It was early morning, and the Silvana was heading to a docking station near the town Claus, and the others lived in. Mullin, and Dunya were getting married in a week, they had invited the entire crew. Though many had decided to stay on the ship, Ressius in particular seemed to enjoy the prospect of getting a break from the overly enthusiastic Dio for a few days. Later that day those who were leaving planed to meet Vincent at the dock, and take a passenger vanship to Duke Mad-Thane’s Manner where they would be staying. They were leaving early because there was going to be a meeting about recent developments involving Exile, it was possible Mars, and Venus had finally taken notice of the ship that spent much of its time in orbit around the planet. This was the only reason Alex was going to the wedding at all.
At the moment Sophia was in the bathroom examining herself in the mirror. She’d woken this morning with a lot more around the middle than she had gone to bed with. “Isn’t this supposed to happen gradually?” She thought to herself looking down at her swelling stomach. “Where were you yesterday?” She asked quietly.
“Where was who?...Oh..” Alex standing in the door way looking sleepy and disheveled, grinned and walked over wrapping his arms around Sophia. He placed his hand over her stomach “I suppose it’s still too small for kicking yet, isn’t it?” He kissed her temple. “You look like you’re feeling better. I was worried you were in here being sick again.”
Sophia smiling, cuddled against him. “I’m fine, tired, but fine.” He had been, for lack of a better word doting on her since she had admitted she was pregnant. Sophia didn’t think he would ever realize how happy his excitement about the baby made her. She remembered how frightened she had been, in the beginning when she first realized what was wrong with her. She had been conflicted about telling him, terrified of his reaction. They had never even discussed children, they lived on a battle ship. What kind of life was that for a child? It just wasn’t possible. Not knowing what to do she had kept it secret for about a week, but everyone had noticed she was acting strange. Being snappish, not eating, or sleeping enough. During that time it seemed almost as if she and Alex had switched rolls. He being patient, and calm even at the worst of her outburst, looking after her as she had always done for him. She should have realized then that he already knew, and was just waiting for her to tell him. It had been a particularly bad day that had brought everything out in the open.
She and Alex, after spending the morning arguing over something she couldn’t remember, but knew was silly had just gotten to bridge as they were preparing to confront a band of pirates. They were both still standing when a shot fired from an aircraft carrier down on the ocean made a direct hit just below the bridge. They were both thrown off balance, but Alex caught her taking the brunt of the fall himself, and keeping her from getting hurt. Her hair clip, and glasses were lost however, causing her now somewhat tangled hair fell into her face. All she could think about was what might have happened to the baby if Alex hadn’t caught her. It was the first time she realized that she really wanted to have the child.
The next thing she knew the battle was over, the enemies not killed fleeing. Alex still holding her on the floor of the bridge looked slightly panicked as he tried to get through to her. “Sophia? Sophia! Are you hurt?” Looking up to see the entire bridge crew staring at her with looks of anxiety, she got up and fled without a word.
It was a bit latter that Alex walked into her room, her hair clip, and glasses in hand. Crying she glared up at him. “Don’t you say a damn thing about my hair!” He said nothing at all, only picked up her brush, and a hair tie he gently ran the brush through her hair. “I used to do this for Lavie, when Justina was too busy. She probably doesn’t remember. She used to complain about me catching her ears all the time.” Setting the brush down her braided her hair. After he had finished, he knelt down beside her wincing slightly as he did so. And grabbed her chin so she would look at him. “You’re sure?” Not needing anything more than that, she nodded feeling the tears steam down her face. He reached up and wiped them away. “How long?”
“About two months.” She whispered back. He smiled at her, and standing up took her hands and pulled her out of the chair.
“What are we doing?” She asked confused as he pulled her to her bed.
He sat on the bed pulling her down with him and wrapped his arms around her. “You look like you need a nap.”
Sophia moved so she could face him. “Alex, you do realize what’s going on don’t you? How in the world are we going t..”
