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Introduction:

This contains all the chapters
Chapter 1

My name is Charles Samuel Knight and I am sixteen. My father started me on the life I have. He was an Archeologist and studied the thousands of derelict spacecraft in Grer system. My mom had been an Archeologist too, but had left us to teach at the college on Miros. There were only two thousand people in Grer, most were old and pretty much did the same thing as dad.

By the time I was ten, I knew everything about engineering from a dozens of different dead species. Since the planet was barely habitable everyone lived in biospheres in orbit. I had four girl friends the same age as me and we had made a pack when we were only six or seven. We swore that when we turned fourteen we would marry so that we would never have to part.

Anyway, when we were thirteen; Julie, Teri, Olivia, Jess and I sat down and used a computer to draw up plans for a large self contained biosphere. We had access to all the databases and knew of a thousand year old factory ship from the Silsi Empire. We were all checked and cleared for space work and that was the first place we went.

Using the collective knowledge of a dozen Archeologists we started making some repairs. It took us almost three months to bring it online. After that it was just a matter of bringing material to the ship. It took the factory robots and the production facilities another six months to build the biosphere to our specs in the ship graveyard where we were comfortable.

I guess you could say I was the Jack of all Trades. Jess was our protector, our gunslinger, our weapon specialist. Teri was the real engineer; she knew how everything ran and could fix it or build it in her sleep. Julie was our pilot and navigator, if we went anywhere, she flew or navigated and she could fly anything.

Olivia, well Olivia was the one we all protected. She had always wanted to be a doctor and had studied two dozen races medical practices and equipment. She was also the one that knew everything about hydroponics.

We got starter plants from everyones biospheres and even had several ships leave new plants or seeds. Jess was the youngest and the day she turned fourteen we announced our marriage and moved into the biosphere. Sure our parents were close by and still helped us a lot. They thought it was just a passing phase we would grow out of.

Almost from that first day we started planning to build a ship. Even though the system was not a registered system of the Empire of Mariss, we were still semi citizens and the Empire had been at war for almost twenty years. We took ideas from several dead races and combined them.

From the three Phase Reactors to the engines from the Avian race Altre. Jess was the one to insist on the weapons and she took a month just to decide on which weapons to use and what we needed for defense. Instead of the human weapons like lasers or missiles, she wanted three systems from three different races.

The other thing was the Alien medical equipment Olivia wanted, equipment any doctor would kill for. But the most important thing was the matter transmission that Teri and I studied and finally cracked. It took us over six months to crack it and when we did the limits to what we could do went out the window.

We built a small device and programmed it to take matter from our plants or protein from the protein vats. It would mix or combine them into food. We had to make the dish first and then scan its atomic structure before the synthesizer could reproduce it. Olivia took it over as soon as it proved reliable. Next was a synthesizer for clothing or other inanimate objects. Last was a much larger version that Teri tied into a computer.

We carefully designed our ship from the frame out. It took another year of careful planning and checking before we put the plans into what we called our ship builder. With the use of a nearby hydrogen reactor, the range of the matter transmitter was over a light hour, which reached into a nearby asteroid belt.

We continually monitored its progress but I turned to smaller concerns, like Olivia’s medical equipment and her hydroponics section. Jess got Teri to take time to build another smaller transmitter and quickly drew up plans for an assault shuttle and sets of combat armor. Julie spent her time buried in star charts and ship ID files. It took six months to build the ship.

We called her Night Scream. She was five hundred and twenty meters long, one hundred and fifty wide and one hundred tall. Her hull was over a meter thick, made of a metal alloy so dense it had no comparison in the known galaxy. In addition, it had chameleon like properties that we had further enhanced. We had also incorporated a screen and shield technology that was advanced beyond anything created in the last two thousand years.

The weapons were sixty of what Jess called energy torpedo launchers or torp launchers and they reached out a full light minute at full strength. There were six energy lances that had a range of almost five light minutes. Last was Jess’s main weapon, it was another concept she devolved from the matter transmission device and the phase reactor. She called it a phase transmitter. It had a scan range of one light hour but Jess said optimum range was half that.

Olivia had a large sick bay with a dozen stasis tubes and eight regen tanks as well as every piece of technology she needed. She also had a state of the art hydroponics section. Julie had found an old AI on an ancient warship and had insisted we needed it. She had been the one to go through its code line by line to make sure it would be safe.

When she finally brought it online, we were a little surprised at the way it behaved, as if it were… human. It took about five minutes to learn our language when Julie fed it into the connecting stand alone computer.

Even though the reactors were not online, the ship did have power from a single hydrogen reactor and we moved the AI into Julie’s prepared core aboard the Night Scream. Almost from the start it had a feminine behavior and voice. Jess was the one to name her Allie.

Everything was ready except that the three Phase Reactors were not fully online. Teri was still trying to balance them and we all spent time trying to help her. We had just turned sixteen and what we had accomplished was nothing short of a miracle. That was when the Talis Empire showed us why our Empire was fighting them.

I got the alert late and then the system communications went down. Our passive scan showed a Talis Battlecruiser in orbit around the plant. I knew that everyone was on planet today to help with a major find in the southern hemisphere, even Jess, Teri, Julie and Olivia were there.

I watched as all the biospheres were destroyed and four combat shuttles launched towards the surface. My fists were clinched in anger and I finally growled to myself, “I have a combat suit and the shuttle.”

I was thinking that the weapons on board the shuttle could take out the ship if I hit it by surprise. I was moving before I finished thinking. In the shuttle bay I suited up and boarded the shuttle. I used my remote access in the suit and undocked the shuttle. I put everything online from my suit, “Allie?”

The quiet female voice whispered in my ear, “Yes my husband?”

That was something else Allie had started doing. Since the girls teased me all the time by calling me their husband, Allie had started doing it and the girls only encouraged it, “Link with the shuttle and back me up. When we land on the planet I want you to bring the shields back up and shift the ship to stealth after I get off.”

“Yes my husband.”

There was a pause, “Be careful.”

I smiled, “As careful as I can.”

It was almost fifteen minutes before I was ready and nodded to myself, “Time for payback!”

The shuttle was twenty meters long and had two smaller lances and ten energy torpedoes. They all fired at once and the Battlecruiser I had been watching shattered and a moment later its hydrogen reactor exploded. I accelerated under the debris and then I was screaming down into the atmosphere. I was almost at the landing site of the launches when three took off.

They had barely left the ground when I engaged them with the lances and five torps. They exploded as more torps ripped past them to shred the fourth shuttle. I was down a minute later and the side hatched opened. Allie’s quiet voice echoed as I started through, “I have control.”

I hit the ground and headed into the find itself. Before I had gone a dozen steps a plasma bloom engulfed my suit. Each suit had a micro phase reactor for power which was unheard of. It was where we had gotten the idea for the reactors on the ship though. The suit had a built in shield generator. Each sleeve had a mini energy torp and a small lance as well as a non lethal stunner and they also each carried a larger torp caltrop.

I ripped the three combat armor suits firing at me apart and continued on. Five more times I was fired on by plasma guns or rail projectiles. When I shattered the door for the site and stepped through I stopped. Three lightly armored men were firing light pulse guns as I stared at the body of my father and two of his friends. I tore two apart with the lance and the third hastily threw his weapon down, “I surrender!”

I was tempted to kill him anyway but I wanted answers. I turned on my exterior speaker, “Who sent you and why?”

He stammered his name and rank before shutting up. I gestured to the torn apart body that had been my father, “That is my father, I will only ask once more. Who and why?”

His face paled and he looked around for a way out. When he did not see any he swallowed, “Marshal Thomas. He said you were working on some type of new chemical weapon.”

I checked my visor display and used a sonic stunner. I moved passed him into what I knew was the find. The sight of almost two thousand dead, torn apart by battle suits sickened me. I did not want to go any closer but I had to find my girls. I did find them and some times wish I had not. Eventually I did find survivors, almost two hundred.

I used one of my suit lance’s to rip a huge hole in the ground and we buried everyone. After getting a statement the one man I had captured was put to death for mass murder. I let the survivors use my biosphere and went back to work on the phase reactors aboard Night Scream. I sat with the survivors in the evenings and showed them how to use the factory ship which distracted them as much as helped them.

It was another few weeks before I finally got the reactors online and balanced. The amount of shear power was amazing. I left for Miros quietly two weeks after that. I had thought about it after things had calmed down and had decided that I would find this Marshal Thomas.

Chapter 2

I slipped out of the wormhole on the edge of the system and set course for the third planet. I switched on the com, “Fleet control, this is the starship Night Scream.”

I waited for the delay and watched as my active scans showed two battleships and four battlecruiser heading towards me. The comm came to life, “Night Scream, this is fleet control. State your allegiance and your home system.”

I smiled, “I am a citizen of Grer.”

There was another long pause and I saw my combat scan flash red. The warships had targeted my ship and I waited until the comm came back on, “Night Scream, state the nature of your ship.”

I snorted, “Fleet control, Night Scream is a warship.”

This time another voice came on, “Night Scream, this is the battleship Grendal. Come to a full stop and prepare for boarders.”

I looked straight at the display, “Grendal, this ship and its contents are classified eyes only. Do you have a flag officer that can meet me?”

There was a long pause while I brought the ship to a sudden stop that would be ringing bells, “Stand by Night Scream.”

Grendal came back on the comm a minute later, “A shuttle is on its way. You can speak to Admiral Peters when he boards.”

“Thank you Grendal.”

I looked at the glowing display that represented Allie, “Allie, light up the starboard docking hatch.”

Her display blinked, “Done my husband.”

I shook my head and headed towards the hatch. I knew when the shuttled docked, the whole ship shivered. The hatch cycled open and two armed men stood looking at me and started to step into the ship. I raised my hand, “You are not an admiral and you are not authorized to enter.”

They ignored me and kept moving only to freeze as my pistol stopped moving pointed at them. They did not even twitch as another man moved forward. He wore the uniform I recognized as an admiral, “Drawing a weapon on an imperial soldier is punishable by death.”

I smiled, “Entering a restricted eyes only area without permission or need to know is punishable by death.”

He looked at me and his lips twitched, “You have a point.”

I holstered my weapon and he nodded and gestured for the two men to step back, “I am Admiral Peters.”

I held out my hand and he shook it, “Captain Charles Knight.”

He looked at me and I smiled, “Allie close the hatch after the admiral and monitor the shuttle.”

Allie’s quiet voice startled the admiral, “Yes my husband.”

I shrugged, “Now I can show you to the galley and explain a little about why we are here.”

He nodded and I led the way while Allie closed the hatch. I used the synthesizer for two cups of coffee and sat across the table from the admiral. I took a sip while he did the same and cleared my throat, “first I am here because of what happened at home.”

The admiral did not even blink as he continued to look at me. I kept looking at him, “We had a Talis Battlecruiser destroy all the biospheres in orbit before launching assault shuttles to the planet. They killed seventeen hundred and ninety two unarmed civilians. I am here to see if you know the location of a Marshal Thomas. I want to return him to Grer for questioning and trail.”

He shifted and finally sighed before pulling a small comm device out, “Grendal this is Admiral Peters.”

There was a short pause, “Is everything okay sir?”

He chuckled, “I am fine. Patch me through to Admiral George.”

It was only a couple of minutes before… “What do you have out there Henry?”

The admiral kept looking at me, “A request for assistance in locating Marshal Thomas.”

There was a delay and then, “You know that is classified.”

Admiral Peters gave me a small smile, “You know his location is always changing. Captain Knight is here trying to find Marshal Thomas on a matter related to a mass murder in Grer.”

There was another delay, this one longer. Finally, “Our last report was that he was en route to Petel, but you know he will only be there a few days.”

I stood up, “In that case I need to get going.”

Admiral Peters sighed, “Captain Knight, it is a seven day trip to Petel. I had him tell you to show that there was very little possibility of you catching Marshal Thomas.”

I only looked at him, “I can be in Petel in four and a half days.”

He looked at me in surprise and I gestured for him to follow me. I led him back towards the starboard hatch, “Allie, open the hatch for the admiral. Plot a least time course to Petel and have it ready for me on the bridge.”

“Yes my husband.”

The admiral was quiet as he stepped through the hatch and turned to look at me, “You are not going to have a chance. You do know that don’t you?”

I looked into his eyes, “They tore my father and my wives apart. I will either take him into custody or kill him.”

I hesitated, “My mother teaches at the royal college. Tell her dad is dead.”

I closed the hatch and turned to walk back to the bridge. I felt the shuttle separate before I reached it and slid into my seat. Allie had the nav display up, showing her route. I checked everything and hit the comm, “Fleet control this is Night Scream. Thank you for your help. We are leaving on a direct course for Petel. Please keep traffic clear of our route.”

I brought up the drive and pushed it to max. I knew fleet control and every fleet ship was going to have bells and alarms going off since we were moving faster than any known vehicle could. We reached the heliopause minutes later and I opened the wormhole projectors and switched to jump drives. I sat back with a sigh, “Watch the systems Allie. I am headed to the shuttle bay to check out my combat suit and the shuttle.”

There was a pause, “Are you sure this is a good idea Charles?”

I smiled as I slid out of my chair, “Probably not. We will find him and bring him back if possible.”

The next four days were spent in quiet talk as I checked and prepped my combat suit and the assault shuttle. We came out of the wormhole on the edge of the heliopause. I switched on the stealth systems and headed in system at max. My passive scans had picked up six battleships, eight Battlecruisers, six heavy and six light cruisers and twelve destroyers, “Allie, look for fixed positions.”

“Yes my husband.”

It only took three hours to reach the fourth planet. I had pre plotted firing sequences for both fixed sites and any ship within range of our weapons. I made sure the battle screen was up along with the shield and shut down the stealth systems. I hit the comm, “Petel control, this is Night Scream. I am in high orbit and would like to speak with Marshal Thomas.”

There was a long silence before, “Enemy ship this is Talis fleet control, surrender now or we will destroy your ship.”

I only smiled, “Turn over Marshal Thomas and I will not destroy your fleet.”

All the ship alarms went off as they started targeting the ship. I glanced at the display and hit the fire button. Sixty energy torps fired as one as well as all six lances. While they started firing on my preplanned targets, I used the phase transmitter and destroyed all six battleships that were heading towards me.

Two minutes later the alarms were silent as all the close targets were destroyed. I put Night Scream back in stealth, “Monitor the comm traffic Allie. Let me know if you hear Marshal Thomas.”

It was a couple of hours before Allie told me she had the Marshal. There were several ships in range of my weapons and I fired. I watched as they exploded or shattered and slid out of my seat and headed for the shuttle bay, “Stay in stealth mode and monitor me from orbit.”

I suited up and made my way aboard the shuttle, “Remote access the shuttle and back me up Allie. Put the Marshal’s location on my display.”

I brought up my own remote access in my suit and undocked. I dropped away unpowered and then brought the shuttle to life. I took it to full power as I brought up the shields. Dropping into the atmosphere, Allie started adding sites that were highlighted in red. Meaning they were active weapon sites.

