reading, but a look from Nova told him “no”.
Captain Denneman then began to reveal the cards. He said, “Here… in the center... is the Nine of Cups. It's called the Wish Card... and when it appears, it means the best of the very best, regardless of what it is with. To the right... Interference, the Eight of Swords... to the right, the Knight of Disks. Strength.... a prevailing against all odds. Here, lies the House of Stone.. The Moon in the center. Lust to the left, and The Fool is to the right.”
Derek asked, “That symbolizes?”
Nova said, “It means the doing of all the right things for all the right reasons... yet matters beyond the obvious and the seen prevent success.”
“Ja,” said Denneman. “Fine insight. Wih this card, some of it is simply not *knowing* some of the facts. Some of it is naivete. And the last bit is just bad luck. Nearby, the House of Change... “
Denneman closed his eyes. He swallowed hard. “but, in a high position, near it :... there lies the Tower. With it, the Ten of Swords... Ruin. And.... Death.”
“My God!” cried Nova. She gave Derek a stricken look, and then looked at Sasha, and lastly, at Kalevi, with tears brimming in her eyes. “I know that card.”
“What does it point to?” Derek asked.
“He already said it,” Nova said. “Death. My death. Probably…I would guess…a premature death.”
Denneman said, “We should stop now. What I am feeling….”
“What are you feeling?” Nova said.
“I can feel it,” said Sasha. “The Cosmos themselves are beginning to move! Captain Denneman! Stop this! I hate what I am feeling! And you are upsetting my aunt!”
“That is not for you to decide!” said Denneman harshly. “It is not your reading, maedchen. It is your Aunt’s reading. Nova? Do I stop or do I continue?”
Nova clasped her hands. Then she said, “Please go on....even if it means I am going to die.....”
Derek looked at Nova with fear.
The Privateer Captain’s hands shook as he upturned the final Tarot Cards. “This card… Outside your knowledge or control. House of the Hidden. The Empress... renewal. Great feminine power beyond all bounds. The Great Mother in all Her holiness. With Her... the Ten of Wands, Oppression. The Devil, to Her other side. The Lady in triumph, through trickery in some way...and overall.. The Two of Cups. Love... flanking that.. the Universe... and Adjustment. This means that things will fall into balance at the end. The power of Love strengthening the arm of Justice. Wisdom from deepest adversity. A sort of transcendence. I…I can explain no more. Dass ist alles,” he said, covering his face with his shaking hands.
Nova said, “So what does all this mean?”
Sasha said, “Auntie…this means…the same thing that you have guessed. And my vibrations back up what the Cards say. This means that you will die. But you will return in some guise.”
At that, Derek got up against his own will... his body moving before his brain engaged. It was rather as if he had been shot or stabbed.
Nova looked hard at the cards…..got up, and said, “Derek…I….I…can't!” Then, her eyes rolled up in her head and she passed out, slamming into the table and scattering the cards as she fell.
“MEDICS!” Derek yelled. “Get over here NOW! Damnit! Nova’s just collapsed!”
Nova came to a while later in a field ambulance. The first thing she saw was Derek’s face. “Derek…” she whispered. “You’re okay?”
“No! Are you okay?” Derek said.
“Where’s Captain Denneman?” Nova murmured.
“He helped me carry you to this ambulance…then he disappeared after he asked a few questions of the medics,” Commodore Wildstar said. “Pity. There is so much I wanted to ask him about….”
“And the Geistdrache has left Earth again,” Sasha said. “I sensed his departure. He came like the South Wind, and he left like the North Wind. Where he has gone…I do not know. He stayed only long enough to see that you would recover, Nova. But someday we may see him again…”
V. A TIME OF R & R….
The Region of Ho Chi Minh City
Wednesday, July 13, 2208
0320 Hours Local Time
Derek and Nova spent the day on Ho Chi Minh City, working on organizing the breakup of the exercise. Nova assisted with wounded, and Derek did head counts. They had lost maybe one hundred and fifty men (killed in action) and they had fifty-two wounded from the mess.
Finally, it was late evening, going into the next morning, when the filthy young couple went into the Red-Light District in Ho Chi Minh City, where they found a sleazy (but somewhat clean) Love Hotel that catered to military folk such as themselves. They paid for a room, and Nova kissed Derek and told him to wait in the corridor as she made herself presentable for him…for another sort of recreation.