He cut her off with a kiss before getting up and walking over to her desk. He opened the message tube sighing as he did so. “Sybil, I need you in Sophia’s quarters, now.” He sat back waiting glaring at the message tube. It was only a few moments before the response came. It was the voice of an older, and rather aggravated sounding woman. “What the hell did you do now?” Sybil was the Silvana’s chief medical officer. She and Alex had developed a rather turbulent relationship over the years, but she was like everyone else on board the best at what she did. Despite wanting to strangle the woman at times, Alex was not about to risk losing her talent.
“Just get over here.” Alex said nearly growling. If he glared at the message tube any longer, it would probably start to melt. Closing the tube and sighing again he got up and joined Sophia on the bed again. Sophia leaned against him, and neither spoke while they waited for Sybil.
When Sybil arrived a heavy looking medical bag in hand, she took one look at Sophia and glared venomously at Alex. “I see, So what exactly are you planing to do about this?” The look she was still giving left the impression that a wrong answer might be painful.
Sophia blinked at her. “But...How did you?”
Sybil sighed at Sophia. “I have fifteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. You pick things up after a while. Why didn’t you come see me?” She asked walking over and taking one of Sophia’s hands. “This is going to sting, I need a blood sample.”
Sophia looked down at her lap, and winced at the painful prick to her finger. There were too many answers to that question, but none of them sounded right. “Fia? Are you all right?” She bit her lip at Alex’s question but found herself smiling a bit. Even as a child she had always been Sophia to anyone who used her name instead of her titles, though she could remember being called Sophie by her mother when she was very small. Alex was the only one who called her Fia. She looked up at him still biting her lip. He watched her for a few moments before smiling. “We need to start thinking of names don’t we?” Crying again she pressed her self against him, and he wrapped his arms around her rubbing her back soothingly.
He turned to Sybil. “What are you going to need?”
Applying the tiny blood sample to a strange looking little device she ignored Alex for a few moments. “Well everything looks fine so far. I want to see you for a proper check up later. I’ll have a list of supplies and equipment ready before we dock again.” She finally replied. “You.” She said glaring at Alex again as she gathered her things turned toward the door. “Need to put a ring on her finger before anyone else finds out about this.”
Alex glared back. “That is between Sophia, and myself, and not any of your business.”
They had stayed up much later than they should have that night, discussing, planning. By the next morning a baby didn’t seem impossible at all.
Sophia tilted her head back smiling brightly at Alex. “I’m going to have to find something else to wear.”
Dunya sighed finally turning from the breakfast dishes to face to Ingrid. “Inga, they won’t be here until at least this after noon, if not later. Anyway, you’re scared of Alex. You never speak to him when we visit the Silvana. Why are you so anxious about this anyway?”
Ingrid stamped her foot. “What did Mr. Captain Alex have to do with this?” She thought frowning. “Lavie said Miss Sophie has a baby! I want to see the baby.”
“Is that it?” Dunya asked smiling as she wiped her hands on a towel before kneeling down so she was face to face with her sister. “Inga, Sophia hasn’t had the baby yet. It’s like when Mrs. Letton, had little Will remember? You probably won’t even be able to tell she’s going to have a baby yet.”
Ingrid looked distressed. “You mean it’s like that every time?!”
Dunya nodded. “That’s how it works.”
“But that will take forever!... If you and Mullin have a baby it will take a long time too?” Ingrid asked frowning.
Dunya smiled blushing a bit at the thought of having a baby with Mullin. “Yep, and I’ll get all fat around the middle, and probably just as grouchy as Mrs. Letton did.”
Ingrid continued frowning thoughtfully before looking at her sister again. “What does Mr. Captain Alex have to with any of this anyway? I thought this was Miss Sophie’s baby.”
Dunya gulped, she knew this would come sooner or later. She really wished it hadn’t been right after breakfast. “Er....Well,... You see...”
At the Mad-Thane residence Mullin, Lavie, and Alister were moving supplies into the dinning hall to get ready for the wedding and reception.
