Derrick watched as Zan appeared out of the trans-warp portal. ‘Something’s going on,’ he thought as he waited for Sherry to exit the portal. When there was no Sherry forth coming Derrick's fist hit the desk in front of him.
Shelby backed away from Derrick as she saw his face twist into anger. Derrick had just reached for the com, when Zan appeared in front of him. The distraught look on Zan's face was all Derrick needed to see to know that Sherry was lost.
"You son of a bitching COWARD," Derrick heard Lucie's railing voice not far behind Zan. "You just let her die. I hate you; get me off you I will have nothing more to do with you!"
Zan looked at Mary as she nodded her head. A moment later Lucie appeared in the throne room. Looking at the holo-gram of Zan, Lucie pointed an accusing finger. "I suggest Sire," Lucie hissed between her teeth. "That you get that unfeeling piece of garbage out of here before he stinks up the place with his treachery."
Lucie growled as she whirled leaving the room her face blood red with rage.
Derrick nodded, though said nothing 'til Lucie was gone. "I want everything, every little detail."
Zan his head still low started to recount what had happened after Sherry contacted him. The whole time Derrick kept his anger in check. Then tears started as Zan started the last part of the tale.
"I had destroyed the ship that was emitting ripalon energy. Sherry's trans-warp and hyper drive were down. We'd destroyed the last of the visible ships, I was about to pull her with the attractor beam when many more of them appeared. It was then that she sent Lucie to me asking me to protect her. She told me she was about to fire ALL her thermic missiles, that I had a minute to escape."
Here Derrick could see Zan reliving the last moments he saw his wing mate. "I see you had no choice if you were to save her prime Lucie. Continue please," Derrick's terse voice stated.
Zan nodded as fresh tears started, "She kissed me goodbye. It... it was the hardest thing I have ever done Sire. I was so thrilled to have her with me again, only to be completely helpless to aid her. If you wish for my termination Sire, I will understand."
Derrick's knuckles were white having gripped the arm of the chair next to him. Even his Grandmother Milley O'Toma, who'd been standing nearby had backed away from Derrick.
"First," Derrick said in a low angry voice. "If you were terminated Sherry would be far angrier with me, than I am at the moment. Second you are the key to defeating these aliens. With all the readings I know you took I'm sure we will defeat them. Third you are the only one who knows where she was when she set the thermic missiles off. No, I don't want your termination though I am going to work you as much as possible to find her."
Zan's face went through several emotions as Derrick made his speech; first shock, which melded into a look of anger, and then one of fierce determination. "I will do all and everything I can do to find her!" Zan nearly shouted.
Derrick looked at Zan and nodded, "Until we find her, I'm afraid that Lucie will continue to hate you. I'm sorry to say that can't be helped. As I am sure you noticed they bonded quite closely." Derrick looked at Mary as she nodded.
A moment later both Rayburn and Kimison appeared. "Yes Sire; you called us?"
Derrick nodded as he pointed to Zan. "Zan contains information, about an old enemy that has a new defense, you might say. I'd find it desirable if the both of you could find a counter for it."
Both men looked at Zan intrigued by what Derrick had just said. "We need to start..." Kimison started then nodded as he saw that Zan was already downloading all that he had recorded. "Alright Sire we're on it." Kimison said then they winked out.
Derrick turned back to Zan, "I want you to start scanning for the new signal I had installed on all of you. With more than luck we should be able to find her quicker."
A determined smile covered Zan's face as he bowed then also winked out. Shaking his head Derrick sighed as he let his shoulders droop a bit. ‘Now to handle the rest of this,’ he thought. Turning toward his grandmother he steeled himself up for the fight he felt he was about to have.
"Alright Grams we are here." Taking Shelby's hand he presented her before his Grandmother and his mother who'd just appeared. Bowing to both of them even as Shelby did also Derrick stated, "I'd like the both of you to meet our Empress and my soon to be wife, Shelby."
Milley O'Toma was about to reach out to Shelby when she stopped withdrawing her hand as if she were burned. "Shelby?" Milley said a hint of disgust in her voice. "The same as the ship that was responsible for my grandson getting hurt?" Milley angrily backed away scowling at the blonde, green eyed woman before her.
Sherry O'Toma had also backed away from Shelby a look of fear on her face. "You can't unite with her, Derrick!" Sherry O'Toma stated as she backed further away.
