"Lucas, I want something more dramatic," demanded Mira.
"The transport will be here soon, and I want it to leave a little 'calling card' before the big boom. Whatever is going on there, I want to ruin some kind of party they seem to be planning," she sneered.
"What did you have in mind, Mira?" quizzed Lucas, intrigued.
"The 'object' will be inert coming through right? It'll be all scrambled inside?" asked Mira.
"Well, that's a pretty simple description. Actually..."
Mira interrupted, "Then I want Dwyer to load the transport with convention bombs and guns, materialize the transport right over Terra Nova, and shoot at anything that moves before flying here. They are so lulled by their sense of security, they'll never know what hit them. Maybe we'll get lucky. No matter what, I want to make them remember we aren't all picking daisies up here in this terrible place."
Lucas loved it, "Good job, Mira. I will see to it."
After the engagment announcement, there was certainly no need to delay the young couple Mark and Maddy's marriage. Mark was an accomplished career soldier, and Maddy's education could continue as she worked as a scientist in the colony. They had everything they needed to create and support a family - except each other.
Maddy put herself into planning the wedding like it was a major science project, and she wanted to combine both their cultures – Hindu and Christian - in the ceremonies. Mark was highly supportive, and of course had started the idea of their dual culture wedding by doing the Sagai engagement.
Maddy and Mark's nuptials would be the first real wedding in Terra Nova, and so the entire colony wanted to celebrate, especially to honor the daughter of the heroic Chief of Police.
Jim was very amused to see Commander Taylor flustered for a few moments when Maddy and Mark asked him to preside over the ceremony. He'd done just about every other kind of duty as the Terra Nova leader, but never a marriage. People usually had come to the colony married or permanently single.
Maddy and her mother became closer than they had ever been. Maddy was no bridezilla, other than insisting on as many of the Hindi wedding traditions be followed as possible. Some had benefits for the men of the colony too.
In the Tilak ceremony, a couple of months before the actual wedding, all the men sought to honor the groom by visiting him and put Tilak powder – sandalwood ash paste and clay - on his forehead to honor his stature as the groom. By the time Taylor, Jim and Josh Shannon, and all Mark's soldier buddies were done with him, he looked like a ghost warrior in camouflage. He gave a forlorn look to his bride who was doubled over in laughter as she watched the ritual. The good part is that he was buried in desserts, fruits, new clothes, and garlands, which he shared with everyone afterwards.
Shortly thereafter, Elisabeth, Maddy, and Zoe had a great time organizing the Sangeet ritual – exclusively for the women of the colony. It was a time of dancing and singing. The three Shannon women practiced hours to show the traditional Hindu dances, and inspired by them, the other women danced many of their own cultural dances – Spanish, Italian, Irish, Scandinavian, Japanese and Swahili to name a few. Maddy received many blessings and well wishes from the women of the colony according to the tradition. The once lonely, geeky girl never felt so loved and appreciated as a 19 year old young woman.
While the women were partying on the colony plaza square, all the men congregated at Tom Boylan's Bar and all had a few too many drinks. The women of the colony were collectively angry at their men for days. Maddy gave Mark, Josh, and her father a stern lecture that some traditions – the bachelor party – were not appropriate to celebrate. Elisabeth was proud of her daughter.
As the day of the wedding approached, Maddy was most frantic about her wedding dress. She wanted an authentic sari. Nothing like that existed in Terra Nova. But one day, one of her mother's friends appeared at their home, who was an expert seamstress, and gave Maddy a present - nine meters of colorful, locally made cloth. It wasn't as elegant as the silks and linens of India, but she cried holding it in her hands. None of the elegant Indian jewelry existed either to go with the sari, but the women of the colony designed natural necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and hair pieces that would be used instead.
One aspect of the wedding was embarrassing for both Maddy and Mark to talk about. They were innocent enough to feel uncomfortable talking about the honeymoon. Fortunately they got some help from their family.
At Terra Nova Security Headquarters, Sergeant Reynolds looked despondent.
"What's wrong, soldier?" asked Taylor.
"Thinking about the wedding, sir."
Taylor scoffed, "You don't look like you are having happy thoughts, Sergeant. This is not a good time to be second guessing."
"Well, sir, it's a private matter."
"Wedding night, huh, Reynolds?"
Reynolds blushed and startled, "Sir!"
"Well it's not like you guys can fly to Hawaii for a honeymoon. Fact is Reynolds, that the undersea volcanoes that are someday gonna be Hawaii are still about 2000 meters below the Pacific Ocean surface right now."
