Lost Empire
Chapter 17

Derrick jerked awake, ah Christ his head hurt, the light was so bright, ugh! Looking around he could see that E had integrated back into the system. Sitting up a thought filled his mind, E? Why in the hell had he just called Shelby E? Then again where in the world was she? She never left his side, then the memories started to flood his mind, looking at the chronometer he did a double take, huh? It seemed that he was missing a few months, though he could slowly feel the memories starting to open up. Sitting there a few moments he was glad he was getting his memories back that is 'til the memory of what Lucy had done and sacrificed flooded his mind and the tears started to flow.

Nodding his head at the memories he again pledged that he would find her. Looking at the Chronometer again he saw that he only had a month missing, then the pain started as the first time he'd used the head set hit him. What the hell was going on? It was like doors were being opened flooding his mind at an accelerated rate.

"SHELBY! Oh god!" Derrick almost screamed, where in the hell was she? Both Shelby and Mary appeared looking at Derrick with huge concern in their eyes. "My god my mind is going to tear it's self to pieces! You have to knock me out 'til they are all one! Hurry I can feel the pressure starting to increase."

Shelby looked at Mary who nodded then watched as Shelby administered a drug to render Derrick unconscious. "Thank you," he said as he once again faded into the blackness. Both Mary and Shelby started to monitor his Alpha and Beta waves. Though both were mostly normal, Mary was a little concerned about the overabundance of Theta waves. "It appears that the emperor's subconscious is trying to fully integrate all the memories back into his conscious mind. I am just hoping that the stress that he was feeling won't damage his already fragile hold on reality."

"What are you advising Mary?" Shelby asked, not really sure that she was going to like the answer that Mary gave her.

"I can't see much that we can do 'til he awakens again though I suggest we keep him out 'til such time as the reading in the Theta range is more normal." Mary told Shelby. "I am also afraid that we may have to delve back into his mind, though I know it is necessary at times I still find it distasteful."

Shelby could only stare at Mary, being in his mind being with HIM, to Shelby was the most intimate that she could think of. Yes she could see where Mary was coming from but without this close personal contact, Shelby felt for sure that they would have lost Derrick more than a few times. Thinking a moment Shelby finally came to the conclusion that to Mary, Derrick was her master and unless he told her that she could, Mary would do nothing to interfere with what made him Derrick. Unlike Mary though, Shelby wanted to be in every facet of his life.

It was several hours later when Derrick issued a groan, Mary could see that his readings were finally starting to stabilize. Though this was the first good sign she'd seen since all this had started, she had Shelby standing by with another injection in case he once again started to experience the pain.

As Derrick opened his eyes he laid still a moment, the last time he'd jerked awake he'd been restrained by the bio-bed. God he hated the damn thing, yes it was useful and saved lives but he still hated being restrained in it. Looking around he felt the last of his memories slip into place, I really needed to look into the headset, I have obviously upset the balance in my mind if a simple knock like this affected me this severely. Groaning as he slowly sat up Shelby and Mary both looked on with questioning looks.

"How are you feeling Sire? Mary asked afraid that he might still be suffering the effects of the memory loss.

"Much better Mary thank you, I need the status of the prisoner." Derrick said all business as he started to sort through everything that had happened the last few days. "Shelby I also need the status of 1000 and the other case that was the initial cause of this."

Mary smiled ah! The emperor was back! "Yes Sire, the prisoner is still in the custody of the Rangers on board Rear Admiral Hartwell's ship."

"Very good contact Hartwell in an hour and tell them to have the prisoner ready tomorrow at 0800 hours," Derrick ordered.

"Yes sire it will be as you command." Mary said a sense of pride swelling in her.

"1000 should be ready to emerge into space in four days," Shelby informed Derrick. "I have connected up to the other brain case, it appears to be 0798. I have also started the program to clear her of re-growing the explosive unit that was attached to her brain box. If you care to inspect her she is in bay two, I should be able to start her re-gen in another day."

Derrick was nodding this was good news a little over two weeks from now they should be a force of six ships, with a chance of adding more. Sighing Derrick felt tired still, with everything that had happened the last few days he was surprised he had as much energy as he did. Derrick sat for a moment longer then remembered his mother and grandmother were on board, he had to admit that had been a stroke of genius that Mary had.

"If either of you need me, I will be with my family, I take it you put them in my quarters?" Derrick asked.

"Yes Derrick, though I am afraid that Milley O'Toma is the most opinionated female I have ever seen. If I had to say she is a female version of you, bright, strong and intelligent though not as much as you." Shelby told Derrick which drew a soft chuckle from him. <Better not tell her that, > Derrick thought drawing a smile from Shelby.

<I'll remember that Derrick, I don't want to upset her again.> Shelby looked away almost ashamed that Derrick had been hurt, the fact that Milley O'toma had pointed this out hadn't helped either.

"You upset her?" Derrick asked then thinking a moment then told her, "I am sorry Shelby, Gram is extremely protective of me after what happened to me at the base."

"It's alright Derrick in a way she was right I should have made you restrain yourself before using the IMT. Oh yeah that's another thing she really wants no part of," Shelby informed Derrick.

Again Derrick could almost see the look on her face when Shelby had brought her and his mother on board. Chuckling again Derrick nodded to Shelby as he headed to his quarters. As the doors slid open Derrick tried not to laugh, not to chuckle but the lost look on his grandmother and mother's faces was almost comical.

"Derrick!" Both of them shouted as they rushed to him and started to inspect almost every inch of his body especially his head.

"How are you feeling my boy?" His grandmother asked still looking over his head.

