Kris Longknife: Legend
No money has been made from writing this story. All characters belongs to Mike Shepherd and J.K. Rowling
Summary: An uneasy peace has formed between the Greenfeld Alliance and Wardhaven's United Sentients, after Kris Longknife's efforts to save her family's most bitter enemy, Henry-Peterwald Smythe XII from an assassination attempt.
Eighty years since the Itechee war that had almost caused Humanity's extinction, their old enemy rises again and it is up to Kris Longknife to find a mysterious 'weapon' that is crucial for Humanity to survive.
I strongly urge readers of this Science –Fiction crossover to look up Mike Shepherd's books, the Kris Longknife series. (Great books) If for some reason that Mr. Shepherd does not like me using his characters and sends me a message of any form, I would of course immediately comply and stop writing and remove this story. I hope not.
Longknife – (Those damn Longknifes), Famous family, known for always finding trouble, or trouble keeps finding them. Accomplishments of the members of this family were key to victory during the Itechee War.
Kris Longknife – Princess, Navy Lieutenant of four years. Daughter of the prime minister of Wardhaven, and great granddaughter of the Itechee War Heroes Ray Longknife and General Trouble (mother's side).
Wardhaven – One of the most powerful of the Rim planets, founder of United Sentients, an alliance of close to 100 planets. The head of the United Sentients is Ray Longknife and is made King of the alliance.
Twenty fourth century
The Wasp made good speed back to Wardhaven space, in a comfortable 1g run. Kris Longknife, lieutenant of the United Sentients Navy looked at the weapons control panel on the bridge while Captain Drago of the Wasp looked at the sensors display on his chair with worry.
Technically, the Wasp was not a U.S. Warship since she was privately owned by Kris. She had captured the ship while on patrol on board Captain Drago's merchant ship, The Resolute some months back. She found a Greenfeld ship trying to destroy sensor buoys that defined the boundary of Greenfeld and Wardhaven space and through sheer courage and skill, managed to capture the ship.
Kris had captured the ship, and found out that it had incorporated the latest of hybrid smart metal technology and decided that she needed a ship of her own. She was impressed with the crew of the Resolute, and it took little convincing for the crew to realize that they were better off working for Kris Longknife, a major stockholder of Nuu enterprises, owned by Al Longknife.
The Wasp looked like an ordinary merchant ship, but beneath her hull she sported four twenty four inch pulse lasers and an array of five inch beam cannons for long range engagements. The refit of the Wasp was completed in the Nuu Shipyards, and her uncle Al added several technological breakthroughs in weapons energy management that made the wasp capable of going head on with the large hulking battleships of the Earth Navy.
"Do you believe me now?" Kris asked when the sensors showed that no Greenfeld squadron of battleships was pursuing them.
"Yes." Drago let out a sigh of relief and muttered a prayer of thanks to his religion's God.
"I saved his life by shooting that suicidal luxury ship, and her daughter was on board to see it. Of course he'll believe me." Kris said. "Tell the crew to stand down from their battle stations."
"I still can't believe that you made it out alive." Drago said as he pushed a few buttons in his command console. "Damn Longknife luck."
"Can I resume teaching Cara now? We missed our lesson because of all the excitement." Nelly asked eagerly.
Kris rolled her eyes at her computer. Nelly was a gift from her Aunt Tru, the retired chief of Wardhaven's Information bureau. The computer was among the most advanced of her kind, with self organizing circuits, and recently Kris had undergone an expensive operation so that she and Nelly could communicate through her thoughts.
Her computer, the weight of a quarter of a kilogram, was currently attached to her neck and it was using its unparalleled computational power to check on the Wasp's systems. Her last upgrade with Nelly cost her enough to buy a ship half the size of the Wasp, and she sometimes wondered if it was worth it. Nelly had acquired a personality, and hanging around with twelve year old Cara made it worse.
"Later Nelly, you can teach Cara when we enter jump point Alpha."
