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Disclaimer: Space Above And Beyond belongs to Morgan and Wong, and Hard Eight Productions, though I like to think that the characters that have lived on so vividly for all of us, have taken on a life of their own. My title is taken from The Rubiayat Of Omar Khayyam. The name of General Frank Savage and the 918th Air Wing Group is in horror of the WWII movie, Twelve O’Clock High. Quotes from Te-Tao Ching by Lao-Tzu, translated by Robert G. Henricks; quote from Invictus, by William Ernest Henley; quotes from Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet by Wm Shakespeare; quotes from The Book Of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, translation by Thomas Cleary. The movie that is mentioned, but not named is Love In The Afternoon. The quote from the song You Belong To Me is by Pee Wee King, Redd Steward, & Chilton Price; and the poems Eldorado and Dreams are by Edgar Allan Poe; all are used without permission, no copyright infringement is intended.
Rating: PG-13 mainly for violence
Notes This was my first fic in any fandom. What is posted here is the beginning of the rewrite I've been meaning to do for years. I've changed the title of the first chapter. Without this story there would have been no stories that followed. This site wouldn't exist, thus they share the same name.

Banner/Art by scottishlass



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The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Will lure it back to cancel half a Line
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We thought we were alone.
We believed the Universe was ours.
Until one night in 2063, on an Earth Colony,
sixteen light years away, they struck.

And we went to war!
My name is Colonel T.C. McQueen, Retired.
I am an In-vitro, a race of artificially gestated humans.
I commanded the Marine Corps squadron: The 58th,
known as the Wildcards.

We fought when called, in space, on land and at sea.
To have lost that war meant more than defeat.
To have surrendered was to never go home.
All of us had to rise to the call:
Above and Beyond.

This is the story of how I learned what I was really
fighting for and where home really was!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ch 1 - The Lady And The Major - Part I



Earth spring 2063

“Damn scientists,” the man behind the large desk swore as he crumpled the report he had just read. He could hardly believe that those bleeding heart liberals had been able to raise enough sympathy for Tanks after the recent assassination of Secretary General Chartwell. Everything had been planned so carefully. In-vitros would take the heat for killing Chartwell, and he would introduce a bill to have them returned to indentured servitude permanently. Once the bill passed, he would move to become the power behind the new Secretary General. Now five doctors were raising a cry of rights for those damn nipple necks! Taking a deep breath, he let go of his anger as he decided what to do to regain the upper hand.

An hour and three phone calls later, he leaned back in his chair puffing on a cigar and sipping a brandy, smiling as he contemplated how surprised those five doctors were going to be the next morning. It was a shame really. They were all so bright. Too bad they had to die, but in the line of duty of course. After all, there was a war on.
............................................................

October 20, 2063 Planet Kordis:

“Sergeant Stark,” Lt. Com. Jennifer Kirkwood, MD, whispered as she quietly crept to the mouth of the cave, where they had been hiding for the last 3-½ weeks. “I’m here to relieve you for the night, anything new to report?”

“No, ma’am.” He shifted slightly to face the small blond doctor who had been keeping them all alive since their medical transport has crashed while attempting to evacuate the base hospital on Kordis. “I haven’t seen anything move all watch. There’s nothing but that damn wind.”

“Let me check your leg before you turn in. Any sign of fever?” Jenny ran her hands over the splint that was keeping her Corpsman’s femur and tibia immobile, “How’s the pain?”

“No fever and the pain’s manageable, Doc.” Stark grunted as her gentle hands moved over the area of the breaks. “You save any pain killers you’ve got left for the General.”

“Thanks,” Jenny’s gray eyes met Starks’s as she quickly assessed him. “But John, if it gets too bad, let me know. I need you, so no heroics and that’s an order.”

“Don’t worry, Ma’am, I’m no hero, but same goes for you, Lady-Doc,” he warned. “You need to get some sleep. When do you want me back on guard?”

“I’ll take it until I know that General Savage survived surgery. Then…well maybe, then I’ll be able to relax enough to get some shuteye. I’ll let you know.”

“Doc,” Stark pulled back on the weapon he was handing over. “You did the right thing.”

“I just hope he still thinks so when he wakes up,” she whispered. “Give me that and..ahh if you could check on the others one last time for me before you turn in, I’d appreciate it.”

“Sure thing, ma’am,” the Corpsman pulled himself to where the others were sleeping. Gritting his teeth he ignored the pain that shot from his broken leg. If the little Lady-Doc could hang tough, so could he. He suspected she knew just how much he was hurting. Nothing much got past her.

