Lost Empire
Chapter 21

List of Ships/Names:

0001 - Tempro; 0798 - (still growing);

0003 - Conner; 0999 - Zan

0098 - Lucy (missing); 1000 - Sherry

0101 - Shelby (mother ship)

"Sherry?! You were called Sherry?" Still somewhat in shock Derrick could only stare at the hologram of the young woman.

"Why yes Sire," the slender brown haired teen replied. "Is there something wrong with that name? I can change it for you Sire. What is your command for me? I am anxious to once again serve the empire and you my lord."

"No Sherry, there is nothing wrong with the name; it is a proud and honorable name. It also happens to be the name of my mother, wear it with pride." Sherry looked at Derrick her face beaming, to be given a name by the emperor was one thing but to have the same name as the Imperial mother was an honor she was hoping she could live up to.

"Yes Sire I will, I hope that I can live up to the name of the Imperial mother. You have honored me by allowing me to keep it, thank you." Sherry said tears now starting to form in her eyes as well as Zan's.

"I also thank you Sire, you do both of us a great honor allowing her to keep the name." A now widely smiling Zan told Derrick.

Derrick waved a hand to quiet them before they said more, "I consider it an honor that you allow me to be your emperor. We still have much to do before..."

"Sire!" Conner broke in excitement in his voice, "I just finished going through the readings we took near the galactic rim. I believed I picked up several signals with the new equipment and settings you gave me. I am even able to accurately predict where the brain boxes will be!"

Derrick jumped up and ran to the console, "Show me!" He commanded. As the blips started to show up Derrick counted at least 20. Of those he quickly dismissed 10 of them as energy anomalies, rubbing his chin then his leg Derrick found this most helpful. "Alright I want you to continue to track these 10 the others will show you what not to look for."

Bowing low Conner's wide grin was infectious as in a moment almost all of the holograms were also smiling. This was the best news they'd had in quite a while. Derrick was thinking for a few minutes, they had time; Mary could handle things a little longer. "Mary?"

Appearing a moment later Mary stated, "Yes Sire?" She could almost see what the emperor had in mind from the look on his face. "I take it you are going after more of the ships?"

"Yes we have 10 good solid readings we need to check out, we need as much of the fleet as we can get if we are to re-establish the empire." Derrick informed her.

Sighing she didn't like it but she couldn't disagree with him either, "Yes Sire, I agree whole heartedly, remember Sire there are still forces out there that wish to remove you from the throne. Please exercise more caution this time before you bring more of them on board."

"Of course Mary, I am far more careful than I was when we started this, you know that." Derrick told the hologram hoping she'd believe it.

Mary only smirked at Derrick, "Yes Sire I know that you will put you self in harm's way to save the ships. Please Sire; don't make me have to administer shock to you again to keep you safe. I find it most distasteful but I will if it means your safety."

"I know Mary, I know, I am not wanting to be put out again like that. I WILL exercise a hell of a lot more caution than I did the last time." Derrick told her wincing at the memory of the shock she'd given him. "I am sending Rayburn to you to start his treatment; I need him as soon as you can heal him."

"Yes Sire I will commence as soon as I have him in the bio - bed." Mary told him. Derrick watched as Rayburn was transferred to the palace.

"Zan I want you and Sherry to watch over the Imperial planet, as before Tempro, render aid only if they need it." Derrick ordered the three holograms. "I need you to lead us to the nearest brain box reading Conner."

"Yes Sire," the four holograms all said looking at Mary and Shelby, nodding then vanishing.

"Coordinates for the first box laid in," Shelby told Derrick a huge smile on her face.

"Alright, trans-warp now!" Derrick ordered as they were suddenly across the galaxy again. Within moments they were nearing the first reading. "Scan for the signal that Conner detected earlier."

"Adjusting scanners now," both ships told him. "Sire I am detecting a signature corresponding to the readings that you indicated was those of our brain boxes." Conner reported a few minutes later.

"I concur with Conner's findings, now scanning the area. Derrick!" Came Shelby's excited yell a moment later. "I am detecting," there was a gasp then Shelby appeared tears streaming freely down her face. "Oh my god Derrick!"

Concerned Derrick became worried, "What's wrong Shelby is it that bad? What's wrong?"

