Lost Empire
Chapter 20

Derrick wasn't happy, not happy at all, he needed to get out of here and get things done. All this pomp and crap was starting to wear really thin on his patience. He'd just released part of the shield around the palace but wasn't ready to completely yet. He felt that there were still far too many threats out there to let his guard down yet. Mary on the other hand was thrilled to no ends to have human bodies within the confines of the palace again, after over 200 years. Hartwell and many of his men were walking around still in a somewhat of a fog.

Derrick pulled Hartwell aside a few hours later, "What did your command say about all the proof that we provided them?"

"That's the thing," Hartwell answered, "after I relayed most of it, they told me to maintain radio blackout. I guess they are also afraid that command has been inundated with spies. I had always thought that command was the one place that wouldn't have spies," here Hartwell shrugged, "guess I was wrong."

"I was afraid of that; these bastards have had quite a bit of time to infiltrate the ranks. I had Mary relay a message to the top officers about the tests that we have designed. I'll let them know the results as soon as we test it out on that one crew member." Derrick told him, though he was still afraid that this test was going to be as terminal as those in the past had been.

Sighing Hartwell wasn't all that happy about having a spy on board, though the thought of losing a crew member didn't appeal to him either. "So... , how are you suggesting that we handle this?" Hartwell asked Derrick.

Thinking, Derrick was at a loss a moment, "Hmm," he said then an idea started to form. Motioning for Hartwell Derrick started, "I got an idea, first we'll bring her here then..."

1st specialist Ensign Callie stared at the huge room that she was in. What a complete waste of space and money she thought walking around the throne room. Shaking her head she didn't even know why she'd been picked for this assignment; she was a tech specialist not a soldier. Sighing she'd have to get with the Rear Admiral later about re-assignment. Walking further in she saw a tall man with sandy blond hair and dark brown eyes greeting everyone that was passing through.

Stopping suddenly she reached into her pocket to make sure that the weapon was there. Smiling she walked toward the man a determined gait now to her step. Looking up at the approaching female Derrick smiled and extended his hand toward her. "I want to personally thank you for your... , " Derrick started.

Callie pulled the weapon from her pocket and fired at Derrick laughing as she stated, "Die you imposter to the throne, the nobles will never let you rule!" Then to her horror the beam of the weapon passed through the Emperor striking the ground where he was standing. Swiftly a syringe appeared at her neck as she slumped to the ground the surprise still on her face.

Derrick appeared a moment later, "Take her to the interrogation room I'll be there in a few minutes, I want you there also Hartwell, we need to record all of this." There was a flourish of activity while the young woman was transported to the aforementioned room. Derrick watched as Mary attached several restraints and began scanning the woman looking for everything she could. Amazingly her old scans had found nothing, but the new ones that Derrick had suggested were beginning to find all manner of hidden weapons, poisons, and powerful micro explosives. Shaking his head Derrick saw that several more scans that he'd added to Mary's repertoire of tests still hadn't been used. Again as Mary started over Derrick's eyes grew wider as the hidden arsenal began to steadily grow.

A few minutes later Derrick nodded when the last of the hidden weapons were taken off. Shaking his head Derrick knew he had his work cut out for him. Nodding to Mary, Derrick stepped to another projector and literally vanished only to appear across the room moments later. Nodding again Derrick watched as Mary administered another injection. With a groan the young woman's eyes fluttered open.

"Rear Admiral, what is going on," came her startled question.

"Well you tried to assassinate the Emperor, for one. We also know that you are working for one of the two factions that wish to eliminate the emperor." Hartwell told her a slight growl to his voice. Derrick smiled then nodded to Mary who started an odd green beam on the woman's head.

At first nothing happened then the woman's face twisted into a sadistic smile. A different voice soon erupted from her mouth. "So your pathetic, ancient tech detected me after all, so this will be an actual challenge after all. Hello you mechanical bitch!" The voice shouted at Mary. "I know that nothing will phase you, at least not 'til she is dead."

"As you suspected sire, the programs would have had me administer a lethal amount of radiation. All levels are constant, you may proceed my lord." Mary told Derrick a moment later.