Jenny took position at the mouth of the cave. Lt. Davis, the pilot of their downed craft, had told her they had the perfect defendable position: a cave cut into a cliff wall to their back and a steep rocky path 200 feet above the crash site, the only way up. Unfortunately, their cave didn’t provide defense against malnutrition, fear, and a multitude of injuries they had sustained. It was times like these that she wondered if she was doing any of them a favor by keeping them alive.

‘What was it He always used to say?’ she wondered. ‘Oh I remember now, ‘concentrate on the objective.

“But what is the objective?” she whispered, as she looked up to the night sky.

‘The objective is to live, Jen, to live,’ deep soft-spoken words rumbled through her mind. ‘Break it into boxes, prioritize, and then eliminating them one at a time. Remember you always used to call it the ‘hop-scotch’ method of war games. But this time it’s the real thing, so watch your six.

“That’s easy for you to say, you’re already dead,” she half smiled as she whispered to the sky.

“Oh Jesus, Jesus...” She gasped, clasping her hand over her mouth. ‘Get a grip, Jen,’ she shivered. His voice had been so real it was as if he was standing behind her. ‘Get a grip; I’m sitting here carrying on a conversation with a dead man. No, no, it’s only because I can see the sky tonight and the firefight that’s going on up there, and the wind...The God-awful wind.’ Jenny’s mind rocked and she blinked quickly to separate fact from fantasy. ‘I am not going crazy! This planet is real, these men are real, and this weapon in my hand is real. His voice is only wishful thinking. Yes, that’s it, wishful thinking and the hellish wind.’

The wind whistled and moaned across the rocks and around the outcropping that protected their cave. She shivered again at the sound. She was a woman who had once gloried in the wind, as she sailed her boat the Windswept up and down the southern California coast. She could steal the slightest breeze from the sky, the sails would fill and off she would go, laughing into the wind. She wondered if she would ever be that free again.

The planet seemed determined to take everything from them, but she wasn’t giving up without a fight. She was using all her strength to keep the men in her care alive until rescue came. The storms that started mid-afternoon and raged all night, every night, were slowly grinding away at their sanity. ‘Maybe not so slowly,’ she admitted to herself. Hearing voices that weren’t there wasn’t exactly an example of a stable mind.

At first, picturing herself on her boat, with the wheel under her hands, cutting through the waves toward Catalina Island, had been a defense against the harsh realities of war. Lately, whenever, she called that picture to mind, she could almost feel strong masculine hands covering hers as he learned to feel the rhythm of the sea. Now his voice haunted her thoughts when she least expected it. ‘At least if I’m hearing from a dead man, he’s giving me advice on how to keep us alive,’ she thought pragmatically. ‘But why hadn’t he been able to save himself?’ The question echoed through her head.

‘Don’t go there, Jenny.’ She had managed to keep from crying, even when she’d gotten the telegram from the Marines saying that his entire squad had been killed, but as each new day dawned and there was no rescue in sight, she was being driven closer to the edge. It would take too small a thing to make her lose control, and it was a luxury she couldn’t afford. Looking down she realized she was gripping the small gold rope bracelet that hung from her dog tags. Making a conscious effort she freed her hand. ‘Don’t think about it. Don’t think about him.’

After quickly checking on General Savage, Jen curled back behind her rock. She was keeping him sedated, and so far so good. For the first time in weeks he wasn’t spiking the high fevers that had kept him incoherent and thrashing for hours at a time. Tonight he was finally sleeping.

Early that morning, she had sat in exactly the same position as she was in now, contemplating what needed to be done
............................................................

Sunrise on Kordis earlier that morning:

The blood red sun had slowly risen over the horizon, giving off a dull light that reflected the odd particles hanging in the mist that surrounded Kordis. The morning electrical storms had already started rolling down from the sky and bouncing off the ground, making the surrounding area shake. ‘Charming planet,’ she had thought. ‘Either the wind is trying to blow us off the surface or the lightening is trying to fry us to a crisp. Added to that, there is fog, rain, and the temperature never rises above 50 F.’ Why in the universe, either Earth or the Chigs, wanted this ball of rock, she couldn’t imagine.

Jenny squared her shoulders for the task ahead. She had made up her mind what she had to do during the long night. All that was left was to discuss it with the man whose life it would change.

“General Savage,” the doctor approached the commander of the 918th Air Force Wing. “We need to talk.” She had been greatly relieved to see that his fever had broken in the early hours of the morning and that he was aware of his surroundings, though she knew if something wasn’t done soon, his temperature would return and this time she doubted he’d have the strength to fight it off.

