With This Station-Ring

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(By Rob Kelk with scenes by Cobalt Greywalker and kibitzing from the Fenspace Collective; posted 10 January - 12 April 2009)

Infirmary office
11:52 GMT 20 February 2014

"You're WHAT???"

Leda smiled. "We have been having sex every night for the last five weeks, Noah."

"Every night since Boskone Prime fell, yes. But you're on the Pill."

A.C. put her datapadd onto the nurse's desk. "It seems Leda's biomod interfered with the artificial hormones. She was taking the Pill, but she wasn't protected."

Noah took a deep breath, then released it five seconds later. "Well. Outside of the three of us, who knows?"

"Nobody." A.C. looked slightly cross. "I treat doctor/patient confidentiality very seriously. You know that, Noah."

"I also know that everybody in your crew knew my medical history right after the Crystal Paris incident."

A.C. blushed. "Well, we are all pretty close to being an extended family."

"And that's the only reason I didn't yell at you when I found out." Noah grinned for a moment. Then he continued, completely seriously. "Please don't tell anybody else. Anybody. If Andy or Greenpeace or Kohran or anyone else were to tell Sora that Leda and I have been sharing a bed, she might not take it well."

"You think our oldest daughter has a 'father complex'?"

"No, I think she's still loyal to Yoriko."

Nobody said anything for a moment.

Finally, Noah turned to Leda. "The two of us have a decision to make. Well, you have a decision to make, but I'm involved ..."

Leda kissed Noah to shut him up. "We may not have planned for this yet, but that doesn't matter. I'm not getting an abortion. Unless A.C. tells me carrying the baby to term would put my or its life at risk."

"It won't," A.C. offered, "unless something goes drastically wrong in the next eight months. And the baby's a 'she', not an 'it'."

"A girl?" Noah sighed happily. "Story of my life. Well, I'm not going to let my daughter grow up without a father, if I can help it."

A.C. grinned. "As far as I can see, you've got one option left. When's the ceremony?"

Engineering laboratory
19:33 GMT 23 February 2014

"Noah, exactly what are you doing?"

"Planning for our daughter's future. What does it look like I'm doing?"

"Getting ready to build another android. Couldn't you just hire a nanny?"

Noah shook his head. "We'll have no problem finding a nanny. I'd bet Greenpeace would love the job, and if she wouldn't, there's hundreds of people Up who know just how precious children are, now. No, this is our daughter's tutor."

"And why does she need a tutor?"

"Do you see any schools around here, not counting the ones on Earth? Tell you what: if a school opens up before she's ready to attend it, I'll suggest to ... whoever this is going to be ... that she apply to the teaching staff. Otherwise, she'll have a job here."

Leda thought for a moment. "I guess that'll work. But why start building her now?"

"It takes a while for one of my androids to wake up for the first time. I want to make sure she's ready before she's needed."

"Oh. Okay. Now for the important question: who is she?"

Noah frowned. "That's the tricky part. Most of the fictional meganekko teachers I know of are nymphomaniacs; having somebody like Mitsuka Yoshimine or Saori Shikijo on staff would be a distraction for whoever they were sleeping with and bad for the morale of whoever they weren't. Mizuho Kazami might be good, but she's a high-school teacher; I'd rather somebody who has experience with all grades and subjects."

"Somebody who's a substitute teacher, then?"

"Yes, exactly. But who ... Oh, of course! And I hear The Jason and some of the Supers are playing with simulating some metahuman powers with Trekkie holotech. I think we can make this work ... but our budget for paper is going to go through the roof."

Habitat Module #1
Old Ring, Stellvia
7:26 GMT 1 March 2014

"You asked WHO???"

"And why shouldn't I ask her? She's our friend."

"It's her other friends that I don't want to see ever again. And you know they'll come with her; the five of them are inseperable."

"Noah, it's long past time you made peace with them."

"But ..."

"She's already accepted, and Judy's already tailored her bridesmaid dress."

"But ..."