Mullin was thanking Lady Mad-Thane for what had to be the hundredth time. The Mad-Thanes had been happy to offer their home to Mullin and Dunya for the wedding. The young couple was grateful, as even with the farm doing so well finding places to hold everything was still well above the means of two orphaned, former musketeers.
Elizabeth only smiled in return. Lavie, and Alister were certain by this point that she was the most patient person on the planet. Lavie rolled her eyes. “Mullin. She knows already, and we could use a little more help here.”
“Uh..Right sorry.” Mullin rushed over picking up one of the heavier boxes. “Sorry...It’s just I never thought we’d actually get to this point. I mean even just a month ago everything seemed to be going wrong...” He sighed thinking of responses he’d gotten from sending invitations to his relatives. He had an uncle who considered him a traitor, for choosing to marry Dunya. At least Dunya’s family had been much more receptive. He smiled a bit at the sympathetic looks the girls gave him. “Some times I wonder what Mom, and Dad would think if they were still around.”
“Well... I think if they would be happy for you.” Lavie said after thinking for a bit.
“Yeah, Dunya’s family is coming anyway, and a lot of the people we fought beside during the war... And the people from the Silvana...” Mullin paused for a few moments. “So we’ll have either a celebration of the countries of Prester uniting,...Or the biggest fist fight ever..”
“I for one hope for the celebration, And I was quite honored to be invited.” They turned to see Nestor, and David walk in.
Mullin bowed slightly in greeting. “We’re honored to have you come, Sir.”
Elizabeth walked over to her husband smiling. “I think it’s wonderful that so many people are coming together for this. Maybe we can convince certain people that weddings aren’t nearly as bad as they think.”
Lavie, and Alister knowing she was talking about Alex, and Sophia both snickered. “Don’t count on it.” Lavie said grinning. “From what Dio said in his letters if you mention a wedding ceremony to them at all they both get a look on their face like someone is scratching their nails on a black board.”
Alis nodded, rolling her eyes. “It’s all paper work with them. At least they bought rings.”
“Alex is going to be a dad...It’s just so weird.” Lavie said thoughtfully. She turned to Mullin grinning. “So how long before you and Dunya have kids?”
Mullin’s face when red. “Er...uh..Ah! Speaking of kids..How are Al’s navi lessons going?” he said hoping to change the subject.
Lavie was still grinning but decided not to embarrass him anymore. “She’s doing really well. She wanted to show Dio and the others how good she’s gotten. That’s why she’s with Claus waiting at the docking station, to escort them back.” Lavie smiled unable to keep the pride she felt for Alvis out of her voice. “She was so excited when Claus and I told her she could go with him.”
Mullin ginned mischievously. “You know you sound almost like a mom yourself.” He teased making Lavie blush.
Alex and Sophia walked onto the bridge. Sophia had put her hair up and had her glasses on, but was wearing a long dress instead of her uniform. Wina turned around and immediately bit her knuckles trying to keep from squealing in excitement.
There was no discussion as Sophia sat in the captain’s chair, Wina walking over to speak quietly with her. Alex went Sophia’s usual spot. “How far are we from the docking station?”
“We’ll be docking within the hour, Sir.” Campbell answered. “We’ve received a message that the Horatius is already there.”
Alex nodded picking up the intercom speaker. “This is the captain speaking. We will be docking withing the hour. All crew members leaving the ship should be prepared when we arrive....In addition, for reasons beyond her control the First Officer will be out of uniform for a while. I fully expect all of you to act as if she is not.” Alex remained standing beside the chair ignoring Sophia’s muffled laughter.
Dio was in the quarters he shared with Lucciola finishing his packing. The Guild clothes he and Lucciola wore didn’t require frequent changing as they were designed to keep the wearer not only comfortable, and protected, but clean as well. This was the reason Dio was rather enthusiastically packing things he thought other people might need while they were gone. He sighed as Aphid poked her head out of the suitcase, mewing curiously at him. “I’m sorry Aphid. I know you want to go, but someone has to stay here and keep Ressius company.” Setting what he was carrying down he picked up the little cat hugging her.