“I was wondering how much longer we could pretend.” The older man lasered her with a fierce look, trying to hide his exhaustion and pain.

“Sir, that’s gangrene in that arm and it’s only going to spread. I have to amputate...” Fear tied Jenny’s stomach in knots at what she was suggesting.

“What else, Lieutenant Commander?” Frank Savage watched the slight blond woman in front of him.

“I can’t give you any guarantees except that you’ll die if I don’t do surgery.” She forced herself to take slow easy breaths and not think about her lack of proper instruments. If she let herself dwell on the fact that she’d be taking off a man’s arm with a K-bar and the saw from the survival kit, she was afraid she’d lose her nerve.

“Are you asking for my permission?” He watched her with hooded eyes. He hadn’t liked her when she had been assigned as Chief Medical Officer of the airstrip on Kordis. Now he wished he had taken the time to find out if he could trust her.

“No Sir,” Jen licked her lips. “In this situation, only God outranks me and since I get the feeling that he isn’t bothering with this little corner of His universe that leaves me in command. More importantly, I’m a doctor. I have to try to save your life, no matter what, but I’d never do it without telling you.”

General Frank Savage, 6’ 3”, 200 lbs., leader of men, and ace fighter pilot watched Lieutenant Commander Jennifer Kirkwood, 5’ 1”, 98 lbs., a major player in the In-vitro Rights Movement, and Navy doctor. For a moment, he did one of the things he did best. He took measure of another human being, something he hadn’t bothered to do with this woman. He had let her politics and gender prejudices his judgment. He had nothing against female pilots or mechanics, but there was something about Kirkwood’s demeanor that shouted civilian despite her military background and it had made him doubt.

“Well I’ll be damned!” He smiled, “I’ve been wrong about you ever since you were first stationed on this rock. You have a strength that puts us all to shame.” He looked deep into her serious gray eyes one last time, “And there is something more than strength of character.” He nodded to himself. “I haven’t figured out what it is, but given time I will.” He reached for her hand and held it in his much larger one. “Do what needs to be done and give me that time.”

“Yes sir,” she began to turn, but he didn’t let go of her hand.

“If I don’t make it,” his voice became stern as she tried to stop him. “Don’t interrupt me Lieutenant Commander. My wings…see that they are given to Commodore Glen Ross of the Saratoga. Tell him to give them to my wife. My great-great-grandfather wore them in WWII. He’ll know what to do with ‘em.”

Three hours later it was done. Jenny shook from lack of sleep and the after affects of adrenaline that had pounded through her system when she’d been afraid she’d be unable to stop the flow of blood from General Savage’s shoulder. She thanked God that the last of her anesthesia had held out and that her corpsman, Sergeant John Stark had been well enough to assist.

The General hadn’t died and she had managed to save his arm above the elbow. If she could prevent any further infection, he might live; if he would thank her for his life, remained to be seen.

“Sgt. Stark, keep an eye on our patients for a moment, I need to wash up,” Jenny rose unsteadily to her feet and headed to the small stream that was at the back of the cave. Her knees buckled after she rounded a small cluster of rock.

“Lady-Doc, let me help you.” Capt. James Parks came up behind her.

“I’m all right.” They both knew she was lying, but since she was the strongest member of this strange squad, they both pretended otherwise. “You shouldn’t be up and around, you have a concussion, Captain.”

“Tell me about it, Doc. I still can’t figure out if I really have blurry vision, or if it’s just the pain in my head that sends everything out of focus.” He handed her a wet cloth to bathe her face and a flask. “Drink this. You’ll feel better.”

“Thanks,” she smiled then coughed as sharp whiskey burned its way to her stomach. “Can you break out the rations and help me get everyone fed?”

“Sure thing, Ma’am. You take a minute for yourself.” He pocketed his flask and looked her over carefully one more time. He could tell she was exhausted but he didn’t know what to else to do. “The Old Man was mighty bad off, Ma’am. You did the only thing you could. He was dying, didn’t need a medical degree to know that.”

“He may still die.” Kirkwood forced herself to say it. She had to face the truth and so did the men who had served General Savage so faithfully.

“How long before we know if…well if?” He shrugged; wishing he had the courage to say the words Lady-Doc had just spoken.

“I’ll have a better idea by morning, Captain,” Jen sighed. “You go back and join the others, I’ll be there shortly.”

When Parks left, Jenny reached for her dog tags, feeling the imprint of the gold rope chain attached to them. It was the only thing she had left of the past. It was her strength and her talisman. ‘Please give me the strength to see this through,’ she thought as she held on to the past. ‘Help me to do this as you would have done it.’

