Lost Empire
Chapter 12

Derrick looked at the readings again, so far all tests that they had done hadn't work but rather failed miserably. So far only one energy shroud had even half way worked, but coming out of trans-warp had destabilized the shroud, detonating the missile. Still he had to run the gamut of all the shrouds, then work from there, he felt uneasy with the thing as close as it was. He'd thought of wrapping the missile in the shroud and starting it so it could fly outside the galaxy but that was out of the question as it would be out of fuel long before it reached the open space between galaxies. Sitting, Derrick thought I'm missing something, some factor that I haven't taken into account. Going through everything again Derrick still wasn't finding anything that was causing the shrouds to fail.

Shelby looked on still running tests, she wished there was more she could do to help Derrick, but as of yet she had also seen nothing that might help. Taking a break he needed to take his mind off the problem; it was the way he always solved difficult problems when he was concentrating too hard on something. Thinking a moment he decided he'd work on the limiting programs, he had them at what 8- 8 1/2 now? Looking in the access hatch he saw that he had 8%, though this time he was armed with far more knowledge of the programs than before. Shelby continued to watch still concerned about Derrick, she knew that if she didn't, he'd practically work himself to death.

2 hours later Derrick asked Shelby, "Shelby I have opened more circuits for you does it feel different now?"

Shelby was shocked she thought he'd been doing the upgrades he was always doing she hadn't felt him doing anything and... ? "Uh Derrick? What did you do? I... , I am feeling strange, oh my god! Derrick! I feel! You've done it! You've removed all the restrictions?" A shocked Shelby asked.

"No, not as of yet but I found after my last session it was far easier to do this. I estimate you were at 8% before, from what I can see you are close to 16% now." Derrick said a sense of pride on his face now the ships could really be alive!

"Derrick I... , it's so strange before I couldn't say so many things, now I find that I can but I don't want to, does that make sense?" A perplexed Shelby asked him.

Chuckling a moment Derrick told her, "It appears that you truly are alive with a conscience to boot, you just have to remember that each time you speak your mind your conscience will step in. Humans learn early live listen to or ignore it. Problem is when they ignore it things tend to go bad. Think of it as a regulator for ... regulator?" Derrick said stopping in the middle of his conversation.

"Derrick, are you ok?" Shelby asked really worried now, she swore if she could feel pain she would be right now.

"A regulator!" Derrick shouted closing Shelby's panel and running to his desk, immediately he began to draw an energy regulator.

"Thank you Shelby! I have a possible answer, I want you to start running tests on the power fluctuations going into and coming out of trans-warp. See if the fluctuations spike high enough or drop low enough to destabilize the shrouds long enough to detonate the missile."

Shelby's eyes opened wide, she'd not detected anything physical detonating the missile, it was more than possible!

Derrick watched as she started to run simulations, the first 100 the missiles exploded, each time there was either a spike in power or a significant drop. Shaking his head Derrick believed he finally had the answer but he had to make sure as Shelby continued with her tests.

Almost 2 hours later Derrick knew he had the answer, bent over his desk he started working on the regulator design. He knew it had to increase or decrease the power supply of the shroud within 1.1 seconds of the power spike or drop. After a few hours Derrick had the basic design down but couldn't get the simulated device to a reaction time of less than 4-5 seconds.

Damn it! Derrick was sure that he'd solved the problem just to fall short on his face! Derrick had Shelby start running simulations on it, making small improvements each time, another 2 hours later they had decreased the reaction time to 3.7 seconds. Punching the wall pissed off, Derrick sat fuming at his inability to solve the problem. Derrick sat there for at least 30 minutes, sighing he thought he needed to take his mind off the problem, he also needed to go and get Tempro who had been patiently awaiting their return.

"Tempro status," Derrick asked.

"At present my lord I am standard and hyper-drive capable, I need another 23 hours, 11 minutes, 32 seconds 'til I am also trans-warp capable. Sire?" Tempro suddenly said.