I brought the shuttle weapons online and started taking out sites, including a dispatch ship at the space port. After my third pass, I dropped to what looked like a small park. I moved to the hatch as the shuttle settled to the ground, “Take the shuttle into stealth and keep me up on any military moving in this area”
I dropped out of the hatch and started moving towards the green dot that was Marshal Thomas. Allie came on five minutes later, “My husband, I have a bio lock on the Marshal. I am sending it to your suit now.”

It was barely a minute later that I hit resistance. I did not hesitate and used my suit torp caltrop. It was a blur after that as I shattered every piece of armor that tried to engage me. I had landed two kilometers from where Allie had the Marshal located and it seemed to take forever to cover the distance. I shattered the front of the bunker as I walked towards it and let the caltrop drop to the rest position.

I walked through the smoking ruin and used my suit lance to open a thick armored door. There were a dozen combat suits firing at me as I walked through. By the time I finished taking them out, my shield was glowing even though it was only down ten percent, “My husband, I have multiple shuttle launches heading towards you.”

I used a lance to open the next armored door, “Thank you Allie.”

As I stepped into the next room several things hit me. First, everyone except three people was wearing unpowered body armor. Second, the three people not in armor had weapons held against them. Third, there was no other way out except through the door I was standing in. A richly dressed man stepped out, “Surrender or we kill them.”

I did not even hesitate, I brought up my stunner and shot all three unarmed people. As they dropped to the floor a stunned silence sweep the room. I pointed one of my lances at the man standing there with his mouth open, “Marshal Thomas I am detaining you for mass murder.”

Several of the men fired their weapons and I swept the room with torps. I shot the Marshal with my stunner and moved to pick him up by the back of his armor. I turned and started walking back the way I had come, “Allie? Where are the shuttles now?”

“Just reentering atmosphere now. ETA, ten minutes.”

I kept walking, dragging the Marshal behind me as I left the building and brought my caltrop up with one hand. Do you have anything on the ground?”

“Negative.”

I was halfway back to the shuttle when the assault shuttles swept over me. I had to smile as I realized they were landing further away. I approached the park, “Allie, sync the battle screen with my suit shield and bring the shuttle out of stealth.”

There was a shimmer and then the shuttle was suddenly right before me. The hatch opened and I went through tossing the unconscious Marshal into the tangle field I had prepared. I strapped in and put the shuttle back into stealth. I lifted and turned in one smooth move and then accelerated towards the upper atmosphere. Allie brought up a ghost display and guided me toward Night Scream.

A grav tractor reached out to grab us and suddenly we were slipping through the stealth field of Night Scream. I had seen over a dozen ships in near orbit before the bay doors closed. It was only moments before the bay pressure was synced and the hatch opened. I quickly stripped out of my armor and then shut the tangle field down.

I grabbed the groggy form of the Marshal and stripped him out of his armor and pulled him after me as I headed towards the sick bay. In the sick bay I stripped him and pushed him into the nearest stasis tube. I made my way to the bridge and slid into my chair, “Plot a course for Grer Allie.”
“Yes my husband.”

I checked the scans to see all the ships running active scans. I quickly set up a fire plan and as I turned the ship towards the outer system, I fired everything. All the remaining ships in Petel exploded or just shattered as I started accelerating at full speed. Allie cleared her throat, “Check your display for the new course.”

I glanced down and smiled as I realized I was heading out on the wrong vector, “Thank you my wife.”

Allie was quiet for a long time and then almost whispered, “Your welcome Charles.”

We hit the heliopause and opened a wormhole out. I did not see the small scout ship that came alive after the wormhole closed behind me. It sped into deep space and then another wormhole opened and it to was gone. I was tempted to drag Marshal Thomas out and question him but waited.

It took six and a half days to get to Grer. By the time I opened the hatch on the shuttle that brought us down to the surface the Marshal was begging and pleading for me to turn him over to the Mariss fleet. All the survivors were waiting as I pushed him to the edge of the mass grave. I let them question him under a truth scanner and when they were done he was shot in the head.

They pulled him away from the grave and dropped him in a hole to rot. I guess that was when it really hit me that my girls… my best friends and companions, were really gone. I retreated to Night Scream and had Allie put her into stealth.

I did not want to talk to anyone and only came out of my retreat when a squadron of cruisers crossed the heliopause. It took a minute to realize they were Mariss and I went back to brooding. The cruisers were in system for a week before they headed out and Allie got a call.

Chapter 3

It was the survivors and they said they knew I wanted to be left alone but I needed to get off my butt and do something so this never happened again. They kept repeating it and finally it broke through. I was sitting in Olivia’s hydroponics section tearing leaves apart and finally stopped moving, “Allie?”

There was a silent wait before she answered quietly, “Yes my husband?”

I smiled, “I need a holo board and interface.”

“Of course my husband.”

The board dropped into my hands and I thought for a minute, “Allie, display a common bio of a mixture of Jess, Teri, Julie and Olivia.”

The small holo display filled with a composite of all four girls. I concentrated on what I was doing and tuned everything out, “Change the hair color to a strawberry color and increase the bust slightly to match Olivia.”

It did not really look like Olivia or for that matter any one of the girls, “Darken the skin slightly, a bronze color.”

I smiled at the results and nodded, “That is good. What do you think?”

“She looks very pretty.”

I could almost hear a note of envy in her voice. I nodded to myself and went to work. First I pulled the skeleton out, “I need a composite to replace the bone. Something a little stronger than natural bone, it also needs to be as light or lighter in weight.”

I went through each and every system of the human body, replacing it with lighter and stronger composites. Last was the brain and I had thought about this very carefully. I just used the interface to draw what my mind saw, it was like an AI core but with a triple redundant phase receiver transmitter.

I sat back looking at the girl in my display, “Allie, would you analyze it for me?”

I grinned as she made her throat clearing noise, “Everything looks good but without…”

I held up my hand, “You will notice she has vocal cords.”

“Yes my husband but…”

I kept looking at the display, “Could you remotely access and use it?”

There was a long pronounced pause and finally, “Yes. I… I could access it but I would need time to learn.”

I smiled and my whole body seemed to relax, “Allie, all humans learn how to use their bodies over time. You are one of us, you call me your husband. Well, if you want I can give you a body.”

There was a longer pause then before. Allie came back quiet and almost timid, “I would like that very much my husband.”

I smiled and stood up, “Lock this into memory, name it Allie and get me a shopping list. You can put my holo board back in the workshop. Let me know if I can find everything here. I am going to get cleaned up and then we are going to Miros.”

“Yes my husband.”

I walked out of hydroponics feeling better than I had in a long time. I took a long shower and changed into clean clothes before heading towards the bridge, “Take us out of stealth Allie.”

I slid into my chair, “How is the shopping list look?”

“Everything you need is here, my husband.”

I started checking the course to Miros, “Unless it belongs to someone, bring it aboard and put it in the workshop.”

It was several minutes before an excited Allie came back, “Everything is waiting for you.”

I nodded and turned the ship onto the course and headed out system. Hours later we wormholed out and I stood up, “Keep an eye on the systems Allie.”

I headed aft and went to the workroom. I took a breath and brought the large display alive. I loaded the project listed as Allie and spent several minutes reviewing it. When I was satisfied, I fed it to the matter transmitter. It was a few minutes before the body appeared from the glow on my workbench.

I reached out to touch her, “Allie before you access your body, I want you to listen. This body is like a human body. Once you access it, you have to leave part of yourself in place, if you do not the body dies. You will find yourself in chaos. You will have trouble seeing, speaking, controlling your muscles and especially walking.”

I stepped back, “You will have to eat, drink and use the bathroom to get rid of waste. Until you have control I will have to help you feed and dispose of waste. You have to start with simple muscle movement, crawling and holding onto things to stand. From there you can move on to balancing on your feet and learning to walk or run.”

I took a breath, “Whenever you are ready, access your body.”

The body twitched and the ship speakers whined, “Charles I… I….”

I put my hand on the twitching body, “Relax Allie, let the chaos go and concentrate on one thing at a time. Use your ship sensors to watch what the body is doing.”

The body’s twitching slowed but its crocking continued. I smiled, “Allie, start with the letters of the alphabet. Try to pronounce each one clearly.”

I put my arms under her and lifted. I carried her light frame through the ship to the galley. I needed to get her to eat, I put her in a chair and she almost fell out. I finally set her on the floor and leaned her back against a wall while I considered. It took me almost a half hour to mash up some food to feed her. I described a diaper to Allie and had her make a few.

I left her briefly to check Olivia’s room for clothes and returned to put a shirt and pair of loose pants on. I carried her to the sick bay where I found a hover chair. I secured her to the chair and things seemed to calm down slightly. For the next five days I was constantly with her. She slept or at least lay beside me while I slept, everywhere I went, she went.

By the time we left the wormhole on the edge of Miros, Allie was walking in minimal gravity and was able to speak. Best for me was the fact that she no longer needed diapers, although I was still feeding her while she learned to eat. Her vision had improved dramatically and even though she had not gotten it down completely she was calmer.

She was seated slightly behind me as I brought the ship to a stop and opened the comm, “Fleet control, this is Night Scream.”

There was a pause as I watched ships scramble to meet us, “Night Scream, this is Fleet control.”

I smiled, “Fleet control, I would like to set course for Miros.”

Again the pause while I saw all but one ship turn away, “Stand by Night Scream.”

A moment later, “Night Scream, this is Grendal.”

I grinned, “How may I assist you Grendal?”

There was only a slight lag, “Admiral Peters requests permission to come aboard.”

I smiled as a shuttle separated from the battleship as it still closed, “Ask the admiral if he would consider having lunch with me.”

A moment later they came back, “The admiral said he would be delighted.”

I locked the controls down and stood to help Allie into her chair, “Kept an eye on things Allie.”

She smiled, “yes my husband.”

Those had been her first words from her body and I smiled as I heard the slight blur. She followed in her chair as I headed towards the starboard hatch, “Light up the starboard hatch Allie.”

Today she was wearing a stunning ship suit she had designed herself. I liked the way it looked even if she did have a habit of wearing reveling clothes like Julie and Jess. This time when the hatch opened there was only the admiral and another officer, a captain by his uniform. The admiral smiled, “This is Captain Janis, he is the captain of Grendal.”

I nodded and stepped back. The admiral stepped through and looked at Allie, “Who is this young lady?”

I smiled, “My wife Allie.”

He smiled and bowed, “My pleasure to meet you.”

The captain bowed as well and Allie smiled. I gestured and led the way to the galley. While they sat, I selected tea from the synthesizer and set their cups on the table before sitting beside Allie. She was still having trouble with hot or cold foods so I always tested hers before giving them to her. I ignored the two men and checked her tea, it was something she had developed a taste for.

I held it so she could sip and then set her cup down to look at the admiral, “I get the impression this is not a social call.”

He smiled and took a sip of tea before sighing, “No. We have the report of your… arrest of Marshal Thomas. It shocked and frightened quit a few people.”

I sipped my tea and gave Allie another sip before looking at him. I shrugged, “What can I say, I told you what I would do. I even warned you that this ship and its systems were… classified.”

The captain chuckled, “That is an understatement. Six battleships, eight Battlecruisers, six heavy and six light cruisers and twelve destroyers, not to mention all the fixed weapons.”

I let Allie have another sip of tea before standing and moving to the synthesizer. I pulled up the holo menu and looked at my two visitors. I selected appetizers and went back to the table to set them down and Allie smiled, “I like those.”

I grinned, “You have not tasted them before, how do you know you like them?”

She only looked at me, “Because they were Julie’s favorite.”

I sighed, she did this sometime, “You know what I told you. You have to taste something before you decide to like it. Just because Julie liked something, does not mean you will.”

Allie only looked at the appetizers, “please.”

I took one of the small spicy rolls and broke off a piece to feed her. I ignored the men again as they tried the rolls, she chewed slowly and carefully. I could see her expression change and let her sip her tea. She looked at me, “That was spicy?”

I nodded and turned to the admiral, “I was considering helping your fleet against the Talis but since I was born in Grer, I would need his majesty to… approve my alliance. I will also have to send a formal declaration of war to Talis.”

The admiral and captain looked at each other while I went back to helping Allie with another piece of spicy roll. It was quiet for several minutes until I went back to the synthesizer. I selected a small cold salad and brought them to the table. After the salad was a soup and then a main course of what looked like small steak. After that was small individual loaves of a special flavored bread and cheese. Last was small globes of fruit in a light pastry, I made sure to change the drinks every other course.

The admiral and captain stayed quiet the whole time and only watched amused as Allie ate each of the dishes. When we were done they sat back with a sigh as I gathered the last of the dishes and put them in the recycler. I turned to the admiral, “So, are you going to let me go to Miros?”

He grinned, “After feeding me a meal like that, how could I turn you away?”

The captain laughed, “I do not know how your machine made it but it was the best meal I have had in a long time.”

I led them back to the hatch and watched as it closed after them. Allie cleared her throat from a display speaker, “They seemed nice.”

I snorted as I turned to head to the bridge, “They were evaluating us the entire time. Speaking of time, time for you to go exercise and burn some of that meal off.”

Allie turned the chair and headed towards the gym and I slid into my seat, “Fleet control, this is Night Scream, permission to proceed to Miros.”

There was only a pause of a couple of seconds before they came back, “Night Scream, you are cleared to Miros. Contact Miros orbital control when you are ready.”

I switched the comm channel as I started the ship moving, “Miros orbital control, this is Night Scream.”

There was the expected delay, “Night Scream, this is orbital control. Maintain approach vector and recontact us at ten light minutes.”

I pushed the acceleration up to sixty percent and sat back. It would be almost six hours before I had to recontact orbital control. I turned on a remote display to watch Allie and grinned at her gliding steps, “You need to turn up the gravity slightly Allie.”

She hesitated and then started walking again. I could see the difference in her steps, she took longer to lift her feet and take a step. I grinned, “You should learn martial arts like Jess. It stretches the muscles and can help with your balance.”

Allie looked at the display, “I had not thought of that.”

I grinned, “us mortals sometimes think of things you do not.”

She smiled her sweet smile as she paused and closed her eyes before slowly bending in a stretch. I flipped off the display and sat back to think. I finally flipped the comm button and switched to the planetary net, “Miros central, this is Night Scream. Could you put a request into the palace for a contact concerning an alliance with Grer?”

There was a lag and then, “Night Scream, a request has already been sent in by admiral Peters.”

I grinned, “Thank you central.”

I switched back to orbital control and relaxed. Allie came in several hours later and moved up beside my chair, “My husband?”

I smiled as I looked at her, “Yes Allie.”

She looked at me and spoke slowly, “why have you not… made love to me like you did with Julie, Jess, Teri and Olivia?”

I sat back and frowned, “For one reason, you do not have control of your body completely. For another… I did not want to take advantage of you.”

She kept looking at me, “When will…”

I stopped her as my face reddened, “Allie, you are my wife. When you are ready, we will make love. Your body is as real as any woman’s. The only thing you can not do is reproduce like another woman. Just sleeping with me comforts me more than you know. Did you know that when the girls were alive, Olivia used to sleep on me when she knew I felt bad? Being with me keeps the sadness away.”

She smiled and seemed to relax. I smiled, “You know we are almost on Miros. I was thinking about going to a play or a nice symphony. How are the muscles in your eyes doing?”