The meal was a subdued affair. Jen did a quick evening roll call in her head. General Savage was sleeping off the effects of surgery, but still alive. Captain James Parks was, concussed, but he was eating better tonight. Corpsman John Stark’s leg was tightly splinted due to a fracture of the femur and tibia. Private Mike Patti was holding his own with a previous abdominal wound, in addition to injuries sustained during the crash. Lt. Jefferson Davis, pilot, had walked away from the crash with hardly a scratch, but five days ago had returned to camp from a supply raid, covered in blood, both his own and Chig. It had taken Jenny two hours to clean and suture the deep knife wounds.

“Lady-Doc, how about a story?” Stark asked and headed back to the guard post at the mouth of the cave. He knew he’d be able to hear her quiet words from that spot and the wind would keep any sounds from escaping.

“What did you have in mind, Sergeant?” She asked, knowing full well what he wanted to hear about.

“We want to hear about your kick-ass Marine pilot,” Patti answered as they all nodded in agreement.

“Yeah, we want to hear about The Major,” Stark’s voice drifted from the front of the cave.

“Have I told you the one about the pirates off the Rings of Saturn?” Jen asked.

“Don’t think ya have, Doc,” Mike Patti spoke up and others nodded in agreement.

“Okay,” Jen grinned at their enthusiasm. “It’s a long one so I don’t know if I can get through all of it tonight but I’ll give it a try.

“The Major and his unit were on temporary assignment aboard a carrier. A group of pirates were making sneak attacks into the system and raiding mining colonies and shipping lanes. They’d use the Rings of Saturn for cover, losing themselves in the unstable atmospheric conditions created around that planet...” Her voice carried only as far as the cave walls, telling of brave Marines, hairy-furballs, and knife fights between hammerheads and pirates.

“Way to go Marines,” Patti sighed as Jenny stopped the speaking. It appeared that the others had fallen asleep, but her words had kept Pvt. Patti entranced. “Semper Fi! Can you finish it? I want to know how they got the last hideout.”

“Tomorrow,” she whispered. “You need to get some sleep, Private. I need to check on the General, and then take over for Stark at the mouth of the cave.”

“I can stand guard tonight, Lady-Doc,” he offered, though they both knew he couldn’t, but he would have tried if she’d asked him to.

“Thanks for the offer, Mike, but I’ll won’t be able to fall sleep until I know General Savage is out of the woods, so I might as well watch out for company.” She smiled as she moved to pull the blanket over Patti’s shoulder. Her hands froze, tightening on the Private’s blanket, as she heard a voice in her head, ‘there will be plenty of time to rest when I’m dead.’

‘Get out of my head and get your damn rest!’ Jen thought as she tried to focus on her next patient.

“Ma’am?”

“Hhhmmm, yes..sorry...” She shook her head to clear it and moved to check on the pilot.

“Ma’am is he real?” Davis mumbled.

“Who...?”

“The Major, is he real?” Lt. Davis’ words were slurred. “Or did you make him up to keep us entertained?”

“I thought you were asleep, Davis,” she avoided his question.

“The Major!” Davis was frantic. “Is he real?”

“Yes, he was.” She bit her lip to keep memories at bay.

“Is he really a kick-ass Marine like you say?”

“Yes, Jeff, he was, but he died in that first major offensive, I think they’re calling it The Battle of the Edge,” Jenny’s voice cracked. She took a deep breath and tried to find the words to continue. “His whole unit was wiped out by the Chigs.” She closed her eyes as flashes of light lit up her lids and hammerheads exploded, while Angels fell from the sky.

“So many die, it would be so easy to just…stop...breathing...” Davis muttered as he was swamped with pain from knife wounds. His breathing became shallow and irregular.

“Noooo!” Jenny shouted, grabbing him by the shirt. “You will not die! Do you understand me? Look at me, Jeff!” She gripped his collar and had to fight the impulse to shake him to get his attention. “If you die now, if you give up, just remember that the Major will be waiting for you on the other side. He was a Marine of the Old Corps, who gave everything. Can you say the same? Can you meet him over there and not have him kick your ass back to Chig country? Can you?”
............................................................


That had been hours ago. The day had been one of the roughest since they crashed. ‘As soon as I know one way or the other about the General, I’ll have Stark relieve me. I need some sleep or I’ll never keep the memories locked away where they belong.’