Derrick's face suddenly contorted into a mask of anger as he pointed at both his relatives. "I AM uniting with her. She was made for me literally. She has been through hell while I was in the past; she has been through hell even after I returned. She has more than earned the right to this union!"
Shelby's face held a look of genuine shock at Derrick's words. She then threw her arms around a startled Derrick as she kissed his cheek. Try as she might, she couldn't hold back the tears of happiness that were threatening to spill from her eyes. Finally she thought he is starting to have feelings for me.
Milley O'Toma was about to object to Derrick, though the look in his eyes made her think he'd brook no argument. "Alright Derrick," turning to Shelby she asked. "Are you alright with the three of us planning the union ceremony?"
Shelby's head turned toward Milley, "Yes Ma’am, I'd prefer that you two helped as much as possible!"
Milley turned toward Sherry as Derrick's mother nodded, "So, she is far smarter than I at first thought."
Milley narrowed her eyes as she stared at Shelby, "Yes my dear, she is at that. Much smarter than I thought her at first also." With that both Milley and Sherry welcomed Shelby as the three of them moved out of the room to plan.
Derrick's eyes were wide as he groaned, "Dear god what have I done?" A chuckling behind him caused Derrick to turn seeing Johnathon Hartwell.
Leaning against the door jamb Hartwell had his arms crossed trying to hold back his amusement. "Your Grandmother always was a force to reckon with. I'm glad I was never on the receiving end of her anger."
Derrick's eyes narrowed as he stared at his long time friend. "I thought you were planning, finding out as much as you could about where the Duke might be."
Johnathon nodded as he handed a print out of all he had. "Did you forget Sire? I did a major part of my growing up on that planet. Where you thought and I know the Baron is, has a great many strategical advantages. Unfortunately the coward chose well. Then again as we both have seen don't they all usually?"
Derrick was quiet a moment as he thought about Hartwell's statement. "I'm glad you're here Admiral. It appears that we may have another problem. We lost Sherry today to an overpowering force. It also seems that this old enemy race has developed a light bending technology comparable to our light shield."
"WHAT!? Shit this is bad Sire, I need to advise..." Hartwell started when Derrick shook his head. "Oh I see you are far ahead of me on this. I take it they are both working on a counter?" When Derrick nodded yes, Hartwell thought a moment, "'bout like normal huh, Commander? Getting it from two fronts."
Derrick’s eyes went wide a moment then a thin smile crossed his lips as he nodded his agreement. "It always seemed to be that way, no matter how much we had done or did."
"Since they have tipped their hand, you think they might attack?" Hartwell asked concern heavy in his voice.
Derrick sat his hand on his chin as he sifted through all the information he had about this race. "I'm not sure they will for the moment. They lost a few ships when they attacked Sherry. Plus they use ripalon energy on some of their ships." Derrick was thinking more as Hartwell waited. He'd seen the Commander like this before, what usually followed was a brilliant idea.
A few minutes later snapped his fingers a new thought cane to him. "You have something sir?" Hartwell asked hopeful to which Derrick nodded.
"This race is called the Tendrax, they are technological hoarders. From all I've read of them they depend more on their tech then much of anything else. The last time they were seen their tech was nothing compared to what they have now. It is obvious that some survived, copying what they saw. It also appears they improved upon it." Derrick advised Hartwell.
"Are you thinking that they use ripalon energy with all their weapons and machinery?" Hartwell asked.
"It would explain why Sherry was completely blind to them before they appeared. They also know that the overproduction of it renders much of the EIG's somewhat helpless. I need to advise Kimison and Rayburn of that fact if they haven't seen it already." Derrick replied.
Hartwell was about to make a suggestion when Derrick got a faraway look in his eyes. Damn Hartwell thought, just like my sister.
Derrick's face lit up a huge smile crossing his features when he 'heard' Shelby. [Hello Derrick, I am so saddened at the loss of my daughter Sherry.]
[As am I, her wing mate Zan took it very hard. There are times I wish I hadn't opened all of your emotion circuits as I had. It has saddened Zan also, though my promise to work him hard to find her has him more determined.] Derrick advised Shelby.
[That will give him the purpose he will need. I hope that I can be with you again a day sooner Derrick.] This news caught Derrick by surprise. [I was able to advance my regen without the adverse effects that the others suffered.]