"You're rich enough that you can buy me almost anything I want, so the material things you give me don't matter as much as the favours. Give me this as a wedding present, please."

"But ..."

Leda scowled. "No more 'buts'! Noah Scott Anderson, you will let Mikuru Asahina be one of my bridesmaids."

"This is so important to you that you'd use my old 'daneside name?" She nodded, and he sighed. "All right, Leda Sosipatra Swansen. Mikuru can be in the wedding party. But in return, please never use my full name in public. Let everyone keep thinking 'Scott' is my family name."

"As long as you don't call me 'Sosipatra' in public, either."

"Deal." They kissed, quickly.

Leda frowned for a moment. "Since you mentioned 'daneside ..."

"I've already made the arrangements. Your parents, your sisters, my father, my brother and his family should be on their way to Sydney even as I speak. They've got non-bumpable tickets on the next flight of the Ad Astra, so they should be here two days before the wedding."

Leda grinned, and they kissed again. Not quickly ...

Judy's Tailoring Shop
Main Concourse, Stellvia
10:17 GMT 3 March 2014

Noah blinked. Twice. Then let out an impressed whistle.

"Now I see why you asked me along," Leda said. "Couldn't you..." She trailed off at A.C.'s look, and her brain pulled up A.C.'s biomod quirks. "Right."

"All in all," A.C. said as she twisted to check the fit, "this didn't turn out too badly."

"You look like the dealer for a high stakes poker game at a six-star casino." Noah told her. "How do you pull off the distractingly-sexy-but-formal look in the tux?"

"It's a knack." A.C. shrugged (distractingly, of course). She turned to the bride. "So. How much do I have to change? Don't want to overshadow the bride after all."

"Um..." Leda looked her up and down, considering. "Let me get back to you."

One quick change later, the three of them returned to the Old Ring.

"Guest list?" A.C. asked.

"Sorted. Finally." Leda sighed. "Although I'd prefer something better than A.C. Peters to put on there."

A.C. rolled her eyes in amusement. "What is it with you Senshi and trying to find out what the initials mean?"

"Before or after the accident?" Noah asked.

"Uh..." Leda trailed off.

"Great, you broke her, Noah." A.C. mock-huffed. "She wasn't paid for yet."

"Hey, you're the genius." Noah playfully whined. "You fix her."

"Well, I'd need an old telephone, a desktop calculator, a roll of duct tape, and some blueberry chewing gum."

Noah reached into his jacket pocket. "Here's the gum..."

"Hey!" Leda complained, to matching sniggers.

"Oh, by the way, I've brought a little something to help with your latest girl," A.C. told Noah.

"Really?" Noah looked guarded.

"People talk." A.C. ignored the look. "Anyway, you mentioned once that you wondered what it was like to be an android. It stuck in my head." Here both Noah and Leda snorted. "As an idle hobby I designed a tele-presence model that you could use, and great minds think alike for the appearance. I never built it, but I did have a go at replicating her abilities. And I figured, why carry around all that paper if you could make it? So I put together a bucky-paper synthesiser and some specialised spinnerets. Figure they might come in handy. If nothing else it'll keep your paper costs down."

The Roadhouse
11:03 GMT 7 March 2014

"They haven't called yet."

"They just announced the wedding yesterday, Blackstone. Give them time."

"All right, Buckaroo. But if they don't call, we'll still show up before the ceremony with our gear, ready for soundcheck."

Just then, Nezumi poked her head into Blackstone's office. "Noah's on the phone - he wants to hire the Hong Kong Cavaliers for the 15th. He also wants to know if we know And I Love Her."

Blackstone grinned. "It's about time he called," he commented playfully. Then he added seriously, "And it's nice of him to tell us which song we have to rehearse until we've got it perfect."

Grover's Corners, Lagrange Point 3
13:00 GMT 7 March 2014

"Noah, it's Bob. Congratulations! Got a hall yet?"

somewhere in the shadows
01:28 GMT 8 March 2014

"They dare think they can be happy? After what they did to me? Well, I know what buttons to push in his psyche, at least!" A button was pushed. "Get me Clay. Now."

