Lost Empire
Chapter 14

Joseph Hartwell was standing there with his mouth hanging open there was no way in hell that he was going to believe that O'Toma was emperor.

Shaking his head he had to sit, almost as if by magic a seat appeared under him.

"I'm sorry I am finding this a little too hard to swallow." That was when Hartwell started to laugh.

"It's a good one I have to admit, now then, I really need to meet or talk to the man. The genius, that brought about the capture of over 100 pirate ships, near the old ship yards."

Sighing Derrick wasn't exactly sure how he was going to prove to this man he was the genus emperor.

Mary appeared a moment later.

"Rear Admiral Hartwell," she stated. "Do you by chance recognize me?"

Nodding he looked straight at her, "You are a computer generated hologram, I recognize you from the few pictures that remain of the first and last emperors."

"Very good sir, what you may not know is that I was given the power to enact all imperial mandates, in all imperial matters. The most important in the last 2 centuries was finding someone from this man's family."

Laughing a bit she continued, "In this case he actually found us. I was the one who sent the proof that the next emperor had been found. Though I am sure you noticed I left his name off? That was to protect what was left of his family. I am the only one who can declare anyone to be the emperor."

Derrick looked over at Hartwell, nudging him he whispered, "Joey, close your mouth." Nodding Hartwell did as Derrick told him.

"You really are the man? The one who scared the hell out of command? You almost gave me a coronary with that first then the second message, crap; I thought we were toast after that second one." Shaking his head, "When did you get that brilliant?" Hartwell asked.

"Well I had help," Derrick told him. Showing the man his download head set, Derrick was tempted to give the man a little taste, but he didn't want the man in the infirmary for days.

"I have to say it is you, my god man you have an empire waiting for you," Hartwell said.

"I want you to be a part of it, I also want the others that are left, we can help almost everything that might be wrong with them." Derrick said excited that he finally had a human he could actually trust.

Sighing Hartwell looked away tears filling his eyes, "Of the nine that were left only 5 of us are still alive. Shilo and Grant were killed in a transport accident, the whole ship was lost. Jimison was killed trying to stop a robbery. Norman," here Hartwell sighed even harder, "was blown out of a hatch; he'd managed to save 15 people that were trapped. He heard the hatch failing and shoved them into life boat capsule, he'd just managed to get it shut and secured when the hatch went."

Even bigger tears were in his eyes, "He was a hero! They said it was his fault, he wasn't even there, he was on the other side of the ship when the call came out. The bastards blamed their own incompetence on him; I have tried to reopen the case for 2 years now. The president was part owner so it was swept under the rug!"

Derrick growled Norman had been the best of his unit, strong and capable with a moral code that was second only to Derrick's own.

Derrick sat there a moment waiting for Hartwell to calm, then Derrick spoke, "There will be justice for them, I'll make sure of that, if it's the last thing I do, there will be justice for them all!"

Hartwell looked up at Derrick, "Listening to you I can tell you aren't the same man I knew all those years ago, I also believe that you will do as you say."

"What of the others Dempsy, Thomas, Rayburn, and Kimison?" Derrick asked though he wasn't too sure he was going to be happy with the answer.

"Dempsy is still as tough as he was back then, he joined the Rangers with me. He's turned down a commission more times than I want to admit, he still says that you and I were born leaders and he was more happy following than he is leading.

As for the others, let's see the last I heard Thomas went into the salvage business, damn good pilot from what I hear. Rayburn settled down on a far pioneer world on the Galatic rim doing pretty good the last time I saw him."

Here Hartwell stopped a look of anger on his face, "They shoved Kimison into a veteran's recovery center, more like a slow death pit, half of the people staffing the place don't care. The other half look the other way. I pay for him, he saved my life more than a few times, I owe him that, plus a whole lot more. It's the only reason he his treated and tended as well.

Derrick growled, he'd seen those supposed veteran's centers he had to agree they were death pits, really not even worthy of dying in. Between clenched teeth Derrick said, "I will have him out of there as soon as I can, I owe him quite a bit myself, and I intend to repay him."

Here Derrick slammed his fist down on the table in front of him. "I'm going to need your permission to remove him; I need you to radio me on this frequency when you sign the papers." Hartwell nodded the look of surprise then pride in his eyes spoke volumes of what he thought of Derrick's plan.