Finally, Nova’s voice came through the door softly (they had made it clear to the mama-san they had no need of any the whores, thank you), and Derek walked up to the door, grinning his butt off.
Derek opened the door to the hotel room, and looked in….
….where he found the surprise of his life.
There was a large bed, that sat before something that looked like a glittery curtain. The bed was covered in pink satin sheets, and it was round, and very large.
Soft music was playing, and there was a huge ice bucket full of champagne.
But, the centerpiece of the room happened to be Nova, who lay naked in the middle of the bed. She looked stunning. She had made a wonderful metamorphosis…having stripped off every bit of the muddy Marine uniform she had worn for the past two days, and having gotten herself beautifully clean for her pleasantly stunned husband.
“Derek?” she said in a happy, teasing tone as she smiled at him with her legs up….and open. “Would you like to jump into the rack with me? Right now?”
There, her body literally screamed to him, “I WANT YOU!”
Her womanhood was wet, pink, and dewy with her arousal, and her nipples were at attention. Nova also had a small basin of water nearby, and soap.
“I got my motor running just for you,” Nova said with a big, happy smile. “It’s warm in here, I’m totally naked, and I’m waiting for you! C’mon, Derek…you were saying you wanted me in that Foxhole before? I didn’t want to then, and I’m sorry, because it was filthy in there and we were both really dirty. But now…”
“Who says I’m waiting?” Derek said with a big grin as he tore his filthy combat uniform shirt off. His boots followed, and then, last of all, his pants and undergarments went. He threw his dog tags across the room, and Nova laughed as they landed in the champagne bucket.
Then, he crawled to her at high speed, his manhood as prominent in its arousal as if were carved from stone. The first thing Nova did was dragged him into the bathroom with the basin…where she gave him a very erotic bath as he sat on the side of the tub. “mmmmmmm, you smell good!” Derek said as she washed him and played with his body as she cleaned him up. “Is that coconut?”
“It sure is,” Nova whispered in a sultry voice as she took him in her arms when they came back out to the bedroom. She began to gasp and moan as he began to kiss her breasts, sucking hard at her nipples. A little of her warm milk came out in his mouth as he sucked; her milk was almost dried up now, but some still came out nonetheless as he sucked very hard. Later, at home, Nova would happily reunite with Alex and Ariel in the nude in their warm house right before getting into the bath, and they would find the bit of milk they could get from their Mommy to be most welcome.
Right now, though, Derek was not a baby, and he had other things on his mind. As he kissed and sucked Nova, she arched her back and cried out, and then let her head drop, shaking happily as his hand slipped down to her genitals.
Her toes curled up with utter delight as he found her womanhood….tenderly opening her like a flower with his fingers, and working gently at her until he found her hardened, aroused little spot. He teased her there for a few moments with his fingers as she grabbed his manhood with a tender, trembling hand and began to play with him, making sure that he was not left out from the banquet of pleasure.
They had, of course, been married for years. Derek found that the magic of lovemaking with his dear wife was that, somehow, she managed to make every time they had together a little different; familiar but never boring on the one hand, and new with the other. Derek noticed as they made love that the lighting effects in the room changed; the walls in the hotel room seemed to be holographic. The background behind Nova now looked like a sunset.
“You smell like coconut all over, right down to your toes,” Derek whispered as she curled up like a little ball on the bed for a moment, and he ran his fingers down her long leg with his left hand, going down her calf, over her ankle, soft instep, and down to her somehow wonderfully soft toes, which curled up as he touched them with his left hand while his right hand explored the charms she had between her legs.
“It’s….God….the…bath stuff…you…purchased for me on Christmas 2200…remember…our first quick little Christmas together? It was…in my pack..I…”
“Where’s that uniform?” he whispered.
“It was filthy…I threw it away,” Nova said…”Right now, Derek, I have no clothes to even put on myself….like that? I’m going to have to go back to the ship and go home….either wrapped in your shirt…or…naked! Unless you buy me some clothes, that is….,” Nova said, teasing him.
“What were you up to while you were waiting for me with the door closed?”
“Taking..taking…a bath…and touching myself…thinking of you…I…oh GOD!”
