Think I'll stop here for a bit. Sorry about the cliffhanger but on the web I am famous for them. Enjoy Ch 18 and toodles-K&K
"The Tale of the Tree" or "The Angels Get Ready for Christmas"
Meanwhile, Yuri was seated in front of a replicator with a written list of items in her hand. She was scanning the list and keying the replicator quickly and efficiently. She already had a sizable pile of stuff next to her. She checked another item off the list and smiled. She was thinking of how much more thoughtful Kei had become since Marlene had been assigned to her. Yuri then repped a few dozen candy canes, mistletoe, wreaths, pine cones, ornaments, lights, garlands, holly, egg nog, pumpkin and mince pies, plum puddings, a copy of "A Christmas Carol" by Mr. Charles Dickens and a copy of "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" by Mr. Clement Clark Moore. She took a look at the next item on Kome and Marlene's list. A yule log. Sure she could replicate one easy enough but spacecraft do not come equipped with fireplaces. Would the two chiefs even approve the use of half of this junk she had been replicating? Oh, what the Hell-why not? She keyed the replicator and removed a fine yule log from the 'finished' bay. Then she thought some more. Her aizu fell on the words 'Christmas tree' on the list and she frowned.
Keitarou, Legato, Spike and the Doctor had been ordered by Kei to find and bring back to the ship a large evergreen tree. The girls had said that we were supposed to decorate it. She checked her wristchromo-1530(3:30 PM) hours! Over an hour since they'd left. Wait a minute, she thought, Mugghi's with them, isn't he? Yuri grasped her comlink earring. "Mugghi? You there? Hai, it's Yuri. The guys with you? Good. Find a tree yet? They found one when? 45 minutes ago? Then why the jigoku haven't you come back here yet? Oh, nobody brought a saw or an axe along, eh? Nai, Mugghi, don't dig it up by the roots! OK, feed me your coordinates and I'll have Kome teleport you an axe. Nai, doesn't Spike still have that laser sword that I lent him? He does? Then use that to fell the tree. You carry it back here for them onegai. And tell them to get their asses in gear and get back here quickly! Why? We lift off at 1700 (5 PM) hours and you know how Kei gets if she has to wait! Yuri out."
Finishing her call she held up a bright red coat trimmed in white fur, a pair of matching trousers, a black belt and boots, white gloves, furry cap, white wig and whiskers, and a sack. She had also been instructed to replicate some bed pillows. She wondered just oro use that they could possibly have. Oh well, almost finished. She began to replicate gifts for everyone on board. As she put the finishing touches on the last one her comlink trilled.
"Hai, Mugghi? Oro?" she answered without looking up. "Auntie Yuri, onegai make Miss Sawaguchi open the shimatta door for us, will you? She wants some bloody password, we don't know any and this Kami shimatta tree's as heavy as jigoku!" Keitarou sounded annoyed. "I'll have her let you in, son. But you watch your language, young man! Understand?" replied Yuri. "Yes'm." responded a chastised Keitarou. Yuri keyed the intercom. "Kome, the guys are back and they've got your tree. Let them in now." She commanded. "OK Yuri, you got it." Replied Kome. On second thought, Kome, better teleport them and that tree directly to the rec room. That way they won't have to lug it all through the ship, OK?" amended Yuri. "OK Yuri, that sounds like a better idea. Teleporting now." She said.
There was a scury of movement within the rec room then: "I shall never get used to that thing." Said the Doctor. "Same here." Replied Spike and Legato. "It does take some getting used to, doesn't it, Mugghi?" Keitarou said, adding his two cents worth to the discussion. "Where do we put this shimatta thing now that we got it?" Legato wanted to know. Yuri chose this moment to wander in on the melee. Mugghi, go get Kome and Marlene. You take the comm. For them OK?" Mugghi meowed loudly in response. "Well they wanted a Christmas celebration, didn't they? Just like on Terra? Go get them Mugghi. I'll tell them you're coming." Yuri trilled the bridge. "Marlene, Mugghi's on his way to the bridge. When he gets there he'll take the comm.. You and Kome come to the rec room and show us where to put this tree. Under-
Stand? Asked Yuri. "Mugghi's here now Yuri. We're on our way down." Replied Marlene. Yuri turned to the guys. "OK hazu, arigato for the tree. Spike, you and Legato put it where the girls want it. Keitarou, you and the Doctor go to my suite. You'll find several boxes of replicated items. Bring them all back here onegai. Then we'll get the rest of the gang in to help set things up. I think we'll let Kei sleep though. After all, she's been up for over 72 hours. She's left a wake up call for 1630(4:30 PM) hours anyway. OK let's get going folks!" Yuri turned to greet her trainees as the door swished open behind her. "Konnichi wa girls. Onegai show Spike and Legato where you want the tree set up. Keitarou and the Doctor are bringing the decorations and other stuff that I repped for you. I'll get the chiefs and Leila. Then we can get down to work. And, onegai, try not to wake up Kei!" Yuri issued her instructions quickly. Then another thought came to mind. "By the way are we OK to launch at 1700?" she asked. "Roger to that Yuri. All systems go." Answered Kome. "You know that the return flight will take a full five days, Yuri, don't you?" asked Marlene. "Hai, that's why Kei suggested celebrating the holiday enroute. She knew you two would be disappointed that we weren't going to reach home in time for Christmas." Explained Yuri. "You mean this wasn't your idea?" Kome was dumbfounded.
"Nai it was all Kei's idea." Admitted Yuri. "That was really nice of her to do this for us." Said Marlene. "Well you see, Kei and I don't really have any family except for our godson. So the people at the 3WA are more or less our siblings, parents, uncles, aunts and so forth. Gotta go now. See you later." Yuri hastened to the visitors' deck. She returned to the rec room ten minutes later with Leila in tow. Anton and Don followed them in. The tree had been placed in a corner nearest the bar. Lights and garlands had been strung all across the huge room. Kome and Marlene had taken charge of the rest of the preparations and everything was going along smoothly. Everyone had agreed that the tree shouldn't be decorated until after the launch. That way Kei could be included in the festivities. Legato had been assigned the unenviable task of keeping Don away from the liquor. Anton was using glass wax and stencils along with a spray can of fake snow to create a wintry scene on the observation window. The Doctor and Leila were preparing the repast. The Doctor was being instructed on the use of the replicators by Leila. Keitarou and Kome were hanging stockings over a faux fireplace (the chiefs had totally nixed the idea of burning a yule log on a spaceship in flight!). Spike was doing the honours after offering to mix the punch. Yuri was practicing leading the Christmas Carols singalong while the data disk recorder was beling out tunes from something called "A Christmas Singalong with Mitch Miller and the Gang" from old Terra (Yuri had downloaded it from an old website she had found). Keitarou made the mistake of standing under the mistletoe after hanging it and was smooched repeatedly by all the female crew members, even Mugghi got into the act! The newly repped grandfather clock (the girls said no chromos!) chimed 1630 hours.
To be continued