Mary had been standing nearby taking in everything that Derrick had said. Everything would make it that much easier when she entered his mind to help clear the rest of the distress that she felt was still there.

"Sire," Mary spoke up a moment later, "I know that you trust the Rear Admiral, but as per your plan, do you wish him to be released with the knowledge of just who you are? As you yourself advised me you are still worried about your family. At present I have only been able to land 2 sentries in abrir oculta, at present there is no threat though I am afraid that will change when who the emperor is, is known."

"Yes I know, but to do any type of memory block might seem as if he were tampered with while he was here."

Derrick sat for a few moments thinking on the problem, "Mary, Shelby, the mind wipe/ blocker can it be adjusted to amplify the strength of the mind? To make it almost impossible to break into the mind without the equipment we have here?"

"Calculating now, confirming with Mary," Shelby stated. "It is possible, though it will take a whole day to take effect." Confirmed Shelby.

"I concur, though I do have a device that can decrease that time by 12 hours," Mary smiled sweetly.

"Wait, wait, wait, you want to do what to me?" Hartwell asked a little afraid.

"Don't worry I've used this numerous times, you'll be safe." Mary told a now shaking Hartwell.

Looking over at Derrick Hartwell wasn't too sure, "It's ok believe me, you are a close friend of mine that puts you in an extremely rare spot to Mary and to me. Just to let you know, you are the first and for now the only person to know who and what I am." Derrick told him.

Joseph Hartwell's chest swelled, his old commander was trusting him with this, then he looked at the small device that appeared on the table next to him. "Alright Commander if you trust it, then I guess I will also."

Sighing Derrick picked up the device feeding into a slot on the console.

"I am sorry if we have panicked you, it's either this or we do a memory wipe and replacement on you and really? I prefer this to anything else, this way I have an ally out there that can help me with later ... things." Derrick said as something on a console drew his attention, nodding his head he pulled up a view of a man in an engine room.

Confused only a moment Derrick looked back at Hartwell with a smile.

"I see Dempsy up to no good as usual," Derrick said a huge smile on his face. "You think we can get him without alerting the rest of the wing?

"Hmmmm he appears to be in an access crawl way, I doubt anyone knows he's there, I think it should be safe though," here Hartwell smiled a wide smile. "You might want to warn him before you ... you know."

Laughing a moment Shelby appeared nodding to Derrick, "Alright here goes."

In a distorted voice Derrick said, "Crewman Dempsy that had better not be an illegal alcoholic machine I see you making there in that crawl way!"

Dempsy's mouth opened, what the hell? Looking around he decided someone in the crew was messing with him.

Smiling Derrick opened the channel again, "so Demples you going to ignore me again huh? You want another 5 days off the booze?"

This time Dempsy's eyes narrowed, "I doubt you could do ... who is this?"

"Tell you what, come to my place and we'll talk about it." Derrick started to grin at the look of confusion on Dempsy's face.

"I don't have..." there was a flash and Dempsy was laying at Hartwell's feet, " ... the time ... to come..." Looking around Dempsy jumped to his feet and saluted Hartwell. "I'm sorry sir I didn't know it was you!"

"At ease Dempsy, it wasn't me it was our host here." Hartwell said as Dempsy was staring wide eyed at the crawl space he'd just been in on the view screen.

Dempsy was staring at several of the machines and panels, silent for a moment he whispered, "This is incredible, I've only read about the things I am seeing here. None of this has existed for over 800 years! I have to shake the hand of the one who found this." Turning he hadn't yet noticed Derrick who was watching the medium build red headed man.

"So I take it you like what you see?" Derrick said his voice still disguised.

Dempsy nodded still almost in a trance, then a light seemed to go off in his head. "Hey wait! There were only 3 people that knew about the ignoring and dared to call me Demples. I had good reason to ignore command! One is here, one is on the Galactic rim, the last no one has heard ... from ... in, Commander?" This last whispered in awe.

Sitting forward Derrick smiled, "long time Dempsy, too long!"

Dempsy was about to start yelling when Shelby appeared, "Derrick I am afraid that the apparatus he was working on is starting to build up pressure. I am afraid explosion is imminent."