"HA! Enjoy your little victory! I have ... WHAT!!!??? You discovered all of them it is not possible! You have not had the time to..." Looking at Derrick the woman's face twisted into rage. "You will learn nothing I have been conditioned well beyond your level of..."

"Who ordered the execution? Taiolan or Shiolan? You will answer me now or suffer pain unlike any you have ever known. We can extract you and simply drain what we want from you, but I figure you'd rather die this way." Derrick told the voice coming from the young woman.

"You wouldn't dare, even if you had the capability," the voice spit back at Derrick.

"Oh we have it and more," here Derrick sighed and nodded to Mary. A large arm came out of the wall with a set of ancient headphone looking apparatus attached to it. Nodding again the arm descended and barely touched them to the woman's head.

The voice began to laugh, "You haven't the guts to..." Derrick sighed and nodded to Mary, as the current began to flow through the equipment an eerie scream began to issue from the woman's mouth. "NO! NO! It's not possible stop! You're killing me!"

Smiling Derrick said, "Like it matters you're dead any way you look at it, so you going to talk?"

The woman's face twisted into another mask of rage as she spit at Derrick. "Go to hell you undeserving Republic scum!"

"Fine have it your way, oh by the way you will be returned to your soul core. Well in a way all the pain that you feel in death will. Well, enjoy, I will." Derrick told the voice then moved off as the woman's hand produced another weapon and fired at him. Again the beam passed through Derrick, "Tsk, tsk, so sloppy, alright Mary no more."

Mary nodded with a little smile on her lips as current again flowed through the equipment. This time the voice screamed even louder for a few minutes then was gone, Callie's body finally free relaxed. Derrick looked at the part of the personality that they had captured; hell of a way to start a reign as Emperor he thought.

"Alright Mary," Derrick said as the hologram of him disappeared and he reappeared across the room near the door. "Begin extracting all that you can before it expires."

"I have already begun as I felt that we would not have much time. I will display all that I retrieve as soon as the process is finished." Mary told Derrick with a small smile on her face.

Pulling a small blue disk from a protector in his pocket Derrick slipped it into a nearby slot. "Mary program rho, epsilon, psi, alpha, iota, rho enact and enable." "Yes Sire I am ... Sire? Is this the finish of it?" Mary asked startled.

"No I am afraid that it will only destroy about another 10% of the program, I estimate that we have eradicated 87% of it now." Derrick told her.

"No Sire I estimate that 86.97% of it is gone now, time to destruction has been delayed another 2 years. The remainder of the program will reach my core in another 10 years. Considering that you came up with another 12 percent in only months, I now believe that you will completely clear me soon." Large tears were falling from Mary's eyes, "Thank you sire, you have given this unit a chance to exist again." Here Mary bowed low to Derrick as did the others in the room. Hartwell was winking at Derrick causing him to shake his head in frustration.

"Mary is there any way that we can prepare her so that they can't use her again like this? She is a fine officer and I'd hate for the Rangers to lose her." Derrick asked Mary a few moments later as he looked down on the young woman.

"I believe that the program you were working on earlier just might work, though I could go in and strengthen her mind. I am afraid that it would take a few days though." Mary told Derrick as he had started to go over the data they had so far.

"Here Mary," Derrick said as he stepped to the console and started typing at blinding speed again. Those in the room backed up a considerable distance as they all watched Derrick with open mouths. Hartwell just smiled he'd seen this before so really nothing new to him.

A few minutes later Derrick stepped back waiting for Mary to assimilate all that he'd just added. "Yes Sire," came Mary's reply as she started to incorporate all of the new program Derrick had just written. "Going over all scans now, I am picking up anomalous energy readings right before the weapon was pulled. Yes sire I believe I can boost her mind to the point that she can resist them without trying. Though I must caution Sire, they will know that she was aided."

Derrick thought on that a moment, he'd not really expected them to tell that she'd been helped but then again how many of their agents were ever caught? Stepping back to the console Derrick started to type for several moments then stepped back. "I think that might help to hide it, not the best but I think it will work. At least 'til it's too late for the soul source and all of what's left is reabsorbed."

Mary was looking over the new data that Derrick had entered, yes it was possible an actual challenge for her. Smiling, she was starting to believe that this man would be the greatest Emperor of all, though he still had to get the rest of the Empire to fall in line.