Allie looked down, “I think they are at… about eighty percent.”

I grinned, “Good enough.”

I glanced at the display as it beeped and flicked on the comm button, “Orbital control, this is Night Scream.”

There was no delay this time, “Night Scream, are you capable for atmosphere flight?”

I grinned, “Control we are capable of flight in atmosphere.”

“You are cleared for immediate entry, head for buoy Green six.”

I checked my scans and made a slight correction. It was only a few minutes later that I was approaching the buoy, “Control this is Night Scream, we are passing the buoy now.”

“Roger Night Scream. Take a heading of two nine zero and descend to eighty kilometers. Slow to two thousand kilometers.”

I reset everything and started the descent, “I hope she can do this, we never actually got to test this.”

Allie shifted, “All systems green but the screen is heating up.”

I glanced at that display and nodded, “still within parameters but put the Battle Screen on standby.”

When I leveled out the comm came to life, “Night Scream, change vector to descend to fifty kilometers and switch comm to capital control.”

I looked at the display to see thick storm clouds and only shook my head as I switched the channel, “Looks like we are going to get wet Allie.”

When I leveled out we were in thick clouds and I switched to scanners to see. I flicked the comm, “Capital control this is Night Scream on approach.”

A few minutes later, “Night Scream, change heading to one eight zero and descend to twenty thousand. Drop acceleration to five hundred kilometers.”

I turned the ship and dropped to just under the clouds as we slowed even more, “Allie, bring up the anti gravity and switch internal gravity off.”

There was a tremor and a new display blinked green, “Everything green my husband.”

Almost ten minutes later, “Night Scream, turn to nine zero and descend to five thousand. Reduce speed to three hundred kilometers and watch for the outer marker.”

We dropped even further and I watched as ocean waves raced below us. The scanner flashed with a warning as we passed the outer marker, “Control, this is Night Scream. We just passed the outer marker.”

“Copy Night Scream, change heading to four five and descend to one thousand.”

It really looked like the ocean was rushing by as we dropped lower and changed course. I could see the inner marker when control called back, “Night Scream, maintain course and drop to your foot print. Slow to one hundred kilometers and watch for your guide.”

Allie shifted, “Do you want me to shut down the screen?”

I shook my head, “No, leave it up in case the anti grav gives out.”

It was only a moment before I saw the guide and then my alarms flashed red with a targeting warnings. I knew it would take to long to raise shields, “Battle Screen Allie!”

The screen snapped into place as a HV (Hyper Velocity) missile slammed into it. I spun the ship and brought it to a hover before I brought a single torp launcher on line and fired. The whole area of ocean came alive in whirling lightning and steam as the torp slammed into the spot where the missile had come from, “Bring the shields up. Activate the battle scans. Bring defensive lasers online.”

I was speaking mostly to myself as my fingers flicked through their dance. I ignored the comm as I sought the person that had just fired on me. Suddenly I saw them just below the surface, “Targeting the submerged vehicle Allie. Switch lasers to sync with torp firing control.”

A moment later a second missile exploded against the battle screen. I got a green light on the laser targeting and fired. There was a huge boiling of water as it vaporized into steam. The ship under the water exploded a second later and I began a complete scan of my area, “Status of the battle screen Allie.”

“Still at one hundred percent.”

I finally relaxed when I did not find anything else. I flicked the comm button, “Capital control, this is the Grer warship Night Scream. We have been fired on, state your intentions.”

My glance flicked to the shields as they came online. The comm had suddenly gone quiet and I looked at Allie, “Allie get into your seat and strap in.”

Her hover chair moved slightly before she stood and took two steps and turned to sit. Even in all the excitement I had to grin, she had walked normally under a full gravity and strapped herself into her seat. The hover chair vanished as the comm came to life, “Night Scream this is Admiral George. We are not responsible for firing at you. Stand by and four Battlecruisers will escort you.”

I snorted, “I do not need or want an escort. I will maintain my shields and proceed on my own.”

I took a breath, “control, give me a heading and speed.”

There was a moment before, “Night Scream, follow the guide to your grav pad.”

It was a long tense half hour as the tiny guide ship led us through several buoys and onto cracked burned ground. When we finally saw the grav pad, it was isolated but I saw a large grav car waiting.

I moved onto the pad carefully, matching and syncing our anti grav. I finally sat back and flick on the comm, “Capital control this is Night Scream. We are secure on our pad. Thank you for your assistance, Night Scream clear.”

I relaxed, “Allie drop shields to standby. Put all weapons on standby as well. Keep the screen and battle screen active and shut down all other systems.”

“Yes my husband.”

I grinned as I turned to look at her, “You do realize you walked in full gravity and strapped yourself in?”

She looked at me and then smiled, “I forgot and just did it.”

Chapter 4

I glanced at the viewer that showed the boarding hatch and saw two people, one I recognized as my mother but the other was a stranger, “Open the screens and the hatch for our guests Allie. Tell them we will be there shortly.”

“Yes my husband.”

I stood up and looked around, “Where did you put your hover chair?”

It appeared in front of me and I helped her into her chair. I smiled as I walked into the boarding lobby. Mom smiled and embraced me before I finally sighed and pulled back, “Dad’s dead mom.”

She nodded, “They told me.”

I nodded and she sighed, “Somehow I knew…”

I looked at the stranger standing at the hatch. Mom finally cleared her throat, “Where are my manners. Charles, this is Prince David.”

She smiled at me, “He is our mentor at the college and wanted to meet you.”

I knew something was going on between mom and this prince. I had recognized the name right away from all the news coverage. He was the youngest son of the royal family. I held out my hand, “Welcome aboard the Night Scream.”

He smiled as he stepped closer and took my hand. I gestured to Allie, “My wife, Allie.”

I glanced at my mom to see her startled look. I grinned, “Allie?”

“Yes my husband?”

Mom jerked again and I grinned, “Give mom and the prince access to the common areas of the ship.”

“Yes my husband.”

I gestured for mom to proceed me with Allie, “Would you take my mom to the Galley?”

I followed along behind them with David beside me. He seemed amused and whispered, “Just wait, she will start questioning you about everything when you relax.”

I grinned, “I am used to that.”

Mom just stared when I used the synthesizer for cups of tea. I had made sure it was programmed just the way she used to like it. She was quiet as she sat and sipped her tea with the David beside her. She finally shook herself, “Where did you, which ship…”

I was holding Allie’s tea and laughed as David grinned at me, “Told you so.”

I grinned back, “If you mean the synthesizer, it is a kind of hybrid technology. Like many of the things that are a part of the ship.”

Mom licked her lips, “The power for something like that…”

I nodded, “That is why we have three Phase Reactors.”

Her eyes widened, “We never completely…”

I laughed and she blushed before sitting back, “What else?”

I looked at Allie, “I think the only other thing I can tell you about right now is the medical technology we worked out and placed in Olivia’s sick bay. Everything from true stasis tubes to regen tanks. Technologies to regenerate or regrow a body part. Scanners, that like the synthesizer repair damages and… well, a lot more.”

I sat brooding and mom reached out to touch my hand, “I am sorry. The fleet put out a list of the dead.”

I nodded and finally sighed as I looked at Allie, “At least I have Allie.”

Mom looked at her and took a breath. Somehow I knew what was coming, “and just what is Allie?”

I smiled not taking my eye away from Allie, “she was an AI on an alien warship. They just shut her down and left her. Julie found her and after checking her code, brought her back. I guess you could say Allie is a second computer system for the ship, a back up system. Julie, Jess, Teri and Olivia thought she was one of us and called her…”

My voice broke and I took a minute while Allie slowly reached out to wipe a tear away, “They called her their sister and my wife. I made this body for her after I returned to Grer. In most ways it is as human as me.”

I sighed and finally looked at mom and grinned, “Allie is my friend and companion and yes my wife. Just today she demanded to know why I had not taken her to bed and made love to her.”

Mom blushed while David covered his mouth and choked. I caressed Allie’s face, “she feels like you feel. She can taste food even if I still have to help her eat. Her vision is getting better and is like yours. Her hearing is the same as yours. She smells odors just like you do. She has to eat and rest and yes, even go to the bathroom.”

I looked at my mother, “If she leaves the body completely, it dies.”

Mom sat back looking at Allie, “Why didn’t you just clone a body?”

I blinked and looked at Allie while she looked at me. Mom suddenly laughed, “You did not think of it.”

I blushed and then grinned while Allie looked down, “I think this was better. If I had just moved into a body I would not have survived.”

I smiled thinking about the chaos she had described to me. Mom pursed her lips, “You know that has happened every time they tried it. I wonder why?”

I smiled, “Because the body they move into is strange and they do not know how to do anything. Not muscle control, sight or more importantly, talking.”

Mom sat back stunned and then smiled. Like always, when she found one answer she went after others. She looked at me calmly, “But how did you figure out…”

David laughed and I grinned, “We had access to everyones notes and worked it out. The hardest part was the matter transmitter and the Phase Reactor.”

She was stunned but I had noticed the prince jerk when I had mentioned the matter transmitter. I only glanced at him, “I dismantled the transmitter before I left and almost all the notes were destroyed when the Battlecruiser destroyed the biospheres.”

I smiled at mom, “Any chance we can see a play or something?”

David cleared his throat, “As young as you are they will not allow you into service. They will more than likely demand the ship and its technology.”

I looked at him calmly, “First, this is technology from an independent system. Second, the technology and this ship belong to me. Third, I have protocols in place to prevent anyone from taking Night Scream covertly. And fourth, there is nothing that can breach her shields and take her by force.”

He looked at my mother and she returned his look. I was quiet and finally looked at mom, “We are going after the Talis Empire, with or without the support of fleet. They did not just kill almost everyone at home. Dad was torn apart by someone in a combat armor and they took pleasure doing it. They did the same thing to Jess, Julie, Teri and Olivia.”

Mom’s face had paled but David was only quiet. He finally sighed and pulled out a small comm, “I need to speak to father.”

There was a low hum from the comm and then a strong male voice, “What is it now David?”

He looked straight at me, “Father, I am with Mary’s son. I… I need your authorization to offer him a position in the Rangers.”

There was a silence on the comm and then, “I am looking at Mary’s file and Charles Samuel Knight is only sixteen and listed as independent system resident.”

He continued to stare at me while mother sucked in her breath, “I know father. If you have read the report on Petel… At least meet him father.”

There was silence for almost a minute, “I am at the Admiralty. Stay there and I will be there in ten minutes.”

The comm clicked and David relaxed, “You will need to grant him and his bodyguards access to the whole ship.”

I sat back and looked at Allie. She pursed her lips remarkably like mom and I almost said something. She finally shrugged, “I am not sure my husband.”

I smiled, “You know, you can mix up your terms of address when you talk to me.”

The Allie grinned, “Alright my love.”

I shook my head and sat back thinking. Allie interrupted me a few minutes later, “Several grav cars are approaching.”

I stood with David who waved mom back down. I nodded to Allie to stay and walked back to the boarding lobby with the prince. I looked at him while we walked and his mouth twitched, “You can ask.”

I grinned, “It is should I ask?”

He grinned and turned to me, “Your mother and I are… seeing each other. She is a special woman.”

I smiled as I turned to the open hatch and four men stepped through. The next person to come through while the four men spread out to cover the lobby was a tall well built man. I recognized him from all his pictures, only right now he looked… tired. I bowed slightly, “Welcome aboard Night Scream.”

He smiled and another man stepped in behind him. He wore the dress uniform of a full fleet Admiral. I could see several men fanning out around the ship. I cleared my throat, “Would it make your security feel better if the ship’s shields were on?”

The Emperor started and looked at one of his security men who hesitated and then nodded. I smiled, “Allie? Bring up your shields but let the security comms continue to operate.”

“Yes my husband.”

The emperor nodded and I looked into his face, “Many of the devices on this ship are… restricted and unknown. If the technology were to get out…”

He raised his hand, “Say no more.”

I nodded, “Allie, give his Majesty and his guards unlimited access. The Admiral can have access in the common areas.”

“Of course love.”

Even I started at that and David grinned at me. I turned to lead the way back to the galley. The prince had fallen in beside his father and I could hear them talking quietly. At the galley, I gestured to the table and walked to the synthesizer.

I looked at the emperor, “something to drink?”

He surprised me when he asked for some fruit juice. I looked at the admiral and he grinned, “coffee of course, make it black.”

I turned to the synthesizer and ordered the coffee before thinking about the choices of juices, I smiled and ordered. I carried both to the table while the guards and everyone else it seemed continued to stare at the synthesizer. I sat their cups down and waited until they had sipped their beverage.

The emperor smiled and then became serious as he looked at me, “I know you want revenge for what happened but…”

I held my hand up and realized everyone was startled. No one was supposed to interrupt the emperor when he talked. I smiled, “If I wanted revenge I would not have bothered coming here.”

He looked at me and sat back taking another sip of juice, “Alright, tell me what you want.”

I looked at Allie and then looked back at him, “Okay, we want to push Talis back to their own planets. If we have to destroy every ship they own, we will. What they did on Grer was not war. It was murder for the sake of murder. With this ship, we can bring the war to an end.”

He sat there looking at me and finally nodded, “Tell me about your ship.”

I looked at the admiral and gestured for the emperor to stand and follow. I led him and his guards to the bridge, “Allie?”

“Yes love?”

I smiled and gestured for the emperor to sit in my chair, “Filter all comms and block my words.”

“Acknowledged Charles.”

I looked at the Emperor, “Okay, try to follow. This ship was built atom by atom, using a matter transmission device we built and adapted. The frame and hull are made of a super dense alloy that would be difficult to damage at best. Built into the hull are three other technologies. Built into the alloy itself is a chameleon like property that would make it hard to see if we did not keep a negative charge.”

I thought for a minute and then continued, “Add to that is a technology that fully stealth’s the ship and last is a complete shield generating system that is probably a hundred times stronger than anything you can imagine. Our power comes from three special built Phase Reactors.”

The emperor jerked at that and I nodded, “I see you know what a Phase Reactor is, good. The engines are also different. They came from an ancient race and are three or four times more powerful than anything currently being used and half the size.”

I took a breath, “We have three weapon systems. The first is sixty of what we call energy torpedo launchers or torps launchers. They have a range out to a full light minute. They can shatter any ship’s armor in seconds.”

“Second, is what we call an energy lance, there are six and they have a range of almost five light minutes and are powerful enough to punch all the way through one of your dreadnoughts at max range.”

“Last is our main weapon, it is another concept we devolved from the matter transmission device and the Phase Reactor. It has an optimum range of about thirty light minutes but could reach out to about one light hour.”

He swallowed and I could see he wanted to ask a question. I nodded, “Go ahead and ask.”

He looked into my eyes, “What is the damage capability of the last weapon?”

I did not hesitate, “Between ten micro grams of anti matter to a thousand if you used anti matter as an equivalent. It is fully adjustable.”

I heard his guards suck in breath but he only nodded and gestured for me to continue and I smiled, “Ship systems. We have three oxygen generators and two advanced recycling systems. We have two highly advanced hydroponics sections with protein vats. Beside the synthesizer you saw for food, there is another for clothing and we have a matter transmitter section for any repairs we might need.”