"Fine." If a computer could whine, Nelly was the only one who could do it.
"Have you heard anything from the newsies yet?" Kris asked Penny, her intelligence officer aboard the Wasp.
"You're going to be surprised with this Kris." Penny smiled as she read the news reports on her screen.
"What? Is it some fabrication again that I attempted to murder the first citizen of the Greenfeld alliance?" Kris asked. 'Nelly, can you tell me anything?'
'I'm scanning the various frequencies.' Nelly reported back. 'Oh my Gosh!'
'Nelly, you're spending too much time with Cara.' Kris said to her computer. 'You're a highly complex, self organizing circuitry computer and you're talking like a twelve year old pre teen.'
'Maybe I am.' Nelly replied with playful tone in her voice.
"Nelly!" Kris said loudly, drawing amused glances from the bridge crew.
"Reports are coming in from almost all major media channels." Nelly said loudly for the bridge crew's benefit. "And the news is pretty accurate. Most of the major headlines in the stories say that you saved Henry Peterwald-Smythe the Twelfth's life."
"How are the Wardhaven politicians reacting to that?" Kris asked. "Has my father or grampa Ray released a statement yet?"
"Not yet, but from the rumors I intercepted, King Ray the first looks pretty happy. They're eagerly waiting for us when we get back." Nelly reported.
"They want us docked at Wardhaven in two days." Penny said.
"But we would have to increase our speed to 2.5gs to make it in that time." Kris frowned. "The doc says that the injured marines who are undergoing therapy need a constant 1 g. Those politicians would just have to wait."
"I appreciate that Kris." Jack said as he entered the bridge. He was a former secret service agent that was part of Kris' security detail whenever she visited Wardhaven. Grampa Ray had no control of his granddaughter's movements outside Wardhaven since she was an officer in the United Sentients, and finally he found a suitable solution.
King Ray used his contacts to have Jack enlist back to service so that he could follow Kris around what trouble she went to. He was now a lieutenant of the Wardhaven marines and the commanding officer of the company detachment onboard the Wasp.
"How are they healing?" Kris asked. Before they headed to Greenfeld space to foil a plot to kill Henry Peterwald that would frame Kris and start an interplanetary war, she had just finished on a mission to fight off planet some thugs that had wanted to control the planet for their employer's benefit.
"They're doing fine." Jack said. "Those that had torn muscles and ligaments from bullets are undergoing therapy twice a day."
"And where's Abby?"
"She's with Cara." Jack replied. "You know I think she's enjoying her new job."
Abby was hired by Kris' mother to be her maid, and when she left Wardhaven weeks ago King Ray decided to give her a job as Wardhaven's liaison to the Wasp.
"I think she does." Kris smiled. "She can spend more time with her niece. I still have doubts about having Cara on board though."
"What's wrong with Cara?" Nelly asked.
"What's wrong is this is not a suitable environment for a twelve year old girl, Nelly." Kris replied.
"But I like Cara!" Nelly said.
Kris rolled her eyes and reminded herself to have Nelly get checked with Aunt Truddy once they get back home.
"We already heard this argument before." Jack said. "I'm more concerned about the newsies once you get back. There are still a lot of people who want you dead."
"Don't worry Jack. This isn't some new colony full of thugs." Kris said. "This is Wardhaven, Grampa Ray isn't going to take any chances with my safety."
"I won't take chances either." Abby entered the bridge with Cara in tow. "I want you to wear the full body spider silk stocking. We're close to forging an alliance with Greenfeld, and this mysterious third party that wants a war started between various factions of humanity will not stop until you're dead."
"Are those new orders from Grampa?" Kris asked.
"Yes." Abby said, keeping one eye on her niece. "Commodore McMorisson is sending two cruisers to meet us as we arrive. We have no telling if those private yachts are packing some explosive that could ram us."
"Now who is the one that's acting all paranoid like a Longknife?" Kris grinned.