Sighing Derrick knew he was going to have to get used to being called that, he was after all the next emperor but he didn't feel different like he thought he would. "Yes Tempro you have a question?" Derrick asked.

"No Sire, not as much a question as something for you," Tempro said. Derrick shook his head did they always have to talk in riddles?

"It appears that I was told to play this for you, when I had less than 24 hours 'til completion." Tempro explained.

"Alright let's have it," Derrick said.

"Yes Sire, commencing now," replied Tempro.

In the silence that suddenly fell, all paused then a voice that Derrick thought sounded very familiar spoke.

"Hello Derrick, though this isn't the message that you need to hear, yet, this will help quell your questions. Just to let you know, yes, you are the emperor, though as Mary put it such as the empire is, the thing you don't realize is just how many you won over with your bringing the warmonger to justice speech. Neither did you know of Maury's fleet with your bringing peace and justice to the realm again speech. You are a hero and will continue to be 'til you have it all, rest the answer will come it always does, and it's always that simple."

Further out behind a moon and abandoned base an older man in a strange little ship smiled. Looking down he saw it was almost time to go; though he wanted to stay he knew he had to leave soon, wiping the tears away he stared at the magnificent ships. Sighing, only four, the huge things just these four had done, shaking his head what was about to happen he wished he could stop. Wiping tears from his eyes again he looked at the miniature hologram, "Yes I know, don't rush me. I know! I established the jump restrictions! Damn it! I'll be there in a few minutes I have that long!" The hologram bowed and vanished, there was one more thing he had to do.

Flipping 5 switches up and another 3 down the older man smiled then the little ship winked out.

Derrick had laid down, the problem floating around in his head. There had to be a way to get the reaction down 2.7 more seconds, it was almost as fast as the reactions of a brain. Chuckling Derrick thought no there was no way a human was going to put his brain in a case to guid...

Derrick's mouth dropped open, brain case ... it couldn't be that simple? Jumping up Derrick ran for the control room.

"Shelby!" he shouted as he entered the room.

"Yes Derrick?" she asked a little surprised to see him so soon he'd only been in there a mere 30 minutes.

"Can you run simulations on the reaction times of each ship? Their relevance to the amount of time needed to adjust the power setting on the shroud? The human mind can react in .1 to .3 seconds, though the signal from the mind to the body is comparably longer. Therefore we know that I cannot accomplish this, it would literally take a mind or an artificial mind to do this. Since there are no disembodied brains available I am afraid that it will have to be one of you to accomplish this."

Derrick said not really paying attention, he remembered seeing something on the reaction time of one of the ships earlier but couldn't seem to recall it.

Derrick stood at the console watching as Shelby started to run reaction times of all the ships. Comparing them all Derrick asked all the ships aboard to question them. "I have determined that the only way we are going to rid the system and this galaxy of this threat, is for one of you to trans-warp jump it to the empty sectors between galaxies. I do not wish for any of you to do this, I do not wish to lose one of you again. I need each of you to take this test that I have devised; it will determine who has the greatest reaction time."

Derrick watched as each ship's hologram program stated the test as he watched each, 'hmmm, they weren't truly equal after all.' Finally after an hour Derrick got all the data and started to compare, he was looking a few different factors. First was of course the reaction time, all but one had the time he needed.

Taking that ship out he went into the three fastest, taking that one ship out Derrick looked at who was left. Tempro wasn't complete yet, though his time was one of the 2 fastest, they needed to move this thing in a hurry.

With Tempro out Derrick looked at the 2 that were left, Zan and Lucy. Sighing he just hoped that the one he choose made it back, he was tired of losing ships having nearly lost Conner, Zan twice, and Shelby once. Looking over the data again he saw that they both had exceptionally fast times, though it appeared that Lucy had far fewer mistakes being almost perfect.

"After comparing all times and effectiveness, Lucy I have decided that you have the overall best chance to execute this mission." Derrick told the holograms.

