The chapel on the Andromeda was nondenominational, per Fleet regulations, suitable for the basic rituals and observances of most of the thirty odd peoples found in the planetary systems making up the Sectors. As captain of the battleship, Nikolai was authorized to perform ceremonies from christenings to weddings to funerals.
Mike stood in his blue dress uniform, grinning from ear to ear, at the far bulkhead, beneath the stunning vista of the galactic star fields projected by the ship’s AI.
Feeling a little foolish, as if he’d stepped from a recruiting holo since he was wearing a dress uniform, he was flanked by his best man, Johnny, who had never—to the best of Mike’s recollection—worn a dress uniform before.
And we’re both as nervous as we were on day one at the Academy and boot camp. Mike took a deep breath, hoping to calm the butterflies in his gut. This is worse than any mission behind enemy lines. At least he could breathe, thanks to the rejuve regenerator treatment. Not even bruises left. And he’d have the strength to give his princess a proper wedding night. A bed on the Andromeda would be much more conducive to what he had in mind than the mat and furs on the cave floor had been. He nudged his best man in the ribs. “You're sure you've got the ring?”
“For the tenth time, I've got the ring,” Johnny whispered. He displayed the jewelry in question for a moment, before stowing it back in his pocket. “I won't drop it.”
Ignoring the small group of wedding guests, Mike gazed at the empty doorway, impatience making his stomach churn. “What could be taking so long? You're sure she was all right?”
“When they threw me out this afternoon so she could try on dresses, she was fine,” Johnny answered. “Calm down before you have an anxiety attack. Got no medkit on me right now.”
The guests were mostly from Nikolai's command staff. Everett was in attendance, thin, pale, but looking like a different person in his dress uniform. Mike hadn’t expected anything more than a bare bones civil ceremony, but a few minutes ago Nikolai confided that the Andromeda’s Executive Officer’s deepest secret was her love for steamy romance novels from the holo serial library. “Don’t ask how I know,” he said, throwing his hands in the air. “But when I told her there was to be a wedding between a princess and a Special Forces officer, with her challenge being to provide the dress, she went all-out. I promise your bride will have all the necessary details for her special day, my friend.”
Now, the AI played a processional from the days of old Terra, which Mike's ancestors had carried with them to their new home world.
Shalira, walking alone, appeared in the doorway.
Her beauty took Mike's breath away.