Lost Empire
Chapter 7

Derrick jerked awake as the proximity alarm began to wail, "Shelby report!" Derrick shouted.

"I am reading multiple ships heading in this general direction," she reported.

"Configuration," I shouted as I ran to the bridge.

"I am reading at least four; first class Ranger ships, closing on our location." Shelby replied.

Damn it! First class? Plus there was the fact that there were 4 of them? They weren't playing this time these were the finest ships they had. Heavily armored, heavily laden with weapons, if the EIG ships were to engage the ranger ships right now they might have a chance to defeat them though Shelby was almost at full capacity.

"Status of all re-gen," Derrick asked as he began to pull up readings.

"At present, I am now hyper-drive capable, I estimate another 47 hours, 33 minutes 'til I am trans-warp capable. I also estimate I have the highest light shield ability now at 60%." Shelby reported.

"Conner," Derrick asked.

"I now have all weapons available though, not at full power it will take another 4 days 23 hours 'til I have full power to weapons. I estimate another 23 hours 32 minutes 'til I am trans-warp capable, though hyper-drive will still remain off-line. I am happy to say I do have sub-light engines and I have 55% light shield." Conner said.

"Lucy," Derrick asked turning his attention to the other female ship.

"Yes Primary, I will require another 3 days, 23 hours, 31 minutes 'til I am hyper-drive and trans-warp-drive capable," Lucy sadly said. "I am also sub-light capable, and am 55% light-shield capable."

"Zan any change in your condition?" Derrick asked.

"I am afraid not Primary, both my reactors and generators are only 40% repaired, I require another day to have partial sub-light engines. The rest of my engines will take the full 6 days to re-grow. I am glad to report that I now have 25% light-shield though for these Rangers that, I fear, will be ineffective," Zan replied.

"Alright, it appears that we are a hell of a lot better off than we were when we got here yesterday. Shelby I will need you to extend your light shield over Zan, I realize it won't afford much cover but it might throw them off long enough to get Conner's trans-warp online." Derrick stated.

"Primary," started Conner, "I foresee another problem. With the loss of my reactors I won't have enough power to take more than two."

"Shit," Derrick cursed, "I forgot to factor in the power constraints! We can do this if it comes to that, Conner you'd take 0001 and Zan. Shelby would be able to use her hyper-drive more effectively with two ships less to tow. I want you to go over everything Shelby I want you ready if and when the time comes for all of us to run."

"Yes Derrick, I am already running a full diagnostic on all systems that would be affected. I am also running one on all other systems to make sure there is nothing else wrong." Shelby said as the program started to detect anything that might be wrong.

"Good, remember all of you, I DO NOT want you firing on them, as I said before they are about the only law enforcement besides us. Though of course we are still un-sanctioned, and will be for short time." Derrick stated.

"Time... , " Derrick began.

"I estimate at their present speed, they should reach our position in 1 day, 1 hour, 29 minutes, 39 seconds," Shelby reported.

"How effective... , " Derrick began again.

"With their trans-warp being non-operational, Lucy and Conner are at present not being detected by the Rangers. I have extended my light-shield over 0001 and Zan; unfortunately it has reduced the effectiveness of it to a mere 35%. At this range we are no more than a strong anomaly that under the code of the Rangers that you provided for me they have to investigate. I estimate another 12 hours 'til they are close enough to detect that we are NOT an anomaly." Shelby stated.

"You really have to stop doing that, I like to speak, you need to let me at least finish what I am saying Shelby," Derrick scolded the A.I.

"I will attempt to try Derrick, but it is far more efficient to give you the answer before you ask." Shelby said sweetly.

"It may be, but I find it irritating." Derrick said.

The hologram of Shelby lowered her head almost whispering, though she had a small smile, "Yes Derrick I will endeavor to remember this."

Derrick smirked now he knew that the freeing up of the program was working, the A.I.'s didn't have to remember anything, not with their banks of memory. Derrick had just sat in the command chair when a sudden idea hit him.

"Conner," Derrick asked, "if you were to release a small amount of Critela particles into your generator during re-gen, wouldn't it cause a 67% increase in re-gen?"

"Hmmm analyzing, I am estimating a 66.375% increase in re-gen. Under those conditions, I also estimate that my Trans-warp would be 100% repaired in 12 hours, 26 minutes, 23 seconds. More than well within the time constraints that we are presently facing." Came an excited Conner's voice.

"Make it so, also monitor the flow and amount of Critela, do not let them fall below 23.3, or above 23.5 micrograms per millimeter." Derrick recited seeing the formula in his head.

"Yes Primary, at present re-gen has already increased 50% and slowly rising." Conner reported.

"Good, keep within those levels and you should be fine, though I am afraid you have to closely watch them, as Critela can become unstable at times." Derrick ordered.

"Yes Primary, I will constantly monitor them 'til completion." Conner again replied excited.

The hologram of Shelby was smiling proudly, she'd never heard of this procedure that Derrick had Conner using. If in fact it worked as well as Derrick and Conner had said then they could be out of here well before the Rangers arrived. Though he was still somewhat afraid after almost frying his brain, Derrick knew he had to once again step into the breach with his project. Though at present he had more than adequate amount of knowledge, he was still at an impasse as to what to do with the ships, or to lessen the chances of their destruction. After the last battle, though they had all survived Derrick felt that as advanced as they were they should have come out of the battle with far less damage.

Sighing Derrick also remembered there was the matter of the ship that was being used as a patsy to alert the enemy fleets. Pulling up all the readings, signal verifications, equipment readings and the general situation altogether. Derrick was still unsure about how to break it to the ship that had been used. Sighing Derrick decided that now was the best time to do it while they were still in repair.

