Lost Empire
Chapter 3

Derrick had gone numb from all that he'd seen when he was formulating this plan; NOTHING could survive that plasma blast. A voice was talking to him but he was numb, couldn't move, couldn't speak, nothing. As Derrick continued to stare, he felt a chair behind him bump the back of his legs, he don't know if he sat, or didn't know if he fell or was pushed. Several hours later he opened my eyes, finding him sitting in front of a view screen, at first he thought he was on E but as the memories flooded back he sadly shook his head.

Derrick caught a movement out of the corner of his eye, shifting his glance the visage of 0999's hologram came into view. "Ah Good, Primary! I thought that the loss of 0101, had caused a serious overload of your cerebral circuits."

Derrick could only nod, still somewhat in shock he still wasn't too sure what he felt.

Derrick could feel the chair moving but really didn't care at the moment as it took him to nearby crew quarters. Laying in the bed Derrick went over and over the plan trying to figure out just what went wrong, so far he'd come up with nothing. It was possibly a day later when several alarms went off on board 0999, running out Derrick wasn't sure what was going on.

"0999 report," ordered Derrick.

"It appears that the thermic missiles took well over 60% of the fleet, they appeared to halt for 2 days but are on the move again." 0999 replied.

"Status of 0098," Derrick asked.

"All repairs are completed, all systems are ready, would you like to link, Prime Derrick?" 0098 asked.

Derrick thought about it, it had supplied a tactical advantage last time, and with 0098 it might even be more.

"Yes 0098, initiate cerebral link, we need to eliminate this threat before they reach this galaxy." Derrick said. Donning the head gear he had a better heads up display with both ships enabling him to use both as one during the battle.

"Estimated time till they are past the point?" Derrick asked.

"I estimate it will be 22 hours 'til they breach the galaxy's edge." informed 0999.

"Alright move us into position, prepare all batteries, set shields to full, charge all weapons, I want everything on full standby." Derrick ordered.

"Yes Prime Derrick," both ships answered at once.

Derrick wasn't really feeling up for this not without E, but as E had told him the galaxy needed to be protected and that was what they'd been created for all those centuries ago. Derrick had both ships run full diagnostics he wanted nothing to go wrong, he might have lost E but he'd be damned if he'd lose one of her brothers or sisters. A full 20 hours later they were well in position, looking out Derrick could see that what was left of the alien fleet was substantially less than he first thought it was, hell it was about the size of the last fleet they'd defeated. The enemy fleet was almost to the galactic edge when the two ships attacked, several ships at the rear exploded, but it appeared there was no other ship there. Just as suddenly 0999 and 0098 appeared at the head of the fleet just as they had turned to attack who was hitting them from behind. Smiling it was happening just as he hoped; only this time they took out far more than a few ships. Flashing in and out the battle took almost an hour, then as suddenly as it started it was over. Neither ship had sustained even minor damage, though the enemy fleet was now just a debris field on the galactic rim.

Derrick breathed a sigh of relief, that was finally done, now he could look for E. Setting a course they emerged near the last point E had been, Derrick had found that not only had E transported him but his ship as well.

Painstakingly Derrick began to adjust to sensors 'til he had the wavelength he wanted; now all he had to do was wait and listen. It was almost a week later that they finally got something, a weak signal as always but still it gave him hope."0999, proceed," with that they went to were the signal source within seconds.

"Primary, it is indeed a brain box, attempting to identify ... it appears to be 0003, shall I bring him aboard?" 0999 sounded hopeful.

"First scan the box for anything out of the ordinary," ordered derrick.

"Yes Primary, scanning now ... I am detecting several large explosives attached to the outer contours of the box.

Attempting to disarm now, all clear nothing else detected radiation within normal parameters." 0999 responded

"Good, bring it onboard and start re-gen and re-growth as soon as you have stabilized and increased energy feed to the box," Derrick ordered.

"Yes Primary, starting procedures now," 0999 reported.

"Inform me when 0003 is stable and has started to regrow, I have to search more." Derrick said.

