The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
It took time for all the information brought back by the Saratoga to be
sifted through and verified. With Major McKendrick’s influence the
process moved more quickly than it would have, but for many it wasn’t
quick enough. The World Senate that had been wasting countless hours
arguing The Big Bang Theory versus, Chig ancestry on Earth, now had
something real to talk about.
The documents proved that Diane Hayden, Carleton Stryker and Aerotech
had been collaborating with the enemy. They were never able to prove
who had taken the lead, Stryker, Hayden or Aerotech, but the damage was
Howard Sewell’s widow brought forth information that her husband had
hidden away over the years. His secret collection of rumor and
innuendo, that he had chased down until he had a strikingly clear
picture of the real workings of The Company. It was the final nail in
Aerotech’s coffin. The mega corporation was taken over by the United
States government to be dismantled and broken up into many smaller
Sewell’s documents had detailed lists of elements found on both Tellus
and Vesta. It was theorized that the colonies were an attempt by
Aerotech to plant an Earth presents on those worlds as a prelude to a
declaration of ownership. This was supported by the find of a deposit
of Sewell Fuel in a vault in The Space Labs division of the underground
compound that was part of the huge Company.
Carleton Stryker and Diane Hayden were convicted of treason and
sentenced to death by lethal injection. Stryker was found beaten to
death in the prison laundry, bound and gagged, with a cigar burn on the
back of his neck, two days after sentencing. They were never able to
find out who killed the condemned man. There were a number of in-vitro
inmates in the prison, but after questioning them all, nothing was
gained. Carleton Stryker became another prison mystery.
When news of Stryker’s death reached the Saratoga Jenny Kirkwood
breathed a sigh of relief.
“Jen?” McQueen motioned her out of the rec room where they had just
heard the new. “It wasn’t me. As much as I would have liked it to be,
“I know what he did has been eating at you,” she smiled at him. “But
I’m so glad it wasn’t you.”
“The first few days after I heard I was angry enough for it to have
been,” he hated that the dark side of him was still so close to the
surface. “Ross was smart. He kept me busy and had all the out-goings
monitored closely under the guise of ‘protecting McKendrick's
information’. There was no way for me to get in touch with my contacts
A month later Diane Hayden went to her death insisting that she had
been manipulated by Stryker and was innocent of anything except loving
the wrong man. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The war continued on after the deaths of Hayden and Stryker. The Chigs
fighting with all they had to protect their sacred moon. The place
where life begins for them and where they go for renewal, never dying,
always being reborn.
The United Nations, now led by Secretary General Chaput, and his
pro-war activists pushed harder then ever to exploit the first chink
found in the enemy’s armor. Within months the war took on a life of
its own. It became death for death’s sake. The few that whispered
about genocide did so with fear, realizing that it could end that way
for either races.
The New Secretary General couldn’t fight the in-vitro issue any
longer. It became politically correct, almost trendy to be an
in-vitro. Areas that had been closed to that section of society
suddenly welcomed them with open arms. It was a confusing time that
created distrust from the group of people who could have most benefited
from it. Civil Rights workers took full advantage of the sudden shift
in thinking and did all they could to get protective laws passed.
Dr. Roger Abaan lived long enough to see his dream become a reality.
The United Nations outlawed the IVA. The use of artificial gestation
was strictly sanctioned and could only be used in conjunction with
assisted conception, in certified fertility clinics.
McQueen’s body responded to the stem cell therapy better than anyone
could have hoped for. He was recertified for full combat duty just
before Christmas 2064. Two days later he flew his last mission with the
Thirty-six hours after the Wildcards had left, Jenny wandered into
Sickbay, a cup of coffee in her hand. She had tried sleeping in the
quarters she shared with McQueen, but had only tossed and turned. She
had gone back to her own quarters, closed her eyes and tried to pretend
that he was just down the hall sleeping. It hadn’t worked.
She kept remembering dinner with Glen Ross that evening. Jenny had
been sitting in the Mess Hall, contemplating the food on her plate when
the Commodore joined her.
“You really should eat,” Ross pointed at her plate. “Starving
yourself, won’t bring him back any faster.”
“Glen, I don’t need taking care of,” she raised her left eyebrow and
gave him a pointed stare.
“I know that,” he smiled. “And so do you, but I promised McQueen. And
before you lose your temper, cut the man some slack. He’s new at this
caring business. It makes him feel vulnerable and I’ll lay odds he
hasn’t felt that way in about 18 years. You don’t look as if you’re
faring any better.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help being a bit surly.” Then let her mask slip,
it wasn’t worth the energy when he could see the fear that lay just
below the surface so easily. “Please don’t tell Ty I’ve been so
“He already knows,” the Commodore leaned back in his chair and took a
sip of coffee. “That’s one of the reasons I know he’ll be back.”