"Th ... the ship it ... it is Lucy's wing mate 0097!" Shelby was crying even harder now the chances of them finding Lucy were greatly improved but finding her wing mate had been an even longer shot of happening.

Derrick was at the console in a moment studying the readings nodding he could see that it was indeed her wing mate. "Begin all cautionary scans then advise me of your findings."

"At once Derrick," Shelby said as they closed the distance a little to better detect anything that might be wrong. Almost a half hour later Shelby informed Derrick that the box was ready to transfer.

"What is the most that you can hold Shelby? I know you can grow two at the same time but how many can you hold?" Derrick asked her concerned that she might take on too many.

"I can grow two at the same time as you said Derrick, I can hold another six if they are all hooked up to life support. Any more than that, I believe would tax my systems to the point that I also might fail." Shelby told Derrick a huge smile on her face as was on Conner's.

"Sire I can hold four, though I have no capabilities to grow the ships as the energy for re-gen is primarily on board Shelby. I am sorry sire but it might help." Conner told Derrick hanging his head low.

"Don't feel shame Conner being able to keep them alive is more help than you know. I want to try and get them all, that way there will be some growing all the time for a while." Derrick told the despondent Conner. At Derrick's words Conner's face lit up as he started to smile and nod, he hadn't thought that just keeping them alive was help enough. "Alright on to the next I am just hoping that all of them are as free of problems as 0097 was!"

They had retrieved 8 boxes each almost free of any sabotage, only one signal had been a large piece of metal from a ship. The last they actually had to travel a short ways past the galactic rim. Derrick was cataloging who all they had found by their numbers so far they had - 0097, 0125, 0200, 0301, 0403, 0667, 0778, 0908. Derrick had just finished when Shelby broke into his ruminations.

"Derrick, Derrick, Derrick! I found her! I found her!" Shelby was practically screaming.

Derrick ran for the control room, "Shelby report what have you found?" Derrick asked a once again.

Crying huge tears Shelby said, "I found Lucy! I was so unsure at first then I started to detect the new signal you had all of us to install. She is the only one of us that isn't whole, it has to be her!" Shelby was still screaming in almost disbelief.

Derrick started to look over the readings sure enough there was the new signal that he had them install. Sighing tears were also starting to fall from Derrick's eyes he'd made a promise that he'd find her. It had taken a bit of time but he'd kept that promise. Problem was she was last in line to be re-gen; Derrick knew that all the ships would react the same way. Damn it but he didn't want to have and wait a month to see her again.

"This is fantastic news, I just wish I didn't have to wait so long to see her again," Derrick told Shelby.

"I know Derrick but she would say that they were first and had been waiting longer than she. Don't worry Derrick I am working to decrease re-gen time I believe I have it down to thirteen days now." Shelby told him.

"Really? Maybe I ought to look at that, we could possibly decrease it more." Derrick told Shelby as an idea was starting to form in his mind but he'd have to check it out first. He really didn't want a repeat of the Critela incident that effectively crippled the trans-warp for a short time.

"As you wish Derrick," Shelby answered appearing in front of Derrick along with Conner both had tears streaming down their faces.

"I wish to thank you for allowing me to help find as many of my brothers and sisters as we have. I am so honored that you chose me for this mission." Conner told Derrick bowing low to him. "I also wish to thank you for finding as many of my children as you have Derrick. Without you I would still be a drift looking for anyone to help me. I owe you so much, we all do, know that we will do everything we can to protect you and carry out all your orders." Shelby told him as she also bowed low, "My Emperor," She whispered.

Derrick did a double take at Shelby; did she just call him her emperor? Sighing he thought that perhaps her circuits were starting to regress back to being as blocked as they were. Walking to the control panel he looked at all the circuits he'd already freed up, no nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. Had he imagined what he thought he'd heard? He wasn't sure but as an afterthought he should keep a closer eye on Shelby for a while.

Looking over her circuits a second time Derrick had to make sure he didn't lose Shelby not after all that they had been through. "Uh Derrick?" Shelby asked a moment later, "is everything alright? You seem to be overly concerned about something. Are you detecting a problem with my circuits?"