They both laughed at that.
After that, Reynolds opened up, "We don't want to stay at her parents' place. It'll be hard to be...umm...discrete, sir. Any chance there is an apartment we can borrow, sir?"
"No, Reynolds, we still haven't gotten many restored, and the rest are not restorable. You might as well pitch a tent and be better off."
"Unless..." Taylor pondered.
"Unless what, sir?"
"Come with me."
They climbed the stairs to his office.
Taylor turned and looked Reynolds at seriously, "Soldier, I am going to show you something that you need to forget after your honeymoon."
He flipped up his console, typed in some code words, and turned the monitor toward Reynolds.
"That, Sergeant, is your honeymoon suite. Outpost B."
"Begging your pardon, sir, but there is no Outpost B."
"You and everyone else think so. But I know better. Outpost B is an emergency escape bunker designed for survivors of a catastrophic disaster to Terra Nova. Turns out it will double as your honeymoon suite for a week, Reynolds."
Taylor panned the cameras around. Both could see the comfortable bunks, communications center, and an ample food supply. Outside, the Outpost was idyllic with a pond, trees, and a great view of the mountains.
Mark's eyes lit up, "This is incredible. I don't know what to say."
"Say 'thank you', Sergeant."
"Oh yes sir, thank you! But sir, how do we know it's operational?"
"Wash and I used it a few times, Sergeant," admitted Taylor, remembering happier days when Lt. Washington was still alive.
"Oh. Sorry sir."
"It's a war out there, Reynolds. Bad things happen."
At the same time, Elisabeth pulled Maddy aside after dinner and said, "Let's go for a walk."
Outside of the earshot of all the family, they strolled.
Maddy had to ask, "Mom? What's going on? Is something wrong?"
"No dear. Nothing at all. We just need to chat, and the family doesn't need to hear. This is about your wedding night."
Maddy blushed, "Oh Mom, I know about all that stuff. You taught me well. And I can assure you Mark and I haven't had any advance practice."
Put that matter-of-fact way, Elisabeth snickered at Maddy, "Well, I believe you Maddy, but you kids need your privacy. It's not like we can have you run off to the Terra Nova Hotel Honeymoon Suite. Your father, Josh, Zoe, and I can stay with friends for a few nights, while you two...umm...get acquainted. Everything will be just fine."
Maddy hugged her mother tightly, and said, "Mom, I gotta go tell Mark. He's been worried sick about this, but is embarrassed to ask anyone."
"Of course dear. Don't be too late. You have an experiment to run tomorrow early!"
Maddy ran as fast as she could to the security section and knocked on the barracks door breathlessly, "Is Sergeant Reynolds around?"
The soldiers were used to her many visits.
Corporal Simms turned and yelled, "Sarge, your lady is here!"
Reynolds hopped off his bunk in a heartbeat and went to her. Outside the barracks they chatted. Maddy shared what her mother had offered for privacy, but then Mark just smiled and told her what the real deal was going to be. All his nosy soldier buddies watched them through the windows and wondered what could possibly make her kiss him so hard, and that he would pick her up and twirl her around and around above his head in the activity field. The Sarge was one lucky guy, they all concluded.
Finally the day of the wedding and its many rituals arrived. It started by Elisabeth shoving Jim and Josh out of the house to go tend to Mark's wedding preparation needs. Next, Elisabeth started the Mehndi ritual, applying the intricate tattoos on her daughter from the dyes of prehistoric ancestors of modern Henna plants. This was a very private ceremony, as most of the tattoos all over her body would only be seen by her new husband. Zoe was amazed at her mother's artistry and Maddy's beauty. It was all that Maddy could do to stand still with the tickles of the brushstrokes. All of them tried very hard not to cry and ruin the Mehndi art, knowing that Maddy would become a new wife today.
Elisabeth and Zoe helped dress Maddy in her sari and natural jewelry. They were ready and started toward the plaza square.
As a soldier in a primitive world, Reynolds never expected a formal occasion, and had no ceremonial uniform, so he dressed the best he could in his normal uniform. Josh and Jim got him a boutonniere that would match Maddy's wedding dress and added a sash from the leftover sari material. They too headed to the square.
They saw each other as they approached the stage where the ceremonies would be held. Mark could not believe the beauty of Maddy. Her sari - with all the colors of the rainbow - was wrapped to accentuate all her best features, and Mark could not believe the intricacy of the Mendhi designs on her face, arms, sandaled feet, and her bare midriff that the sari revealed. The flowers in her hair, and natural and dyed fiber necklaces, earrings and multitude of bracelets on her arms and ankles made him feel like he was an Indian Mogul Raj of the middle ages. He was convinced that none of the Raj's had ever possessed a bride with the beauty of Maddy.