14:36 GMT 8 March 2014

"Yes, of course we can supply whatever flowers you want."

Normally, the Jason didn't like being disturbed while he was preparing a new experiment. But he was happy to take this call.

"All five of the Heart roses? That'll be a beautiful bouquet, Leda."

He motioned to Iris, then stopped when he saw she was already taking notes.

"And Noah wants something edible for the centerpieces, that are safe for 'danes to eat? I can supply nasturtiums, violets, plum and apple blossoms, and un-'waved roses. ... All of them? Certainly."

He waited for the next question, then smiled as he replied. "No charge. This is my wedding gift to the two of you."

Office of the Consul to Fenspace
Canberra, Australia
23:58 GMT (08:58 local time) 8 March 2014

"Certainly, I'll expedite the paperwork for you, Mr. Scott. I like you; you've never called me 'Sheila'." Constance Walker smiled at the image of Noah Scott on her videophone. "Let's see... enough steak and shrimp to feed fifty people, plus the finest vintages that Penfolds Grange has available at the moment. Are you sure you'll be all right with Australian table wines?"

Noah grinned back. "Good point. You'd better send up a case of sparkling grape juice for the children."

"I was thinking of the Monty Python fans."

"Like I said, 'for the children'. There's a lot of grown-up children Up here."

They both grinned at that.

Interwave public noticeboard
00:00 GMT 10 March 2014

"Anyone, and I mean anyone who wants to send gifts to the happy couple, yet isn't able to make it for some reason or another, and is verifiably NOT a Boskonian: Jupiter Mining Corporation is going to do a special run, pro bono, of anything to be delivered. Just make sure the package gets to our nominal headquarters at Serenity Valley before Starbug 1 has to depart Saturday morning, and it will be handled.

"- Jeph Antilles"

somewhere in the shadows
19:55 GMT 12 March 2014

"It's ready."

"Good. Get it to Stellvia for the day after tomorrow."

Private Reception Lounge
Dock 2, Stellvia
13:00 GMT 13 March 2014

"Glad you could make it, dad." Noah shook his father's hand, then turned to his brother. "And Gerald - you're looking better than you did when I left."

"Getting out of the rat-race helped a lot there, Noah. You should try it sometime."

Noah grinned. "Wish I had the time. This is my wife-to-be, Leda."

"Charmed to make the acquaintance of such a beautiful young lady," the elder Anderson said while reaching to take her hand.

Leda quickly moved her hands behind her back. "I appreciate the gesture, Mr. Anderson, but my biomod makes holding hands dangerous."

Gerald raised an eyebrow. "Biomod?"

"A long story... and it's not illegal up here."

"Ah." The eyebrow came back down after Noah nodded in confirmation.

Leda didn't notice. "Gerald, does anybody call you -"

He cut her off quickly. "No, Ms. Swansen. Nobody gets to call me 'Gerry Anderson'. Not even Noah. And don't use my initials, either."

"Oh. Why shouldn't I use your initials?"

Noah pulled her aside and whispered in her ear. "Gerald's middle name is Thaddeus. And he's about as 'dane as they come."

Leda grimaced, then composed herself and went back to the Anderson family. "So, how was the trip?"

"Long," replied Gerald. "And I'd like to check in and relax. You did find us a room, didn't you, Noah?"

"Considering I own a hotel, it wasn't difficult. You, Stacey, and the kids are in a suite; Ms. Fujisawa will help you find the front desk." At this, Yayoi stepped forward and guided most of Noah's relatives toward the hotel. "And you've got your own room, dad."

"Thanks, son. Sorry about Gerald, Ms. Swansen. He's not usually like this."

"Please, call me Leda. And I understand completely."

He smiled at that. "Now, if you'll excuse us, I need to talk with my son about something he's been avoiding for the last five years."