"I've spent too much time with you." Abby said. "Let's go princess, you need a bath and I won't have your hair looking like a bird's nest."
"Okay." Kris replied. "Captain?"
"Go on, I'll inform you if something happens." Drago replied.
"Jack, can you watch Cara here?" Abby asked. The young girl mentioned looked up and smiled at the Marine Lieutenant.
"Heya Jack!" Cara said.
"Hey squirt." Jack said. "Come on, while the princess and your aunt are busy, you can tell me all about your lessons with Nelly."
"Nelly! She's fun!" Cara said, her large eyes twinkling with mirth.
"I am!" A voice sounded from the ship's comm system. Nelly had obviously jacked into the Ship's systems and was listening to their conversation.
The young man took a deep breath as the sounds of joy and excitement erupted from around him. His friends cheered him, while the warriors saluted him as he stood before them, tired, but victorious.
He looked among the crowd and spotted his close friends and he grinned and waded through the sea of people to reach them. Backslaps, cheers, stolen kisses met him on the way, but finally they reached his two friends who had tears of joy leaking out of their eyes.
"It's done." He said.
"It is." The woman with brown hair agreed. "I never thought we would live beyond this."
"I know." He said. "But now, I'm looking forward to enjoying my life, with this burden in my shoulder gone. I'm finally free."
He looked among the crowd and saw the hooded figure that had earlier offered to give him the power needed to defeat his nemesis. The powers he received were truly phenomenal, to the point that it had completely overwhelmed Voldemort.
The hooded figure said that they would ask a favor of him in exchange for his new powers, and he immediately agreed. Their side was losing badly with the death of Dumbledore.
"Excuse me Hermione, I have a pact to fulfill." Harry said as he moved closer to the hooded figure.
"Maybe they want the first interview." Ron suggested.
"Maybe." Harry grinned.
It had been three days since they had made the jump and Kris was undergoing torture from the hands of Abby, who still insisted that her hair needed a proper washing before she was presented to the media and politicians. They had started receiving information packets from Wardhaven by the hour and it appears that Kris action's had far more reaching consequences than she thought.
Wardhaven and Greenfeld are currently under talks for a joint task force that would patrol the space between them to answer the problems of the pirates that had started to prey on merchant and luxury ships. The Abdicators, a cult some years back that were the mastermind for the latest attack on Hank Peterwald were now under investigation. Three cruisers from Wardhaven and four from Greenfeld were already underway to demand that they surrender their leaders to the joint judicial courts of the two powers.
"It's still a tight fit." Kris muttered as Abby helped her slip into the very tight transparent spider silk stocking before she wore her uniform. She sighed when she looked down at her small breasts as she slipped the transparent armor over her body and smoothed her hands over her hips. It was the one thing that Kris was proud of her body, her thin waist, and she took great care of her figure by exercising regularly. She stood at a tall six feet, a height that made her stand out among the women of Wardhaven.
"Don't worry Kris, they will still grow." Abby assured her. "Besides, you don't know how hard it is to run with large breasts. I bet Vicky Peterwald has the same problems too."
Kris looked at Abby's fuller chest and remembered her last meeting with Vicky Peterwald-Smythe. The busty redhead had confessed that she had a hard time with her fuller breasts, and it always got in the way in the cramp bridge of Greenfeld ships.
"Yeah, she admitted that she found it difficult to move." Kris told her maid the conversation she had with Vicky as she headed back to her own ship.
"See?" Abby said. "Now what do you want to wear when we arrived?"
"I think I'll be the princess this time." Kris said after a moment. Even though she hated using her status, she admitted that it would more suitable to the occasion rather than wearing an unflattering Navy Lieutenant skirt and blouse. By disembarking from the wasp and appearing as the princess, she would draw in more attention that would eventually help the uneasy relationship between Greenfeld and Wardhaven.
"Good, I was hoping you'd say that." Abby smiled and pulled out a red dress from one of the steamer trunks.