They stopped at the foot of the ceremonial tent, and exchanged garlands in the Var Mala ceremony, confirming their readiness to be husband and wife.
They climbed up the stage to the four pillared tent called the Mandap – made of bamboo, and decorated in traditional Hindu silver-gray and red floral patterns, with the four pillars signifying the love and support of their parents. Mark wished his parents could have seen all this.
There, Taylor led them in their vows – a combination of Vedic and Christian wedding traditions that he created. Everyone was amazed at the poignancy of the Mandap wedding ceremony. For all his hardness, Taylor was well known to be a deep thinker and philosopher. No one realized his true spiritual depth as well.
Mark and Maddy finished all their vows and "I do's", and kissed amidst the colony's rousing cheers. They were a beautiful sight to everyone. Jim and Elisabeth watched and held tight to each other as Elisabeth's eyes glistened.
The couple turned to the crowd, and was announced by Taylor proudly as the first new husband and wife of Terra Nova - to thunderous applause.
Mark's soldier buddies had their own surprise. All of them lined up and raised sabers above the young couple, honoring them as they processed to the reception. This was a shock, as the Terra Novan military force had no swords of any kind.
Before proceeding, Mark leaned to Corporal Simms, and whispered, "How?"
Simms smiled and explained, "Well Sarge, it was easy to make the swords from scratch and in secret after melting down some of the Phoenix Group's fighting vehicles – especially while you were out so much courting Maddy."
Mark felt very pleased with all the hard work that went into this thoughtful gesture that had been part of military weddings for centuries. Maddy squeezed Mark's arm and smiled up at him.
"Badlands, Project here," said Dwyer.
"Go ahead. You guys ready to launch? It seems there's a full blown wedding going on there and we weren't invited," replied Lucas.
"Well sir, about that launch. We've got bad news here."
"What?" yelled Lucas.
"A super-hurricane came through the past two days. We got two platforms heavily damaged, sir."
Lucas pounded the table, "Damn it Dwyer. How long?"
"Three...maybe six months," stated Dwyer.
"Make it three or the Organization will be done with both of us. Badlands out."
Mira asked,"What now?"
"Hurricane got them. Three months delay," seethed Lucas.
Through gritted teeth, Mira announced confidently, "Lucas, turn me loose. I could mount an operation right now. The men are very anxious for revenge against Taylor and Shannon. What better opportunity than to ruin a wedding of the people we hate the most?"
"No! This has to be a complete surprise. One single surgical strike from the air. Not another cat and mouse skirmish where we always lose people and equipment," Lucas yelled.
"OK, Lucas. But for the record, I am upset with you and your friends' constant delays. I will complain to the Organization. You've lost your nerve, Lucas. Too much focus on technology, and not enough on just getting even the old fashioned way."
"Leave, Mira, before I really get angry. Then you'll know what 'getting even' really means," growled Lucas, who spun his chair around back to the computer screen.
The reception was more traditional to Mark's Judeo-Christian heritage, complete with a wedding cake, garter and bridal bouquet toss, and a toast to their fortune and health with alcoholic punch.
Without a functioning dairy, butter cream icing couldn't be duplicated, but the cake was still very tasty, and the bride and groom chose not to jam the cake in each other's faces, much to their friends' disappointment.
As Mark took off Maddy's garter, only he could see that the Mehndi decorations went completely up her legs and beyond, and was thrilled. Maddy blushed. He launched the garter directly at Josh, who out-jumped all the men to catch it. When Maddy tossed the bridal bouquet, Skye caught it.
Jim and Elisabeth exchanged knowing looks, seeing Josh and Skye standing close to each other and looking at each other lovingly. Another wedding was clearly not far away after today's celebration.
Gifts were heaped on the new couple. None was as special as the one from Commander Taylor.
He spoke, "I also have a gift for this young couple. As a new family – our first new family from within Terra Nova – you need a good start for your household. We all know Jim and Elisabeth would gladly let you stay in their home, because a lot of homes were permanently damaged in the invasion and occupation. One was not. Lt. Washington's. It's yours now, kids. Make it happy again.
Mark, Maddy, Jim, and Elisabeth gasped in unison. They all knew that the home of the slain Chief of Terra Nova Security Lt. Alicia Washington had stood empty since she was shot helping them escape. It had been a lasting memorial to Wash, whom Taylor loved. Now it would be a home.