Friday, July 11, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 120

< Chapter 119                                                                                                   Epilogue >
David has been anesthetized to allow an army of medical nanites to check for internal damage from all of the Boosting he’s done.

I hovered on the edge of consciousness, dreaming I was at home with my parents and sister.  Mom was talking to a nurse about me.  For a few seconds, I wondered why I was having such a boring dream.  Then I came fully awake.

“According to your son’s medical report, medical nanites had to do a lot of internal reconstruction.  The reconstruction puts a strain on the body, but nothing a little sleep won’t fix,” the nurse said.

“And you’re sure he’s just sleeping, now?” my mother asked.

“Well, I was, Mom,” I said, my throat parched, “until you woke me up.”

My mother, father, and sister all crowded around my bed, hugging and kissing me and generally making it hard for me to breathe.

“You should pour him some water, ma’am.  He hasn’t had a drink in two days,” the nurse said, smiling.  “And do let him come up for air every now and then.”

“We’ve been so worried about you, David!”  Tears rolled down Mom’s cheeks.  “You’ve been missing for nearly three years.”

Dad clapped me once on the shoulder, a big smile on his face.  Then he was pushed aside by my little sister, who promptly punched me on the arm.

“Don’t go off and get lost again.  Have you got that, lunkhead?”

Yes, she and Callan were going to get along famously.  I sat up to pull her into a hug then found myself just staring at her.

“What are you staring at?  Have I got something on my face?”

I shook my head.  “No, Sandra, I’m just wondering when my awkward baby sister turned into a beautiful young woman.”

“Mom, something’s really wrong with David.  He complimented me!”

A slight cough sounded near the door.  Harris stood there, watching the scene with a fond smile.  Seeing my eyes on him, he snapped to attention and addressed me in Mordanian.

“Her Highness only left your bedside to attend an appointment with a doctor.”  Alarm must have crossed my face as he added, “I’m told it is a routine matter.  Perhaps it’s associated with the implant she had installed yesterday.  I’ve taken the liberty of informing her that you’ve awoken.”

“Thank you, Harris.”

Harris nodded and withdrew.

“Who’s that?” Sandra asked.

“Harris?  He’s a marine from the world I’ve been on for the last two and a half years.”

“He’s cute.”

“I hadn’t noticed.  I’ll be happy to introduce you.”  I looked past Sandra to my father.  “Don’t worry, Dad, Harris is as honorable a young man as I’ve met.  We can trust him with the brat.”

Sandra punched me on the arm again.

“So, how did the three of you get here so quickly?”

“The Scout Corps brought us on one of their fastest ships,” Mom replied.  “We only got to the station half an hour ago.”

“Did anyone tell you anything about what had happened to me?”

“No, son, they didn’t know anything except you’d been crashed on some lost colony and had just resurfaced.”  Tears welled up in Mom’s eyes again.  “You can imagine how we felt when they brought us to a hospital!”

“You always said you were going to find a lost colony someday,” Dad said.

Sandra flashed a wicked grin.  “Yeah, but did you also meet your spacebabe?”

A lilting voice spoke from the doorway.  “What on Aashla is a spacebabe?”

Seeing Callan for the first time, Sandra’s eyes went wide.  “Wow.  I guess you did meet her.”

“Mom.  Dad.  Sandra.  This is Her Royal Highness, Princess Callan, heir to the throne of Mordan and-”

“Seriously?  The spacebabe is a princess, too?”  Sandra gave me a hard look.  “Are you putting us on, lunkhead?”

“Sandra!”  Mom blushed and attempted a curtsey to Callan.  “Please forgive my daughter, Your Highness.  She has been raised with better manners than that!”

Callan laughed.  “No apologies are necessary.  But the ‘spacebabe’ comment still intrigues me.”

Dad stepped in.  “A retired scout lived across the street from us when David was a boy.  The man filled David’s head with stories of lost colonies, daring rescues, and a beautiful princess.  Growing up, David was sure he was going to become a scout, find a lost colony, have adventures, and rescue a beautiful princess.  Even if, to quote his seven year old self, it meant kissing a girl.”

“I see.  Am I supposed to be the beautiful princess?”

Sandra turned an incredulous look on me.  “Do they have mirrors on her planet?”

“Yes, we have mirrors, brat.  There’s one more thing-”

Callan interrupted, “And kissing a girl, David?  Did that turn out to be as onerous as you feared?”

I grinned.  “Well, not when it’s the right girl.”

Sandra was quick on the uptake.  “Oh my gosh!  Do you mean-?”

“Yes, brat.  I met the spacebabe.  I kissed the spacebabe.  And then I married the spacebabe!”

Mom dropped onto the side of the bed, shock written on her face.  Dad gave me a big grin and a thumbs up.  Sandra gave me a big hug.  Then Callan came to Mom and wrapped her in a big hug.

“David is too modest to say it, but he did more than just meet me.  He has saved my life countless times.  His courage and conviction in the face of overwhelming odds serves as an example to all in my kingdom.  His love and compassion have given me hope when all seemed lost.  Thank you for raising such a son.”

Callan sat down and drew me into an embrace.  “I only pray I can do half as well when our child is born.”

I pulled back and looked into Callan’s eyes.  “When?

“Yes, darling.  I saw the doctor today to confirm it.”  Callan guided my hand to her stomach.  “You’re going to be a father.”

I hadn’t thought I could ever be happier than I was the day I married Callan.  It turns out I was wrong.

Be here next time as the Aashla’s Hope returns home as Scout’s Duty wraps up with the Epilogue, coming Monday!