"I knew this was coming... Leda, please apologize to your family and tell them I'll meet them at dinner this evening. I'm going to take dad to the hotel." She nodded, and the two men left the reception lounge.

"Yes, you should know this was coming. Every time I've asked, you've had to take another call or deal with an emergency."

"We were practically at war last year, dad. I couldn't ignore that."

"How many lives did you save by being too busy to talk to me?"

"Dozens. Maybe hundreds."

"That's all right, then. But now you can't hang up on me. Did you ever find the Harrison's daughter, the one who disappeared on Luna back in 2009?"

Noah sighed. "Yeah, dad, I found Kelly. She doesn't want to go back home or call her family, and I agree with her reasons why."

"She's still alive?"

"Alive and enjoying her work, the last time I saw her. And here we are at the Hotel Stellvia. Let's get you checked in..." Noah glanced at the crowd at the reception desk, then continued. "Better yet, I'll check you in myself."

"Yeah, that's probably a good idea. I don't want to wait in line for too long."

"Your leg's bothering you again?"

"Hey, I'm alive. But I would've liked to meet that cute bunny-girl behind the counter. Or at least read her name tag."

"The bunny-girl?" asked Noah, secretly happy his father couldn't read her nametag from where they were. "You don't mind she's got a biomod?"

"Your bride has a biomod, Noah. I'm going to have to get used to it. Besides..."

After a moment of typing on his PDA, Noah asked, "'Besides'?"

"Well, it might just be a vacation romance, but my grandson seems quite taken by Leda's sister Minerva. And vice-versa. Gerald might have to learn to like Fen, not just tolerate you."

"Charles and Minerva? One of them would have to move, considering the families live on opposite sides of the States."

"Charles withdrew his application to Yale and applied to UCSD while we were in Kandor City."

"Wow. I really hope this works out for both of them." Noah walked over to the front desk, grabbed a plastic card, and walked back to his father. "Here's your room key, dad. See you at six for dinner?"

"I wouldn't miss it, son."

Storeroom #23
Wonderland 17:11 GMT 13 March 2014

The happy couple and two of their closest friends were looking at the Roughriders' wedding gift - a new matched pair of 'waved ion engines - which has just arrived.

"Great. What are we going to do with these?"

Leda looked puzzled. "Is there some reason we can't install them in the Epsilon Blade?"

"Yes," replied Yayoi, Kohran, and Noah simultaneously.

After a moment, Leda asked, "And the reason is...?"

All three sighed. "Leda, can you keep a secret?"

"Of course I can, Noah."

"So can we," Kohran replied.

"You're not going to tell me?"

"We can't tell you. I'm sorry." Yayoi actually bowed to Leda.

"All right. I won't pry. For now."

Noah sighed with relief. "Thank you, darling. So, what are we going to do with these?"

After a moment, Leda said, "Our little girl's going to need a ship of her own, eventually."

"There's a thought. And we can use the ship here until she's old enough to pilot it herself. It'll need a name, of course. Let's see... delta, epsilon, zeta..."

"Delta, epsilon, digamma, zeta. Just because almost nobody uses the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet doesn't mean it doesn't exist."

Kohran grinned. "And of course you know the Greek alphabet better than we do, Leda. What's the second word in the ship's name? There's no pattern there: Delta Flyer, Epsilon Blade, Digamma... Function?"

"That's a bit odd, even for Fen," Yayoi complained. "Digamma Harmonic?"

"There's no guarantee our daughter's going to be a math geek, ladies. Hmmmmm... Digamma Village?" Everyone looked at Noah. "Well, it is number six..."

"Shut up, darling," Leda interrupted sweetly. "Digamma Darter?"

"You'd give our daughter something with the initials DD?" Noah asked. "Especially if she takes after you, physically?"

Leda grimaced. "Right. Bad idea."

Yayoi smiled. "Digamma Thunderbolt, perhaps? That recalls the speed of the flyer and the force of the blade, and it invokes nature like the Magnificent Midnight does."