It was very late and she had expected to find Sickbay deserted.
Instead she found Chico Voss playing solitaire. “Chico, you all
right?” Voss usually didn’t spend after hours time in Sickbay unless
there was work to do.
“I’m doing about the same as you are,” he grunted as he looked at his
“Oh...Oh?” Jen had seen the other doctor with Maria Del Mar a few
times, but hadn’t thought anything of it. How could she have missed
it? She smiled as a simple answer came to mind: Ty. “Are you waiting
“Yes,” he nodded. “Now I know why you spend so much time down here.
They notify us first, if....when they get back.”
“Do you want me to leave you alone?” Jen began to back out of the
office they shared.
“No please, stay, it really helps to have someone who understands.”
Two hours later the Marine squadron returned, dirty, tired, and
victorious. Both doctors went their separate ways, each trying to look
as if they didn’t have a worry in the world and for a moment they
By the New Year, the Wildcards’ squadron was expanded to become a
Marine Flight Wing, with a permanent assignment on the Saratoga.
McQueen was promoted to full Colonel, his job become the Bridge
Tactical Officer and head of the newly formed group. To his disgust,
and Jenny’s relief, he never flew a mission again.
Vansen received a field promotion of Major, becoming Flight Officer
for the 58th Wing . The other members of the Wildcards were promoted to
Captain. West, Hawkes, Del Mar and Connelly each had a squad of highly
trained and experienced pilots. Damphousse acted as Wing Exec and
became Vansen’s wingman. The Wildcards grew into one of the most deadly
and sought after groups in the 5th Marines.
Lt. Com. Jennifer Kirkwood was promoted to full Commander and became
the Chief Medical Officer of the Saratoga. This kept her busier than
ever, with the added responsibility of running Sickbay, added to her
load of patient care.
With the advent of Jenny into his life, McQueen appeared to change for
a while. He became more open, more easily approachable. His promotion
brought an end to that. Where before he had to sweat it out when six
Hammerheads were on missions, now he was counting in 32 very special
ones and countless numbers of others. He became the Iceman again,
except in the presence of the original Wildcards. Even with them he
fought to keep his guard up where he could. It was only behind the
locked door of his quarters, with Jen, that he let himself go.
They were there for each other the night that Vanessa Damphousse’s
Hammerhead came in riddled with bullet holes. The young pilot covered
in blood, alive, though she had lost the sight in her left eye. Her
optic nerve, to that side, destroyed. Captain Damphousse was sent home
on the next hospital shuttle, with a medical discharge from the Marine
When Vanessa left Walter Reed Hospital, she took the first shuttle to
California to meet Patsy the woman she had heard so much about. Knowing
there she would find a connection to the group she felt lost from.
Catalina had the added benefit of Frank Savage’s proximity and his
knowledge of what was going on in the war. The young ex-Marine was
surprised to find she wasn’t the only person to be thinking along those
lines. Kylen Celina had been living with Patsy since her release from
the extensive debriefing sessions for POWs. Savage was gone most of
the time, often to places not even Patsy knew about. She was glad for
the company of the two young woman who shared the same ties she did.
The three woman spent the duration of the war living in the house on
Catalina. Kylen and Vanessa found bits and pieces of themselves that
had been lost in the last year. They listened to the ocean and walked
the beaches and trails of the Island, and felt themselves begin to
heal. When mail arrived or news of the war came on TV, other tasks were
forgotten. All three of them knew that a chunk of their hearts lived on
a space carrier far away.
With the loss of Damphousse, Jenny Kirkwood pulled away from all but
the core group of friends she had established. It seemed easier not to
care about people, than to lose them to death or damage that couldn’t be
repaired. It was only with Ty that she felt really free to be herself.
That winter the last big offensive of the war was fought. Allied
forces were making an all out push for the Chig moon. It was a bloody
fight, that the Chigs were determined not to lose. In their last ditch
efforts to save their race, they began flying death missions into the
the bridges of Earth Force ships. One such mission was flown against
Jenny was in Sickbay when the wounded from the Bridge began coming in.
Her heart stopped when she recognized the blood covered body of Pete
Chang, followed by an injured Commodore Ross. He was unconscious, his
right arm broken and body covered in metal splinters. The Medical Corps
struggled for hours trying to save the lives of men and women who Jen
knew usually worked along side of McQueen. She didn’t know which was
harder, the idea of seeing him on a stretcher or wondering where he was.