‘Yes, that was the answer,’ Jenny thought. ‘I’m not going crazy. It’s the lack of sleep and thinking about the past too much, telling those stories to the men.’ She smiled to herself. The stories really did seem to help them. They loved hearing about Marine victories over AI’s, pirates, and raiders. She thought He would like that. He was always such a private person, but if He knew that stories about Him kept other soldiers alive, maybe, He wouldn’t mind too much. But it bothered her that he would be on her mind so much. They had been friends, close friends even. ‘Now all she had were memories, and the nagging feeling that something had passed her by and she hadn’t recognized it.’

“Lady-Doc,” someone whispered from the group of sleeping men.

“Yes?” Jenny moved from her position, surprised to find it was General Savage calling her. He never used the nickname the other men had given her.

“May I have some water?” He looked pale and weak, but he was coherent.

“Let me check you first, Sir.” She turned on a small pocket light, being careful to keep her body between the cave entrance and the light.
............................................................

In Space, Orbiting Kordis 1900 hours:

For weeks the combined forces of Earth had been fighting a huge battle for that sector of space. The 58th climbed out of their cockpits battle weary and hungry.

“Okay people, I know it’s been rough, and it’s going to get rougher if we’re to hold this corridor of space,” Lt. Col. T.C. McQueen called out to the group of Marine Corps Aviator Calvary under his command. “Get some chow, and then hit the rack. Briefing is at 0600 tomorrow. Vansen, you’re with me, now.”

Shane groaned as she followed McQueen off the flight deck to a small office.

“You were Honcho today. How are they holding up?” the Colonel asked as he handed her a cup of hot coffee.

“Thank you, Sir,” Lt. Vansen took the cup gratefully. “As well as can be expected under the circumstances. Everyone’s reaction time is down a little, but we’re keeping a close eye on each other to compensate.”

“It shouldn’t be too much longer, but it is imperative we secure this area.”

“What can I tell the 58th?” Shane looked up to her commander needing something to take back to the rest of the squad.

“Tell them…tell them what they’re doing is important and to get some sleep.” McQueen turned away. “Dismissed Lieutenant.”

“Yes, Sir,” Shane watched her commander for a moment before she left, coffee in hand, and headed back to the Wildcards’ quarter.
............................................................

Saratoga, Wildcards’ Quarters 1930 hours:

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” Hawkes bundled his damp towel and threw it across the room.

“We’re all tired, Coop.” Damphousse tried to defuse his temper.

“I’ve lost count of the missions we’ve flown in the last four weeks. All we do is fly and sleep, fly and sleep.”

“We’ve been killing Chigs too,” Paul grinned.

“When are we going to get some down time?” Cooper shouted.

“Just shut-up Hawkes!” Nathan exploded. He’d had all he could take of the bigger Marine.

“Give it a rest you two.” Shane’s coffee mug slammed onto the table beside the hatch she had just closed. “I’ve had all the complaining I want to hear for one night. Hawkes, we’re Marines and that’s why we do it. If they say fly and sleep, then we fly and sleep. Got that?” She had stepped between Hawkes and West before a fight broke out.

“Did you get that?” She had the much bigger man backed up against a bulkhead as she shoved a finger into his chest, her eyes blazing.

“Gees, Shane, you don’t have to poke a hole in my chest.” Coop grabbed her finger, his anger completely gone. Shane Vansen was his weak spot. He was thankful no one else realized it. “Yeah I get it.”

“What did the Colonel have to say?” Damphousse asked.

“Just the usual. He wanted to know how we were holding up.” Shane moved to her locker and began pulling off her dirty flight suit.

“Did he say how much longer this was going to last?” Nathan wondered.

“No, but he did say it’s important we hold this sector, so I guess it’s back out tomorrow. God, I don’t know if I need food or sleep more.” Shane sighed.

“You go shower. I’ll bring you back a plate from the mess hall,” ‘Phousse offered as the rest of the 58th headed out for food.
............................................................

Commodore Ross’ Quarters, 1945 hours:

“Come,” Commodore Ross called as someone knocked on his hatch. “Ty, what can I do for you?” Ross smiled to see one of his oldest friends.

“Sir,” Col. T.C. McQueen stood at attention in front of Ross’ desk. “The Colonel doesn’t understand....”

“Cut the “sir” crap, and sit down and have a drink. You look like you could use one. I know I could, so stop pulling my chain.” Glen Ross reached into the cabinet behind his desk pulling out scotch for McQueen and rum for himself. “If you have a question, ask it. I’ll answer it if I can.”

“How much of what is going on can you tell me?” Worry for his squad was evident on his face, though the Commodore was positive his friend didn’t realize it.

Taking a slow sip of rum he leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment. McQueen was worried about his Marines in a way his friend never would have believed. What Ross couldn’t figure out was why. Sure, the 58th were a good group of young people, but the Marines were full of people like that.