The others looked at each other and smiled. "We have a winner," Noah agreed. "So, what else are we building into the Digamma Thunderbolt?"

Office of the Commander
Old Ring, Stellvia
12:45 GMT 13 March 2014

"What do you mean, you're in deep kimchee?" Noah was not happy about the call he'd just received from Mal.

"Fine, fine. I know you can't argue with a Congressional supoena.

"Now wait just a minute. Sora isn't a US citizen. She never was. You'd better check with Consul Walker about the legality of Congress summoning an Australian citizen.

"She already has the extradition request? Damn. Maybe I can get her to stall...

"Oh. Yeah, Sora's a good girl that way. Do I need to find somebody to take your places in the wedding party?

"Thank Belldandy for small favours. You need a lawyer?

"I know Cal's a lawyer. I'll bet Cal's been summoned too, and he's good enough to know he shouldn't represent himself.

"No, he's a friend of mine from our days back at Yale; he's based in Washington and on retainer for Stellvia Corp. I'll send you his number; make up your own mind whether you want him.

"Yeah, I'll keep that in mind. I'll see you tomorrow for the rehersal."

Noah buried his head in his hands. "Not now. Please, by all that's holy, not now. I'm too busy getting married..."

"What's wrong, sir?" asked Safety.

He looked straight at her and sighed deeply. "It looks like the US government is making a move against the VVS, and by extension against the rest of us Up here. I need Kohran, Yayoi, Leda, Jake, Patty, Miyuri, Takami, Kagome, Kelly, Micheline, Sergy, and Rhiannon in the boardroom at 10:00 tomorrow morning. Oliver and Shizuka too, if they're anywhere nearby. No excuses, and no telepresence - attendance in person is mandatory. Tell Kohran to bring the bug-stomper Skuld left behind. And figure out some way to keep A.C. and Greenpeace away from the meeting."

"Yes, sir," replied Safety worriedly. As far as she knew, Noah had never called the entire senior staff of Stellvia Corporation and the Nikaido Foundation together at once, and excluding their friends from the Prometheus Forge was unheard-of.

As she flew out of Noah's office, Safety noticed him taking a laptop computer she'd never seen before out of his farady-cage safe.

Briefing Room
10:37 GMT 14 March 2014

"... and that's everything that Rashid's been able to find for us." Noah put the last of the papers his lawyer had forwarded on the table, beside the bug-stomper.

"Just who did he have to bribe to get those, boss?"

"Probably nobody, Jake. If there's one thing I'm sure of about Rashid Abdallah, it's that he's scrupulously honest. That's why I have him on retainer, not his firm. Is everybody up to speed on these documents?"

There was a chorus of affirmative answers around the table.

"Good," Noah continued. "The next question is what do we do about this?"

The newest member of Stellvia Corporation's senior staff cleared her throat. "With all due respect, M. Scott, you 'ave something more important to do right now."

"I assume you're talking about the wedding tomorrow, Mme. Rouleau."

"But of course. Please, let us deal with this matter."

"She's right, dad," added Kohran. "You've got to delegate more. And this is the perfect time to start."

Nobody said anything while Noah thought for a moment. "All right. Mme. Rouleau, you and your staff on Wonderland are in charge of this matter until Leda and I get back from our honeymoon. Jake, back her up if she needs anything from us."

"What about us?" Kelly asked.

"I'd appreciate it if you prepared to put contingeny plan #3 into effect." Half the people around the table reacted to that, none positively.

Jake was the first to speak. "Are you crazy, boss?"

"Dad, isn't that going too far?" Kohran followed quickly.

Yayoi stood up. "Noah... I understand why you want to do that, but is now the right time, and is this the right reason?"

"Just prepare for it, okay? Now, unless there's anything else..." Nobody said anything. "... this meeting's adjourned. Yayoi, Kohran, I think you can still make your appointment at Judy's if you hurry." Noah picked up the laptop that he hadn't let anyone else touch, and headed out the door and toward his office.

As the others left, Leda motioned to Yayoi to stay behind. "What's contingency plan #3? For that matter, what are plans 1 and 2?"

