Today's installment is from a shorter story, "A Piece of the Action," which will be included in the Cassidyverse Collection coming this spring.
“Admiral, welco – oof!”
Davie Whitmore’s greeting was cut short by a redheaded missile slamming into her waist. The tall, spare woman absorbed the impact with practiced ease.
“Auntie Davie!” squealed the missile, bouncing. “I missed you!”
Somewhat awkwardly Davie put her arms around the figure and returned the hug, albeit with fractionally more restraint.
“Hello, Mikki. I missed you too.” She could hear more running feet and braced in anticipation, but Mikki’s sister Lisa slowed to a stop before quite slamming into her as well.
“Hi Aunt Davie!” Lisa said. Though she was a year younger, she often behaved like the older sister. “I turn six in two days!”
Davie heard more voices from the corridor connecting the habitat’s immense starship bay to the TFS Constitution.
“Mikki! Lisa! What did we tell you?”
The unmistakable sound of an annoyed Kendra Cassidy broke through the redheads’ eagerness and they broke away, back towards their mothers.
“Sorry about that Davie,” came a soprano voice. She recognized it immediately as Kendra’s wife and the commander of the docked starship, Captain Aiyana Cassidy. “They were doing well until we got close enough for the ‘cats to sense you, which the girls picked up on, and they were off.”
The third redhead, tall and athletic, her lengthy hair spilling out from under the yellow beret of a starship captain, emerged from the corridor. She held the hand of a shorter blonde woman in a brilliant white uniform.
“Davie, you okay?”
“Bruised but standing.” But she smiled. “Welcome home, Admiral.”
Kendra released Aiyana’s hand and wrapped Davie in a hug. “Thank you, and knock off the “Admiral” crap, Admiral.”
“Habit,” Davie admitted. “Besides, with you gone for six months I haven’t had anyone to let my hair down with, so to speak.” She ran a hand mockingly through her short-cut dark brown hair. She broke the hug and looked down at the two girls, now with companions sitting by their feet.
“Mikki. Honey. Lisa. Orion. Nice to see you all.”
The human children smiled and returned the pleasantry while the two treecats made chittering noises which Davie interpreted as greetings.
Aiyana and the girls moved onward into the habitat, with the admirals trailing behind. Through the Terran Federation’s Q-Net they’d been able to remain in communication the entire time Kendra had been gone, so there weren’t any mission updates to catch up on. Now it was time for planning.