Nova screamed as he attacked her there all over again with his hands, and then kissed his way down her breasts, down her abdomen, which was trembling, and down over her mound to that spot, which he kissed, teased, and pleasured.
Nova was soon spread out on the bed, shaking with delight and rapture. Behind her, the background had become galactic. To Derek, it looked like her beautiful nude body was floating Goddess-like in the Cosmos.
He wondered again what the strange Tarot Card prophecy which read; You will die, but return to him renewed and blazing with power meant. The toes of her bare feet curled again and again as Nova threw up her hand and exploded all over the place with a melting climax, even as she was being touched and kissed most intimately by him.
He did not know that the background somehow predicted their future as, on one hand, they would be parted, but then reunited in a magnificent blaze of glory that would herald the end of an Old Order, the fall, at last, of the Dark Lord and the birth of a new age for Earth
The background changed again, from night to a dusk-like shadow of the Morning as Nova made Derek lie down and said, in a trembling voice….”Let me be on top, darling…I’ll make you feel so good….just enjoy it…I love you so much!”
Derek Wildstar thus lay there, passive, as Nova crawled atop him like a curious little cat…smiling a little as she sucked his nipples….and then took him in her mouth, arousing him anew and afresh as she sucked at him, bringing him…almost…but not quite…to the point of climax.
Then, she stopped, caught her breath, allowed Derek to catch his breath….
…and then she got on top of him…
…she let her sex slide open to him as she impaled herself upon him as he gasped and thrust at her. He admired her as they made love…Nova was slender, and very willowy, but she was muscled in all of the right places, like a well-developed feline. Derek noticed that the outline of her rib cage and the fine muscles of her firm belly were very prominent in this angle as they made love…and her breasts were gorgeous.
Derek thought of asking her if, one day, when they got back, if she would go to the Blue Water water park with him again on a hot, hot day…waiting for a day when it would be clothes-optional….so he could actually take her there in the nude, wearing only, perhaps, her ball cap and a pair of whitewater rafting sandals. Or, if not nude…maybe just dressed in a very, very small bikini.
Nova thrust back as their dance reached a new crescendo, going on, and on, and on as Nova rode the rollercoaster of pleasure again, and so did he, their breathing turning to gasps as, again, Nova climaxed, followed by her dear husband as he yelled her name again and again and again.
Finally, they collapsed against each other, gasping, crying, and then Nova began to gently laugh. She smiled at Derek and said, “That was GREAT!”
“Yeah?” Derek replied as he played with her hair.”
“Uh-huhhhh,” Nova said. “Thank you, sir! May I have another?”
“You what?” Derek teased.
“I’m not tired yet,” Nova said.
And, as the Commodore was to discover…Nova was far, far from tired.
In fact, she was having the time of her life.
They went on like that…far, far into the night….
When the morning came, Derek woke up and pulled on only his Star Force pants, without knowing where Nova was….
….until he heard a nice rustling of a silken material…..
Nova then entered the room, her lovely nakedness gracefully but lightly clothed in an exquisite pink ao dai, or traditional tunic/dress of Vietnam. A garment of that type was often worn with slacks, but Nova had opted to go without in the heat, keeping her hips, quite a bit of her seal-curve bottom, and her long legs bare.
“That looks gorgeous on you,” Derek said as Nova sat on the bed beside him and gave him a kiss.
“Thank you,” Nova replied as Derek noted she was carrying a katana. “Where did you get all this?”
“The mistress of the hotel said this all belonged to her daughter. When she saw me out in the hall in just your Star Force shirt, she thought it was cute but that I needed something more…elegant…to walk around Ho Chi Minh City in. So I tried this on and she let me keep it and the sword. She said….her daughter died in one of the attacks led by the Josiahites and she was grateful that we’ve freed them of the scourge of that cult…”
Nova then kicked on her thin pink flip-flops, which looked perfect on her bare feet with the silk garment. Then she sat on the bed again with Derek and laughed as he ran his hand over her bottom under the ao dai….and then he found her charms….only barely clothed by part of the ao dai. Nova smiled as Derek caressed her there, and he asked, “…is this all you have on you?”
Nova then undid a clasp at her collar and let down a small zipper just far enough to bare one of her breasts. Then, she said, “Yes, Derek. I’m totally naked under this silk. It feels good…I…..,mmmmmmmmm” she said as Derek touched her breast with one hand and teased her womanhood with the other. Nova let him work a bit more with the zipper as she went into her husband’s lap with her garment wide open and her nude body again fully exposed in the humid warmth.
