Less than three weeks after returning to Space academy, the three members of the Andromeda crew stood by the blockhouse at Launch Pad Twenty and took the time to admire their ship. Astroís newly reattached arm twitched occasionally as the nerves reeducated themselves to the control of his muscles. Roger was able to breath with no trouble or pain and Tomís wavy brown hair had grown out to a length that completely concealed the hideous tattoo. He was grateful to the doctors for giving him a medication that, when rubbed into the scalp, would eventually bleach away all traces of the ink.
"Well fellas, things sure are changing around here, arenít they?", asked Tom.
Roger looked at his friend and said, "To think that mere weeks ago, we were resigned to the fact that we were going to be stationed orbits apart!"
"Iíll tell you what I think is the biggest change!", said Astro.
"Whatís that, you big Venusian ape?", chided Roger.
"Girls!", gasped the big man. "There are girls all over the Quad!"
"Leave it to you to remind me that I graduated one year too early!", grumbled Roger.
Tom reminded Roger of the non-fraternization policy of the Academy. Roger stared intensely back at Tom and asked, "During my stint as a Cadet, can you give me even one example of a rule that I didnít stretch or break?"
Tom thought for a moment and then answered, "No, I canít. As a matter fact, you usually involved Astro in myself in trying to get you out of your schemes."
Roger chuckled and said, "We were three nobodies then. Weíre a team now."
Astro jumped in. "The man that made us a team may loose his ship!"
Tom snapped his head around and asked, "What do you mean? Captain Strong? Why would he loose the Polaris?"
"Itís just a rumor that I heard in therapy today. Seems that heís been recommended for promotion. If that happens, heíll have to turn Polaris over to another command officer."
"He wonít take the promotion!", stated Roger.
"Donít be too sure!", said Tom. "Donít forget that he and Joan are going to be parents in just a few months."
"Yeah!", said Astro, "You and I both know how important it is to have the father around while growing up."
Roger said, "I know youíre right, but it just would seem strange to have someone other than Steve in command of the Polaris."
The tones from the clock on the Tower of Galileo began chiming across the tarmac. It reminded Tom and his friends that they should head for the monorail station to begin a much needed medical recuperation leave.
As the three young men approached the monorail platform, they began making plans pertaining to their leave. Astroís planís never varied over the last five years.
"Iím going to have some of Mrs. Corbettís apple pie!"