The Angry Angels hadn’t been much different than the Wildcards, but, in social situations, Ty had shunned them as much as they had him. As a fighting unit, the Angels had acted as one. They took care of each other, but that had never extended beyond the cockpit. McQueen, the in-vitro, in a squad of natural-borns had been on his own. Figuring out what was going on with him could be an interesting diversion. Ross decided to file it away for future reference.

“Do you know General Frank Savage?”

“Only by reputation. They say he’s a fine officer and an excellent pilot.” McQueen’s interest was piqued by the mention of the legendary Air Force general’s name.

“What I’m about to tell you is to go no further.” Glen sipped his rum as he decided how much he could say without putting them both in a compromising position.

“That goes without saying, Sir.”

“Three months ago, Savage’s 918th Wing Division built an air strip on Kordis. They were using the strip to launch recon flights into Chig held space. The planet has some strange weather conditions in the southern continent that helped mask their presence in the more hospitable north. Unfortunately, they were detected and heavy fighting took place. General Savage was injured before the evacuation of the airstrip. He was to go out with the rest of sickbay, accompanied by their doctor and a corpsman. Their ISSCV didn’t make it off planet. We have been picking up their transponder for the last three plus weeks, but weather conditions prevent us from going after them.”

“What kind of weather conditions?”

“They went down in a mountainous area of the southern continent. There are high winds and massive electrical storms that generate ion storms in the lower atmosphere. If we try to launch a rescue mission in that soup, we’ll have another ISSCV stuck on that planet. Predictions have those storms clearing for a small window of time in about 72 hours.”

“Are we sure anyone is still alive, and that it’s not just a trap?” McQueen was calculating the odds and they didn’t sound good.

“No, but we have to try. Frank Savage is one of my oldest friends, but, more than that, he is vital to the war effort for reasons I’m not at liberty to discuss. Besides, ten other people took off in that craft with him.”

“Eleven lives for how many?” McQueen got up to stare at the distant light that was Kordis. “How many have we lost so far and how many more will we trade for eleven people, who are probably dead anyway?”

“The information Savage has will save lives. That’s all I can say now. Get some sleep, and stop worrying about the 58th. You’ve done a good job training them. They will do what needs to be done.”

“I do worry, don’t I?” He gave a small half-smile, embarrassed that he had been caught with an emotion showing. “I can’t help it, I care about those kids.”

“I know you do.” Ross met his friend’s cool blue eyes with his warm brown ones. “The Wildcards are better Marines because of it.”

“Caring is difficult. In-vitros don’t learn how to care, so when it happens we get caught by surprise.” The Colonel was looking deep into his scotch, trying to find answers to questions he wasn’t sure he knew.

Ross allowed himself one more splash of rum after McQueen had left. Putting his feet up on his desk he contemplated his friend. Something had changed in the man he’d known for over ten years. The question was did the change happen because he cared about the 58th, or did McQueen care about the 58th because he had changed?

“You’ve had too much to drink, old man, when you start to think like that,” Ross said to his guitar as he picked it up and began to strum. “Yea, right, Tyrus Cassius McQueen change, I don’t think so? Well, maybe when there are ice cubes in hell.” Ross hummed along as he plucked out “Georgia On My Mind.” His eyes closed, letting the blues carry him away, off his ship to a warm starry night and a woman’s warmer arms.
............................................................

The Saratoga 60 hours later:

“Listen up people,” Lt. Col. McQueen addressed the three squads of Marines in the briefing room. “We’ve got a rescue and recovery mission today. The hospital evac carrier that went missing from Kordis was found on one of that planet’s southern continents. It’s been almost four weeks so it is anybody’s guess what we’ll find when we get down there.

“The 23rd and 67th will fly cover for the 5-8 to go on planet. The transponder fix is in your mission-briefing log. It’s faint, but as of 0330, it was transmitting. There is heavy Chig and AI presence reported in all sectors of space so trust nothing. It is vital we find that craft and bring back any survivors. If no survivors are found, any personal gear belonging to those who were stranded is to be retrieved.

“Wildcards, we’ll be going in just before dawn. The weather is as much our enemy as Chigs and AI’s. We will be utilizing a break in the weather pattern to get on planet. But, there may be high winds and electrical storms on our way out, as the window closes, so we’ll have to watch our six. It could be a rough ride, but there are as many as eleven wounded Air Force and Naval personnel on planet. Any questions, people?” His cool blue eyes raked the group of young fighter pilots, gauging their strengths and weaknesses
.
“All right then, 23rd and 67th meet on the hanger deck in 20 mikes, to converge with our ISSCV behind Kordis’ second moon at 0500.” Raising his wrist to look at his watch, he called out the time, “0410, ready, ready, hack.”