The skinny young blonde female bowed to Derrick, "I will not fail you sire. Thank you for the privilege to serve you in this mission." Lucy said, Derrick could see that there were tears falling from her eyes.

"Lucy, are you unable to go on this mission?" Derrick asked.

"No Sire, I apologize for the tears I have always been passed up or punished because I wasn't as good. I am extremely happy that I finally get to show I am a true EIG." Lucy said proudly.

Derrick nodded he really didn't want to send any of them but this had to be done.

"We move in 2 hours, Lucy I want you to reinforce your brain box, it was damaged before and I want to make sure it is more secure than it was. I have plans here that I want the rest of you to do, as soon as she has reinforced hers. Unlike some of your last primes I trust you and am not paranoid, therefore I want to make sure that you remain intact," Derrick informed them.

Each of the holograms stood there staring at Derrick with their mouth's hanging open. None of them had ever seen their primes or the primary prime show such concern for them; with tears in their eyes they each left thanking Derrick for his concern.

Taking a deep breath Derrick hoped that he wouldn't regret his decision to send Lucy on this mission. Shaking his head he had to design something that would allow him to locate the brain boxes easier. He'd been at his desk for an hour when Shelby informed him that it was almost time.

Derrick watched as Lucy moved into position, "Lucy I want you to maintain as much distance as you can from the missile. I'd like to have you back in one piece, are the improvements finished?" Derrick asked as he watched the clock count down the time 'til the time of the launch of the mission.

"I have just completed them; structural integrity of the life pod has increased 120%, all seals increased by 70%. I will be in position in a few minutes Sire." Lucy told him the young girl hologram smiling at him.

"Remember as soon as you release it I want you out of there, understand? Your shield configuration had to be changed to accomplish this; you'll be far more vulnerable. I did not want to weaken your defenses but for this I had no choice." Derrick wasn't happy about all of this, he swore if he lost another ship due to that moron he might kill him his self.

"I realize this sire, I have taken all precautions, I will succeed for you. It was a great honor to be selected by you sire." Lucy replied.

Derrick wasn't feeling good about this, "Shelby I want you to calculate jump points along the Galactic rim, within sensor range so we can keep track of Lucy." Shelby smiled as she plotted various points for Derrick. The closer to time for her to jump the worse Derrick felt. He felt as if he was missing something but what he'd taken everything into account.

"Alright Lucy, Shelby and I will be keeping track of you; I am feeling uneasy about this. Tempro stay hidden I know you haven't much time left before you are whole. Zan, Conner I want you to stay as hidden as you can. I don't feel that the fleet can really detect us that well, do not hesitate to open fire if the make a move on the imperial world." Derrick said issuing orders. Looking at the chronometer Derrick input a point for Shelby to move to.

"I hope to see you in an hour safe and whole," Derrick told Lucy.

"I will do the very best I can sire." The hologram of Lucy smiled.

Shelby jumped to the Galactic rim; Derrick knew the exact path and location that Lucy was to take before she released the missile. Looking at the chronometer again Derrick felt that there was still something that he'd missed. Looking over the plans again he couldn't find anything, frustrated he closed his eyes to think, they still had 30 minutes before Lucy jumped.

Derrick had gone over everything in his mind when he stopped; there was a little bump or node on the missile that had been overlooked. Opening his eyes he brought up the scans of the missile, son of a bitch! It was a non active motion sensor. Looking closer Derrick could see it was designed for speeds in excess of sub-light. Damn! Running for the command center he had to stop Lucy, the shroud wouldn't stop the device from detonating.

Too late he realized that Lucy was in trans-warp and he couldn't contact her 'til she re-appeared.

Tears falling from his eyes Derrick watched as she emerged between the Galaxies.

"Lucy release and jump NOW!" Derrick was screaming, Lucy released and had turned starting to accelerate, when the missile exploded.

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