Nova thus kicked off her thong sandals, lay back on the bed frontally nude, and, still clothed in her ao dai, she spent the next half hour or so letting Derek have his way with her until she ended up totally naked in his lap with her arms around him as he just took her with his pants down in a sweet, playful bit of morning delight
Whem they were done making love and lay spent in each other’s arms, Nova then said, “We need to wash up. Then, we’ll find a place for breakfast…after we get dressed….”
“Yeah…we do need to wash up and dress,” Derek added.
They kissed again, and went off to their business….
They took their shuttle back to the Argo, where Nova turned quite a few male heads in a nice way as she made her way to their cabin holding Derek’s hand. When they were both back in their proper shipboard uniforms, they returned to the the First Bridge, thanked the crew, and then Nova took the helm for one last time as the Argo manuevered away from the beach off Ho Chi Minh City and launched half an hour later from the sea. She made two orbits of Earth, landing back in the East China Sea close to Okinawa. She then cruised along to the Tokyo Megalopolis region, putting in at an above-ground dock at Yokosuka at fourteen hundred hours to the cameras of the world press.
Once they handed operational command of the vessel over to Sandor, who had met them at the dock for a joyful reunion with Diane now that he was out of the hospital….Nova went back to their cabin with Derek, changed back into only her ao dai and sandals, and they took their Jet Recon Boat to fly right back to their house. The sound of “Argo Departing, XO Departing” on the speakers in their Jet Recon Boat was one of the most wlecome sounds they had heard in days as Derek and Nova Wildstar went back home at last on July 14, 2208.
Ju;y 14, 2208….
Fifteen Hundred Hours…
Teri Forrester had been about to give Nova and Derek a piece of her mind….until she saw Alex and Ariel running up to them at the door and screaming, “Mommy! Daddy! Bathtime! Bathtime!” Teri had been in a yukata, having given the toddlers lunch and now about to give them their bath and a bottle. Now, she guessed there might be no need for the bottle as Ariel, in her mother’s arms, somehow got her mother’s ao dai (which Teri thought was very pretty) open and got her mommy’s breast out. “Still work, Mommy?” she said.
“Yes, dear, it does, although you’re going to be a big girl soon and won’t need this much longer,” Nova said as she let Ariel nurse while they walked to the bathroom.
Two minutes later, in a rain of giggles and rustle of clothes, Teri was helping Nova by folding her ao dai while she and Derek sat on the bath stools in the bathroom, unselfconsciously stripped down as they sat with their bare little toddlers in their laps, washing them down Japanese-style with soap, sponges, and spray shower heads as they got them ready for a soak and play session in the warm water of their tub.
Then, they heard the doorbell chiming. “Karl!” Teri yelled to her husband. “Would you answer that?”
Karl Forrester, clad in shorts and a men’s undershirt, answered the door, to find Mark Venture standing there with his wife Holly, fanning themselves. Both of them had on swimwear and flip-flops. “Hi, Mister Forrester. Is Derek home yet?” Mark asked.
“Yes, he and Nova just got back….they’re in the bathroom with the babies,” said Karl. “Why are you two in swimwear?”
Holly blushed at herself, near-naked in a very small bikini. “I’m sorry, Mister Forrester, but our climate control unit in our house died and we can’t get it restarted. Do you think Mark and I could stay here overnight until we get it fixed?”
“You’d have to ask the lady of the house, “ said Karl. He ran into the bathroom and asked, “Nova, Derek, it’s your old friends, Mark and Holly. Can they come in, or would you prefer to wait until you’re done with the babies?”
“They can come in,” Nova said. “Let them know it’s bathtime and that I’m not decent if you haven’t already…”
Holly came in a moment later, smiling at Nova and Derek in their skin as they washed the little ones on their laps. Then, Nova took both children and began to let them nurse as she sat with them on the floor. Holly was soon kneeling on the floor near them in her swimsuit, tickling the toddlers’ little bare feet and little bottoms as Nova smiled, obviously delighted with her children as she fed them and caressed them in her lap.