[It will be good to have you back in the fleet Shelby. Lucie found three more of them before she was lost. Kimison and Rayburn have made great progress with the other parent ship's casing. I hope they have it ready in a few days though, with all the new developments I'm not sure.] Derrick thought to Shelby.
[I believe in you Derrick, I know you and the empire will emerge victorious. I better rest more now, I should reemerge sometime tomorrow.] Shelby replied.
[Rest well Shelby.] Derrick said a huge smile on his face. He then looked over to Mary who nodded then contacted Kimison and Rayburn.
Onboard the Celeste where most of the Rangers that now worked for Derrick were; Dempsy, and Greeson had just completed another exercise. Bowing to each other Dempsy nodded as they both went into meditation. A few minutes into it a fiery redhead hologram appeared in front of Dempsy.
Dempsy's left eye opened as he could feel a difference in the air of the room. "Yes? May I help you?" He said as he addressed Celeste. "Please forgive me as I do not know your name."
Celeste nodded, "I am Celeste, sir." This caused Dempsy to groan a bit. "I would not have disturbed you and your training unless necessary." This got Dempsy's attention. "I received a communication from a ship that is on its way here under hyper drive. I was told that they requested you to know that they are coming."
Dempsy's eyes shot wide as he tried to think of who would do this. "I see, did they mention any names?"
Celeste shook her head as she said, "No sir, they only said that it is time, and that the student is now a master, and worthy. Also something about she will wait no longer, therefore she has come for you." Greeson was deep in meditation though he was listening as intensely as he could.
Dempsy's eyes got large as he realized just who had said these things, and then larger still when he realized just WHO was onboard the ship heading toward them. Swallowing hard Dempsy nodded, "please respond that I will be ready for her arrival, though at present nothing can happen as the Emperor is on the Imperial planet."
Celeste nodded as she winked out to send the transmission. Greeson felt Dempsy tremble a bit before he calmed then arose. Shocked Greeson opened an eye seeing that Dempsy was shaking a bit. What or WHO in the universe could scare; almost terrify his master this badly?
Dempsy had almost reached the door when he stopped, "When you have gone back to meditation and finished, come to my room. We have a great deal to discuss." With that Dempsy walked out still shaking a bit.
Greeson nodded slipping back into his meditation still wondering what was going on. Almost an hour later Greeson finished, walking toward his master's room.
Dempsy sat in his room bare of almost everything except a low desk and a bedroll. Taking a deep shuddering sigh, Dempsy shook his head. Now would be a good time to start drinking though knowing her she'd know it the moment she talked to him.
Looking at the wall Dempsy called out, "Celeste? Would you be so kind as to connect me to the emperor?"
The fiery redhead appeared a moment later. "Connecting now sir, contact established, go ahead, sir."
Dempsy nodded as a hologram of Derrick appeared, bowing low Derrick waved his hand for Dempsy to sit up.
Taking a deep breath Dempsy sat up turning a worried face to Derrick. "I apologize, Sire for disturbing you; it seems that we may have a delicate problem."
Derrick's eyes widened a moment then he said, "Great as if we don't have enough problems. What is wrong now?" Derrick's voice said sounding exasperated.
"As I said this is rather delicate, it has to do with Jitaku." Dempsy said visibly shaking.
Every bit of Derrick's annoyance was instantly gone, "Your home? Has something happened to your master or the clan?" Derrick breathed a sigh of relief when Dempsy shook his head no.
"No sire, this is far worse than that." Dempsy replied his face twisting into a more worried look.
"Far worse? My God, man what could be worse than those two things?" Derrick asked a perplexed look on his face.
"Do you remember when I first joined? I told you that one day I would have to return. That I had a duty there. After I created that monster Trianas, I felt I couldn't go home 'til that was corrected." Here Dempsy shook a bit.
"That has been amended I can allow you to go home almost any time you wish." Derrick advised Dempsy.
"Yes sir, I know this though, it may be that I HAVE to go home soon. If what I think is going to happen does, I may have no choice." Dempsy told Derrick with his head hung low.
"My god man what is going on," Derrick asked the worry apparent in his voice.
Here Dempsy whispered almost as if he spoke louder something bad would happen. "I got a message from Onai." Here Dempsy shuddered again.