"A whole lot better than I was," he replied as he hugged both of them. "Had it not been for Shelby I might not be here."

"What!!?" his mother said, "but it was her fault!"

"Well." Derrick started, "yes and no. I had her so busy as I was myself I never took into account the explosive amount of force that had been attached to the box. Shelby went into my mind and found me. She used what little energy she had to open up some of the border memories, after that it was a cascading effect." Both his mother and grandmother were staring at him with confused looks. Sighing he remembered his intelligence had been heightened.

"Ok to put it simply, I was blocked. Shelby attached to my head and entered my dream. Once she was there she used her energy to clear the blockage away but during the process she almost used up her energy. She was willing to die to save me Grams, please don't be too hard on her ok?" Derrick asked her.

Sighing, the older woman could only shake her head for a few minutes, "I really don't see how the A.I. of the ship being in love with you helps to continue the line. Son you are the direct descendant of the imperial line, all these years I humored your grandfather thinking it was a wild tale of his. I loved that man with all my heart or I'd never have listened; now I regret that I didn't believe him, after all love can only go so far."

Derrick remembered all the times that he and she had listened to him when he had visited, then when they had all moved into a larger house. Derrick had loved his Grandfather fiercely and had listened to everything that the man had said with rapt attention. Smiling Derrick was glad that he had, all the codes that he'd known all the commands that he knew. Derrick at times could almost swear that his Grandfather had actually been inside the palace.

Suddenly a thought lit up Derrick's mind, "Grams? Did Grandfather ever mention being inside the palace?"

The older woman's face was drawn in concentration for a few moments, "He never said that he was inside the palace but one day 30 or 40 years ago he came home excited about a communication he'd had. Though he never went into it that much he did keep repeating, I finally got through to her, but she said I wasn't right." Derrick's Grandmother could only shake her head at Derrick. "I never did understand what he meant by it."

Derrick was going over everything that he'd just been told, "Mary!" He suddenly shouted.

A hologram of an older, petite slightly graying woman appeared in front of Derrick and the two women. "Yes Sire I am here."

Derrick's Grandmother and mother's mouths hung open as they both stared at the visage, "Who are you?" Sherry O'Toma asked suddenly taken aback.

"Mother, Gram, this is Mary she is the palace A.I., she is the one in control of all the palace systems. Now then Mary, Query." Derrick explained.

"I am ready Sire," Mary replied.

"Possibly 30 to 40 years ago were you contacted briefly by another O'Toma that also claimed to be a descendant of the Imperial line?" Derrick asked.

"Searching records, yes sire I did receive an initial communication with the afore named individual. I also tested his Deoxyribonucleic acid to confirm his claim, though he had the proper codes at the time, the analysis only showed a 58.9% chance of him being directly in line for the throne. As per mandates therefore I could not accept his claim his sequences were not of a high enough ratio to merit taking his claim as serious." Mary rattled off.

"I see, thank you; I need you to open up a room in the palace I and my family will be there tomorrow, for a short time. I am also going to need you to assign permanent guards to both of them, though the reason cannot be known to anyone." Derrick instructed Mary.

"It will be as you command Sire," Mary said bowing to Derrick.

Mary then turned toward his Mother and Grandmother, "It is my honor to also meet the Imperial mother and Imperial Grandmother." Mary said as she also bowed to an now blushing Milley and an embarrassed Sherry O'Toma. Mary then turned her face toward Derrick, "I have had the palace ready awaiting your arrival for over three weeks now Sire. I await you're arrival and the chance to welcome you back home." With that Mary's gray hair shook as she bowed to all three of them again and vanished.

"OK," an opened mouthed and slightly shocked Milley said a moment later, "this will definitely take some getting used to. Wow," was her next reaction, "I'm royalty now." She said as a wide smile spread across her face.

Derrick had a smile on his face gauging the reaction of his Grandmother, though the still shocked look on his Mother's face was starting to worry him a bit. "Mother?" He asked, "all you alright? I know it's a lot to take in but..."

"I..." Sherry O'Toma started, "You..." letting out a sigh she collapsed into a nearby chair, her still young features somewhat strained. Then she lowered her face into her hands sobbing.

Concerned Derrick rushed forward to try and find out what was wrong. "Mother? What's wrong? Are you hurt?" Derrick was even more concerned as she started to sob even harder the tears now coming freely.

"Oh ... oh my god Derrick!" Sherry O'Toma said as she threw her arms around his neck holding him close sobbing into his shoulder. "We almost lost you before and now this! Every nasty, evil, vile underhanded fiend out there will be trying to take your life now! It took me and your Gram a month to heal you! You were so close to dying so many times I can't lose you again like that Derrick! I can't do it Derrick it almost killed me last time!" Derrick could only look at his Mother with compassion he'd never heard any of this, after his father had been found dead Sherry O'Toma had devoted her life to her son. Looking over at his Grandmother he could see the tears escaping her eyes also.

Sighing Derrick could see their point of view, truly he could, but he also knew he had to keep going as the throne had been vacant too long, the empire was in chaos and it deserved to return to its formal glory. Holding his mother close he tried to reassure her as much as he could telling her that he'd listen to any ideas she and his Gram had to keep him safe. Sniffing Sherry looked up through the tears and saw that Derrick was more determined than she'd ever seen him. Sighing Sherry O'Toma looked closer and saw something in Derrick's eyes she'd never seen before, doing a double take she looked deeper. Not only seeing the love he had for her and his Gram but more much more, her eyes opened wide this was a look that went deep with a confidence that she'd not seen there before.

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