"Don't you have something more... modest?" Kris asked, eyeing the material.
"It's the latest fashion in Wardhaven." Abby said. "You mother would be happy if she sees you wearing this."
"Hopefully she would quit pestering me to quit the navy." Kris said as Abby helped her put on the gown. She took Nelly from the table and attached her computer at her waist. She stood to face the mirror and spread out her arms.
"How do I look?"
"Like a princess." Abby said.
"Kris, were about to dock at port 2." Nelly said.
"Thanks Nelly." Kris headed to the bridge to meet with Jack and Captain Drago. They were expected to attend a state dinner tonight, in honor of Kris's actions in preventing a full war between Wardhaven and Greenfeld.
"Good grief!" Kris breathed a sigh of relief when she entered the space elevator car that would take her down to the planet's surface. "They're mad."
"What do you expect from a Longknife that saved the universe?" Jack grinned as he secured the car.
"They were never that... insistent before." Kris said, looking down at the surface of Wardhaven. It had taken twelve marines from the company attached to the Wasp to clear the way for Kris Longknife and her party to get past the newsies waiting at the station.
Kris, Jack and Penny finally arrived at the surface after 25 minutes inside the space elevator, and as usual Harvey was waiting for her with a few secret service agents.
"Welcome home princess." Harvey grinned proudly.
"It's good to be back." Kris hugged the older man. He had been a constant companion for Kris through her childhood and she thought of Harvey like a father figure more than a driver. The three went inside the large car and Harvey took off amidst the flashes of cameras and lights from video recorders.
"So what's on the agenda for today?" Kris asked.
"Aside from the state dinner? King Ray has asked for a private meeting with you first." Harvey replied.
Kris nodded, though inwardly she was scared of meeting with Granpa Ray. The last time they met, Kris, tired of being sent to various planets by King Ray to resolve developing situations without so much as a heads up, told her granpa that she had enough. She demanded that she choose her own assignments the next time she heads out, under her own terms with her own chosen personnel. That was how Kris acquired a company of Marines, a contingent of scientists (or boffins as they called them) and the latest in weapons technology from Granpa Al, King Ray's estranged son.
"Relax Kris, he isn't mad at you." Harvey said from his driver's seat. "I think he's the one that's scared of meeting you."
Kris nodded and stared out the window. Was it time to patch things up with King Ray? Or would she become like Grampa Al, estranged from the Longknife clan and holed up in his office at Nuu enterprises. The drive to the palace took ten long minutes, at least for everyone except Kris who was busy talking with Nelly. Nelly was talking with Sam, Aunt Tru's own computer that was perhaps the only computer in existence that was more complex than Nelly.
"I am not weaker!" Nelly said, sounding annoyed at the thought that someone was more powerful in computing power than her. "Sam's too uptight for his own good, no sense of adventure at all!"
"Nelly." Kris sighed and shook her head. "I'm sure everyone in this car will agree to that. No one's more advanced than you girl."
Jack, Penny and Harvey all nodded at once, while they hid smiles from Kris.
"Then why do you think that Sam's superior to me?" Nelly asked.
"I just thought that since Sam's been around longer than you..."
"Twenty-two years , six months and two days and four hours."
"Yes that, I just thought since he has more upgrades than you, and existed longer, he would have more experience." Kris tried to sooth her spoiled computer.
"I doubt that." Nelly huffed and Kris was once again surprised at where her computer picked up her unusual vocabulary. "The upgrades you have given me are the latest in self organizing circuitry. Sam may have existed longer, but we are on par I think."
"What does Sam think?" Jack asked, enjoying the banter between Kris and Nelly.
"He thinks that I should treat him and my creator with more respect." Nelly said.
"I clearly remember you saying that you never want to meet with me again." Kris said when the door closed behind them.