"Are you sure?" Derrick asked, "Couldn't you have been wrong?"
"No sir, the message was for me specifically. She said the student is now a master and worthy. She also said that she will wait no longer, that she has come for me. This can only mean three things; she intends to unite with me as we were supposed to before the Trianas business. She will test my best student if he is worthy she will stay with me. If not she may kill him and force me back to Jitaku through traditions." Here Dempsy started to shake again as he looked at Derrick with a pained look.
Derrick's mouth was open in surprise could they really do this to the man? Thing is he still needed Dempsy. "Do you wish for me to talk to her? I still need you Dempsy; having you leave would seriously hamper a lot I have left to do."
Dempsy's head snapped up as he considered all that Derrick had said. "You can try Sire; she is a hard headed one. It might take quite a bit to convince her." There was a knock that moment as Dempsy told Greeson to come in.
Greeson opened the door looking at the sparely furnished room. Then he saw the hologram of Derrick, as he snapped to attention. "Sorry master I didn't know you were talking to the emperor, I'll wait in the hall."
"NO!” Dempsy almost shouted as his hand flashed out toward Dempsy. Reacting without thinking Greeson blocked all five hits that were thrown. Grunting Dempsy nodded as he pointed to a spot next to him. "You are a big part of this discussion. If you react that way when she challenges you, you might survive."
Greeson's face screwed up in puzzlement as he stared at Dempsy. "She? Who are you talking about? I thought we took care of that disgrace to the art form."
A weak smile came to Dempsy's face, "Yes we did, this time though I am afraid that you will be going against one that is far better."
Greeson's mouth dropped open as he stared harder at Dempsy. "Better? That would mean that she is on the same level as you are master. Just who is this female?"
Sighing Dempsy took out a small picture of a five foot three dark haired woman. She had oriental features that were more apparent than Dempsy's were. "This is Onai, my, as I heard Captain Callie say earlier, fiancé." Here Dempsy grimaced as he continued. "No one but the two of you and General Norman know of her, though I expect that all will soon."
Greeson was nodding wondering why he was being included in on this private matter of his master. It was then that Daniel Norman knocked and joined them.
"Alright I'm here you said this was urgent. The only things I can think of to cause this are your master, your clan, your home and your master's daughter." Norman was looking at Dempsy when Dempsy grimaced again. "Dear god man! She's on the way?" Norman started to laugh getting a look of almost death from Dempsy. "I told you years ago to go back and take care of this, you wouldn't listen."
Dempsy's head lowered as he nodded, then he asked all of them to help with the coming, as he called it apocalypse.
Captain Mara Callie had just finished checking through all of Tara's systems when Tara appeared. "Prime? I am receiving a priority message from the emperor for you."
Mara stopped what she was doing her head snapping around to stare at Tara, "A priority message?" Tara nodded as Mara clicked her communications open. "This is Captain Mara Callie. How may I assist you Sire?"
Derrick's holo-gram appeared, "I am afraid that your reunion with Tara will be cut short Captain. This is a matter that deals with Lieutenant Greeson. As I know, the two of you are engaged, it seems that his master is also. She will be challenging your fiancé. His master has suggested that you be present. This is voluntary, though I could make it an order. The woman is as good as Dempsy according to him; he says that it would be in the best interests of both you and Greeson, if you are there."
Mara was shocked then a bit angry when Derrick explained all that was doing to happen. "I could blow her out of space, though I am sure that wouldn't sit well with David's master. I will be there Sire just say when." Derrick smiled it was good that she was onboard now he hoped the Greeson was trained enough to survive.
It was three days later that a small, sleet craft exited hyper space heading toward the fleet. Onboard an Oriental woman looked out at the twelve massive ships her eyes wide, impressed with what she saw. Looking at the man at the controls she nodded.
"This is courier one of Jitaku requesting permission to dock." The man said then waited.
Celeste's voice came through as she answered. "Courier one, please move to the ship directly in front of you. We have been awaiting your arrival. I am opening bay one, please move within."
The man's face was surprised as he saw a huge opening at the side of the ship. Looking at the woman she nodded as he started in. Within minutes the ship was shutting down as the opening closed.
A large clang signaled that the opening was sealed. A moment later the woman moved to the doorway. Outside she was surprised to see five men waiting for her. A man with five stars on his shoulder stepped up. Behind him a man with three stars, two men with one star and last a man with a silver oak leaf.
