Chapter FiveEdit

Fort Gibson National Veteran's Cemetery
Fort Gibson, Free State Of Oklahoma, Earth, Republic Of Earth
March 23, 2276, 1000.00 MCT

Melinda stood underneath the grav field, looking at the marker and newly-dug earth of her sister's grave, as the rain came down in sheets outside, the master of the Shooting Star sighing again, swallowing down tears again, just trying to think of something to say to her.

For a way to tell her just how much she was sorry she hadn't come back for her, like she'd planned.

Even knowing there wasn't a way in hell she ever could.

Sighing, she patted the marker where the headstone would go, turning away from the grave.

That bitch standing at the foot of it, having the unmitigated fucking gall to fucking shed tears over the granddaughter she'd condemned to death.

"Melinda," Flavia said, voice broken.

"Madame President," Melinda replied, her voice cold.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" she asked.

"She's my granddaughter," Flavia, voice tightening, replied. "What the fuck do you think I'm doing here, Captain?"

"You abandoned her," Melinda said, barely restraining the anger threatening to overwhelm her. "You fucking abandoned her and Gramma Thorne to those—"

"Who the hell do you think gave those orders?!" Flavia had the nerve to demand of her.

"You did," Melinda told her, spitting out the words. "Twenty years ago. Remember?"

The captain of the Shooting Star then brushing past her, out of the grav field keeping Sarah dry, into the driving rain.

Away from the bitch who could never, never aplogize enough for what she'd fucking done.

Fort Gibson National Veteran's Cemetery
Fort Gibson, Free State Of Oklahoma, Earth, Republic Of Earth
March 23, 2276, 1005.26 MCT

God damn that girl.

The Terran President stood at the foot of her youngest granddaughter's grave, staring at the spot where Melinda had stood just moments before, wanting to scream at the emptiness.

It would listen to me a hell of a lot better than she would, Flavia thought bitterly to herself,that's for damn sure.

The Terran President sighed, shaking her head...Jo would've had the words, would've been able to punch through Melinda's thick fucking skull...but, she wouldn't have needed to, she wouldn't have screwed up like Flavia had done over Tom Dooley twenty years ago.

Her granddaughter was right, she should've gone after Jo, Sarah and the others anyway, risked ship and crew like her wife would have to save people more dear to her than her own what if Jo had been just one person amongst billions in Terran Space, Jo had been the only one for her, and Sarah had been their granddaughter, for fuck's sake, and Flavia had just let them go, let those goddamn Mannie cocksuckers just....

The leaden sky above blurred and softened with the tears running down the Terran President's face as she looked up.

Times like this, she thought,I really, really miss you, babe.

Manna Bakeries, 68972 S. 320 Road
Wagoner, Free State Of Oklahoma, Earth, Republic Of Earth
March 23, 2276, 1110.06 MCT

Margery Fallon took the ground beef out of the replicator, browning it over the skillet, getting the block of cream cheese she'd replicated earlier ready to melt into the meat.

She preferred to use the bakery's replicator(and the one at the house)to create the raw ingredients, which she then cooked by hand...Rose was the same way, and the Thorne women were particularly picky about how they prepared manicotti, the secret of which having been handed down through generations of Throne women and their spouses.

Amanda was helping her, Lindy's wife lining the bottoms of a half dozen large baking pans with some of the croissant dough she'd replicated earlier, at the same time checking on the whole chickens roasting in one of the bakery's fifteen microwave ovens.

They were both worried about Lindy...she still wasn't back from Fort Gibson, even though Mom had gotten back almost an hour ago.

Maybe why Lindy's not gotten back yet, Margery thought, sighing, wishing for the millionth time her mother-in-law and her daughter would just bury the freakin' hatchet this once.

Out loud, she said,"she probably went riding on Gibson Lake, she usually does that when she's got a lot on her mind."

"I know," Amanda, finishing the last of the pans, replied with a sigh.

"I just worry," she added a few moments later,"is all."

"I know you do, hun," Margery replied, chunking the cream cheese into the ground beef, letting it melt, as she walked over to the replicator, loading the mod for shredded mozzarella cheese into its quantum isotope memory, programming its nanites to make enough for a dozen pans of manicotti...the manicotti was going to go fast, it always did, especially with everyone in Snug Harbor and Rocky Point coming to pay their respects, along with most of the rest of the Free State of Oklahoma, Earth and Terran Space as well.

The biggest seller on the menu for two hundred years, she remarked to herself, watching the replicator perform its magic, right down to making several large stainless steel bowls to hold the shredded cheese, Margery queuing several wheels of Manna Traditional Aged Cheddar to be replicated almost instantly after the mozzarella.

The extractor outside the bakery hummed slightly as it drew outside air to provide the replicator's nanites with additional mass to assemble...this was truly the age of magic

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