"There is no contingency plan #1. Plan #2 is a reaction to a hostile DQS, and involves massive use of Kohran's toys. Plan #3..." She leaned close and whispered in Leda's ear.

Leda grinned. "Oh, boy. I'll bet Chris Marsden hates plan #3."

"We've never told him about it. Or anyone else, including A.C. And we'd better not say anything about it to anyone for now. Let's not piss people off the day before the biggest social event since Kandor-con."

"Right. Is there a plan #4?"

"I'd rather not say. And Kohran's waiting for me."

"Sorry. Here's hoping nothing else unexpected happens."

Main Concourse
11:17 GMT 14 March 2014

"I just thought of something."

Yayoi turned to Kohran. "Oh?"

"I'm the Maid of Honour, and you're the Best Person. We're going to have to dance with each other. It's traditional."

Yayoi thought for a moment. "You're right. Do you have a problem with dancing with another woman?"

Kohran shook her head. "I have preprogrammed memories of dancing with Sakura and Sumire during some of the Flower Troupe's productions. I'm worried about how your girlfriend will react. She's fully human, after all, and that includes all the negative emotions that we can supress if we have to."

"As you said, it's traditional. Ginny's okay with 'traditional'." Then Yayoi smiled impishly. "Besides, with the U.S. Navy's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, she can't complain."

"Do they still have that policy?" Kohran asked with a straight face.

"I think so..." Yayoi began, only to be interrupted by what sounded like a small explosion a few meters away. She pulled out her PDA. "Emergency desk, this is Fujisawa. There's been an incident on the Main Concourse. Engineer Li and I are investigating."

She got to the scene just as Kohran cradled a young woman in her arms. "What happened?"

The woman looked up. "Help-p-p-p-p m-m-me, A-a-a-aunt Kohr-r-r-ran..." Then she closed her eyes and gave off a few sparks.

Maintenance Bay
Old Ring, Stellvia
12:41 GMT 14 March 2014

"I got here as soon as I heard," A.C. said to Noah. "Who is she?"

Noah frowned. "She's an android. One of our androids, going by the circuit designs - she could have come from the same production run as Kohran and Yayoi, if we had built them that way. I take it you didn't build her, and I know I didn't."

"Neither did I," added Kohran.

"That much I figured out as soon as I saw her," replied A.C. "Who is she?"

"Oh. She hasn't regained consciousness since she passed out... or broke down... in the Main Concourse, and she wasn't carrying any ID. So I'm going by her appearance here. She's a meganekko, of course. Shorter than average. Twin ponytails, loosely held with bows. A honking-big harisen hidded behind her back, and Yayoi found an empty artist's case where she collapsed. And Kohran said she has a Kansai accent. I think she's Yuu Inagawa."

"That-t-t-t's ri-i-ight, Gra-a-andf-f-f-f-father."

Everybody rushed to her side. "Save your strength, Ms. Inagawa," Noah insisted. "We're going to help you."

"We are?" asked Safety from her perch on Noah's shoulder.

"Of course we are," A.C. and Noah answered together. A.C. continued, "We have to."

"She obviously has some serious physical problems," Noah added. "Not helping her would be the same as letting her die in agony. And I'm not going to let that happen to somebody who believes she's family."


Yayoi glared at Noah, then sighed. "None of us have seen you before today, Ms. Inagawa."

"But we will help you. I promise." Noah took Yuu's hand in his own. He kept his surprise at how cold it was to himself. "I have to ask: how did you get aboard Stellvia without any identification?"

"I-I-I don't kno-o-o-o-ow. I wo-o-oke up on the Ma-a-a-ain Concour-r-r-r-rse, just-t-t befor-r-r-r-re I col-l-l-l-lapsed."

"Thank you, Yuu." A.C. turned to Noah. "Let's get out of Kohran's way."

Noah raised an eyebrow, but walked to the other end of the room with A.C. "I would have thought you'd want to help Kohran repair Yuu."