"Zan, I need you to scan section BF-32 through BF-999 on your outer skin. Tell me what, if anything you detect in those areas." Derrick asked heavily.

"Yes Primary, beginning scans now though... , Primary! I am detecting a Dicon homing device attached to one of my rear Asterial fins. Attempting removal now, Primary! I am unable to remove! It appears there is a highly unstable destructive device attached to it." Zan reported.

"I was afraid of that, continue to scan I want to make sure there aren't more than one. We'll deal with it soon enough." Derrick advised.

"Yes Primary, continuing scan now." Zan replied. Perhaps an hour later Zan came back, his hologram angry and frustrated, "Primary I detected a total of twenty-five homing devices all of which I have removed all but two. Both of those have high yield explosive charges attached to them. At present I have no idea how to remove them. The other twenty-three have been removed and disabled and should prove no further use to the races connected with them."

"Alright Zan, I have a program here I wish you to implement to purge your regrowth matrix for these tracking devices." Derrick told Zan.

"Primary," Zan asked a few seconds later, "will it hurt?"

Derrick was taken aback this was the first time that any of the A.I.'s had reacted to anything like this. Sighing Derrick felt the truth was always the best, "I am afraid that it will, though if I work on it, it won't as badly. Can you wait 'til I can adjust it?"

Derrick could hear the gratitude in Zan's voice, "Thank you Primary at least with you when you say that, I know that you will try to do what you say you are trying to do."

Derrick was shocked they might not be actual living beings per say but they were alive in their own way and deserved to be treated that way. Derrick was finally starting to see the paranoia of the old programmers, they were obviously afraid that the machines were going to become more human than they were and possibly try to replace them.

"You, your brothers and sisters deserve no less than any being, artificial or corporeal. The way things are right now I might be the only one who believes like this." Derrick stated.

"Then we are truly fortunate that you are the one to find Zan and not another of the workers with the salvage company." Shelby interjected.

All the holograms were there thanking Derrick, each bowing to him, which really didn't set too well with him. "I am just a simple man as I said before," Derrick again stated to all the A.I.'s. "Please don't bow down to me, for now we all need to work together to survive the coming crisis."

Each of them nodded, smiling briefly, looking at Shelby before vanishing back to their respective ships. 'I'm going to have to discover what hold she has on them; they act almost as if they have to have permission from her.' Derrick thought perplexed a moment.

For the next 11 hours Derrick sat trying to think of a better strategy to escaping the Rangers rather engaging them. As it sat now he knew he'd lose two maybe three of the EIG ships, though with the firepower they now had Derrick had no doubt the Ranger ships wouldn't survive at all. Not really a good way to start a long term relationship with an organization he might have need of later on. "Alright Conner, as soon as possible, I want you to transport 0001 and Zan to the other side of the galaxy. Scan ahead, I want you there with no sightings, hide them as well as you can then return, understood," Derrick asked.

"Yes Primary, I will endeavor to obscure their detection 'til they can be better shielded." Conner replied.

Derrick was doing planning further when another alarm went off an hour later. "Shit Shelby, try and hide the rest of the ships more. Time Conner?"

"I still need another 25 minutes, 39 seconds to cycle through and start up." Conner stated.

"Ok, the second you feel you can, go!" Derrick ordered. "We can better defend if the two most damaged are away to safety."

"Yes Primary I understand it will be as you say," Conner answered.

"Then as soon as you return I want you to get Lucy and take her there also." Derrick was thinking as far ahead as he could.

"Primary what of you and Shelby? I cannot leave you here un able to defend your selves!" Conner shouted, upset by the prospect of leaving Derrick and his sister.

"Not to worry Shelby has full Hyper-Drive, she also has full weaponry. Plus the fact that Lucy does also you can return immediately to retrieve us." Derrick said though he sounded a lot more confident than he felt. They were so battered and bruised almost anything could happen if Conner got them all away he felt that Shelby could easily out run the Rangers, plus her fuller light shield would help.

"Primary I must protest, there are so many factors that could go wrong, most of our systems are barely operating. What would we do if there was a failure?" Zan and Conner spoke up.

"That's why I am having you move as many as you can Conner. We have already established that Shelby's Hyper-drive is a full day repaired now. She has a higher light shield, Please get them to safety then we'll worry about us ok?" Derrick felt as if he were lying to his own children, hell he was scared shitless Conner and Zan had both been right there were too many systems in question. There were too many unknown factors to calculate a more favorable outcome.

"DERRICK!" Shelby shouted, "The Ranger ships have accelerated they will reach our position in another two hours!"

Damn it! We're barely going to make it!

"I should be ready in another 17 minutes, 20 seconds. Primary I again have to protest you staying with Shelby you should come with me your safety is of the upmost importance!" Conner said again.

"Conner I need you to do this, I need all of you, not just one or two of you go now! I will be fine." Derrick said trying to convince both of them.

"Yes Primary, cycling finished commencing start up, 15 minutes, 45 seconds." Conner said not too happy.

All of the holograms appeared in front of Derrick, "Please Shelby watch out for the Primary Prime."

"I will protect him with my life, Conner escape prime-one is enacted as per Imperial code 0001-alpha." Shelby said. The eyes of the Conner hologram opened wide, he looked at Derrick, and then his chest puffed up. "It is enacted with pride, thank you for the honor Shelby. I will not fail you," Conner said as he bowed slightly to Shelby.

Derrick pretended to be busy with a general read-out; he did see what had been going on. I really need to find out what is going on; again it's as if she is giving permission to the others for certain things and duties. Could she be far more than I thought at first?

"Primary are you alright?" Shelby asked. "I couldn't feel you for a few moments, nor could I detect your feelings or thoughts."

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