“Are you coming with us on this one, Colonel?” Lt. Shane Vansen asked. Though McQueen’s flight status had been revoked due to an injury in the Battle of the Edge, he took every chance he could to go along on ground missions, but Commodore Ross didn’t let him get away with it as often as he would have liked.

“Is there a problem with that, Lieutenant?” McQueen’s eyes frosted as he stared the young woman down.

“No, SIR!” Shane shouted out, shoulders back, almost sitting at attention.

“Dismissed people.” The Marines hit the deck running.
............................................................

Kordis:

Jenny tossed in her sleep, trying to throw off the nightmare. It was so intense she could even smell the hammerhead fuel. She was watching the battle in slow motion, not from the deck of the Windswept, as she had watched it, but right there, standing in space. To her back were the planets that orbited the Sun. In front of her was the rest of the universe. Racing toward each other, just outside of the Sun’s system, were strange alien ships and a greatly outnumbered United Earth Force.

The hammerheads with the stylized angel wings and halo stenciled on the cockpit were locked in furious battle with Chig aircraft. This time their superior flying skills weren’t enough. One by one the Angry Angels were blown from the sky, until there was only one plane fighting. In her dream she could see him. In her dream he was dead and still flying, still fighting, and then his hammerhead exploded in a great flash of light. Jenny was left alone with the stars and the faint smell of hammerhead fuel as bodies drifted by.

“Lady-Doc, wake-up.” Stark was shaking her shoulder trying to waken her. “You’re having a nightmare again.”

“What…no…not again...Ty?” Jenny gasped as she looked into the concerned blue eyes of her Corpsman.

“It’s Stark, Ma’am.” He fought to keep the panic out of his voice. Dr. Kirkwood was the glue that was keeping them together. If something happened to her they were done for.

“Yes…of course, John, I’m sorry, I...I…I was dreaming.” She leaned her head on her hand as she sat up trying to remember where she was and what she was doing. “It was a bad one, sorry about that.”

“We’ve all been having ‘em. Anything you want to talk about?”

“I can’t.” She shook her head as she got to her feet. Looking at her watch she realized that she had had less than two hours of sleep.

Something was different. She could feel it, but didn’t know what it was. “Listen...” Her first thoughts were for her patients, but a quick look assured her they were all doing better today.

“Ma’am?” Stark looked at her as if she might still be dreaming.

“Listen, it’s quiet out. No wind or lightening.” She headed for the mouth of the cave.

“Parks,” she whispered. “When did the weather die down?”

All three of them knelt behind the rocks at the entrance to the cave. Light was just showing over the horizon, but nothing moved, no wind, no lightening, nothing.

“It’s been like that for about an hour. After all the noise, it’s kind of spooky.” Parks shook his head. “Look at that, Ma’am!” He shouted as he pointed to four hammerheads coming in low and fast over their position.

“Thank God,” Jenny whispered.

The radio they had stripped from the downed ISSCV crackled to life as the scream of the fighters circled around again. In the distance they could make out a larger craft coming in for a landing.

“918th Medical Unit, come in please.” A young woman’s voice filled the cave. “This is Lt. Damphousse, are you ready for extraction?”

“Lt. Damphousse,” Jenny gripped the radio transmitter as her voice cracked. “This is Dr...er..Lt. Com. Kirkwood. I have three wounded patients and two that can walk out, if it isn’t too far.”

“Commander, any sign of enemy activity? Damphousse, over.”

“No, Lieutenant, not in the last ten days. But they bombed this area, on and off, for two days after they found our ship. Your presence may bring them back if they’re anywhere in the neighborhood.”

“We’ll be on planet in three mikes and will follow your transmission signal, Damphousse, out.”

Jen quickly gave Davis and Savage injections of the last of her synthaphine. The strong painkiller was a synthesized version of morphine. It was twice as potent without any of the addictive properties. A quick checked on Patti assured her that he’d be able to make it without any further medication until they reached their destination.

“Damn, the Chigs are back,” Parks called from the front of the cave.

“How many?” The doctor refused to panic when they were this close to rescue; instead she kept getting the injured men ready for transport.

“The hammerheads are engaging them in the sky. And our transport has landed,” Stark cheered.

“Parks, Stark, here you go,” Jenny passed out the last of the ammunition, and held her weapon at ready. “Lets give that evac team any cover we can.”
............................................................