Ray Longknife, legendary hero from the Itechee Wars and King of the United Sentients alliance looked at his great granddaughter with sad eyes. "I never said that Kris, I said that I didn't want to have that same conversation where we were both arguing. Al doesn't want to talk to me, and I don't want our relationship to suffer more than it has."
"What are you saying Grampa?" Kris asked softly.
"I realized that what I did was wrong. I should have informed you of the situation beforehand and not leave you in the dark just to see how you'd react." Ray said. The great hero of the Itechee war lowered his head."I'm sorry Kris."
Kris liked visiting Aunt Trudy. She was like her mother, aunt, and grandma all rolled into one package. Every time she visited her aunt, she always received a tight hug from her, and right now she hugged Aunt Tru as tightly as she could.
"Now what was that for?" Tru asked, smiling at the one Longknife she liked and doted on like a daughter. "I almost fractured a rib!"
"I just missed you." Kris grinned. "How's the research on the artifacts from the Three?"
"Progress is painfully slow. We barely scratched the surface of the artifacts from the new worlds you found near Chance." Tru said. Like always she had a freshly baked batch of cookies waiting for Kris, along with some drinks. "How is Nelly doing?"
"I'm doing fine Aunt Tru." Nelly said, causing the old woman to look at Kris with a raised eyebrow.
"That's wonderful Nelly." Tru said. "I'd like to run a diagnostic on you, and I'd also like to see the results from the ancient rock that you have been trying to uncode."
"I have uncoded a section from the artifact." Nelly said. "Kris was able to use the code to open an ancient building in Alien 1. Kris also reported that she had been having strange dreams, though I have detected nothing that has passed between the three buffers I have separating my systems from the artifact."
"What!" Trudy's eyes widened in shock. "Why haven't you reported this? Dreams? Codes?"
Kris smiled and continued chewing on a piece of freshly baked piece of cookie, and after months eating space food this was heaven. "I thought we should keep this under wraps."
"Brilliant." Trudy smiled. "Let's get started with Nelly's analysis right away. And I want every data you have ever since you started having these dreams. They might mean something."
"We have a dinner to attend to, remember?" Kris asked. She laughed when Aunt Trudy pouted like a twelve year old girl that was on her ship.
"Kris Longknife, Princess of Wardhaven!"
Immediately the guests stood up for the guest of honor and Kris' father, the prime minister of Wardhaven led the applause for her daughter.
For the hundredth time, Kris made sure that her dress was not riding down to expose too much of her very exposed cleavage and walked down the hall with as much dignity as she could muster. She felt like a show dog on display, and immediately she spotted more than a few women nudging their sons toward her, perhaps seeking to get a slice of the massive Longknife fortune and fame. Her back felt cold, since the barely there dress plunged down her back that she feared the top of her buttocks would be seen by the scandal hungry newsies.
With Jack as her escort, Kris headed down to the place of honor prepared for her. A quick glance at the gathered guests and Kris immediately realized that even her very daring dress looked far more conservative than she realized. Some of the women wore bits of clothing that would not have been enough to serve as a bandage. She made a mental note to thank Abby for at least considering what modesty she has left.
There she was, mother. Kris fought the grimace trying to form on her face as her mother, wearing the latest fashion in Wardhaven (meaning a very scandalous dress) walked towards her with her father in tow. Hovering around the Prime Minister's wife were a few of her socialite friends, with their eligible sons looking eagerly at her. Kris steeled herself for the long night that was to come.
After a dozen dances, mostly with Jack, her father and great grandfathers, Kris begged off from the line of young men eager to dance with Wardhaven's princess and tried to escape her mother and her socialite friends.
"Kristine dear." She felt her mother's arms intertwine with hers, preventing her from escaping. "I was talking to Genevieve, she has a son about your age. I'm sure you'd love to meet him, he just arrived from a hunting expedition on those barbaric beyond rim planets. Could you entertain young Jeffrey for a few days?"
Kris found it ironic that her Mother called the beyond rim planets barbaric. Wardhaven was called one, when colonization of new planets by Earth was starting to pick up. "I'm sorry mother, but I'll be leaving in a few days."