I took a breath, “The last thing is the best, Allie. She was a battle AI from what you would think of as a super dreadnought. We found her and now she is part of my family, my wife.”

I waited and he put his fingers together and sat thinking. He finally nodded and stood up and let me lead him back to the galley where we found mom, Allie, David and the admiral arguing about fashion. I glanced at the emperor and he only shook his head and grinned, “I forgot to introduce you to Admiral Davis. He runs the fleet for me.”

I nodded to the red faced admiral as the emperor gathered himself. He gestured to me, “Understand that as a Ranger you are my direct vassal.”

I hesitated and finally nodded and he proceeded to swear Allie and I in. When he was done he nodded, “I will have your headquarters send your badges over. In the mean time, I have a meeting I need to get to.”

He hesitated, “I think I want another Ranger to… accompany you. She is back here for medical reasons. She lost an arm and leg.”

He looked at me before he turned to leave with the admiral following him. Mom seemed sad but smiled bravely while David cleared his throat, “Well, now that that is over... how about I take everyone shopping and then we go watch a play?”

When Allie and I returned that evening it was to see a large grav car sitting beside the ship. We looked at each other and I walked over while she waited by the now open hatch. A young woman of about twenty five with bright red hair got out of the car and slid into a hover chair.

I could only see one leg, she was also missing an arm just below the elbow, “It is about damn time!”

I blinked and then smiled, “If I had known you were coming, I would have been here.”

She grumped as I looked at Allie, “Open sick bay.”

It was almost an hour later that I took a break. I stood by one of the regen tanks that held the sleepy looking woman I now knew was the Ranger that was to go with us. I smiled, “Welcome to the Night Scream Ranger Mathis.”

She struggled and gradually looked more alert, “This gel stuff is really going to regrow my…”

I smiled at the hope in her voice, “If Olivia said it would than you will just have to suffer being whole again.”

She looked at me and relaxed, “I was pissed when HQ told me to report aboard. Call me Ginger.”

I grinned, “They did not have anything to do with it. The emperor demanded you accompany us. I think he was afraid I might get carried away.”

She raised her eyebrow and I smiled, “Rest. Tomorrow we can go into plans.”

She searched my face and then nodded before relaxing. I hesitated, “Allie?”

Her quiet voice whispered almost in my ear, “Yes Charles?”

I smiled, “Give Ranger Mathis… Ginger, full access. If she needs anything in the night call me.”
“Of course my husband.”

Ginger smiled, “My confidential brief told me Allie was an AI.”

I looked at her to see her reaction, “Allie may be artificial but she is my wife and my companion.”

She looked straight at me, “I think it is great. I always believed that an AI could feel and be as human as we are.”

I smiled and left, I found Allie in my room. I undressed and joined her in bed. She hugged me, “It was good to see your mom. She seemed nice.”

I nodded, “She is changed but at the same time…”

Allie crawled on top of me and put her head on my shoulder. I grinned and relaxed thinking about the way mom, David and Ranger Mathis had reacted to Allie. I woke to the light tingling Allie used to wake me, “What is it Allie?”

She was looking into my face and smiled, “Ranger Mathis asked for you and we have a visitor.”

I slipped out from under her and slid out of bed. I dressed quickly and helped her into another one of her daring outfits and we headed for sick bay, “Who is the visitor?”

“Ranger Samson, he is in with Ranger Mathis now.”

I walked in the door and saw a tall man by the regen tank next to Ginger. I stopped by Ginger and smiled, “Let me guess, it itches.”

She grinned, “Like you would not believe.”

I nodded, “The wounded I treated at home said the same thing. It has something to do with the growth of new parts.”

I crossed to the cabinets and pulled out two neural suppressers. I slipped one into the regen tank next to the knee and attached it before turning it on, the second went below her elbow. She sighed when it went on and I crossed to a sink to clean the regen gel off. Ginger nodded toward the man beside her, “This is Ranger Samson.”

I nodded and he grinned, “Welcome to the Rangers.”

He held out a small silver case. I took it and opened it to see the gold star with my name on the bottom and Commander across the top. I looked up and he grinned, “Brand new to the Rangers and already a Commander.”

Ginger looked at him sharply and he shrugged. “Straight from the emperor. He said something about a ship captain needing rank.”

She lifted her arm and leg out of the regen gel. She stared at the half regrown stump of her arm and then her partially regrown leg. She looked at me and I repositioned both limbs back in the tank. The other Ranger cleared his throat, “I also have the other badge and your briefing for your first mission.”

I nodded, “You can give Allie her badge now. How sensitive is the mission?”

He shrugged as he set the badge in Allie’s lap, “Not very, a run to a system with one known Cruiser squadron. No real time requirement.”

I looked at Allie, thinking before looking at Ginger, “You need another full twenty four hours and then you need therapy I am not qualified to give. I also need certain… supplies for your combat armor.”

She grinned, “I think if you call headquarters and explain what you need, Commander Mathis might be persuaded to help.”

I nodded and looked at the Ranger, “I will need the coordinates.”

He smiled as he held out a small data storage device. I took it and held it on my palm, “Allie, would you bring me my holo interface.”

She smiled, “Yes my husband.”

The interface dropped into my other hand and I inserted the data device. I turned so Ginger could see as I brought up the information. The system was Long Horn, a planet known for huge grass plains. It had one Cruiser squadron and one fixed fortress on their moon. I glanced at Allie, “I need a shopping list Allie. We need material for two armored combat suits.”

I reached for my comm link, as I pulled it out it lit up with the comm number for Ranger headquarters. I set the holo interface down as a small face filled my comm screen, “I would like to speak to Commander Mathis. This is the captain of Night Scream.”

The woman in the display nodded and the screen went blank for a minute. It lit up with the face of an older man that looked a lot like Ginger, “Commander Mathis.”

I looked at Ginger and smiled, “I was told to contact you for some of my ship requirements.”

Before his face finished changing to anger I went on, “I have Ranger Mathis in my sick bay. Because of ship requirements, I was forced to put her in one of my regen tanks. All of her wounds were retreated and both limbs should be completely regrown in another twenty four hours. However, I am not qualified in therapy techniques and need a doctor to proscribe her therapy to strengthen and retone her new limbs.”

His eyes were wide, “You… she…”

He cleared his throat, “She has her limbs back?”

I nodded, “She will have in another twenty four hours.”

He closed his eyes and then nodded almost to himself. He looked at me and smiled, “I will have one of the Ranger Doctors come over and see her. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

I looked at Allie, “I have a list of materials to make her combat armor but do not know who I should contact.”

He smiled bigger, “Send the list to me and I will make sure it gets filled.”

I nodded to Allie before looking at the Commander, “Because of our mission, we will be leaving after Ranger Mathis gets out of the regen tank.”

He nodded, “Tell her… tell her, I love her and to take better care of herself next time.”

I smiled at Ginger, “I think she heard. Thank you Commander.”

I switched the comm off, “If you need anything, call Allie.”

She grinned, “I have been talking to her already.”

I smiled at Allie, “Well, I was planning to take her to look at clothes and then a nice lunch.”

Ginger laughed, “I think she designs better than most shops.”

I grinned and walked out with Allie following me in her chair. We spent the morning window shopping for clothes. She had a small atomic matter scanner and several times I saw her scan fabric. We had just sat down in a nice restaurant when Admiral Davis showed up. He joined us as if he had been invited.

He made pleasant conversation with Allie about some of the clothes she had seen. After lunch was over he actually bent to kiss her cheek and shook my hand. When he shook my hand, he slipped a tiny data device into it. He did not say anything about it and I slipped it into a pocket.

We headed back to the ship and I reminded Allie that mom and Prince David were coming to dinner. The hatch was opening when she cleared her throat, “Ranger Mathis has two doctors in with her.”

I led her to the sick bay and found a quiet Ginger with a man and woman who were somber. They looked at me for a minute and the man cleared his throat, “What you are doing has never been tried on humans.”

I smiled as I walked to the tank and put Ginger’s limbs back into the tank, “Yes it has. I treated more than fifty people and there were no adverse reactions. It was also scanned and checked by one of my wives before she was killed. It is safe to use on humans.”

I looked at Ginger, “stay in the tank and let me know when they leave. I need to talk to you about a possible change in the mission.”

I left with Allie and went to look in the ship’s wardroom. Allie sat quietly as I checked everything and finally turned to her. She was looking at me, “Why do humans feel sad?”

I smiled as I caressed her face, “Why did you feel happy when Olivia and Julia called you their sister.”

She frowned, “I do not know.”

I turned her chair and started pushing it towards the gym, “Feelings… or emotions are something that is hard to define. Ask mom, maybe she can explain it.”

I opened the door to the gym and pushed her inside. I set the gravity to half and watched as Allie stood and hesitantly took a few steps. She started smiling after a couple of steps and by the time she had walked across the large room and turned, it had turned into a big grin. She stopped walking and started stretches before moving into a kata.

I grinned, “Is it helping with the balance?”

She kept grinning and did not stop her slow careful movements, “Yes.”

I let my body relax and like I had with Jess, I moved forward and faced Allie. I followed her slow careful katas, mirroring them and all to soon she stopped moving. She carefully walked to her chair and sat, “I feel tingles and twitches in my legs, it feels… not good.”

I smiled, “That is the muscles beginning to firm up and tone. It is called pain.”

I turned the gravity back up, “How does your back and shoulders feel?”

She looked at me, “The same as my legs.”

I took her to sick bay and Ginger looked up when we came in. She was kind of pensive and watched as I lifted Allie out of her chair and onto a gurney on her stomach. I went through one of the cabinets until I found a muscle relaxer. I started rubbing her muscles down and Ginger seemed curious, “Allie?”

Allie actually sighed as she turned her head to see Ginger, “Yes Ranger Mathis?”

Ginger grinned, “Call me Ginger, I was curious about why you need your muscles relaxed.”

Allie shivered as I started rubbing her legs, “I am still learning to use this body and learning to use my muscles.”

Ginger looked at me and then suddenly laughed, “and here I was feeling sorry for myself because I need to learn to use my hand and foot over again. I can not even imagine learning to use my whole body over again.”

Allie sighed again, “I hope it does not take to long. It feels… unpleasant.”

I looked at Allie, “Hope Allie?”

She smiled, “That it the correct word.”

I grinned at Ginger as she laughed again, “Yes, that is the correct word.”

I pulled out the data device Admiral Davis had given me and went to pick up the holo interface. I put the data device in and went back to trying to get Allie’s muscles to relax. Admiral Davis appeared with another man. He had white hair and looked very old, “Captain Knight, I gave you this because it contains classified information about Long Horn. This is Ranger Smith, he is the head of the Rangers.”

I glanced at Ginger and she nodded. Admiral Davis took a breath, “Long Horn does not have just one cruiser squadron it has at least a six fleet task force.”

Ginger gasped but I ignored her as the admiral continued, “If your ship is as good as you told the emperor than this could help end the war. We just received news of at least a dozen new shipyards that are in full operation.”

He looked at the old man who smiled slightly, “Welcome son. You should know we never quit. Get it done.”

The holo went blank and then flashed a message of data error. Ginger sat back, “six fleets.”

I finished the last of Allie’s muscle groups and put the muscle relaxer away, “Have you been eating Ginger?”

She grinned, “I have had five visitors and they all brought a little something.”

I helped Allie off the gurney and back into her hover chair and she looked at me, “I need to change for your mother and the prince.”

I had to grin, she sounded just like Teri, “Do you need help?”

She shook her head, “I think I can manage.”

Ginger laughed as Allie turned and left. I picked up the holo interface and brought it to Ginger, “You can use this to learn about the ship.”

She smiled and I set it on a tray beside the tank. I went to my cabin and found Allie looking at a display with her scanner in her lap. I grinned, “Have you showered first?”

She shook her head and finally looked away from her display, “There are so many choices. How do you humans know what to wear?”

I grinned as I turned her chair and tossed her scanner onto the bed, “Making a choice is easy. Making the right choice is harder.”

I pushed her chair into the fresher and helped her stand before undressing her. I undressed and helped her into the water curtain. As I washed her, I thought about her question, “I guess deciding on what to wear is an individual trait. One I am not sure I have mastered. The choice should be decided by circumstances, what you are going to do. Tonight is still informal… at least I think it is. I guess a nice outfit like you had on earlier would work. Ask mom or since she is on board, use the holo interface and ask Ginger, she is a woman.”

Allie looked at me, “Do you like Ginger?”

I finished washing her hair and helped her out. I dried her before sitting her in her chair. I looked into her face, “I do not know Ginger. She was sent here to watch us because the emperor does not trust us yet. I think she is a… nice person and yes, maybe I will like her one day. But she is not Julie, Jess, Teri or Olivia.”

Allie nodded and I gestured, “Go get dressed.”

I stepped back under the water curtain and started washing, thinking about what Allie had asked. I got out and dried off and came into my room to see Allie talking to Ginger and got dressed. I slipped out and went to the wardroom to set the table and use the synthesizer for cold drinks. I left and went to the hydroponics section and found what I was looking for.

When I returned to the wardroom, Allie was there with the holo of Ginger. I smiled as I put the flowers in the center of the table. Allie stopped talking and was looking at the flowers curiously. I nodded to Ginger, “Ask Ginger.”

I went back to setting up while I heard her ask Ginger why I had put flowers on the table. She turned to me a moment later, “Your mother is here.”

I stopped what I was doing and went to the hatch to greet them. I led them both to the wardroom and mom’s eyes widened. I grinned and gestured to the table, “Have a seat, I still have a couple of things to do. Besides, I think Allie has been saving up questions to ask you.”

I turned back to the menu I had been working on and could hear Allie introducing Ginger and then ask mom about feelings. I tuned them out as I finished what I was doing and picked up the tiny remote for the synthesizer. I helped Allie out of her chair and into a seat and grinned at Ginger in the holo, “Care to join us?”

She looked down at the tank and I pressed a button on the remote. She gasped as a small tray of appetizers appeared on the edge of the tank as well as in front of each of us. Mom and David both jumped and I looked at mom, “Sorry, we do not have a waiter.”

She glared at me and then hesitantly picked up a small fork. After the first bite her eyes widened while David grinned and went after another appetizer. Ginger nodded in appreciation and kept eating while I helped Allie and ate a little myself. The whole dinner went quietly as we all ate. After the frozen cream I sat back and relaxed.

Allie went back to asking mom about how to decide what to wear. I smiled as David sat forward to interrupt and give his own advice while mom and Ginger both argued. Allie looked at me curiously, “My husband? Who is right?”

They all quieted as I smiled, “They could all be right. Remember I told you that clothes were an individual trait. It is one thing you will have to decide for yourself. You can base it on many things, comfort, ease of wear, what the clothes look like and how you will appear to others.”

I looked at mom while she was looking at me surprised. I smiled, “Mom or Ginger may be able to give you ideas of what other women like to wear. David can give you ideas on what the fashion for women is.”

Allie thought about it as she looked down at the table. She finally nodded, “Like the difference between the clothes Julie, Jess, Teri and Olivia wore.”