1st specialist Ensign Callie awoke an hour later with an enormous headache. Trying to rise off the soft cot ... no wait she was in a bed?! What in the hell was going on? Groaning she again attempted to sit up, holding her head feeling as if the world was spinning. Looking beside the bed she saw an older looking woman with grey hair watching her.

"Who are you?" Callie asked a moment later.

"I am Mary; I am the palace A.I. or rather a holographic representation of the A.I." Mary smiled at the woman sweetly.

"Ok, am I a prisoner? I remember walking into the throne room then I saw the Emperor. I felt such rage then an almost giddiness at the thought of killing him then nothing 'til I awoke here. What in the hell is going on?" The wide eyed and almost panicked woman said. She'd remembered the execution and was afraid that she was next in line for the same.

"No, you are not a prisoner; you were under the influence of one of the sects. One sect that wishes to remove the Emperor before he can enact laws to rid the galaxy of them." Mary told the now shaking woman.

"What is to become of me? If I am not to be executed, then what punishment will I face?" The shaking woman asked having backed into a corner truly afraid that she'd never again see the light of day.

"I was instructed ... perhaps I should let the Emperor explain." Mary told the woman.

A moment later a hologram of the same tall, sandy blond hair and dark brown eyed man she'd seen before appeared. "Hello Callie, I am Emperor Derrick O'Toma. If you are willing we have a mission that I think you would be extremely interested in."

"Me? Why me? I am nothing a nobody." Callie asked, "Oh sorry," she said to Mary. "I forgot that it is..."

"A hologram?" A wide smiling Derrick finished for her causing her mouth to drop open. "True due to ... uh circumstances and several hundred protocols, I cannot be there at this moment but trust me this is interactive. You see you are a hologram to me also." Callie was only nodding, her wonderment at the hologram grabbing almost all her attention.

"Anyway we have a mission that I feel will send a message to the sects. I will not send you without your consent but they will find you and try to extract what they put in your head. Oh don't worry it is gone we scan you once an hour to ensure it is truly gone. The thing is if there is nothing to take out they will kill you. So young lady are you up for it?" When Callie just shook her head Derrick said, "Ok rest and we'll talk later ok?" Again all Callie could do was nod.

"Are you in need of a meal?" Mary asked, "We have a very fine chef who can make whatever you request to get your strength back."

Callie smiled slyly, she was damn near famished and the hologram DID say that she could have whatever she wanted.

Derrick sat a moment thinking of a way out of here, ah! He thought, "Mary I am going to the fleet it is almost time for the next ship's emergence." Mary nodded and sighed it was going to be a full time job watching this one. "Shelby." Derrick said into the com at his wrist, "time to emergence?"

"I'd say that she should be finished within a few hours Derrick," Shelby replied elated that Derrick had called her.

"Alright IMT," within seconds Derrick was on the bridge. All the ship holograms appeared, "I called all of you here because we need to start adding to the fleet. Zan I want you to stand guard over 1000, I know that you will guard her far better than any other."

"I thank you Sire I will do the best I can," Zan told Derrick bowing low.

"Conner I need you to accompany Shelby and I to the outer rim, I want you to be scanning for the signals I have given you while we are there, alright?" Derrick told Conner who looked at Shelby then smiled.

"Yes your lordship it is an honor." Conner replied bowing low.

"Tempro I need you to stay here and provide support for Zan only if it is necessary." Derrick ordered.

"Yes Sire, I will endeavor to help protect them both if necessary." Tempro said proud and bowing.

"Alright we need to go and get this done." Derrick told them, "Shelby, transmit the coordinates to Conner."

"At once Derrick," Shelby told him, then there was the familiar wind up of the engine then they were gone. Sighing Mary tracked them all the way across the galaxy. Shaking her head she knew she was in for a truly epic reign by Derrick O'Toma.

Shelby and Conner exited the Trans-warp within the vicinity of a galactic rim system. "Shelby can you detect any life out here?" Derrick asked her.

"Beginning scans now, the third and last world of this system has an area I am having difficulty penetrating." Shelby replied a few moments later. "Switching energy now, I am getting readings though something is starting to modulate the shields. I believe that we have been detected Derrick." A moment later a blast hit the shields effectively rocking the ship.

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