Johnathon Hartwell bowed to the woman, "Welcome Miss Onai. I am Admiral Hartwell of the Imperial space forces. We all have been sent to welcome you aboard."
Onai bowed to Hartwell then to each man after they were introduced also bowing to her. She stopped before Daniel Norman as she looked intensely at his face.
"You sir, I seem to have a memory of." She said to Norman.
Norman nodded slightly, "Yes ma’am. I was with Kimon when he was home many years ago."
"Yes, you were very honorable to me and father. We both were greatly impressed." Turning to Hartwell she stated, "This one shall accompany us to where Kimon is. If the rest of you are as honorable as this one is then this trip will be very pleasant. That is after the business at hand is finished."
Hartwell was about to say something then snapped his mouth shut. Shaking his head he had all the others fall in behind Norman and Onai.
Norman was shocked when she stepped next to him as they made their way into the ship. "The emperor wished to apologize for being unable to be present. He has a wedding of his own to the empress. We also have problems with a possible invading race."
Onai waved off Norman's speech, "It is to be expected he has an empire to maintain. We are thrilled that he agreed to us coming aboard."
Norman nodded then bowed, "We should proceed to where Kimon is, as I am sure you are anxious to see him."
Onai's mouth gained a small thin smile then it was gone as fast. "Anxious? No my dear friend, I was anxious when he left. I was furious when he didn't return home again after the time the both of you were there. So anxious no, though I am expecting a full explanation from him." Here she turned to Norman, "I just hope it is satisfactory, dishonor is not a pretty thing as I am sure you know."
Norman nodded as he tried to keep everything to himself. No sense in upsetting her with unexpected news. The party moved through the ship 'til it reached the training hall. Onai looked in seeing Dempsy, her eyes got wide as her face showed momentary anger.
Walking in with a determined gait she stopped near Dempsy as she waited. Norman, Hartwell and the other men started moving people out as fast as possible no sense in getting everyone killed. Both Dempsy and Greeson stopped practicing noticing that everyone was departing the room.
"Kimon Dempsy, this one never thought that you would be as big a coward as you are." Onai said stopping Dempsy dead in his tracks.
"This one was not afraid as with you I had responsibilities. These I could not ignore, like..." Dempsy started.
"Responsibilities!" Onai almost shouted. "Yes, you did have, one of which was returning home!"
"I was..." Dempsy tried to start again.
"No, we will discuss after." Here she walked up to Greeson. "You are Kimon's best student, who I understand helped to restore his honor. For that I thank you, now according to traditions I must challenge you. I suggest you not go easy as I will not or I will kill you. Impress me, and then perhaps I won't kill you. Your name?"
"David Greeson, if you are going to challenge me, may I ask that my fiancé to be present?" Greeson asked.
When Onai nodded with an even bigger smile on her face Greeson turned to Celeste who nodded. A moment later Mara Callie appeared.
Turning back Greeson bowed and thanked Onai. A sly smile came to her lips as she stated. "You are challenged we begin in two minutes." Greeson nodded as he stretched. Onai removed her Yukata revealing she was in fighting attire.
Both met in the middle of the mat bowing to each other. Tentatively they fought gauging each other rapidly getting faster and faster. Suddenly Onai was thrown back almost to the wall a huge smile on her face a rip on the chest of her attire. Springing back she reentered the fray. They were soon moving far faster than anyone but Dempsy could follow.
Almost half an hour into the challenge Greeson suddenly gasp, he was flying back toward the wall at excessive speed. Springing back he was heading toward a startled Onai, spinning she caught him flinging him to the mat. Even as he rose she started a series of six rapid blows.
Avoiding and blocking the first five Greeson was a little over confident as she grazed him with the sixth blow. Almost crumbling Greeson continued to block almost everything she threw. Finally Onai stopped holding up a hand.
"I am impressed, you should get medically attended." She bowed again as she said, "It was an honor to fight one as strong as you. Kimon is the only one I have ever seen continue after the triple, triple move. He also was injured in his ribs. Ugh! Like him you are so stubborn." Here Onai pushed Greeson with a finger as he collapsed.
Onai nodded with a smile then anger showed on her face as she turned to face Kimon.