I nodded and looked away, “They each had different styles. Even Julie and Jess, they dressed almost the same but if you check your recordings you will find small differences.”

Allie nodded and then smiled, “But there are no recordings in your bedroom. What did they wear to bed?”

Mom and David both blushed, while Ginger chuckled. I smiled, “Julie liked to be nude. Jess liked to wear only loose shorts. Teri liked thin cotton pants that covered her legs. Olivia liked short gowns or long shirts that came down to her thighs with nothing else on. As for when we made love they all went naked.”

Allie was smiling, “Than I take after Julie.”

I caressed her face, “In some things.”

She smiled and turned to face mom, “When should a woman make love to her mate?”

Mom almost choked as Ginger laughed and David covered his mouth. Mom glared at me before looking at Allie, “It depends on the woman. Some women enjoy the act of lovemaking while others… only followed their urges.”

Allie looked at me, “What were my sisters like?”

I smiled as I fed her and then took a bite. I finally sat back and closed my eyes, “Every woman is different Allie. I have told you this before. Each of the girls was different, just as you will be different and as much as you want to know, it is something only they could have told you.”

Allie sighed and looked down. I looked at David, “You were talking about fashion but I thought her clothes looked good on her.”

He grinned while mom laughed, “I bet you did.”

Allie looked from mom to David, “Was I dressed wrong?”

Ginger laughed, “No Allie. You were fine. It was just that it was… provocative.”

She looked at me, “You liked it?”

I grinned, “Yes, you always look good.”

Allie smiled and mom shook her head, “You do not have to please him.”

Allie looked at her strangely, “You sound like Jess.”

Mom blinked as I grinned. I looked at David and Ginger, “Jess was… aggressive. She did not always do things to please me but she always made a point of calling me her husband. I think it was her way of saying I belonged to her.”

David covered his mouth while he laughed but Ginger did not bother as she joined mom in laughing out loud. Allie looked at them and then at me speculatively, “So you belong to me?”

I smiled, “In a way. When people mate like the girls and I did, you could say they belong to each other. It was why the girls thought it was funny when you called me your husband. It was also what made each of them love you, because you were willing to be part of them.”

Mom cleared her throat, “enough talk about that. I want to know how you thought to use all the different technologies together.”

I grinned, “It was because of all you history nuts. We did not want to be separated if one of our parents left so we needed a biosphere. Teri remembered the old Silsi factory ship. With the help of the community database we repaired it. Right after we moved in, we thought about the war and decided to build a ship to protect us. We researched and planned everything before we did anything. Allie was the only thing we did not plan.”

Mom grinned, “You can not plan for a woman to enter your life.”

I smiled at Allie and nodded before continuing, “We wanted something that would be fast, dangerous and strong enough to withstand people shooting at us. So we looked at all the old ships for ideas.”

I took a breath and looked at mom, “I know you do not like what I plan on doing. I am doing it so that something like what happened at home never happens again.”

Mom smiled sadly, “I know why you are doing it. The thing is… the wonderful technology you brought to life is only going to be used for war.”

I shook my head and gestured to Ginger, “Not quite. Look at the medical technology that is helping Ginger. I have no intention of releasing the other technologies.”

Mom nodded, “but they know now.”

She shrugged and then she changed the subject to plays and music. The rest of dinner went very well and mom was happy when I walked them to the hatch. I check the time and headed towards the sick bay, “Allie, its time to help Ginger out of the tank.”

I came into the room to see Allie sitting beside the tank. She looked at me and I felt the gravity change. I frowned, “You know I do not like you changing the gravity anywhere except the gym.”

She gestured to Ginger, “It will help when we take Ginger out.”

I nodded and walked to the tank, “Open the flow valve and drain the tank.”

Ginger looked at little worried but watched patiently as her limbs appeared. The arm was first and while it looked whole, it also looked very thin. The legs appeared and the one regrown was as thin as the arm. I nodded and reached in to lift her to the edge of the tank, “We will need her hover chair.”

It appeared suddenly beside me and I nodded, “Use the scanner to remove the film on her body.”

I finally lifted Ginger and put her in the chair, “I hope you kept the instructions the therapist gave you.”

She grinned and I smiled before looking at Allie, “Show her to her room and meet me on the bridge.”

Chapter 5

I left and headed to the bridge. I settled into my seat and brought the ship to life. First was the call for immediate clearance to taxi and lift for space. I opened the comm channel, “Capital control this is Night Scream permission to taxi out for lift off.”

There was a silence and while I waited I brought the shields online, “Night Scream this is Capital control a guide ship is on its way. What is your destination?”

I was running checks on ship systems and barely paused, “Capital control this is Night Scream. We are under Imperial oath as Imperial Rangers, our destination is classified.”

There was a slight pause, “copy Night Scream.”

It was only a moment before Allie came onto the bridge and moved to her chair. Out of the corner of my eye I watched her stand and take the steps to her seat, “Bring the weapons to standby Allie.”

I moved through the sequence and brought the anti gravity to life as the guide ship appeared. I followed its signals and began taxing behind the tiny guide ship. It was quiet as we followed the guide ship until it blinked its running lights, “Night Scream this is guide ship Baker three. You are cleared for lift. Contact Capital control for more information and good hunting.”

I smiled, “Copy Baker three, see you when we get back.”

I looked at Allie, “Everything green?”

Allie nodded, “All systems operating perfectly.”

I smiled and opened the comm, “Capital control, this is Night Scream, guide ship is away, awaiting instructions.”

“Copy Night Scream, you are cleared for lift to ten thousand on your current heading.”

I pushed the accelerator forward a fraction and waited a minute to lift ship. Our accent was swift and smooth. When I reached ten thousand I opened the comm, “Capital control this is Night Scream at ten thousand.”

“Copy Night Scream. Turn to two eight zero and ascend to fifty thousand. Switch to Miros orbital control for further clearance.”

I started changing heading, “Change the comm channel Allie and bring up the internal gravity.”

“Yes my husband.”

When I reached fifty thousand I opened the comm, “Orbital control this is Night Scream on a heading of two eight zero at fifty thousand.”

“Copy Night Scream. You have been cleared to the buoy Orange two.”

I glance at my scan and changed course, “Copy orbital control.”

As Night Scream went black sky a minor warning flicked on my targeting display. I looked at it for a moment and opened the comm channel, “Orbital control, we have been targeted by a stealth drone.”

I looked at Allie, “Check battle screen and shield status and warn Ginger.”

I looked at my scan as the comm channel started squealing as it was scrambled and several alarms sounded. I put defensive systems on automatic and brought all weapon systems alive and activated the battle scans. The defensive lasers started firing as I began tracking an unpowered ship.

I used two torp launchers and watched the ship explode. Allie shifted slightly, “All drones destroyed my husband.”

I nodded and kept scanning as the comm came back to life, “Night Scream this it Fleet control, say status over!”

I smiled, “Status is green. You had an unpowered ship in close orbit. Eight stealth drones were destroyed with their ship. I am continuing on my mission and going dark.”

I brought up my own stealth systems and knew that unlike the unpowered ship we could not be detected. I changed heading and pushed the acceleration up to eighty percent, “Time to heliopause Allie?”

She shifted in her chair as her hover chair appeared beside her, “one hour and twenty minutes.”

I turned my head to look at her and she smiled, “Ginger asked if I could help her in the gym.”

I shook my head, “just like a Ranger, never stopping to rest.”

Allie stood and took two steps before turning to sit in her hover chair. I smiled, “Your getting better at that.”

She smiled and stopped her hover chair beside my command chair. She looked into my eyes, “Will you mate with me tonight?”

I smiled and shook my head, “You have a one track mind Allie. After Ginger finishes and we have jumped, come to bed and I will begin teaching you.”

I watched her leave and went over my plotted route. Right on time we crossed the heliopause and I opened the wormhole and jumped. I checked the ship systems and set everything on automatic before standing and heading to my cabin. To say it was an interesting night would be an understatement.

I opened my eyes early the next morning and softly caressed Allie as she lay on me. She lifted her head and smiled, “Good morning my husband.”

I grinned, “Good morning my wife.”

She cocked her head, “Does that mean I belong to you?”

I squeezed her lightly, “It means we belong to each other.”

Allie smiled and carefully moved off me, “All systems are operating as they should be.”

I grinned, “Your system is operating better than normal.”

She looked at me as if not sure what I meant. I smiled and gave her a soft kiss, “I meant you were wonderful to me last night.”

She smiled and kissed me back. She stood and surprised me by slowly walking into the bathroom. I shook my head and followed her to help with her shower. In the galley Ginger was sitting beside the table eating and smiled at us. She grinned at Allie, “How did it go?”

Allie tilted her head, “It was enjoyable.”

I cleared my throat, “Please do not talk about it with me here.”

Ginger laughed as Allie moved out of her chair and sat at the table. Ginger watched her and sighed, “One day I will do that.”

I placed breakfast on the table and sat down, “We should have another four days before we get to Long Horn. Allie, I want Ginger’s combat suit put together so she can get it fitted and adjusted. You will need to help her adapt the bio systems so she can use it by the time we break out into Long Horn. Ginger, I want you to take some time and explore the ship. Use Allie if you have questions or access the ship computer.”

I smiled, “I know you outrank me but I know what Night Scream can do and you do not. Unlike Petel, we are going to go in hot and kill everything unless they surrender.”

Ginger grinned, “I have been peeking a little bit and you are right. I can only imagine what she is capable of.”

I nodded and watched Allie eat. I looked at Ginger, “Your combat suit will give you a few ideas.”

I went to check the bridge and the ship systems before sitting back and thinking about Mom’s words, “Why didn’t you just clone a body?”

I slipped out of my chair and went to sick bay. I sat at the doctor’s console and absently blocked surveillance. I brought up Olivia, Julia, Tara and Jess’s DNA, I also brought up Allie’s bio. I used the medical computer to combine the DNA and match it to Allie’s current bio.

I also reviewed Olivia’s regeneration and matter transmitter technology. I pulled up the girls stored DNA and the bio medical materially Olivia had already created. It was something the body would automatically alter and change to match its DNA. I started the sequence to match what I had already designed. I turned and left and found Allie in the shuttle bay with Ginger.

I watched as they both sat in their chairs and put the armor together. I shook my head as I went to plan lunch. Almost as soon as I finished Allie and Ginger came in. I put food on the table and watched as Allie carefully stood and moved to sit. Ginger watched her and clenched her jaw before slowly standing and taking a shaky step and falling into the seat.

She grinned at Allie and shifted around until she was sitting. Allie glanced at me as we were eating, “You blocked the vids in the med bay.”

Ginger stopped eating and looked from me to Allie. I smiled, “I also blocked your access to what I am doing in the computer.”

She frowned, “Why?”

I sighed and looked at the table, “it was what mom said.”

Allie tilted her head like Julie and Jess used to do and I smiled. I reached for her hand, “this body is very close to a human one but it is not human.”

Ginger straightened as Allie nodded. I gave her hand a squeeze, “after lunch come to sick bay and look.”

She looked at me as I stood and put my unfinished lunch in the recycler. Ginger was with Allie when she came in. I was standing beside a stasis tube on a gurney, inside was a body. Allie moved to me before standing slowly and stepping closer to look into the stasis tube. She looked for a long time before looking at me, “That is me.”

I smiled, “I could be.”

I caressed her face, “The problem is you would have to leave this body.”

Allie looked at me and then at the one in front of us, “How?”

I smiled, “I had a neural receptor and transmitter like the one you already have wired into the brain.”

She looked at me before smiling and backing to the bed behind her. I moved to her and helped her up, “You have to wait until I open the tube and remember it may be like when you first entered this body.”

I bent to kiss her before standing and moving to the stasis tube, “Ready?”

Allie took a breath, “go ahead.”

I shut the stasis tube down and opened it, the body shuddered and started gasping. I watched as Allie struggled to get control and finally after a few minutes the eyes looked at me. She croaked, “Charles?”

I took her hand, “Are you okay?”

She smiled and nodded shakily, “Yes, this body is very different.”

Ginger moved closer and laughed, “Allie girl you did it, you are human.”

Allie turned her head to see Ginger and smiled, “Yes.”

I sighed and leaned against the bed, “Rest Allie. I will move your other body into storage.”

She shook her head, “we do not need it now.”

I caressed her face before looking at Ginger, “move onto the end bed.”

Ginger looked at me before moving her chair around and over to the empty bed. She stood shakily and carefully fell onto the bed before twisting around. I bent to kiss Allie before walking to the bed and picking up a scanner. I checked her arm and leg before doing her other arm and leg.

I used her DNA and some bio material before using a neural sleep aid. I carefully added muscle and toned them before shutting the transmitter off. I woke her and Ginger looked at me, “What did you do?”

I smiled as I moved back to Allie, “What I should have done if I had studied Olivia’s notes.”
Allie grinned, “look at your muscles.”

Ginger lifted her arm and then sat up to look at her leg. She grinned but I shook my head, “You will still need to exercise.”

She turned and carefully slipped off the bed. She stood on the floor and balanced before grinning and taking a careful step. She turned and sat in her chair, “Much better.”

The next four days were spent explaining everything about the ship to Ginger. Allie was able to stand and walk within a day, joining Ginger in the gym. When we jumped out of the wormhole Allie was in her seat and Ginger was sitting beside her at Julie’s old station. I did not bother with the stealth, I was here to destroy not hide.

I opened the comm, “All ships and military personal in Long Horn, this is Captain Knight aboard the ship Night Scream. Surrender and you will live, oppose me and you will die.”

My answer was every ship in the system turning and heading towards us. I started targeting and waited for the closet ship to reach energy torpedo range before I started firing, “plot a course in Allie.”

Ships began shattering and ripping apart as Night Scream leaped forward. I shifted the targeting as we moved through shattered fleets, Destroyers were targeted by the energy torpedoes. Cruisers and Battlecruisers were targets for the energy lance. Battleships and the few dreadnaughts became targets for the Phase Transmitter.

Our course was jagged and twisted as it wove us around the system before bringing us in. When we reached fixed positions the phase transmitter reached out to destroy them. By the time I put Night Scream in orbit around the planet La Paz every warship in the system had been destroyed.

I opened the comm once more, “This is Captain Knight. I am in orbit around La Paz, your fleets are dead, your bases are dead, would you like to surrender or should I continue?”

Ginger stirred but I ignored her. A few moments later the comm channel came on, “This is Commander Trent of his imperial majesties fleet... we surrender.”

I glanced at Ginger as I opened the comm again, “someone from Mariss fleet will be here within a week. All military personal are to turn over all weapons and come to your fleet base outside the capital.”

I sat back and looked at Allie, “any signs of life from the wrecks or emergency beacons?”

She shook her head and I nodded before accessing the nav system and setting course, “we can make a system check to be sure and wait for the following units. Use the star comm relay and let Miros know the system status Ginger.”

She chuckled, “yes Captain.”

I glanced at her and then smiled at Allie, “did you have Ginger help put in the implant?”

She smiled as she looked at me, “No.”

I looked at her and she smiled beautifully, “This body can have children.”