"Couldn't you quit this Navy business? Haven't you done enough?" Her mother asked, a small frown on her lips. "You have to start thinking about starting a family soon."
"I'm Navy, Mother. We just don't quit on the job." Kris said. She had the same argument with her mother since she was 17, when to Wardhaven's surprise, Kris Longknife signed up for the Navy. It caused quite a stir among the socialites, since they thought Navy life was unbefitting a woman of Kris' breeding. This only justified her decision to join the Navy, since she was fed up of being controlled by her mother, or used as a campaign manager by her father during the elections.
She deftly removed her mother's arm and spotted a group where she knew she could mingle safely. They all wore the red and blues of marines, or the dress whites of the navy and they all mingled in one corner near the buffet table, weary of talking to politicians. Kris couldn't blame them.
"Colonel Hancock." Kris spotted the senior officer she served with in Olympia.
"Princess Longknife." Hancock greeted her with a smile. "What brings you to our corner of the room?"
"That." Kris said as she discreetly pointed at her mother and her friends. They were looking for someone and Kris immediately hid among the bodies of uniformed men and women.
Hancock kindly stepped between Kris and the Socialites, using his wide shoulders and girth to hide Kris's slim frame from their view.
"So what's the whole story on saving Peterwald?"
Kris knew why she liked hanging out with her fellow Navy officers during these types of parties. They were always direct to the point and didn't dance around an issue.
"You've read the full report from Admiral McMorisson." Kris smiled.
"I know." Hancock said. "That's why I was asking you about what really happened."
Kris noticed that more than a few uniformed men and women stopped their discussions and moved closer to both of them. They were obviously eager to learn the whole truth of the latest adventure by a Longknife.
"The report is pretty accurate." Kris said. "The only thing they left out is that the terrorists that hijacked the luxury cruiser for a suicide run are not ordinary thugs or pirates."
"So who is really responsible?" Hancock asked.
"Do you remember those Abdicators some years back?" Kris asked.
"The ones that shouted on the streets that the Aliens were coming to kill us all?" Hancock asked. "Don't tell me they're the one responsible! No one takes them seriously."
"They were." Kris said. "According to Nelly, they all disappeared fifty years back and moved to planets well beyond Human space. The Greater Guides thought that they could hide from the aliens when they come."
"That's stupid." Hancock said. "Is that why a fleet from Greenfeld and a squadron of Wardhaven ships are on their way to Xanadu?"
"That's right." Kris nodded. "Admirals McMorisson and Crossenshield are waiting for the report on the planet."
"That makes more sense." Hancock said. "I doubt that mere pirates were dedicated enough for a suicide run. I fought them for many years Kris, and they don't work that way. The big question is, what do they have to gain by instigating an intergalactic war?"
"That's the big question Colonel."
"I am deeply sorry, great warrior." The old woman said, bowing at the young man who was trapped in glowing chains.
The young man growled and his hands erupted with energy, trying to escape from his prison. His green eyes burned with anger at the assembled hooded figures before him.
"I have done what was expected of me!" The man shouted. "I have enough of war, of suffering. Let me live my life!"
"We apologize for the deceit. This is the price." A male stepped forward. "You are needed. We have foreseen a great war and your race will need its finest warrior."
"I don't care about some stupid war." The young man said growled. The chains pulsed as they withstood his power but they held.
"It is necessary." The old woman said. She raised her hands and the circle where the young man was held started to glow. The young man continued to struggle before a bright flash of light erupted from the circle, blinding everything in sight.
The princess of Wardhaven opened her eyes, breathing hard as she clutched the blanket to her chest. She looked around her surroundings and realized that she was in her old room at the palace.
"I just had one of those dreams Nelly." Kris said.
"Impossible." Nelly scoffed. "I don't understand why I can't detect these dreams. I have checked the three buffers and there is nothing there! Nothing!"