Holly almost wanted to cry as she looked at Nova; a sweet picture of maternal care, peaceful, vulnerable, innocently going naked in the heat to care for her little ones, sweet, unashamed, tender, and as Derek played with her hair, very much in love with their father as she kissed him and then blushed as Derek gently caressed her back and a bottom that was as smooth and flawless as her babies’ bottoms. Derek then tickled his children and then tickled the bottom of one of Nova’s bare feet as he then kissed his wife and then checked the bath water. “It’s just about ready, dear.”
“They’re getting pretty big, Nova,” said Mark as he stepped in, comfortable in the warm bathroom in just his swim trunks.
“They’re getting more different,” said Nova as she looked at her daughter. “Look at Ariel….she’s losing the baby fat. I think she’s going to be a looker, don’t you?”
Mark nodded and asked, “When we have our son, can he date her?”
They all laughed at that.
Nova then looked at Alex and said, “He’s getting to be like his dad….”
“In what way?” said Mark..
“His mouth,’ Nova said with a giggle. “Oh, the things you pop out with, Alexander,” Nova said as she washed his little bottom again with a sudsy hand.
Alex stopped feeding and said with a very earnest voice. “Mommy…something tell you!”
Alex grinned and swung around on his mother’s thigh, with a hand on his little exposed peepee. “Gotta go again!” he squealed.
“Holly, quick,, get an old basin out of the batheroom cabinet!” Nova said breathlessly. She did so, and, a moment later, while holding himself, Alex took a controlled pee for the first time in his life, aiming more or less for the basin as Derek, Nova, Mark, Holly, Karl and Teri all applauded and laughed. Derek then picked Alex up and gave him a big kiss.
“How did you get the idea to do that, sport?” Derek asked.
“Watching Daddy potty room!” Alex said brightly.
“How else did you get the idea to do that?” Nova said.
“No make Mommy wet!” Alex said as they all laughed.
“Derek, go get out the potty chair we bought and set aside!” Nova said happily. “The blue one…”
Derek set Alex back on his mother’s lap and kissed her, clothing his nakedness in a towel around his waist before he left.
“When Ariel go potty?” said Ariel happily.
“As soon as she wants to after her bath!” Nova said as she hugged her daughter.
“I’m going to check on Star,” Teri Forrester said a few minutes later. “Sasha and Deke will be over in a while, bringing Jonathan home from the Argo with them, Derek. Are you decent?”
“Yeah, I got dressed a minute ago,” Derek said as he stood there in only a pair of cutoff jeans shorts, having found the potty chair for Alex. Holly and Mark then smiled at each other a few minutes later as they watched Nova in the tub with Alex and Ariel, soaking with them for play because they were already washed, Japanese-style. They giggled as Nova pushed a toy boat around in the water and made goofy noises with her mouth, imitating a motor as she pushed the boat around the kids. Derek was leaning over the tub, splashing Nova and the kids with his fingers. Alex splashed at his father. Derek joined in on the fun in the tub as he splashed Alex and Alex splashed back. Nova squealed as her boy splashed her, and then splashed his sister. Ariel gave him a look and splashed back.
Nova sat there making the most ludricrous faces at her babies, making them squeal with laughter as Derek leaned over them and began to make doggie noises, barking and panting at Nova and the kids.
“Down, boy!” Nova yelled as she then meowed at Derek.
Holly could barely keep from wettting herself at the sight of the usually dignified Captain and Executive Officer of the Argo acting like they were about four years old themselves as they laughed and made goofy noises together in their bathroom. Alex was beginning to howl like a hyaena, and Ariel was snarling like some kind of tiger.
“Guys, if we filmed this and transmitted it to the Fleet…! It’d be priceless!” laughed Mark.
“No, you’re NOT!” laughed Nova.
“Mommy! Steal daddy pants!” yelled Ariel.
“NO!” Derek said as he stepped away from Nova as she winked at him.
“Steal daddy pants?” said Holly.
“Yeah…sometimes I steal his pants and drag him in here with us,” Nova said.
“How do you steal his pants, Mrs. Wildstar?” Mark asked as Nova primly covered her bosom with her hand.
“You don’t want to see it,” Nova said sweetly as she splashed Derek in the face. “It can get…ugly,” Nova said with a wink.
“HEY! No fair!” Derek said.
Nova pulled down an eyelid and stuck out her tongue at her husband.
“Let’s get out of here before this turns too ugly,” said Mark.