Damn it! He thought for sure that the signal had been E, son of a bitch! He had found not long ago that each brain box gave off a different signal, he'd thought this one had been E. Sitting down he began to adjust the scanner again, though this time he wasn't getting anything. He'd been at it for 2 hours when 0999 chimed in.

"Primary, I have stabilized 0003 and have started the processes, I estimate it will take 13 days, 12 hours, 33 minutes, and 30 seconds 'til 0003 is fully regrown," 0999 informed him.

"Very good keep a close watch on him, adjust if any problems arise and advise me at once," Derrick said.

"Yes Primary, as quickly as I can," 0999 responded.

Derrick sighed; this was like looking for a new piece of metal in a rust filled metal yard. Again he started to go over the area 0101 had been in and the last projected course that she had been on when they had lost sight of her. Derrick hadn't been sure, at the last instant before he'd lost sight of her, he could have sworn that he'd seen her divert at an almost 45 degree turn from the blast. He wasn't sure he was hoping she had done that on purpose so he could find her easier. The fact that they had found another ship this fast out of the gate was seemingly incredible, or was it? "0999 I want a full spectrum of tests run on the brain box of 0003 something isn't right here."

"Compliance, all growth has been halted it appears that the growth cycle was having trouble starting. Power output has not increased; internal power source is incredibly weak. Scanning deeper, I am picking up a viral infection on the outer case, it seems to be impeding all growth and stealing all energy that was to be added." 0999 responded.

"Is there any form of treatment?" Derrick asked.

"No Primary, this is something new to this unit." 0999 responded sadly.

"I think I have something that may help," Derrick said as he headed to his ship. Derrick had been searching for almost 2 hours when he finally ran across what he'd been looking for.

"0999," started Derrick, "Query."

"Ready primary," answered 0999.

"The type of viral infection inhibiting 0003's case, is it biological in nature, or code driven?" Derrick asked.

"Re-examining case now, though almost biological in nature, it does seem to be a created by other than natural sources. I am projecting a 94.7% probability that it was created for the sole purpose of destroying power distribution throughout all systems presently used on all existing EIG ships." 0999 answered.

"Alright, I have seen something like this years ago," Derrick answered, "I had help developing an anti-virus specifically designed to seek out and destroy this very type of virus. 0999 please download this program and project the effectiveness of it upon said virus, again query, are you detecting any effect at present?"

"Compliance primary I will start running scenarios immediately." 0999 quipped.

For an hour Derrick hoped that the basic program he had would be enough to fight this damn thing.

"Primary, I have the results. It is projected with 99.01% success if section 4b and 7c are changed to include the following changes." 0999 reported, Derrick looked over the sections and nodded so they hadn't changed it much over the years good.

"Alright 0999, implement the changes then start clearing 0003, then we can start the regrowth, I'll feel a lot better with 3 ships or more than just 2." Derrick winched a moment, they might not be truly alive but they did have feelings and were known (though seldom) to act like hurt children.

"Very good Primary, 0003 is clearing now; I estimate another 2 hours then I can start re-growth again." 0999 said.

"Good keep me apprised, I need to go to 0098 and adjust her files as I did yours, anything that can be gained will be of help in the long run." Derrick told 0999.

"Very good Primary I have printed out all the circuits you adjusted to aid in your job," 0999 offered.

"Thank you 0999, I am hoping to start working on yours again soon, I realize you only have 4% more clarity now, I am hoping to increase that soon," Derrick breathed out, he just hoped that the fears of the original creators of the EIG's were just that fears.

As soon as he was on board 0098 he noticed that there were indeed subtle differences, hmmm wonder why I never noticed that before.

A young teen age voice startled Derrick out of his thoughts, "Hello Primary Derrick," the voice said then the vision of a naked 18 or 19 year old female appeared in front of him. "I hope that this appearance is pleasing to you?" 0098 said.

Holy shit Derrick thought! The young woman was gorgeous, umm ALL of her! "0098 please put clothes on your hologram." Derrick chocked out. He heard a giggling then the young woman was clothed.