“Jenny,” Joan Brill stuck her head in the door of the operating room,
where the Doctor was doing an Open Reduction of the fracture to Ross’
arm. The nurse pointed to the window behind the anesthesia machine.
The fear on Jen’s face was replaced by relief when she saw a grim and
dirt covered Col. McQueen staring back at her from the sub-sterile next
door. He nodded his head at Jen, then went back to work in the Command
and Control, after whispering something in Brill’s ear.
That night McQueen and Jenny held on to each other tightly. The
Colonel had been briefing a group of Hammerhead pilots or he would have
been on the bridge. It had saved his life. For the first time he had
looked into the face of his own mortality and recognized it for what it
was. He didn’t like what he saw looking back at him.
“Jen, do you love me, really love me?” He asked with so much
desperation it took the woman in his arms by surprise.
“Of course I do!” She was afraid she knew what was coming next, he was
going to try and make her leave the Saratoga.
“Then marry me, now, tonight if possible,” McQueen had heard rumors
that the Chaplain was preforming marriage ceremonies on the sly. When
he had gone to sickbay to assure Jen he was all right, he had found the
older man comforting some of the wounded and had had a long talk with
“Ty, if we go to Ross, he’ll have to send one of us off the Saratoga, I
won’t do that.” Jenny had stood as witness for Maria Del Mar and Chico
Voss, when the Chaplain had married them in a very private ceremony,
less then a month ago. She had never told the Colonel about it, because
she didn’t want him to be in a position where he had to choose between
the rules of the Corps and caring about his friends.
“There’s a way around that, and knowing you like I do, I would bet you
know it too,” the slight flush that spread across her cheeks confirmed
“Jen, I could have been killed today. Ten minutes either way and I
would have been standing behind Pete Chang,” he whispered as he
remembered seeing the mangled body of the man he had worked along side
of for over a year. “If something were to happen to me I want you to
have the privileges and protection of being my wife.”
“Don’t say that, please,” she held onto him tighter then ever. Jenny
could here the words he wasn’t saying. As his lover she would be just
another woman who had slept with an in-vitro. As the widow of a much
decorated Marine Colonel, she would have the benefits of his rank and
name to protect her from racial slurs. It didn’t matter to her, but she
knew it did to him. “Nothing is going to happen to either of us.”
“You’re not answering my question,” he looked at her carefully needing
to know how she really felt.
That night they were married in the privacy of Joan Brill's quarters.
The nurse acted as witness as the Chaplain preformed the ceremony.
Everyone understood that it was to be kept a secret. Only the old
minister knew how many of those marriages he preformed. The computer
would send copies of the marriage certificates to Earth when the war was
Chaplain Baeslack had thought long and hard on his decision to go
against the regulations of the Navy. In the end the Chaplain decided
his first duty was to God, and secondly to the men and women on the
Saratoga. The Navy came in a distant third.
On August 12, 2065 a war weary group of peace negotiators met. The
group from Earth was lead by Cyril McKendrick. The Chigs were lead by a
small unassuming member of their race. The only one of them to have had
contact with Humans, in a non-combat situation. The Wildcards would
have recognized him as Pastie, the caretaker of the nursery on the Chig
moon. To his race he was known as The One Who Protects The All. A man
of great power and leadership.
Jenny and McQueen were home by December 15, 2065. They had planned to
leave immediately for an extended trip on the Windswept, but put it off
when Cooper Hawkes asked Shane Vansen to marry him. The couple had been
closer then any one realized in the last months of the war. Shane and
Coop had spent a lot of time with Maria and Chico, acting as cover for
the couple, it had worked as a cover for them as well.
On December 20, 2065 Shane and Coop were married in front of the
fireplace in Jenny’s living room. All the original Wildcards were
there. Maria and Vanessa were bridesmaids and Nathan best man. Jen and
Ty acted as parents to both the bride and groom. Shane was given away
by both her sisters. They said their vows to the sound of a roaring
fire in the fireplace and the rain pounding on the roof.
“That was a lovely wedding,” Jenny cuddled close to Ty.
“It took me by surprise,” he kissed her head as he pulled her close to
his side in the bed Jenny had slept in all her life. “You knew didn’t
“I’ve known how Coop felt for a long time, I just didn’t know the
feeling was returned.”
“I hope they’re going to be all right,” McQueen sighed at the
suddenness of it all.