"Alright send a pulse and shut it down, vent as much pressure as you can, I believe it uses a tri-switch?" Dempsy could only nod staring at Shelby.

"Shut down commencing, pressure being expelled," Shelby replied then vanished.

"My god was that a three-dimensional image? An encoding of the light field as an interference pattern of seemingly random variations in the opacity, density, or the surface profile of the photographic medium?" Dempsy whispered.

"No it's more of a projection within a self contained system... , Demspy! God I have missed you especially since now I can understand what you are saying." Derrick said with a smile.

Dempsy's mouth dropped open, though he wasn't sure what had him more in shock the hologram, the systems on this ship, or the fact that the commander was back and actually understood what he was talking about! Standing up straight Dempsy snapped off a salute, "Sorry commander as I said before I didn't know it was you. I'm sorry I had heard that you had passed," smiling Dempsy said, "should have known you were too tough to be taken out that easy."

"Oh you haven't heard anything yet Dempsy! Tell him who you are." Hartwell said.

Dempsy looked at Hartwell then Derrick with another confused look on his face.

"Oh nothing that big, I am in command of the last of the EIG ships, I have 4 right now, each with their own hologram, plus I am the next emperor. See nothing that big." Derrick said a half smile on his face.

Dempsy was still a little in shock; "4 oh my god, you lucky bastard! Oh sorry sir." Dempsy quickly said.

Derrick and Hartwell started to chuckle, leave it to Dempsy to get over excited about technology. They both watched as he tentatively reached out and touched a panel here, a screen there. A moment later he walked up to Derrick and asked, "Commander sir? Anyway I could stay here, ... forever?"

Only a half smile on his face Derrick turned back to Hartwell before he answered. "Fraid not Dempsy, the Rangers would start looking for you if you just up and disappeared."

Dempsy turned to look at Hartwell, "I could take an extended leave, then not come back."

Hartwell smirked at Dempsy, "Now you know that the Rangers would start an investigation the moment you were a few minutes late coming back. I don't think you want the entire fleet looking for you, at least not 'til the commander and the Rangers are more established together."

Derrick smiled bigger seeing that Dempsy was about to start whining. "It's alright Dempsy you'll get you chance to play later. Right now I need to adjust both of your brains before I release you."

Dempsy did a double take then started hard at Derrick, "You want to do exactly what to me and my brain?"

"I want to strengthen your cognitive abilities, making it harder to deep scan and withdraw information." Derrick stated after a moment.

"Is that all? I thought you might be wanting to wipe my memory and plant something else ... there, why are you staring at me commander?" Dempsy stated.

"Uh," Derrick started, "unfortunately that might still be an option."

Dempsy's mouth dropped open as he started to back away from Derrick and Hartwell, "look my brain is fine like it is."

"I said that MIGHT still be an option knowing your brain you'll love it," Derrick said smiling.

"Well maybe my brain would love it but I wouldn't! I happen to like who I am damn it!" Dempsy said further backing away, causing another round of laughter from Hartwell and Derrick.

Shelby appeared next to Dempsy a wide smile plastered to her face, "sir," she said, "it is completely safe I have used it many times in the past 800 years, besides I have scanned you brain already and found that nothing extra will have to be done. Neither will I have to delete anything from you."

Dempsy breathed a sigh of relief, "Why didn't you say that in the first place?"

Derrick just shook his head god he really had missed Dempsy.

Half an hour later both men were finished with their procedure, Derrick gave both a communicator to call them later.

After sending Dempsy back Derrick paused a moment, "Let me know the coordinates of Rayburn's place I might pay him a visit soon. If you find out exactly where Thomas is and what company I'd appreciate it, as for Kimison it won't be long before he is out. Get the paperwork done and I'll take care of the rest."

"I will as quickly as I can," Hartwell told Derrick.

On board his ship several yelled as soon as he appeared, "Stand down!" Hartwell yelled.

Turning a distorted voice spoke, "We thank you Rear Admiral Hartwell we will be in touch. Also to the young man at the science station, please stop attempting to scan for us, thank you." With that the screen went blank as several started at it and Hartwell with open mouths. Sitting down Hartwell started in on his report.

Introductory meeting and Salutation

Report 115-001-RSFW-004

Ranger Special Forces Wing-001

Rear Admiral Joesph Hartwell, commanding

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