"I do, but this comes first. Why did she show up now?"

Noah nodded. "Yeah. We were ready for anything from a persistent paparazzo to a Boskonian battle fleet trying to disrupt the ceremony tomorrow. Yuu is something we couldn't expect."

"But we're still going to repair her."

"Of course we are. I made her a promise."

"Then Kohran and I had better get to work now, or we'll miss the wedding tomorrow."

"Thanks. And I'll get Takami and Kagome working on finding out who really built her."

Maintenance Bay
Old Ring, Stellvia
14:26 GMT 14 March 2014

"Me and my big mouth," Leda muttered. Then she continued out loud, "The rehersal's in an hour and a half, and the three of us are nowhere near Grover's Corners. Can you leave Inagawa-san yet?"

A.C. and Kohran looked up. "Is it that late already?" the former asked. "Sorry, give us... three and a half minutes."

"Who-o-o-o-o's she?" asked Yuu.

"That's Leda Swansen," Kohran replied. "Although tomorrow she'll be Leda Scott."

Yuu's eyebrows went up. "She's mar-r-r-r-r-rying grand-d-d-dfather?"

"Is there some reason she shouldn't?"

"I don't-t-t-t-t think so, n-n-no. I j-j-j-j-j-just never thought h-h-he'd ever g-g-get married-d."

A.C. smiled disarmingly. "It surprised us, too. Would you open access hatch 34-A, please?" There was the sound of a spring latch uncoupling. "Thank you, Yuu. Now I'm going to swap out one of your components. This might feel strange."

Nobody said anything for two minutes.

"There, you can close the access hatch now."

"You're finished? I don't feel any different."

Kohran and A.C. grinned. Leda smiled and said, "But you sound different now, Yuu."

"Do I? Hey, I'm not stuttering any more! Thank you, aunt Kohran, aunt A.C!"

"It was all A.C.'s doing, Yuu-san. Now we really have to leave; Kagome-san is on the way here to keep you company."

The door opened to admit the station's security chief. "I'm here! You two... sorry, you three had better get going."

"We're leaving!"

Shuttle Glennorth
en route between Stellvia and Grover's Corners
14:39 GMT 14 March 2014

"What did Takami find out?"

Leda turned to A.C. "Yuu's memory had been completely erased. For all intents and purposes, she was born three minutes before Kohran and Yayoi met her."

"I hope she backed up her memories somewhere," Kohran whispered.

"Even if she did, how would she know where to find them?" asked A.C. "But take a look at this." She held up an electronics module.

"That's the signal processor we took out of Yuu. What about it?" asked Kohran.

A.C. tapped a maker's mark on the circuit board. "It's British. Specifically, it's from Beagle 2." The others looked at her blankly. "Kids these days; no sense of history. Beagle 2 was the UK's first attempt at a Mars lander. It was lost on landing."

"Obviously, somebody found it," Kohran said.

"And looted it for parts," continued Leda. "You think Yuu's from Mars?"

"It's worth a look, after the wedding."

Wedding site
Grover's Corners, Lagrange Point 3
8:03AM, Saturday 15 March 2014

The various kids living on Grover's Corners thought the coming wedding was going to be boring. Well, at least until the food came out. So the sight of A.C. Peters stalking around the site was unusual enough to get their attention.

A.C., on the other hand, was busy keeping herself occupied while she thought things through. The unexpected arrival of Yuu with evidence pointing to Mars as her source had her wringing her head for memories, and considering what contacts she had in that area. Maybe have the Stallion go past and sweep with her sensors? Unfortunately she couldn't pin Noah down right now for the talk she'd need to get things straight. Then there was the news through the grapevine that the U.S. Congress had subpoenaed Mal, with what that meant to Noah's mental state. And that was not something Noah needed today. Which was why she was resisting the urge to wave up Matt Murdock. Or Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

So, here she was making sure everything was okay. Seating plans were sorted, wedding programs were ready to be given out, spare glasses for the wedding party (including the enhanced ones with a display and a link to a tricorder with the guest list loaded for the ushers), the camera drones were working and connected to Officer Friendly, the Tachikomas were deployed and Eddie had linked in Officer Friendly when he'd scanned Grover's Corners for unexpected surprises. She'd better ask the inhabitants if they'd checked the environmental controls to make sure it wasn't going to get too cold. Krikkit Flight was on standby on Luna, and Eddie was armed.