"It's all right Nelly." Kris rubbed her eyes and yawned. "What time is it?"
"It's four thirty-one in the morning."
Kris slowly stood up and felt the cold marble on her feet. "I better get ready, it's not like I can get to sleep again. Alert me if Aunt Trudy is awake, I know she's an early riser."
"Yes Kris." Nelly replied.
Two hours later Kris headed to Aunt Tru's place with Abby, Cara and Jack. The Twelve year old insisted on going with them, pointing out that this would be an extremely educational experience for her and Nelly immediately supported her. Against the persistent arguments by the two, Kris finally caved in.
"So what's the rush?" Abby asked. Cara was sleeping soundly on her lap while Jack continued to watch the road while Harvey smoothly guided the large car down the road.
"Kris had a dream again, and I wasn't able to identify the source." Nelly said.
"Wrong Nelly, we do know that the artifact aunt Trudy placed inside you to analyze is the source, you just can't identify how." Kris said. She tried to remember what her dream was about. It was like trying to catch smoke with her bare hands, the harder she tried to remember the details the more she forgot about the dream.
"I don't understand how this is possible." Tru said, reading the data on Nelly's analysis on the artifact. "I never realized that the artifact posses a wave frequency. I scanned the artifacts surface and ran it through over a thousand simulations..."
"But you never thought of listening to it." Kris finished. "If your tests with Nelly are finished, I'd like to get back to the Wasp and return to Chance. Only my team was successful at exploring the ruins left by the Three."
"I'd like to come." Tru said immediately.
"Auntie? I thought you don't want to go into space again?" Kris asked.
"We're on the verge of making a scientific breakthrough on the Ruins!" Tru said. "You and Nelly have accomplished what no other Scientist has for over eight hundred years, and you think I'll just pass this up?"
"Okay." Kris said. "I'll inform Penny about the new arrangements. How much time do you need to get packed?"
"I'll need three hours at least." Aunt Trudy replied.
"That should be enough time." Kris said. "We'll meet you at the space elevator in four hours."
"Impressive." Tru said when she entered the bridge of the Wasp. "You disguised her very well. What's the model of the reactor?"
"We've got two." Kris grinned. "3300 Westinghouse reactors, with the latest in energy circuitry design."
"Weapons?" Tru asked. Her personal computer Sam, could not penetrate the Ship's internal firewalls and see the Wasp's specifications. Strange.
"Four 24 inch pulse lasers, and a pair of 5 inch long guns." Jack Montoya said.
"Good Lord." Tru chuckled. "It seems that your Al and Nuu enterprises didn't hold anything back. You've got quite a warship here. I assume this equipped with the latest Smart Metal armor?"
"You bet." Kris replied. "Grampa Al is using the Wasp as an experimental platform for Nuu's latest research on the Smart Metal and alloy composites."
"It looks like you are quite prepared for almost anything that's out there. I feel much safer already." Tru said. "You said that there was a contingent of scientists on board?"
"Yes, along with a company of Marines." Kris replied. "Professor mFumbo heads the contingent."
"That old grouch?" Tru asked.
"The one and the same." Kris said. "If you don't mind, you'll be sleeping in a room located at their container."
"That's fine." Tru said. "Let's get underway, the more time we linger here, the more time we waste researching on the Three's left over artifacts!"
Kris smiled and without asking, Abby led Tru towards the scientist's container module while the Princess of Wardhaven headed to the bridge.
"Did you have a nice dinner last night?" Captain Drago asked from his command chair.
"You don't have to ask. I saw you there hiding among the Navy Uniforms." Kris replied as she sat down on the weapons console.
"Can you blame me?" Drago asked. "With the way those Newsies were prowling around for a good scoop, I had to find a nice place to hide. And with the navy tables located near the buffet table was just a bonus for me."
"Let's get underway then, Captain?" Kris asked.
"Engineering, start the engines. Helm, take us out of High Wardhaven."