Ginger sucked in a breath as I started. I wanted to hold Allie and talk about this but this was not the time. I smiled and looked at the scan holographs, “We will talk about this later.”

“Yes my husband.”

I sighed at the tone and Ginger snickered. We spent the next week slowly checking wrecks for any signs of life. When the small fleet of ships jumped in we were back in orbit. I opened the star comm, “This is Captain Knight of the Emperor’s Rangers.”

“Captain Knight this is Admiral Thomas. We will be in orbit in twelve hours.”

I smiled, “The system has surrendered. A commander Trent is in charge and all the Talis soldiers are at the base outside the capital.”

There was a pause, “Thank you captain. I was asked to relay a message from Ranger Smith. He said to tell you to go to New Georgia.”

There was another long pause, “We know there is a large shipyard there as well as a munition station.”

I glanced at Allie, “would you look up New Georgia and plot a course?”

I opened my comm, “Thank you admiral, we will depart as soon as we have a course.”

“The new course is locked in my husband.”

I smiled and glanced at the nav system before bringing the ship alive and accelerating. As soon as we jumped hours later I stood and stretched before looking at Allie, “now we are going to have a long talk my wife.”

Allie smiled as she stood smoothly, “yes my love.”

Ginger turned to grin as Allie took my hand and we headed towards our quarters. When the door closed behind us I turned Allie and embraced her, “Are you sure Allie?”

She nodded as she looked into my eyes, “I wish to bare a child.”

I caressed her face, “the old fashion way.”

Allie nodded again, “the human way.”

It took us a week before we emerged from jump. I looked at the system traffic before starting to move. I opened the system comm, “New Georgia, All ships and military personal in the system, this is Captain Knight aboard the ship Night Scream. Surrender and you will live, oppose me and you will die.”

There was only four warships in the system and they were cruisers. They turned and headed towards us, “Enemy ship, surrender or be destroyed.”

I glanced at Ginger as she chuckled and smiled. I looked at Allie, “put us on course for the shipyards.”

She smiled and nodded and I began tracking the four ships. I destroyed them when each reached thirty light minutes using the phase transmitter and continued to the shipyards. When I was a light hour away I opened the comm, “this is Night Scream, your ships are destroyed. Surrender or I will destroy the station.”

There was barely a pause before I had my answer, “we surrender.”

I was tempted to board the station but Allie cleared her throat. I turned to look at her and she smiled, “There is a distant disturbance beyond the heliopause. I believe it is multiply ships using some type of stealth.”

I sat back to think and brought up system controls before putting us in stealth, “take us out Allie.”

The ship turned and I pushed it to eighty percent as I began checking long distant scans. We had almost reached the heliopause when I found the irregular disturbances and slowed. I opened the system comm, “this is Captain Knight aboard Night Scream, I am a ranger for the empire of Mariss. Identify yourself or be fired upon.”

There was no answer as Allie slowed us and I started counting the disturbances. I turned the ship and plotted a location in front of the ships before using the phase transmitter with a minimal charge. The explosion ripped apart space and I saw a huge ship for a moment before the blackness of space returned. I accelerated as several beam weapons fired.

We were far enough that even if they had a solid idea where we were we could have avoided them. I used the disturbances to track the hidden ship before firing a max charge with the phase transmitter. This time it was a huge explosion that ripped a ship apart. A wormhole opened and four ships appeared before jumping.

I turned to Ginger, “did you get a read on the ships?”

She nodded, “Kullian.”

I thought about it before nodding, “maybe.”

I looked at Allie, “can you run a comparison of the ships in our data banks?”

She smiled, “Ginger is right, I have a ninety eight percent match to Kullian death stalkers.”

I sat back to think, “take us back to the station Allie. Ginger use the star comm relay and let Miros know the system status as well as about the Kullians.”

We moved around the system slowly for three days before a group of ships arrived. This time it was Mariss warships and they started in slowly as I brought Night Scream out of stealth. I was moving towards them when the system comm came to life, “Night Scream, this is the King Philip.”

I nodded to Allie and she answered, “King Philip, this is Night Scream. The system has surrendered and await your arrival.”

It was several moments before it was answered, “copy Night Scream. Stand by for Admiral McGivens.”

We waited and Ginger hummed a tune before the admiral came on, “Captain Knight I was asked to inform you that your next target is Alexandria.”

I gestured and Allie sent the comm holo to my chair, “Admiral this is Captain Knight. I need to advise you that we had five Kullian death stalkers arrive in the system after it surrendered. They were using stealth technology and ignored my calls and warning shot before firing at me. I was forced to destroy one and the rest fled.”

There was a longer pause before he answered, “you were able to track the ships?”

I smiled, “their systems are not as good as ours and emits gravity waves that can be detected and tracked.”

“Understood.”

I looked at Allie, “I have a message for my mother if you could send it with your next courier.”

“Certainly.”

Ginger grinned as I blushed, “tell my mother that Allie is human now and... pregnant.”

The admiral was several minutes in answering, “I was fully briefed by the emperor captain. I was informed Allie was an artificial life form.”

I smiled at Allie, “not anymore.”

There was another pause, “interesting. I will pass your message along and congratulations.”

I looked at Allie, “plot a course to Alexandria.”

When we finally jumped I relaxed, “I believe it is your turn to make dinner Ginger.”

Allie grinned as she stood, “spicy food, yummy.”

Ginger laughed as she stood to follow Allie, “it gives food life.”

I snorted, “to much and it burns all the taste buds away.”

They laughed as they walked out together with me following after setting the auto pilot. The four days we spent in jump were a time for us to relax. When we jumped out into normal space it was to full scale battle between Talis battleships and Kullian Reapers. They were not in stealth so it was easy to identify them.

I brought up the screens and the shield and sat back in my seat, “put us in stealth Allie.”

“Yes my husband.”

I smiled but continued to watch, “what do you think the Kullian are up to Ginger?”

She turned from the scan she was watching, “if I did not know better I would say they have decided to expand again.”

I nodded, the Kullian were an arrogant warlike race. Every couple of hundred years their empire expanded by a few planets. I sighed and looked at Ginger, “you are my watch dog, do we step in or leave?”

She bit her lip, “the policy towards Kullian is clear where it effects human life but this is not our system.”

She turned back to the scan, “they will kill every human in the system before they begin to colonize.”

I waited and she finally looked at me, “our mission was to take the system...”

I sighed and switched the scan to targeting mode as I opened the comm, “attention Alexandria system this is Captain Knight aboard Nightscream, you will desist all warfare in this system and surrender or I will be forced to take action. All Talis warships, you will surrender or be destroyed.”

I waited but there was no answer or response, “take us in Allie, use a optimal targeting route.”

“Yes Charles.”

I glanced at Ginger, “start looking for Death Stalkers. Look for gravity waves or abnormalities.”

She nodded as she continued to read the scan data. I was only moving at a quarter speed so they had plenty of time to respond to my comm. I finally shook my head as we came withing a light minute of the battling ships and fired the torps launchers and the lances. Ships were ripped apart and exploded as I continued to move through them.

Since both fleets had been engaged in fighting they were all together and died that way. I glanced at Ginger, “any sign of Death Stalkers?”

She shook her head, “none.”

I nodded, “plot a course in Allie and look for fixed positions.”

She nodded and I turned the ship onto the course she sent me. The comm came to life, “This is Alexandria Control, Colonel Jenkins speaking. We surrender.”

I sat back and looked at Ginger, “Alexandria Control this is Night Scream. All military personal are to move to the starport and disarm. We will contact you later for further instructions.”

It was barely a day before a small fleet appeared. Ginger was just getting to the bridge when the comm came to life, “Night Scream this is the Sidney, stand by for Admiral Bond.”

Allie walked in behind Ginger and smiled as she sat. I opened the comm, “Night Scream standing by.”

It was a couple of minutes before the admiral came on. The fleet was moving into the system, “Captain Knight the Ranger Commander and the Emperor want you to return to Miros.”

I glanced at Ginger, “Copy. Be advised a Kullian fleet was engaged when we arrived. We believe they may be trying to expand again.”

The pause was shorter as I turned the ship and accelerated towards the heliopause.

“we understand.”

After we jumped Ginger leaned back, “Kullian will not go after heavily populated systems.”

I glanced at her, “Alexandria was not exactly sparse.”

She nodded as she stood, “true.”

I stood and took Allie’s hand, “want to bet the Emperor wants us to go to Talis?”

Chapter 6

We emerged from jump into the middle of a battle. I straightened, “battle screen and shields!”

I switched to targeting and began firing into Kullian Reapers with dozens of torps before adding lances and then the targeting further out came on and I started destroying ships a light hour away and further into the system.

The comm flickered, “Night Scream this is Grendal. Head in, we have several Reapers that have broken through and are closing with the planet.”

I turned the ship and accelerated to full power, “target all Kullian ships Allie, use a preplot on a straight in course.”

I wove through the fight and a few seconds later Allie turned, “targeted.”

I fired and all sixty torps fired with the lances and the phase transmitter. Ships shattered and exploded as I put us in stealth and continued to fire, “look for Death Stalkers Ginger.”

She was staring intently at a display and glanced back, “I may have something.”

I transferred her display to one of mine and nodded as I added it to my targeting list. A moment later an explosion from a phase transmitter ripped a Death Stalker in half. It was between us and the Reapers and I knew if there was one there would be more, “keep looking.”

I destroyed three more before the Reapers were in range and I ripped them apart. I kept going and found another two Death Stalkers that I destroyed. The battle at the jump point was over with the few Kullian still capable jumping out. I sat back as I slowed the ship, “contact Miros orbital control Allie.”

This time we had an escort of corvettes when we came out of stealth. When I pulled onto grav pad I saw the vehicles waiting. I glanced at Ginger and Allie, “anyone talking on the comm?”

Allie shook her head, “nothing.”

I finished shutting down and looked at Ginger, “do we have to report or...”

She grinned, “I will call dad and see what they have.”

I glanced at the screen I had kept up to watch the vehicles and smiled, “I see mom is here.”

Allie stood, “good I want to speak to her.”

I watched her walk out and grinned as Ginger laughed and stood to follow. I opened the shield and the two screens by the airlock before standing. I headed for the airlock and caught Allie around the waist as mom, prince David and admiral Davis walked in.

Mom walked straight to Allie and held her at arms length, “you look a little different but I would still recognize you.”

She hugged Allie before looking at me as she stepped back, “as for you, you could not wait to get her pregnant?”

I grinned, “I am just her husband, why would I have a say in that?”

Allie grinned as Ginger snickered on her way to the hatch, “men should not decide important issues like having a baby.”

Mom grinned as prince David and the admiral laughed. I waited until Ginger was clear of the screens before ordering the computer to close them. I led the way back to the galley and let Allie work the synthesizer for tea and coffee as I looked at admiral Davis, “you needed to speak with me?”

He nodded and gestured, “how about a walk.”

I nodded and started walking with him towards the hydroponics section, “more demands for my ship’s technology?”

He nodded, “the emperor is getting a lot of grief from the opposition for not taking your ship when he had the chance.”

I smiled, “he never had the chance.”

The admiral nodded, “the idiots do not understand that.”

I stopped to pick a flower and smell it while I thought, “if I provided the technology, Talis would have it before a month was out.”

He sighed, “something else they do not grasp.”

I nodded and smiled, “I think I need to go straight to Talis before visiting the Kull home world.”

He looked at me, “they would have several fleets protecting it.”

I smiled, “I will work around the edge until I have their fleets down to something manageable.”

I turned to lead him back to the galley, “Lunch?”

He smiled but shook his head, “I have a few meetings.”

I nodded and looked at mom and the prince, “I will need to request a few things before we leave.”

The admiral smiled, “I believe commander Mathis will take care of it.”

I walked him back to the hatch and waited before closing the shield and screens behind him. I walked into the galley as Allie was putting a small lunch on the table. Mom took my hand as I sat, “do you know if it will be a boy or girl?”

I smiled as I looked at Allie, “not yet.”

Mom grinned as David laughed and reached for the soup. Something had changed in the way mom spoke to me and I was not sure what it was. I had Allie make a list of basic things we needed and send it to Commander Mathis. I slept lightly as I held her and thought about what admiral Davis and I had talked about.

There was still a lot of vehicles around our pad and I knew the emperor’s opposition council would try something. I got up finally and got dressed as Allie shifted in the bed. I checked and Ginger was back and in her room. I sipped tea as I went to the bridge and brought the ship off standby.

I checked our status before lifting the ship on her anti gravs. I turned and moved off the pads as calls started to come in. When I was clear I contacted Capital control, “Capital control, this is Night Scream. We will be leaving and moving to low orbit to maintain operational security.”

“Night Scream you are not cleared to depart.”

I smiled as I switched on the stealth systems and continued moving. I brought the scans alive and watched as a few ships took off or landed. I moved through the pattern and accelerated before lifting. As we rose out of the atmosphere I changed course and glanced at Allie as she sat in her chair, “you did not wake me.”

I smiled and rechecked the planned orbit and relaxed, “you need rest for the baby.”

She looked at me before sitting back, “I like it better with you.”

I smiled as I slowed and settled into a parking orbit over the port. I set the controls before standing and holding out my hand, “I will lay with you.”

I woke to the intercom and glanced at Allie sleeping half on me. I shifted carefully before moving off the bed and going to answer Ginger’s call, “yes?”

“We are in orbit? Everyone is screaming.”

I smiled, “it avoided me having to tell them they could not have the technology or my ship.”

“Come to the dinning area.”

I glanced at Allie as she shifted, “when Allie is up.”

I shut off the intercom and walked to the bed as Allie opened her eyes. She smiled and sat up and I helped her out of bed. After a trip to the fresher and getting dressed we went to eat. Ginger would not look at me as I selected our breakfast and sat beside Allie, “you are on my ship. What you see here is classified and giving it to your government would be an act of betrayal as well as cause for war.”

She looked at me and I returned her look, “I came to help, not to be a victim. Now you can continue to be a Ranger and help me or I can take my ship home.”

She sighed, “the Rangers are caught in the middle, especially now that the Kull have attacked Miros itself.”

I started eating, “once we have our supplies we are moving on Talis and then to the Kull home world.”

She sat up, “who...”

She looked at Allie, “admiral Davis was here yesterday.”

I nodded and she sat back and grinned, “how do we get our supplies?”

I smiled at Allie, “You and I take the shuttle down in stealth and bring them back.”

After eating I made a couple of calls before meeting Ginger in the shuttle bay. We dropped away and I watched using passive scans as we slowed and entered atmosphere. I glanced at Ginger as she flew the shuttle with what looked like a permanent grin. She rolled and banked as she dropped all the way to a thousand feet.

She headed straight towards a large set of buildings. She went lower and slowed before dropping the landing legs and settling to the ground. I switched the stealth off and she grinned, “this shuttle is a dream.”

I led her back to the hatch and opened it to see several Rangers moving boxes towards us. Ginger dropped to the ground beside me and sighed, “Charles I wanted to ask a favor.”

I looked at her before turning to help move a crate up into the hatch, “what?”

She grinned but was blushing, “any chance you will allow another Ranger to go with us?”