What else? The caterers weren't due 'til 11. The Jason wasn't due until noon to deliver the flowers. The bridal party was due 12:15 to finish getting ready, the Reverend was due 12:20 along with herself, Mal, and Sora. Jake and Yayoi would be ariving with Noah 12:30 with the first lot of guests from Stellvia. Scheduled start at 1PM.

"You're here very early."

"Well, someone's got to do it," A.C. replied, turning. "And unfortunately, Mrs. Avins, everyone else has suddenly gotten even more busy."

"Quite." Kat Avins frowned slightly, as they'd got the news yesterday via the Blue Blazers. The resultant town council had been lively.

A.C. briefly considered the fact that, of the Big Name Fen (and she was one in reality however much she hated it, even if technically she wasn't) that had business in the U.S., she was the one least likely to be called if Congress was on a witch-hunt. Mainly because most of the limb replacements available in the country were her designs, and the various victims and veterans associations would scream bloody murder. Maybe the military as well, seeing the effectiveness of cybernetics in the field.

"Well, we shouldn't worry too much. Mal's got enough backup on this one."

And I shouldn't need to pull out some of my nastier surprises, she added silently. Politics. Feh.

Wedding site
Grover's Corners, Lagrange Point 3
1:20 PM, Saturday 15 March 2014

The members of the wedding party had been roused from where they collapsed at the end of the combined bachelor and hen party, been separated into the bride's group and the groom's group according to the customs of their homeland, and had managed to reach their appointed places at their appointed times.

The presents had been delivered to one of the caverns in Wonderland that had not yet been converted to agricultural use, nearly filling the chamber.

The cameras had started rolling, and Maico Tange had given her commentary before the ceremony began. She had been sure to complement each of the bridesmaids on their appearance, and very carefully had not asked why the bride was not wearing white, or green.

The guests had arrived and been seated by some of the most formidable people in Fenspace.

The few who attempted to attend uninvited had been ejected, if they had been unfortunate enough to get as far as the airlock.

The minstrels, Dandelions all, had played the traditional music in the traditional style, at which point all conversation in Grover's Corners (and in many rooms throughout much of Fenspace, Australia, and New Zealand) had ceased.

The bride, looking radiant as all brides do, had walked down the virgin road on the arm of her father, and met her groom at the altar.

The preacher had asked whether anyone present knew of any reason why the ceremony should not proceed.

The incognito members of Section Six who were present had ensured none of the Humourists in attendance answered that question.

And the union had been blessed.

There were two things left to exchange. The first was the vows.

"I, Noah, take you, Leda, to be my wife, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. In the presence of our families, our friends and comrades, and whatever gods may be watching, I vow to be your faithful and loving partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you, and cherish you, and always hold you in the highest regard, today and all the days of our life."

"I, Leda, take you, Noah, to be my husband. I owe you my life; today I give my life to you in marriage. With our families, our friends and comrades, and the gods as witness, I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, to comfort you in times of pain or heartbreak, and to be your faithful and loving partner, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow, today and all the days of our life."

And the second was the kiss.

Hotel Bradbury
Olympus Mons, Mars
22:47 GMT 15 March 2014

Of course the desk clerk recognized the new arrivals; they had been on television earlier that day. But the Hotel Bradbury was noted for its discretion.

"Welcome to Mars, Mr. and Mrs. ..." He double-checked the name on the credit card he'd been given. "... Sangnoir. The Rod Serling suite is ready for you, as you requested. Will there be anything else at the moment?"

"Just some privacy," the happy couple answered in unison.