McQueen checked the sighting on the aft gun as he barked orders to the 58th. “Vansen, you’re Honcho, take them up that hill and get those wounded out, the weather is beginning to change and we have company coming. I’ll keep the motor running, Damphousse you stay on the radio, just in case.”

“Yes Sir,” Shane Vansen called as she and her team hit the rocks running.

The ground shook from the battle that was going on a few hundred feet over their heads and lightening was starting to roll in. Three weary people, armed and ready to shoot, met the Wildcards at the mouth of the cave.

“Com. Kirkwood?” Shane called out.

“Here,” a small, exhausted woman acknowledged. “But I prefer Doctor. You have no idea how glad we are to see you.”

“Let’s get you guys outta here, before Chiggymon pays us a visit.” A tall shaggy-haired young Marine walked to the back of the cave.

“Capt. Parks if you can make it down on your own, I can help Sgt. Stark,” Jenny stated rather than asked. “Can you people see to the General, Pvt. Patti and Lt. Davis?”

“We sure can Ma’am.” Wang moved to Patti and lifted him over his shoulder, as Cooper was doing the same for the General, and West for Davis.

“Capt. Parks, you and I will provide cover,” Shane called out, as they headed out of the cave, not more than thirty seconds after entering it.

It was a rough trip down the hill for all the wounded. Jenny and Stark were bringing up the rear. As each of her patients was loaded onto the ISSCV, Jenny gave a sigh of relief. She and Stark were ten feet from the craft when the ground shook behind her and the sky lit-up from a bolt of lightening. The big Marine jumped out of the craft and grabbed Stark.

McQueen was in the door, leaning down reaching out for the last of the evacuating personnel. “Hurry!” he called. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

Jenny looked up at the sound of his voice. She froze as she saw the man who knelt in the door. His helmet was strapped securely beneath his chin accentuating his frown. He was wearing a black flight suit, and his arm was extended with his hand held out to her. ‘Oh God, visual and auditory hallucinations’ she blinked and tried to clear her vision of intense blue eyes. “Ty…It can’t be…?”

A bomb hit the cliff where they had been hiding. Kirkwood felt a whoosh of hot air as the cliff exploded and the ground came up to meet her. The compression from the blast sent her into comforting blackness, where she didn’t have to deal with facts that didn’t make sense.

“Nooo,” McQueen whispered as he jumped out of the craft and knelt over the fallen woman. “No, it can’t be.” Moving her hair aside, he saw a burn scar on the back of her neck, which still had the power to make him tremble with rage. As he turned her over to pick her up, her dog tags spilled out and his eyes caught the glint of a familiar gold chain hanging between the tags. “Oh, Jen, what are you doing out here?” he muttered as he carried her to safety.

Ch 1 - The Lady And The Major - Part II

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
scottishlass
Aug. 12th, 2007 08:52 am (UTC)
I am so, so glad you are reposting it!!

*off to re-reading*
lattelady6
Aug. 12th, 2007 09:38 am (UTC)
Oh but the work involved! I've been doing some re-writing as I go. I've only gotten as far as this first chapter, so it may be a while before more is done.

I just read it over myself and was pleased. There were some rookie errors, but I'm trying to get rid of those.

Those were the days my friend, those were the days.
lattelady6
Aug. 14th, 2007 04:31 am (UTC)
Una, do you still have the picture you made for this story for your site "The flightdeck"? If you do I'd love to have a copy of it for the header of this story here. I'll credit you with the work. I keep trying to make a manip of my own and but isn't anywhere as nice as yours was.

Phyllis
the Lattelady
scottishlass
Aug. 14th, 2007 06:10 am (UTC)
Hi Phyllis :)

Sure you can have it(them) IRC I made two: Here are the links:
http://www.fanficflightdeck.space-readyroom.de/GenStories/mfw00.jpg
http://www.fanficflightdeck.space-readyroom.de/GenStories/mfw000.jpg

P.S. I like the first chapter as much as I did the first time around. There are changes here and there, and I like them, it makes the chapter stronger. Thank you for your hard work and sharing it with us.
lattelady6
Aug. 14th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the pictures! I had forgotten about the first one.

I am making changes to the story, but as I said in the notes, this was my first fic and there are rookie mistakes in it. I've also tried to smooth it out a bit. I want to make McQ more McQ. It doesn't take much to do that and I won't lose any of the idea of the story.

I'm about a fourth of the way through chapter 2. It's rough going because there are space errors that ara time consuming to repair. I lost the entire story in a computer crash and years ago had to download it from ff.net. It had been orginally written with indents at each paragraph and single spaced. As I said, rookie errors.

P
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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Quotes

The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears


The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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