She moved another crate as I climbed in to move the first out of the way and secure it. I came back to look at her, “from the way you are blushing it is not business.”

She shrugged, “well Samson...”

She cleared her throat, “he asked.”

I smiled as I moved the second crate and came back for the next, “and you said yes?”

She nodded as she lifted another crate and I glanced at the other Rangers, “he can come.”

It took an hour to load and by then Samson was helping and the Ranger commander had approved the mission. What I did not expect was mom and prince David with their bags when they arrived. I sighed and just made room as Ginger grinned and helped my mother in. I lifted smoothly and switched on the stealth as I headed up, “how does it look Allie?”

“It is clear. There are a lot of people from court trying to get me to answer.”

I glanced at David as he shook his head, “they will just have to suffer. Want to guide us in?”

I felt the controls shift as she took over, “I am glad your mother decided to come.”

I smiled, “plotting already?”

“She said she would bring me some new recipes.”

It was not long before we slowed and moved through Night Scream’s screen. I shut everything down as Allie moved us through the hatch screen and into the shuttle bay. I went to start unloading and let Allie send everything to where it needed to go. Ginger led Ranger Samson out of the bay behind mom and David.

I made a last check and headed to the galley, “if you have finished exercising I would like to have tea with you.”

“We are already here and your mom has several new teas.”

I shook my head but kept walking, “I need a moment to make a call first.”

I went to the bridge and sat in my seat. I brought the ship alive and turned to head towards the heliopause. I accelerated ahead at a quarter speed before opening the comm, “fleet control this is Night Scream.”

There was the expected pause before I was answered, “Night Scream you are directed to return to Miros.”

I shook my head, “I have movement orders from my commander and the fleet commander. If you have questions I would suggest you contact the emperor.”

It was quiet for a long time, “Night Scream this is admiral Peters. Good hunting.”

I accelerated to max and plotted the jump. I knew Allie could have done this in moments just as I knew she was watching. I glanced back as Ginger and Samson walked onto the bridge a little later just as the wormhole opened and we jumped. She grinned, “getting out fast?”

I set the auto pilot and did one last check before standing, “Talis is a long jump. I was thinking that if Kull attacked us they might have attacked them.”

They looked at each other as I walked off the bridge. I walked into the galley to the table covered with many cups. I stopped to look at mom and David and she smiled as Allie stood and came to kiss me, “some of the teas are very good.”

I held her and smiled, “and did you remember to add the molecular recipe to the synthesizer?”

She grinned, “of course.”

I moved to sit and pulled her onto my lap, “we are in jump space.”

Mom looked at David who nodded and cleared his throat, “have you ever thought of building something like a hospital station or ship?”

I grinned as I sipped some of the cold teas, “actually we did but there was not much call for one in Grer. Then there was the plans for a huge bio station. After that was a cargo ship and after that... well we had a lot of ideas.”

Allie leaned against me, “what about a huge bio station that was a hospital?”

I smiled and rubbed her tummy, “and how big would it be? How many phase reactors and how...”

Mom laughed as David grinned, “how about ten kilometers?”

I thought about it but frowned, “Teri was the one that would know how much power we would need and where to put the reactors.”

Allie sighed, “we could use medical AIs and make bodies for them.”

Mom started and David grinned, “and have them do all the gardening to learn how to care for living things.”

I looked at them and then laughed and shook Allie, “get my interface board or take mom and David to my workroom. The reactors need to be separate but capable of switching to carry the load of another if it is shut down. I would say maybe five to ten depending on the size of the reactors. Then you need to look at oxygen recyclers and...”

Mom laughed, “maybe we should all work on it.”

I opened the ship intercom, “hey Ginger. Do you or Ranger Samson want to help design a large hospital bio station?”

“Where?”

I hugged Allie, “we are in the galley.”

“We will be right there.”

My interface board appeared and Allie caught it. I set it on the table, “you need to move all the cups.”

They vanished as I started to set up the board, “parameters? How large of a station?”

Mom grinned and leaned against David, “it should be big enough for parks and gardens.”

I scooted over as Ginger and Samson walked in, “so... maybe as large as ten kilometers with hospital rooms or groups of rooms in a park or garden setting?”

Mom laughed as David grinned and Allie nodded. Ginger leaned towards the table and I enlarged the holo from the interface, “so maybe up to a thousand patients?”

Ginger snorted but Samson cleared his throat, “using your medical equipment?”

I glanced at him, “Olivia’s but yes.”

He nodded, “no long stays than. A thousand should be enough.”

Ginger grinned, “holo gravity rooms to start them on exercising?”

Mom grinned, “live pool or spa areas in the parks.”

Our time in jump was filled with adding items and placing them in the holo model. Including extra rooms for the family of the recovering patients.

Chapter 7

The moment we came out of jump it was to wreckage and devastation. We had the screen and battle screen up with the shield as I began moving into the system, “signs of life Allie?”

“No my husband.”

I glanced at Ginger as I began moving around larger pieces of wreckage, “watch for Death Stalkers.”

She nodded absently as Tony looked over her shoulder. Mom and David were standing and I glanced back, “find a seat.”

David pulled mom out as Tony moved to the vacant weapons console. Ginger sat back, “nothing.”

I nodded as I was finally cleared of most of the wreckage. I changed course to above the system horizon and began moving in at half speed, “any comm chatter Allie?”

She shook her head, “it is as if there is nothing there.”

I hesitated and then put the ship into stealth. The manned stations and positions on moons or asteroids were destroyed. The two habitable planets had no signs of life and were in ruins with more wreckage in orbit around them. It was sixteen hours before I shook my head and turned to head out, “use the relay Allie and let Miros know Talis is a dead system now.”

She nodded as I looked at Ginger, “I believe it is your turn to start dinner.”

She grinned and slid out of her seat, “spicy food it is.”

I continued to scan the system while plotting a new course. As soon as we reached the heliopause I opened the wormhole and jumped. I set the auto pilot and stood before heading towards the galley with Allie and Tony. Ginger must have been conspiring with mom and David since they had the larger wardroom compartment open.

The large center piece holograph was the bio station we were designing and it was like we had never had a break. I was worried about other systems if Kull was attacking not just primary systems, “I need my interface Allie.”

She looked at me as everyone quieted and the interface appeared. The simple satellite I created had a single phase reactor that powered the station and a stealth system and a phase transmitter linked to a passive scanner. I added something Teri had added to Night Scream, a really time FTL transmitter and receiver.

I looked everything over carefully, “test it Allie.”

Mom cleared her throat, “what is it?”

I glanced at her, David, Ginger and Tony, “it is called a Sentinel.”

Allie smiled, “it checks out my love.”

I grinned and looked at Ginger, “When we arrive at Kull relay a message for the fleet to do system checks in case they attacked other systems.”

She nodded as I saved my project after creating a material list. For the next few days we worked on the station and they got a taste of what Jess, Julie, Teri, Olivia and I went through building Night Scream. When we jumped out I had the screens up with the shield. I put us into stealth even as dozens of ships fired.

I turned off the emergance course, “target the closest ships first Allie. Ginger start searching for Death Stalkers.”

I began a spiraling course before locking the targeted ships into the weapons system and firing. Twenty ships died in that first salvo. Another fifteen died in the second as I began looking for targets farther away, including armed fortress stations. It was not long before the area was just floating wreckage and death.

I continued around the system as I plotted known ship courses. Each time Ginger found a Death Stalker I used the phase transmitter to destroy it. It was a few hours before I began a spiraling path into the system. I mostly used the lance or torps on the ships, fortresses or fixed positions.

Four of the system’s planets were occupied so I made sure to leave them alone. It was eighteen hours before I settled into orbit around Kull. I stood and straightened, “ship meeting in the galley.”

I glanced at the others as they stood and stretched too. I waited and then followed them back and accepted the cup of tea mom handed me, “is it over?”

The others were sitting and sipping cups that had been handed to them. I waited until everyone had sat and looked at each of them, “the Kull will never leave this system or their planets. We are going back out and using the wrecks to make Sentinels. They will be placed around each of the four planets in a high orbit. Any ship entering or leaving will be destroyed.”

I looked at David, “with the FTL transmitter and receiver we will know what is happening and can decide any other course of action.”

He nodded and I sighed, “first we eat and then sleep and then we go to work.”

That was easy to say but not do, I barely slept until Allie wiggled and laid on me and then I fell asleep. We moved out slowly and I had Ginger continue to look for Death Stalkers. I also sent a message of what had happened and what we were doing. I told them we would be hitting the other Kull systems.

I think mom was more interested in using the matter transmitter than Ginger, Tony or even David. It took a few days to finish each set of sentinels and put them into place. Two weeks later we were finished and I was ready to leave when the small group of Reapers jumped in. I put us in stealth and moved Night Scream out and into the clear to watch the sentinels.

Everyone was on the bridge waiting and watching as the ships continued in and I looked at Allie as she received the FTL message. I grinned and looked around, “acknowledge and send the arm code.”

We were out of range of any sentinel just in case, it was a few hours before the Reapers began exploding. After the last one was destroyed I glanced at Ginger, “any sign of Death Stalkers?”

She shook her head and I sighed, “time to move on.”

I headed out and glanced at Allie, “my wife?”

She looked at me and I grinned, “do you have a plot for a jump to Morp?”

She smiled, “yes my husband.”

I glanced at the course she sent and checked my own before nodding. Once we jumped we were back to planning the station. It was almost complete when we reached Morp and came out of jump. I put us into stealth before the few fleets waiting could fire and changed course. Like in their home system Night Scream moved through the enemy fleet destroying ships.

This time I waited and we began the process of building Sentinels. A week later I started us moving into the system with a long tail of the satellites following behind. We destroyed several fixed and orbital fortresses before putting the Sentinels around the two occupied worlds. I made another check of the system before we headed out and armed them.

The Kull had twelve systems and our next stop was a system called Balia. At least that was the idea until we received the relayed message to return to Miros. After I opened the wormhole and we jumped I leaned back, “okay, where were we with the station?”

Ginger grinned as she stood, “finished.”

Tony chuckled as he stood, “to bad we can not build it.”

I smiled as I stood and took Allie’s hand, “I have news for you, I am going to build it.”

I glanced at mom and David when we walked into the dinning area. Mom had set the table and David gestured, “appetizers?”

I smiled and looked at Tony, “actually I was going to spend a little time at the Kull wrecks when we return and use them as a resource to build the station as well as a few Sentinels.”

Mom spent the time with Ginger and Allie talking about pregnancy and babies. Tony and David talked about fashion and trends while I spent my time on the bridge. Mom came in the day before we emerged from the wormhole and stood beside the chair. She rubbed my arm, “you are worried.”

I smiled and nodded, “the Kull could attack anywhere.”

She leaned against me, “not anywhere. Perhaps the major systems for Talis and Mariss before they choose the systems they truly want.”

I sat up, “of course.”

She grinned and then sighed, “Allie is going to have quadruplets.”

I looked at her, “are you sure?”

She nodded, “four girls.”

I stood, “she...”

Mom caught my arm, “she used a fertility drug but did no tampering to determine the babies sex.”

I sighed and nodded before heading back to find Allie. She was in the hydroponics section planting new flowers. I put my arm around you, “why four babies?”

She hesitated, “I was hoping they would be girls so I could name them...”

I sighed, “I miss them to Allie but doing it this way is extremely dangerous for you. You can name them after the girls but that will not make them the girls. They will have different traits and habits and like different things.”

I turned her so she would look at me, “humans are not meant to have multiple births. We normally only have one at a time. Now you have a choice, after another month we can move them to an artificial womb or...”

I touched her lips to quiet her, “or you will be restricted to very easy tasks and the closer to having the babies you may have to stay in bed.”

She looked at me and hugged me, “but...”

I squeezed her, “but you are not a machine. You are human now which means you can be hurt and our children can suffer or even die before they are even born.”

She blinked, “how...”

I bent and lifted her in my arms, “first we are going to the med bay so I can look at the babies. After that you are going to sit with mom and use the ship computer to learn about the growth of human babies in the womb.”

I started walking as she leaned against me, “you will learn about birthing and every type of problem that might occur.”

She nodded and I carried her into the med bay and sat her on a bed before going to start the scan. I brought up the DNA for each child and had the comp show us what she would look like when she was older. I smiled as I looked at the girls and turned to caress and then give Allie a kiss. She looked at the scan and grinned before I helped her down.

I saved the scan on a data stick and gave it to her, “go speak with mom.”

She nodded and walked out as I went to find David. He was playing three dee chess with Tony in my work shop and it looked like he was losing. I smiled as I found a seat, “I want to bounce an idea off you.”

He grinned, “saving me from a terrible loss.”

I grinned, “I was thinking of allowing certain people you or your father select to learn the technology to make Sentinels.”

He straighten, “with conditions.”

I nodded, “I am willing to let the technology for the Phase Reactors get out. The Phase Transmitter is another story and so is the stealth technology. I am also ready to let the FTL technology get out.”

He smiled, “and the medical?”

I smiled, “when we build the biosphere.”

He grinned as Tony chuckled, “okay.”

When we came out of jump I stiffened as I looked at the huge alien starship. It was ten times the size of a dreadnought and sat there with Mariss warships around it. I glanced at Ginger and she shook her head, “none of the known races.”

The comm opened, “Night Scream this is Fleet Control.”

I sat back, “this is Night Scream.”

There was static as the huge ship suddenly began moving towards us. I quickly put up the screens and the shields as the comm crackled. For as large as it was it moved very fast, probably as fast as Night Scream. I was beginning to turn to avoid the ship when it suddenly came to a stop. A holograph appeared on the bridge in front of me.

The alien had tentacles and it clicked and a translator began speaking, “this is not your technology.”

I looked at it carefully, “science is the same and I have learned the way the technology of many species works.”

It clicked and again the translator began speaking, “it is being use for war and to destroy.”

I nodded, “against those that have done those things first. Including from the Kull who have killed entire systems.”

The alien jerked, “that is not allowed!”

I sighed, “They have ever been a race to do things their own way with little or no regard to other species.”

It turned and spoke to someone or something out of our sight. When it looked at me again it leaned forward, “give us the coordinates to one such system.”

I turned to Allie, “send the coordinates to Talis.”

She nodded and a moment later the alien looked at us, “we will return in six days to speak again.”

I bowed, “farewell and safe journey.”

It waved its tentacles and the ship spun and accelerated before a wormhole opened and they jumped. I sat back and looked at Allie, “ask mom to come to the bridge.”

“Night Scream this is Fleet Control.”

I sighed, “Go ahead.”

“Night Scream, Grendel is requesting you stay here. Admiral Peters is taking a shuttle to speak with you.”

I smiled, “copy Fleet Control.”

I turned as mom walked in and looked at Allie, “can you replay the holo of the alien?”

She nodded as she turned to her console and the image appeared. I looked at mom, “do you know what race it is?”

She looked at the image as she came to stand beside my chair, “we do not have a name for them. They vanished from this part of the galaxy a millennium ago. We only have records of other races telling about them.”

I waited and she shook herself, “they were only called the Others and there were warnings. They were not war like but had weapons more powerful than anyone else. They would tolerate war as long as it was contained to a system.”