Sighing, Derrick knew he wouldn't be able to hide this from her but it was about her would she tell him the truth even with him knowing almost everything? "I'm not sure Shelby; I thought I heard you say something I have never heard from you. Since day one you have never called me anything but Derrick. This somewhat worries me." The look of concern on Shelby's face was indeed growing then her eyes and face softened.

"I don't really want to call you anything but Derrick, though soon while you are in the throne room," here Shelby grimaced, "I will have to call you sire or your lordship."

"Not if I have a damn thing to say about it!" Derrick growled, "You are the only one besides my mother and Grandmother that is allowed to call me Derrick, always! By god I will make it a royal decree if I have to!"

Shelby was smiling, tears of joy were falling from her eyes she hadn't thought Derrick had felt this strong about the whole thing.

Turning Derrick looked at the back wall of the control room, "I know you've been listening Mary, I want this to be held up I don't want a damn mandate or something else telling me that she can't, do you understand?"

Mary appeared a moment later bowing her head, "Yes Sire; I am writing this as we speak. Shelby, the Imperial mother, and the Imperial Grandmother will never be required to address you by your title. It is enacted as of this moment." Mary again bowed a huge smile on her face; good things were starting to move forward as she'd hoped they might.

Derrick nodded his approval and then turned back to Shelby, "Alright we need to set up the schedule of the ships. We know that 0097 will be the first let's set them up now the sooner the better."

"Yes Derrick, at present I have 0798 moved to bay one, I have placed 0097 in bay two they are both in re-gen I estimate that 0798 should be conscious in another day." Shelby took a moment as she looked at the brain boxes, and when they were found. "The next will be 0667, then 0125, 0403, 0200, 0778, 0301, 0908 then finally Lucy. Derrick?" Shelby said an idea coming to her. "We need to let all the ships that are finished and as they finish know exactly what Lucy did." "I believe that you are right Shelby, like you said she never felt like a real EIG 'til this mission.

I believe that this would be a huge boost for her. Besides I think that the others will be proud of her too." Derrick told Shelby.

"The only thing I hate is that we have to go back to the palace." Looking straight at Shelby Derrick stated to her, "I do NOT intend to be stuck in the palace all the time, I will not! I just hope that Mary doesn't pull another set of rules out and zap me again to carry them out!"

Mary smiled at that comment unless his life was in peril the emperor had enacted the override codes; therefore he could do almost anything he wanted. Mary's smile though turned to a frown when she thought of the many dangers that he had already placed his self in.

Not that happy, Derrick nodded to Shelby, smiling, she nodded back that she'd understood the instructions. "Alright Mary," Derrick told the Palace A.I., "ready to return." A moment later, Derrick was in his room, a rather spacious room at that. "What is the status of Sergeant Rayburn? I've been worried that you wouldn't be able to help him without me."

"I thought I might need your assistance at first but after the first treatment, your compatriot is 75% healed. He has a remarkable mind much like yours Sire. Both of you have been a welcome experience to this unit. I perform the second treatment later today. Also I wish to report that your other compatriot, Corporal Kimison is now free of the malady that was affecting him." Mary informed Derrick, happy that she had good news to give him.

"Have you had any progress in finding Thomas? I was told he went into the salvage business like I did but I can't remember ever seeing him." Derrick told Mary.

Here Mary hung her head it was the only assignment the emperor had given her that she hadn't been able to fulfill. "As of yet sire I have found no evidence of him. It appears that he joined the same company you did then basically disappeared. It is a mystery to me but I am pursuing every record I am coming across."

"Good if you need permission to enter any system you have it. I want him found, use every damn computer out there if you have to." Derrick told a now smiling Mary. She had been about to ask Derrick that very thing; smiling wider she was really going to enjoy serving this man.

Derrick had just entered the throne room when Hartwell walked up to him. "Glad to see you're back, so you want me to let Ensign Callie back on active duty?"

"Yes, Mary has cleared her there is no trace of the other personality left in her. We need her to have what we planted in her head be extracted by the sect that did this. As soon as they access it we'll know which one it is." Turning to Hartwell, Derrick continued. "You do realize that as soon as this happens they will more than likely declare a private war on us."

Hartwell nodded, "I just hope that we can take them out if it comes to that. Our weaponry isn't as advanced as yours."

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