“When do you think you’ll get your air conditioning fixed?” Nova said.
“Soon, I hope,” said Holly, who was very hot in her swimsuit.
“When we get dried off and decent,” Nova said. “Let me come over and look at it. Maybe I can save you two some money. I know how to fix the climate control units on the Argo. A little home AC/Heater unit can’t be that bad. I got ours running a few weeks ago….uhh..in my negligee,” Nova said with a blush.
Derek smiled at the sight, remembering how Nova had looked in her nightie at four in the morning crawling around the maintenance room in their basement with a voltmeter and wrenches, cursing a mild blue streak in a confused mixture of French and German. At that, Mark and Holly left them alone.
THE NEXT MORNING….(July 15, 2208)
Mark and Holly stayed overnight. Karl and Teri had left with their kids, leaving Derek and Nova alone with Star, until Sasha and Deke picked her up later on, at about the same time that their adopted son Jonathan came home from his part of the exercise; during the battle in Vietnam, he had been on the Argo, safe from danger.
As Mark and Holly Venture smiled at the morning sight of a messy, unshaven Derek Wildstar up helping his baby son and daughter eat, they heard a soft rustling sound and heard footesteps in the very warm kitchen area.
Nova had come out from the master bedroom…in her light, light sleepwear.
Her boyish form was clothed only in one of the lightest of her negligees; a light pink gossamer thing that Mark rememberd seeing Nova clad in years before on the Argo.
Just as Mark remembered, Nova’s pert but firm breasts were fully visible in the pink negligee, and the sight was gorgeous. And, even more than he remembered, the rest of Nova was also very visible in the pink nightgown.
Mark remembered that in 2199, Nova had worn a set of small black bikini panties under the negligee. This time…there were no panties, and her willowy, boyish form was obviously naked beneath the pink silk.
Derek noticed and he smiled. “Good morning, dear. Too hot for your yukata?”
“Yes,” Nova said with a blush as she leaned against the ornamental balustrade, pointing her toes on one of her bare feet, while Holly looked on, thinking as she sat there in her shorty pajamas, Nova, I could just kill you! I have a nightie like that but you…you make something like that look damn good! Nova then added, “I’m going to have to get out of this if Alex and Ariel notice my breasts….and want anything. “Mark…Holly..please forgive me…I’m so hot!”
“Nothing…to..forgive,” stammered Mark Venture as Holly kicked him under the table with one of her bare feet. “Uhhh…it’s your own house, Nova. You can…can run around in whatever you want!”
Nova squatted near the twin high chair, helping Derek feed her little ones, as she said, “Mommy missed you! Did you two sleep well?”
“Mommy pretty!” Ariel squealed.
“Me see Mommy boobies!” screamed Alex as he ate his food and kicked, dressed in the house in nothing at all to assist in the potty training he was learning. Ariel, also nude, also squealed “BOOBIES!”
“That’s…uh…right,” Nova said as Mark and even Holly laughed at the toddler’s candor. “Mommy is hot, so Mommy has boobies showing. Mommy dressed like this for the same reason Alex and Ariel have no clothes on! It is hot out here this morning and we are still getting the air conditioning up after that blackout last night!”
“Want Mommy!” said Alex as everyone, Nova included, laughed as the boy reached for his mother’s breast.
Derek got Alex out of his high chair, and Nova sat down on the floor, and undid the bow at her cleavage. A moment later, her left breast and shoulder were bare as Alex found her nipple and began to suck away…while the negligee, held on only at Nova’s right shoulder, looked very close to falling off. Nova juggled Alex in her lap and again blushed a bit while the negligee came free at her shoulder and slid down to her waist, baring Nova’s upper body.
“Okay,” said Derek. “You’re doing him in here?”
“Yes, I want to be near Ariel….if no one minds…I hope,’ Nova said as she stood….and simply let gravity divest her of her negligee, which she stepped out of. When she sat on the floor again, Holly smiled because now both mother and baby were naked…and Nova looked a little more comfortable out of her clothing as she again gave Alex her breast in the nude while sitting on the floor playing with his lower legs and toes, while he played with his mother’s toes for a bit. There had been quite a lot of “this littie piggie” lately between Nova, Alex, and Ariel since the toddlers were either barefoot or occassionally in sandals in the heat while Nova had been doing likewise when out of uniform.
