Monday, July 14, 2014

Scout's Duty - Epilogue

< Chapter 120                                                                                        Scout's Law Chapter 1 >
With a child on the way and his family around him, our hero is ready to go home.

Nothing which happened during the ensuing three weeks came close to matching the joy I felt seeing my family again and learning Callan and I were mere months from having a family of our own.

My wife, Rupor, and the other Aashlander political representatives benefited greatly from their new implants.  They had all received diplomatic implants — which provided language translations, cultural traditions, and the governing laws of the Federation but not Boost — and made good use of their newfound knowledge.  A commerce treaty was hammered out, along with an agreement to provide naval patrols for both ends of the wormhole.

Martin became a media darling, as the newsies played up his “mischievous boy gone bad boy gone hero” story.  Martin managed to pull me into the limelight, as well, and much was made of the romance between Callan and me.  I was never comfortable in front of the vid cameras and, after three dreadful interviews with me, the newsies decided to get all their stories from Martin.

Megan’s music proved to be Aashla’s first export.  A musician visiting the military base heard Megan performing traditional and original songs for our marines.  He whipped out a pocket recorder and recorded part of her performance.  The musician asked permission to upload the performance to the net.  Megan agreed, but only after conferring with Martin and Callan.  Two thousand years of isolation from the rest of humanity had resulted in a musical evolution far from anything found in the Federation.  With trillions of people looking for new and different entertainment, Megan’s performance was an instant hit.

With her captivating beauty and animated interviews, Callan became the face of Aashla.  Newsies packed into her public appearances and vid cameras flitted all around her.  Harris took it upon himself to organize an escort of armed marines, keeping the newsies at bay and clearing a path for her with bared teeth and, sometimes, bared blades.

Two days after my family arrived on the station, Harris asked me to formally introduce him to Sandra.  My sister couldn’t decide whether to be offended that Harris had come to me rather than her or to be relieved that Harris had finally picked up the signals she had been sending.  Callan explained Mordanian dating customs, mollifying Sandra.  Their first date went well right up until Harris was arrested for brawling.

According to Harris, a group of drunken young men voiced vulgar approval of certain parts of Sandra’s anatomy.  They refused Harris’s demands they apologize to my sister and then compounded their error by questioning Harris’s parentage.  Three of the men were unconscious when station security took Harris into custody.  According to Sandra, the comment wasn’t anything she hadn’t heard before, but Harris’s defense of her honor surprised Sandra and, according to Callan, pleased her no end.

Chapman and the pirates were turned over to Federation law enforcement.  We recorded hours of testimony against them for use in their trials.  Chapman made matters worse for himself, challenging Heidi’s Mordanian citizenship and the divorce granted by Callan.  A judge ruled the matter lay outside of Federation jurisdiction and told Chapman he would have to argue his case in a Mordanian court.  The day after the ruling, Chapman and the pirates were taken to the planet below to await trial.

After three long weeks of preparations, the navy assembled the ships necessary to clear the Aashlan end of the wormhole.  I’m told the clearing operation was quite a sight when witnessed from Aashla.  It also served as notice we were coming home.

A huge crowd gathered to watch the Aashla’s Hope, escorted by half a dozen Federation Navy fighters, land outside Morda.  Callan and I were the first to descend the ramp from the ship.  Before us stood Callan’s parents.  Next to them stood Kim, smiling and craning her neck to see around us.  The moment I had been dreading was at hand.

Kim focused on us as we approached.  Our somber expressions told her we brought bad news.  Tears ran down her cheeks as we stopped before her.  The queen put her arm around Kim as I told her of Milo’s sacrifice.  Leaving Callan comforting Kim, the marine commander and I spoke with the families of each marine who gave his life on the mission.  It was the hardest thing I had ever done.

That evening, Callan announced her pregnancy.  It lifted the mood around the palace, where Milo had been well-known and well-liked, even drawing a smile and congratulatory hug from Kim.  Callan’s parents were overjoyed at the prospect of a grandchild and heir.  The rest of the kingdom rejoiced with them when the news was proclaimed throughout the land.

In the following months, Federation delegations took up negotiations with many Aashlander countries and the first trade missions arrived.  Nist and Kim were married in a small ceremony.  Martin and Megan were married in a huge ceremony, making news across the Federation.  Callan convinced her parents to fund a medical school in Morda and put Tristan in charge of it.  And, in the largest wedding Tarteg had ever seen, Rupor made good on his promise to Heidi.

Nine months after we had left on the Aashla’s Hope, Callan went into labor.  I was by her side as Tristan guided her through the delivery and placed our newborn son in her arms.

“Welcome to the world, Robbill Milo Martin Edwar Rice Villas,” she said to him.

“That’s an awfully big name for such a little guy.  Do you think he can live up to it?”

“Of course he can, David.  Just look at who his father is.”

Callan laid her head on my shoulder and my son caught my finger in his fist.  Then time went away and all was right in my world.

A brand new story, featuring brand new characters, is about to begin.  Be here Wednesday for Chapter 1 of Untitled Space Opera.  I’ll be open to title suggestions as the story unfolds.  Use the comments to present your suggestions.