“They will be, they had the best teachers in the Universe, Nathan and
“Yeah, you’re right,” he smiled remembering the photo tag that was so
much a part of the Wildcards they could have worn it as a patch. Nathan
had given it back to him the day the Saratoga picked the 58th up from
They stayed on Catalina until the day after Christmas, then boarded
the Windswept and weren’t seen again by anyone until June 2066. No one
had to ask why they went, one look into there eyes had told it all: too
much death; too much pain; and too much suffering. They cut their trip
shorter then they would have because Jenny had contracted a strange flu,
that made her unusually susceptible to sea sickness.
Her ‘flu’ was born on January 20, 2067. She was named Patricia Cassidy
McQueen. The child that neither parent had ever expected to have was
the final step in the healing that had started at Shane and Coop’s
wedding. It seemed the doctors had been wrong. It wasn’t that Tyrus
McQueen couldn’t have children, but given the damage inflicted to him by
AIs, the odds were about a million to one.
Ty and Lars began in earnest to make their dream of building racing
boats come true. It had caught the men by surprise when they discovered
Jenny had the business instincts of a shark. Patsy could have told
them, but no one bothered to ask her. It was Jen who had played the
stock market ever since her father died and turned the small inheritance
she had split with Patsy into substantial portfolios for both of them.
She could read a balance sheet and make sense out of tax laws with out
batting an eye. The men gave up with out a fight. They would build the
boats, Jen could run the business side.
Cooper Hawkes joined McQueen and Lars in their company, Shin-Ken
Boats. He discovered the joy of creating with his hands and found an
inner peace he never thought to obtain. As the three men built the
designs that McQueen and Lars drafted, they grew close. Jenny taught
Coop to sail and often it was McQueen and Hawkes who raced the Black
Gull, spreading the reputation of the company with each race they won.
The midnight hull became as much a signature of a Shin-Ken Boat as the
small sword on the bow under its name.
Nathan and Kylen were married on July 7, 2066. They had waited until
Jenny and Ty were back from their trip. The Wests settled in Ann Arbor,
Michigan where Nathan used the G.I. Bill to go to law school. He and
Mitch had planned for a long time to go into practice together.
That fall same Vanessa Damphousse joined Nathan at The University Of
Michigan to get her doctorate in engineering. Vanessa and Kylen had
become close friends during the time they had spent on Catalina and
remained so all their lives. A year later Mitch Connelly asked Vanessa
to marry him. They were married in small ceremony in upstate New York.
Maria and Chico Voss settled in Boston where he was on the staff of
Mass General Hospital. Maria loved the New England atmosphere that was
so different from the Texas ranch where she grew up. Her love for the
past and tradition was in it’s glory in one of the oldest cities of the
United States. She worked in an antique shop for a year then opened her
own shop, giving her better hours and the freedom to come and go as she
Shane Vansen became a civilian flight instructor at the newly opened El
Toro Marine Air base. The Corps had retained the name of the base that
had closed in the 1990’s, but moved it to a deserted corner of Camp
Pendelton. She commuted from Catalina where she and Coop lived. Shane
knew she would probably never be able to give up flying all together.
She had sailed as a child, but it couldn’t replace flying.
On March 15, 2070 in Auckland, the American Sword’s night black hull
edged out Team New Zealand by two boat lengths in the last round of the
America’s Cup, to bring the Cup home for the first time since the war.
The Shin-Ken built boat was captained by Stan Turek and Cooper Hawkes
was a member of the crew.
Jenny McQueen stood watching her husband as his eyes were trained on
the race and the boat he had designed and help to build. For a moment
she was taken back in time. McQueen had the same stance he had when he
had watched Hammers coming back to the Saratoga. A fighting look on his
face. Jen smiled to herself, loving the Warrior that was so much a part
of her him. Instead of fighting with guns and Hammerheads, his weapons
had become sheets of canvas, wood and fiberglass. Now days he pitted
his knowledge of the sea, the wind, and the tides, against other men’s,
in the the boats he sailed and those he created and built for others to
The people who had forged a life long friendship on the Saratoga met
once a year in the spring on Catalina. The group grew into a second
generation of Wildcards. Their parents insisting that they were the
Wildest Cards of all. Commodore Ross would join them if he was in Space
Port. The Saratoga had survived the War and he was on permanent
assignment along the DMZ that marked the buffer between Chigs and
On June 15, 2092 on a beautiful sunny day, Patricia Cassidy McQueen
married Paul Vansen Hawkes in Patsy’s rose garden on Catalina. Cassie
and Paul had grown up in each other’s back pocket, they were best
friends or worst enemies, depending on when in the last 25 years it
was. In the end the friendship won out. As Admiral Ross was fond of
telling them, just as he had told her father, ‘love is friendship set on
As McQueen walked his daughter down the path between the rose bushes,
he was amazed that the tiny baby that he had held in his arms such a
short time ago had turned into a lovely young woman. She was Jen with
his blue eyes. It would catch him by surprise when certain expressions
crossed her face or gestures that she used were so much her mother.