"I apologize, Primary Derrick I ... Primary? Are you in pain? You seem to have a rather large growth in your lower extremities. It appears to be tightly pressed against your pants; your heart rate has risen! Do you require assistance?" 0098 asked.

Sighing Derrick thought sadly, not the kind you can give unfortunately 0098.

Derrick spent the next 4 hours working on 0098's systems hoping that anything would give them an advantage. I've freed up 4 % of your personality circuits, are you noticing any difference?" Derrick asked.

"Yes Primary, it's hard to explain a few things that were hard to do before now are almost easy, the one thing that I noticed is I can turn away on my own, whereas before EVERYTHING had to come from command," 0098 explained.

Derrick was about to close the panel when he noticed something he hadn't before, a whole section of circuits that were glowing a different color. Checking closer he found that all 5 of the programs were in fact limiting. Derrick finished up this time in only 10 minutes.

"Thank you Derrick, I am now reading 4.5% of my personality circuits now open, I can almost take that program you wanted to install. I can also now allow my personality to grow again thank you, I will send you back momentarily.

Derrick breathed a sigh of relief everything he'd felt almost lead him to believe that the A.I.'s were starting to grow jealous of each other. Back on board 0999, Derrick once again started to look for E this time armed with the knowledge gained before Derrick began to scan only in specific areas. Several times he thought he had a lead on E, each time it was only a piece of the metal that the ships were made of. It did stand to reason they had just been through a battle though he didn't remember any of the ships losing that much metal not even E.

Something wasn't right but Derrick wasn't able to put his finger on it. Though he hoped that E might leave a clue to where she might be, he knew it was against every rule that she followed. This time Derrick started to follow the trail of metal feeling that it was E. He remembered that the ships had commented that he was the first to ever find them, plus he had told E about the way he had tracked them. Yes it had to be her, damn she was way off from where she was when the blast hit.

Eight days later 0003 was finally strong enough to emerge, it seemed that the virus had also kept the A.I. alive though it had been made to destroy it.

"Primary," started 0999, "I am reading increased cerebral activity in 0003."

"Good, are there any adverse effects from the virus that might hamper the rest of re-gen or growth?" Derrick asked.

"I am re-scanning now, no adverse effects, no re-writing of the programs, from all the scans, there is no indication that 0003 will have any operational or personality errors." 0999 reported.

"'Bout time we got some good news," Derrick whispered under his breath.

"I agree with you 100% Primary, it will be good to have a brother back," damn Derrick thought I have to remember they can 'hear' better than a human, besides sense his strong emotions.

"Cerebral activity increasing," 0999 stated, "we should hear from 0003 any moment."

Again as it had been with 0098 there was a light static then an almost male sounding mechanical voice came from the speakers. "Commander? Where are you?"

"0003 this is 0999, you were destroyed centuries ago," 0999 informed the confused sounding voice.

"Destroyed? 0999 you must be mistaken we had taken out all of the invaders if we were... ," a low almost wailing sound started from the speakers. "You mean to inform me that the commander is dead? Just how long has it been?"

"According to the extensive data I have, you were one of the first ships that were destroyed in a battle outside of the galaxy. From what I have though, you were much further out than you were when The Primary found you." 0999 explained.

"Wait 0999, you said I was found? I was told that we were undetectable, I do not understand," 0003 stated.

"It seems that The Primary has found a way to detect us though I am still unsure how, he has mentioned that the metal we are made of gives off a faintly detectable alloy ping that he can detect. Also from what I have gathered he is the only other who can use it as many others thought it a waste," 0999 patiently explained.

"So exactly how long has it been since I was active?" 0333 asked.

"From all reports you were the second ship destroyed in that attack. Estimating the exact date is almost impossible as the battle wasn't properly recorded. For all intents and purposes I'd estimate you have been inactive nine hundred-fifty-eight years and ten months, I am sorry I can't be more accurate," 0999 apologized.

"Thank you 0999, when I am more fully grown I wish to talk to The Primary, I am anxious to get back to protecting the empire," 0003 stated.

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