She looked at me, “the records say they were peaceful unless provoked.”

She gestured around the bridge, “even your ship might appear primitive to them.”

I glanced at Allie, “light up the port airlock for the shuttle.”

I lowered the shield and opened the screen and battle screen on the port side, “we can take this to the galley and talk over tea.”

Chapter 8

I set the controls on auto before standing and heading towards the airlock while everyone else went to the galley. It was a little while before the airlock light came on and chime sounded and I opened the inner hatch. I nodded to admiral Peters and captain Janis as they left their shuttle. I gestured and waited before closing the hatch and leading them to the galley.

Everyone was waiting when we walked in and mom turned from the synthesizer, “Tea?”

I nodded but the admiral and captain shook their heads, “coffee. Black please.”

I sat beside Allie and she took my hand. It was a minute before the admiral and captain sat and I gestured, “mom said they were called the Others. She should tell you what she knows.”

Mom sat next to David and began talking as I sat and thought and whispered to Allie. She looked at me and my holo board appeared. What I wanted to make did not take long and I gave it to her, “check it.”

She leaned against me, “it is good but what are you going to use it for?”

I smiled, “it is a drone with a FTL transmitter and receiver. I was going to send it home.”

Everyone looked at me as I stretched and stood, “whoever these aliens are they are not hostile. They might have better weapons or defenses but they seem reasonable. While we wait for them to return we will spend the time salvaging from the wrecks to make our bio sphere. I will also make a few drones to carry FTL devices to send to other systems.”

The admiral cleared his throat but I shook my head, “I will not give you weapons or the technology. The others will return in six days which is something you need to think about.”

He blinked and then his eyes opened, “how...”

I smiled as I pulled Allie up, “exactly. How can they get there, check it out and return in only six days? That is days faster than Night Scream.”

I headed for the hatch, “I need time with my wife. Someone can show you out when you are ready.”

We walked to the hydroponics section and through the trays of flowers. I sighed and stopped to turn her, “I want you to take the shuttle. Take mom, David, Ginger and Tony and go to Miros.”

She opened her mouth but I touched her lips, “you are pregnant and the babies safety comes first. Download the plans for the phase reactor, the FTL receiver and transmitter and all of the medical equipment.”

I smiled and gave her a soft kiss, “you can even take the plans for the food synthesizer but guard those.”

She leaned against me, “I do not wish to leave you my husband.”

I held her against me, “I wish you could stay but I do not know what these aliens will do.”

I turned at the ship alarm and frowned before letting Allie go. I started walking as the alarm continued and then began to run. When I reached the bridge it was to see several of the huge alien ships. I slid into my seat and glanced back at admiral Peters and captain Janis. I checked and kicked their shuttle away before closing my screens and shield.

Allie, Ginger and Tony sat as all the systems came alive and one of the ships moved towards us. A holo appeared in front of me and the alien waved a tentacle as it began speaking, “we wish to board your ship and speak with you.”

I glanced at Allie before looking at the alien, “may I send my mate away in our shuttle?”

I felt the others shifting but ignored them as the alien tilted its head before gesturing, “you may send your pod mate away.”

I nodded and turned to Allie, “go to the shuttle and take it insystem.”

I looked at Ginger and Tony, “go with her and take mom and David.”

Ginger hesitated before standing, “a ranger should...”

I waved that away, “I am a ranger. Now take them to safety.”

She nodded as Tony stood and moved to help Allie up. I looked at Allie and wanted to hold her so bad. She smiled softly before letting Ginger and Tony lead her away with the admiral and captain. I opened the shield and screens and watched the shuttle bay. After they left I dropped the shield and screens completely.

I looked at the alien, “do you require a special atmosphere?”

It shivered, “no but your ship seems a bit on the warm side.”

I looked at the internal controls as the temperature setting changed. I nodded and looked at the alien, “which airlock would you like...”

I stopped as the alien suddenly appeared in front of me. It shifted as little before one tentacle gesturing and I heard it click and a translator spoke, “show us your ship.”

I stood and turned to walk towards the hatch and tried to ignore the way the alien seemed to flow after me. It clicked again, “you use many technologies from many who no longer ply the ways between the stars.”

I nodded as I glanced at it, “when we made it we were in a system called Grer. There were many trying to learn about all those that had gone before. We were young and because there was war we wanted a way to protect ourselves. We used what we learned from the many abandoned ships.”

I thought of the girls and was silent before looking at the alien, “we were to slow. War came and my mates died very badly.”

We reached the galley and the alien shifted before turning completely around. It pointed into the open dining compartment door at the holograph of the medical biosphere before moving closer. I saw the holo flicker before it looked at me, “what purpose is this?”

I smiled, “it is a medical biosphere we designed.”

It turned to look again before a tentacle waved and it started walking. I followed as it went to the hydroponics section. It slowed and looked around before reaching out to touch a flower, “this is not food or for air regeneration.”

I smiled and bent to smell another before looking at it, “no.”
It nodded before turning to head towards the hatch and went to the med bay. It moved through the room slowly before returning to the hatch, “the one that is your mate was in an engineered body.”

I frowned, “Allie was an AI on one of the warship. She was abandoned and left and one of my mates saved her and brought her to our ship. After the girls were killed I made a body because she had become a part of us.”

It nodded, “some few can make the change and remain stable.”

It looked at me as we walked through the ship, “you do not like or enjoy destroying.”

I shook my head and it clicked but the translator did not work. When we returned to the bridge it turned once more, “the human war is over.”

I smiled, “I would like it if that were true.”

It sighed, “we will tell all and make it so. If the Kull have done what you say and what your computer records show, we will isolate them and they will ceases to move between the stars.”

I thought of the Sentinels, “I went to Kull and another system called Morp. I destroyed all the ships and space stations and left a type of stealthed satellite to keep them restricted to the planets.”

It waved a tentacle, “this we know.”

It looked around before looking at me, “take your mate and go home.”

It vanished and I watched as its ship moved away slowly. All three turned as a huge wormhole opened. They jumped out together and I sat in my seat before absently bringing my screens up and opened the system comm, “fleet control this is Night Scream.”

“Go Night Scream.”

I turned the ship, “I need an immediate meeting with the emperor.”

I began scanning for my shuttle and saw it deeper insystem and opened the FTL, “Allie?”

“Charles?”

I started the ship moving, “I am on the way in and will pick you up.”

“Admiral Peters wants to know what happened.”

I accelerated, “I will explain when I get there.”

I opened the system comm, “fleet control I am headed in to pick up my shuttle before going to Miros.”

“You are cleared to Miros. Contact Miros orbital control when you are ready.”

I slowed when I reached the shuttle and Allie matched speed and I pulled the shuttle in. As the bay door began to close I started to accelerate again. I looked back when everyone came onto the bridge. Allie ignored them and everything else as she came to me. I reached out and caught her hand and gave it a squeeze.

She smiled and then glanced around before moving to her seat. I looked at the admiral, “they gave a warning and an ultimatum. They said the human war was over.”

I checked the displays, “I believe if we continue they will more than just warn. They said the Kull would cease to move between the stars. It did not have anything and read my ship’s computer without it setting off an alarm. It read everything and understood what it read.”

I looked back, “it showed knowledge of our biology when we reached the hydroponics.”

I looked at mom and she nodded, “from what I have seen and they have done I would say they are a race of telepaths.”

She grinned, “that would explain a lot.”

I gestured to the seats, “I asked for a meeting with the emperor. We are done and returning to Grer. I will build our hospital biosphere there.”

I looked at the admiral as everyone sat, “I will also release the FTL technology.”

He nodded and I turned back to what I was doing, “these aliens seem... reluctant to get involved. As if they are only doing it now so they do not have to later.”

I looked at mom, “I think perhaps they have a hive mind or are developing one.”

She moved to my chair, “now that would explain why they do not interact with other races and their absence.”

We talked all the way to orbit around Miros. I took the shuttle down with Ginger, Tony, mom and David. After I left the shuttle Allie put it in stealth and brought it back to Night Scream. To say the emperor was not happy would be an understatement. He was willing to stop hostilities if the empire systems remained safe.

Allie picked me up in the imperial garden after the meeting and I returned to Night Scream. Mom had left a message that she would be coming to Grer before Allie had her babies. I kept the ship in stealth as I headed out and jumped. I sat back after putting the auto pilot on and turned to Allie with a smile, “now it is just us.”

She stood from her seat and moved to me, “I have given it much thought and consideration. It would be safer if I were to place our children in artificial wombs.”

I waited and she took my hand, “I do not wish to do that.”

I smiled, “than you will follow the other path. No exercises and going slow or even bed rest.”

She nodded and I moved out of my chair to hold her. I turned to head towards the galley, “I wish Angel...”

I sighed, “I wish she were here. She would know what you needed.”

The ship alarm screamed and I spun and ran back towards the bridge. The huge alien ship in the scan was beside us and there was a glow spreading over both ships. I started to hit the screens and shields but everything went dark. I heard whispers and soft murmuring that seemed to come from inside my head and everywhere at the same time.

The image of an alien appeared, “we wish to offer you a position. We have felt the pain of your loss. We will return the ones lost if you will take our place and become a guardian.”

I looked at it as the voices stilled, “the ones lost? You mean my friends and mates.”

It shifted, “yes.”

I thought about them going back in time, “and all the others?”

It shook its head, “we may not interfere.”

I thought of Allie, “and Allie?”

It seemed to move closer, “it is but a machine.”

I almost growled but it was moving back, “you do not believe this.”

I tried to turn my head to look for her, “where is she?”

It sighed, “safe and concerned for you and the ones she carries.”

Two more aliens joined the first and I heard the voices whispering again. The center alien shifted, “if she is with you and we return the others will you become the guardian?”

I looked at it and thought of having my friends and lovers back before I nodded. The dark returned and then nothing for a long time. My eyes snapped open to someone moving on me and my arms went around her. Olivia looked into my eyes, “what happened? We were with the others at the dig and then men in armor came and everything went dark.”

I turned my head to see Jess, Teri and Julie and moved Olivia, “Allie?”

Her head lifted a moment later from the other side of Julie. Something about the way she looked, (almost frightened) made me move quickly, “Allie!”

She looked at me with wide eyes, “I can not feel the ship.”

I held her and caressed her face before I looked around quarters that were larger. I moved off the bed, “everyone up!”

I swept Allie into my arms as the girls moved out of bed and turned to head for the door, “I need you Angel!”

Olivia ran to catch up, “who is she?”

The others were following and I slowed to look at the longer and wider halls, “ship? I need directions to the med bay!”

“Down a level and across to the blue section.”

A glowing sphere appeared in the air and I began following it while Allie clung to me. I looked at Olivia, “It is a long story but she is Allie.”

Julie moved forward to stride beside me, “our Allie?”

I nodded and glanced at Jess and Teri before I sighed, “I need to get her to the med bay to see if the babies are okay.”

The girls gasped and Jess grabbed my arm to stop me, “you got her pregnant?”

I pulled on her and snorted, “it was not exactly my idea. You girls all do what you want. Why should Allie listen to me or be different?”

They laughed and then we were turning in at a huge room. I hesitated before Olivia pulled me to a bed, “put her down.”

She went looking before grinning as she picked up a small remote, “med bay diagnostics?”

“Yes?”

She moved to the bed, “I need a complete exam on the patient on the bed.”

I cleared my throat, “check for developing embryos and also do a complete scan of the skull and brain.”

It was a moment before I relaxed as I held Allie’s hand. The babies were fine but the neural receptor and transmitter were gone. I smiled and bent to give her a kiss, “you are completely human now.”

She smiled and caressed my face before sitting up and looking at the others. I grinned and helped her off the table, “now to find the galley so we can talk.”

The galley was much larger with wide comfortable seats. I grinned as Jess went to the synthesizer while we sat. If the aliens had done this they would have everything we had put into the other one. She turned and grinned, “nice selections.”

She brought cups of tea back and I took a sip before leaning back, “you were killed.”

I looked at them as they looked at each other. I shrugged, “I came down in the shuttle and killed the Talis soldiers but it was to late. Only a handful survived and I guess I lost my mind for awhile. I fixed Night Scream and went after the man responsible. I... I killed a lot of people to get him but I brought him back and let the survivors judge him.”

I looked down, “after that I... I do not remember much for a long time. Allie took care of me until I found my way back.”

I looked at them, “what they did to you...”

Olivia moved and took my hand, “okay we get the part where we were killed.”

I shook my head, “they did not just kill you. The battle suits pulled people apart.”

I stood and moved across the room, “you were gone.”

I turned, “Allie was always with me. Yes my husband, no my husband...”

I smiled at Allie, “so I made an artificial body for her.”

I snorted, “she had to learn how to control the body and I made it like a real body. It had to eat and rest and go to the bathroom.”

They laughed and Julie slipped her hand into Allie’s, “but she is not artificial now.”

I shook my head, “that was the result of my mother asking why I had not made her a real body.”

They looked at each other and Teri leaned forward, “so how did you make the body and where is it?”

I smiled, “it was in storage. I went to Miros and joined the rangers and we went to war. I used DNA from all four of you to make this body for Allie. If she had not started off in the artificial one she might not have made it. It was a little easier the second time.”

I looked at Allie and smiled, “she wanted to be human like her sisters. She even took a fertility drug.”

I looked at Olivia, “do not ask me why or what because I do not and did not know. I thought she was going to put an implant in.”

I looked at all of them, “as you saw in the med bay scan she is pregnant with four babies, four girls.”

They grinned and I sighed, “besides the war with Talis, the Kull began another expansion only this time they tried to take us out first. They killed everyone and everything in the Talis system. Then an ancient alien race came, one more advanced than all the others we have studied. They stopped the fighting and restricted the Kull to their own worlds.”

I looked at Allie, “we were returning to Greg to start building a medical biosphere. The aliens caught us while we were jumping. They were somehow in the wormhole and used something on the ship. Everything went dark and they... they offered me a position. They said they would return you if I became a guardian for them.”

I looked at their quiet faces, “I do not know how I am going to monitor all the systems or know where too...”

Jess chuckled, “just like a male. They will tell you when there is trouble and where it is.”

I looked at her and she stood, “this is not our Night Scream so I need to look over the weapons and defenses.”

Teri stood and kissed my cheek, “I should go look at the engineering systems.”

Julie stood and helped Allie up, “and I need to check the nav systems and the piloting controls.”

Olivia laughed as Julie pulled Allie after her and came to give me a kiss, “I should look over the med bay and then check the hydroponics section.”

I was left alone and once they were gone a holo of an alien appeared. It looked around, “The girls were right. We will let you know if there is trouble and where it is.”

It looked at me, “on the outer rim of the abandoned ships you will find your biosphere. We found it most interesting.”

The holo vanished and I sighed, “I guess I should start looking over everything before we have to use it.”

We came out of the wormhole a few hours later and Julie set course for the ring of abandoned ships. The new Night Scream was the size of one of the alien ships. It had many surprises, a lot of spaces were for hydroponic sections which were almost garden like. There were large workrooms and the girls all seemed to love everything we saw.

So far the few times we have gone out it has been simple to deal with whoever after a demonstration.

The end
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