‘We’re about to dive,’ Jane warned. There were on final approach to their underwater base.
‘Home sweet home,’ Sue commented from Princess’s left. Buckled in, they hit the water at speed. Turning her grey orbs toward the Swan, she teased, ‘and I bet someone’s going to be waiting on the dock the moment the hangers dry.’
‘I don’t care if he is,’ Jen commented coming to stand before Princess’s station, ‘you’re going directly to sick bay. I want the doctors to look you over properly this time.’
Princess listened with fascination. Her eye’s darted between the commander and the main screen. The base, a double for Centre Neptune, opened its doors in welcome as the Phoenix prepared to sail inside.
‘This attack,’ Jen continued, ‘coming so close on the last, it’s as if Sparta knows we have an injured member. I don’t want to go out again until we’re at full strength.’
‘As if he’d let Sam go anywhere after this mission when he finds out what happened,’ Anne’s snide comment sounded so much like Jason, Princess lifted her head. Embarrassment coloured her cheeks as her teammates discussed her private life so openly. She still didn’t know the identity of the man she married. Yet Anne hadn’t finished. ‘Remember the way he acted the last time we came in with a wounded Swan.’
‘Talking of coming in,’ Jane offered, ‘we’ve berthed. Two minutes to dry dock.’
‘When he finds out you’ve been hurt again,’ shivering, Jen nodded, returning to the earlier conversation, ‘or worse still, hiding an injury, I don’t want to be in your shoes. The last time was bad enough.’
‘I have to admit,’ Jane chipped in, ‘your husband’s usually quiet but he can sure go up in flames where you’re concerned. You would have thought that gash on your leg equalled an amputation.’
'It put her in the infirmary for three days,’ Anne rebuked.
‘You only got out,’ Jen added, ‘because we needed you for little Spartan display.’
Glancing down at her leg, Princess detected a faint ache on her left thigh. However the hurt had been masked by her horrendous headache until Jane mentioned it. Now it began to throb in time to the blood pumping around her neural pathways.
‘I wish,’ Sue spoke wistfully, ‘I had the courage to go against the chief on my eighteenth birthday and marry the man of my dreams.’
‘At least,’ Jane powered down the Phoenix, ‘we now have access to male companionship.’
‘You mean,’ Anne sounded sour, ‘you do. I can’t believe you’re dating one of his squadron. The rest of those fly boys are just after one thing, and it has nothing to do with a ring on a girl’s finger.’
‘Maybe if you were a little less choosey,’ Sue laughed easily, ‘you’d be in the same situation as Sam.’
‘Speak of the Red Devil,’ Jen pointed out a lone figure entering the hanger now the last of the water had been pumped out.
‘Mark,’ Princess couldn’t help the breathless word escaping her lips. Blood rushed to her cheeks as she realised how it sounded. Striding towards the rear hatch, he stopped a short distance from the Phoenix.
Rolling her eyes, Anne commented, ‘happens every time. I can’t believe you still act this way after being married for two years.’
‘You girls coming out,’ his warm voice called, the hint of a smile covering Mark’s lips.
‘Can you stand on your own yet?’ Jen asked, concern lacing her green gaze.
Shaking her head proved to be a bad choice. Princess felt like she’d through up if she moved. The world wouldn’t stop spinning, movement making the sensation worse. At least the lancing sensation at her temple had become a dull thud.
‘Well,’ Jen returned to her station, ‘I’m not going to be responsible for the reaction.’ Pushing a button on her console, the commander’s voice echoed around the empty hanger. ‘Looks like you’re going to have to come in, Captain. We’ve got a wounded Swan on board who needs your special brand of attention.’
Fifteen seconds later, he appeared in the rear elevator. Red uniform pristine, Mark’s intense blue eyes had only one target. Unconcerned at the reaction from the women attempting to hid their amusement, he ignored them. Rushing over to her, he examined his wife before scooping her into his arms.
‘What happed, Princess,’ he cooed, moving towards the exit.
‘I don’t know,’ she offered, sudden tears clouding her green eyes. Not use to the close contact with her commander, she guiltily snuggled into his warm embrace.
How many times, she wondered, have I thought about this, dreamt the situation might allow us to develop more than a working relationship? It feels so real and yet, I expect to wake up tomorrow morning with nothing but a dream. It has to be a figment of my imagination.
‘Princess,’ Mark called in a calm tone. He felt anything but as he placed his wife on the examination table. She’d passed out on the way to sick bay. According to Jen, this hadn’t been an isolated event. Her body, unable to take the high G force required to escape their nemesis, elicited the same result.
‘You need to check my implant,’ she suggested, a hand going to her temple.
Taking a seat on the bed beside her, Mark placed one hand next to her raised head. The other reached out for her fingers, entwining them. Bring his body in close, his breath grazed Princess’s cheek.
‘Your implant’s not in your head,’ he offered.
‘Yes it is,’ she looked at him with amazement. Remembering this to be an alternative reality, a dream sequence, she used her free hand to point to her left temple. ‘The doctors placed here.’
‘When you had it placed,’ he argued, ‘I sat pretty much where I am now. I saw the doctor inject it into your arm.’
Gazing at him, Princess didn’t have the faintest clue what he meant. He had to be mistaken. Or this meant something entirely different, in which case it could hold a secret meaning. Still feeling dizzy and nauseous, she questioned silently.
‘Do you think it’s failed,’ he asked, a worried expression clouding his orbs.
‘From the symptoms,’ she swallowed hard, bile rising in her throat, ‘yes.’
‘We didn’t want this to happen yet,’ Mark couldn’t make up his mind if he felt happy or sad at the unexpected news. ‘I guess getting the doctors to take a test will tell us one way or another.’
‘Let me transmute,’ Princess offered.
‘Transmute?’ Jen’s voice alerted the young couple to the fact they weren’t alone. Worried about their teammate, the rest of the crew followed Sam into sick bay.
Bringing her hand up to her face, Princess muttered, ‘transmute.’ To her shock, nothing happened. ‘I told you the implant is malfunctioning.’
Mark and Ann spoke at the same time.
‘I though you meant…’ Mark trailed off as she finally understood his meaning. After all they’d been married for two years in this universe.
‘Where did you get that from,’ Anne snickered, pressing a hidden button in the middle of her chest. Shimmering, she came through the other side in a tunic dress. Jen, Jane and Sue affected their change just as quickly.
The doctor, having heard the commotion and receiving a report from the commander, chose that moment to ask, ‘so do you think your pregnant or not?’