That is, until Alex said, “Need to go POTTY!”
Nova urgently let him walk her to the potty chair in the hall. Mark and Holly smiled as Nova helped the toddler onto his little chair, where he sat kicking his legs and wiggling his toes as he grunted and made a face or two while he did his business, loudly announced “GOING POOPIE!” and Derek took pictures. Nova smelled the result and held her nose with a grin, while Alex went, “TINKY!”
“That’s right, poopie is stinky,” Nova said whiile Venture bit his tongue and tried to keep from laughing at the comical sight of a nude Nova helping her son wipe the poop off his tushie with a baby wipe while Ariel tried to grab her boob, and Derek took pictures of the naked moppets’ crazed activities as Jonathan came into the kitchen in just his shorty pajama bottoms, yawning. “Hi, Dad,” Derek and Nova’s adopted teenage son said. “You look good, Dad. Hi, Mom. You look kinda…busy!”
“Would you help me with your baby brother?” Nova said. “Get between his legs..yeah…that spot…”
Mark smiled at them, fascinated at the fact that the Wildstar twins were shooting up like weeds and beginning to master the concept of walking, talking, and going potty at an age that was close to the normal age for such things to happen, but still a bit precocious. He thought, Are these two kids just natural geniuses in their way like their parents, or might Iscandar or the Cosmo-DNA have something to do with this? He looked sidelong at Nova and wondered for about the hundreth time why she looked so much like Starsha, or like the late Astra that he and Derek had found on Mars….or even like Sasha in her own way. Was there an Iscandarian someplace in Nova’s ancestry? Was there any way of ever knowing? Were they ever here before? Mark thought. And what really happened to her when she turned on the Cosmo-DNA? Or…when Derek told me once she had held the Pellian Matrix inside of her for a little while in the spirit world? The last question in Venture’s mind was easily posed due to Nova’s hot-weather in-the-house nudity…And how did she get over being pregnant so fast? And does she ever actually age? How damn long is she gonna live, anyway?
Mark looked at Holly, who sort of nodded…as Mark wondered if Holly was thinking the same thing about their friend. There was something tantalizingly mysterious about Nova and the kids that Mark doubted anyone would ever really know. Then, Venture noticed that Derek also seemed pretty well-preserved for someone who had just turned thirty.
There was something just a tiny bit strange about that, too….Mark thought, Do these two have Rings of Power or something? And why am I even thinking this weird shit?
Later on, Nova threw on some light clothes. The twins had gone to sleep, and their mother was sitting at the piano, again playing and singing the Beatles’ “I, Me, Mine” in much the same way that she had at the Hardy plantation the other day. Nova had to hold back giggles when Mark and Holly began to waltz to her gentle piano playing and singing while Derek sat with Jonathan, giving his adopted son a hug as they watched his mother, lost in her music and wistfulness.
Then, the phone rang. Nova sighed, finished the song, and ran up in the shorts and striped top she had thrown on to answer it.
“Yes?” she said. Derek rolled up his eyes when he saw Dawn Hardy on the other end of the screen while Jeff was trying to shush her. Dawn was yelling again. She said, “Nova, my mother in law Juliet called up again! We had a fight! She was yakking about why did I go back to work when I have David and I told her Jeff and I have to make a living and pay for the rent and then Jeff told me he’s buying your old townhouse here in San Diego while I wondered where we’re getting the money from and he said don’t worry and I said, worry, we gotta worry a lot, Nova. Hey, where do I get money from, it doesn’t grow on TREES ya know….and…that damn Katrina is charging us more rent, she’s such a BITCH, and….”
“Yes, Dawn, Yes, Dawn, Yes, Dawn,” Nova soothingly cooed into the phone, while, in the background, Holly put her finger to her head, pointed, and twirled it.
Mark looked at Derek, sighed, and said, “Wildstar, it’s just like that Wakefield said….It Never Rains in Southern California…”
“But, oh man, it pours,” Derek said back.
And life went on….
Songs this chapter: “I, Me, Mine” Original Version Played by the Beatles (Written by George Harrison) Covered by Madeline Van Mast on You Tube. To Hear the song: CLICK HERE
“It Never Rains in Southern California” By Albert Hammond on You Tube. To Hear the song: CLICK HERE