This was when the announcement came over the intercom. Hearing the last part he grinned and dashed out of the room with Aphid still in his arms before Lucciola could stop him. “Dio! Wait, you know the captain doesn’t like having Aphid on the bridge!” He called chasing after his friend. Ressius listening from his room sighed. He was very fond of both the boys, but having someone as energetic as Dio around could be quite trying at times. He wondering what things would be like with a real child on board again.
Vincent was waiting with Claus, and Alvis enjoying a small lunch and coffee. “It sounds like your doing really well. I’m glad to hear that. I doubt Alex will say anything, but he’s been kind of worried about you guys with the vanship thefts going on.”
Claus nodded. “The thieves have mostly hit public garages, but we’ve been keeping everything locked up the best we can. We even got some guard dogs. Most people think it’s the pirates, but Dio said there haven’t been any in pirate attacks yet. So many have been taken, you would think they’d be using them by now.”
“Alex thinks it has something to do with Mars and Venus.” Vincent said nodding in agreement with Claus. “I really can’t get into it here, but a lot of things have been going on above the atmosphere. It may have finally gotten their attention.” Blinking he looked at Alvis. “Have you...er..heard anything from Exile?”
Alvis frowned thoughtfully. “She’s hard to understand sometimes. I think she’s trying to find the other Exile ships. But something keeps blocking the signal she’s sending out, and there are a lot of them. So now she’s trying to find them all and get rid of them so she can send out the signal. I told Duke Mad-Thane everything I could, I hope it helps.”
Vincent Smiled. “I’m sure it will. I hate to drag you into all of this but we may need your help to find out what’s going on.”
Alvis smiled back shaking her head. “It’s ok. I want to help.... I just don’t understand why they have to be so sneaky.” She said pouting.
“It probably has something to with them feeling superior to Earth for such a long time. Now they suddenly have something to be afraid of.” They turned to see Alex walking toward them leaning heavily on his crutch. Sophia walking beside him smiled and waved.
Alvis jumped up and rushed over hugging Sophia. Vincent grinned joining them, followed by Claus. “Look at you! So this is what happens when I leave you two without proper supervision for so long.” Sophia smiled hugging him. “You look wonderful Sophia. How are you feeling?” he asked as they returned to the table.
“I’m fine. The nausea has been gone for a few days, but I’m still tired, and of course Alex has been completely spoiling me.” She said smiling at him.
Vincent raised an eyebrow at Alex. “Spoiling her? What exactly have you been doing?”
Alex just glared at him before pulling out a chair for Sophia, and sitting himself. “I’m surprised you’re here instead of Lavie, Alvis. I suppose your lessons are going well?” He said to change the subject.
The girl nodded excitedly. “I’ve been helping Claus, and Tatiana deliver things sometimes. This is the farthest from home I’ve ever been without Lavie, or Alister though.”
“Where is everyone else?” Claus asked looking around.
“They’re loading the luggage onto the passenger ship where taking.” Alex answered glaring over at Vincent who was grinning about the whispered conversation he was having with Sophia. Seeing it was doing nothing to deter the man he turned back to Claus. “I thought Dio would come with us to look for you, but he stayed to ‘supervise.’ I hate to think what he has packed in that suitcase. Godwin had trouble lifting it.”
As if saying his name had summoned him Dio appeared followed by Lucciola, and draped himself over Claus who jumped. “Hello Immelman! Everything is ready to go! Oh! Hello Alvis, it’s nice to see you here!”
The others stood following Dio who was chatting animatedly with Alvis. Alex sighed. “This is going to be a long flight.” He looked at Sophia offering her his free arm. “Will you be all right?”
She smiled, leaning her head against his shoulder for a moment. “I’ll be fine, you’re worrying too much. The way I’m feeling now I’ll probably sleep the whole way.”