Where had the time gone? How could she have gone from a little girl
who had trouble walking without holding on to their hands to this lovely
young woman who was walking into a man’s arms. It seemed like only
yesterday that he and Jen had taught Cassie to dance, her little feet on
the toes of his shoes as her mother laughed and took pictures. All the
treasure hunts on the beach looking for shells and ocean smoothed rocks,
that Cass would examine carefully before putting in her orange sand
bucket. Her blond curly hair a mirror of Jen’s. Flip-flops and scuffed
sneakers had given way to sleek sandals and stylish high heels. She had
grown up, but no matter the changes, Catalina, sailing and her parents
had remained a constant.
After handing Cassie over to Paul, he took a seat in the front row
beside Jen. How had he gotten so lucky? The answer was sitting beside
him. He smiled at his wife as he handed her his handkerchief and put
his arm around her. For Ty, it all began to change when Jen came
“It’s all right, Ty, they really love each other, you know,” she
whispered to him, her gray eyes swimming with tears. “But I’m going to
miss her terribly.”
“I know,” he smiled into her face as he wiped away the tears. “If
they’re half as happy as we’ve been, they’ll be just fine.”
June 28, 2108 Catalina Island 2250 hours:
Jenny was tired and her back hurt. She turned off her computer and
pulled out the information crystal. She had been writing almost
constantly for the last nine months. With a sigh she knew it was
“You started this, Ty, but I’ve finally finished it,” Jen whispered to
the picture that was sitting beside her computer. “It’s all here for
Cassie to read. I can’t help wondering what you’d think. I know you
thought you were writing a war story when you started this, but even
what you’d written was so much more than that. I’ve turned my Warrior
into a romantic hero. Would you hate that, or did you realize that
there was so much more to you, even back then? Glen always used to say
War was the greatest romance of all because it brought out the best and
worst of mankind. It made people go to extraordinary length and do
unimaginable deeds. It did that for us. You in particular.”
The old woman climbed into the bed she had shared with her husband for
forty years, up until the day of his death the previous November. Jen
reached into her nightstand and pulled out the little book containing
the poem Sea Fever. It was the same book she had given Ty that first
Christmas they had spent together. When they were both with the Angry
Angels. She read the words she had written on the inside cover, the
night he died, November 22, 2107. The ink was smudged from the tears
she had cried as she had tried to figure out how she was going to go on
without her Warrior by her side:
The things you loved I have not laid away,
To molder in the darkness day after day.
They are all about me, intimate and dear.
I do not keep your chair a thing apart,
Lonely and empty, desolate to view.
But if one comes weary sick at heart
I sit him or her there and comfort him for you.
Perchance so much that now seems incomplete
Was left for me in my poor way to do.
And I shall love to tell you when we meet,
That I have done your errands, dear for you.
“I don’t think I’ll have much more time to wait?” She whispered as she
felt the odd beating in her chest, that was becoming more and more
painful in the last month.
“No, not much longer, Love,” a deep familiar voice answered in her
“Good,” she smiled as she closed her eyes, and caught the scent of
Hammerhead fuel and sandalwood aftershave. The book slipped from her
hand and the light beside her bed glinted off her bracelet one last
When she looked around again, Ty was standing beside her, young and
strong as he had been on the day they were married in Joan Brill’s cabin
on the Saratoga. “Take my hand, Jen.”
“I’ve missed you, Love,” as she gripped his hand she felt young again.
“I’ve been right here with you all the time,” he smiled as they walked
away from the body of the old woman in the bed. “Remember not even
death can defeat an Angry Angel.”
“I know, but It’s been hard, I’ve been like a bird with only one wing
since you’ve been gone.”
“It’s been the same for me, Love, but now we can soar again, together,”
Tyrus McQueen held tightly to her hand and they walked out the door into
a world filled with stars that seemed to go on Forever, because it did.
*Shin-ken is a Japanese word that means "real sword." When used in its
metaphorical sense, it means utmost earnestness. To have an attitude
proper to a real sword means to be deadly serious.*
Taken from The Book
Of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, translation by Thomas Cleary.
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