Chapter XXIII

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Cenerea, 3rd planet from the star Letria. Regalius, The Homeland, Central Region,

Just Outside Of The Capitol City, The Univ-Trans Facility,

Forty and Three Quarter Cenerean Years Ago

"Honorable Homeland official, bathed in your shadow just as the lovely moons dance in the light of Cenerea, do we have your permission to commit to this union, for the good of the Homeland?"

"For the good of the Homeland!" shouted the crowd surrounding the three people in a semicircle.

Connor winked at the kneeling Harold. "Yes, citizen, I approve of this union and I happily pronounce you husband and wife. Rise Harold and Wendy Bouri, rise as one soul in service to the Homeland!"

The audience of scientists and HDF personnel standing on the lawn of the Univ-Trans facility roared to life with cheers and whistles as the couple rose from where they knelt at the Chancellor's feet and turned toward each other.

The former hacker pulled Wendy to him and lifted the silvery veil from her face to kiss her. He paused as he noticed the tears running from the edges of her eyes. "What's the matter, Wendy?" he asked curiously.

"I'm sorry Harold, it's just that I'm so happy. I never thought that after all this..." Wendy's voice trailed off and she smiled.

Harold lifted his hands to his wife's cheeks and swept the tears away. "I know, babe." He kissed her and then hugged her tightly, glancing up at Letria in gratitude. "Hey, let's get out of here. I was told by a certain someone that we have a very large wedding surprise waiting for us down at the lab," he whispered in her ear.

Wendy tilted her head. "Surprise?"

"I don't know exactly what it is, but..." Harold stopped as he felt a hand grip his shoulder. He turned to look into the smiling face of Connor Santum.

"Harold, old buddy, would you and Wendy, um, Mrs. Bouri, please follow me?"

"Yessir," Harold replied as he and Wendy looked at each other in confusion.

"Now, you are saying that just to be a smartass," Connor said.

Harold grinned. "I try."

The trio walked through the adoring crowd, shaking hands and exchanging smiles with the wedding guests.

"Such a perfect day for a wedding," the Chancellor said. "You know for your gift I was going to set this entire thing up at the Arcturan mansion..."

Harold cringed. "I know, sir. It's just Univ-Trans is where we met and it's where we work."

Connor laughed. "...and practically live, I understand." The most-feared man in the Homeland opened the facility's front door for the pair of scientists to pass through. Once inside, he located a nearby table in the lobby and removed a glossy, white chair from beneath its equally shiny surface. He indicated for Wendy to take the offered seat.

"Thank you, Chancellor," she replied.

Connor nodded and repeated the activity for Harold. He then strode around to the other side of the table and seated himself. "Now, speaking of living arrangements, it seems that something rather serendipitous has happened. Just this morning, I received documents regarding some rather large Homeland HDF housing project that was recently completed and needed my signature to finalize. No matter how many times I tried to sign off on it, the document would not accept my approval...and then I noticed why. There was an alert notice telling me that if I wanted to close the doc that all homes had to be assigned. It seems there was still this one, lonely little home at, what was it? I think 114 Darvon Street and it was unassigned to anyone. Well, naturally, I thought of you two and about how I was going to show up empty-handed without a wedding present..."

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