"Aye Skipper." Sulwan said. He took the controls of the wasp and guided her out of the narrow steel frames that protected the ship from collision with the space station. Various tubes fell off the Wasp and the station master gave her the route to take past the heavy traffic of Wardhaven orbital space.
The Wasp, disguised as a merchant ship with the containers that surrounded its hull, slowly detached from High Wardhaven space station and headed for Wardhaven jum point Beta, following the line of merchant ships headed for the same direction.
"I'm curious why the station master never asked for our clearance orders." Drago said. "I assume you have something to do with that Kris?"
"Admiral McMorisson and Grampa Ray made our mission a top priority." Kris said. "Besides that, we need to make the Wasp look like an authentic merchant trading ship and receiving clearance orders from Wardhaven would ruin that. The ship's name is the Wind Dancer, and we are a merchant ship based in Olympia."
"Wind Dancer, that's a pretty name." Remarked Penny from her comm station.
"Nelly suggested it." Kris replied.
"It's too sissy for my taste." The Skipper grumbled.
High Chance, Border of Wardhaven Space.
"I sure missed this place." Kris said when the 'Wind Dancer' docked at the orbital station. Unlike the last time she was here, traffic was booming from her discovery of the strange fluctuating jump points that revealed a new part of the galaxy.
Chance was the only planet near these fluctuating jump points, and her economy was now booming. The Helvetica Confederacy, whose borders were also near Chance, was using the planet as a transport point for their exploratory ships. Like all Powers in human space, they were eager to explore the latest series of jump points and the worlds ready for colonization.
"It certainly is different from when we were assigned here." Penny observed. "Will we head down to lower chance?"
"It's your call Captain." Kris said.
"I think we'll head to the new jump point." Captain Drago said. "The crew's restless, and the scientists are all eager to see Alien 1."
"I thought you'd like to stop by the planet for a drink." Kris said.
"That was before Chance became the hub of interplanetary trade." Drago said. "There are too many people from Greenfeld, Helvetica or pirates. I don't want the men drunk and start spilling secrets."
"Good idea." Kris said. "Let's head to the jump point. Nelly, do you still remember the spot?"
"Yes Kris." Nelly replied. "The coordinates are now uploaded to the ship's computer."
"I have it." Sulwan replied from his station.
"Gun the engines. We'll head there at 2.5 Gs." Drago ordered.
"Deploying high g stations." Penny said, instructing the smart metal of the ship to her specifications. Kris suddenly felt her chair become wider and lower to the point that she was almost lying on it. Her console moved above her while the weapons controls appeared by her right hand.
This was essential for the bridge crew, since operating a ship while one weigh three times their body weight was difficult. The other crew members had air bags deployed, to ease their discomfort while on a high speed run.
"How long until we get there?" Kris asked.
"At this speed, twelve hours." Nelly answered. "I am in direct communication with Sam, he asks if we could send images to Trudy's room."
"Go ahead Nelly." Kris said. "Aunt Tru might be bored in her cabin."
Alien 1, Three Ruins
"This is the spot Aunt Tru." Kris stopped in front a smooth wall, where vegetation surrounded the massive structure.
"It's massive." The old woman whispered.
"Check this out." Jack raised his M6 forward and shot a bolt of laser on the wall. He immediately touched the wall with his hands were he was supposed to feel the residual heat produced by the energy blast.
"This unknown material immediately dissipates the heat." Truddy observed, touching the wall herself. "This is amazing! Imagine if we could equip this on Wardhaven ships."
"We would be practically become indestructible, except from direct collisions." Kris said.
"You said that you were able to explore inside the ruins?" Tru asked as she stared at the smooth wall.
"Nelly here was the key." Kris said. "We used the same residual frequency from the Santa Maria ruins and played it here. Do your thing Nelly."
"Okay Kris." Nelly said. The computer played the frequency and to Tru's surprise a portion of the wall slowly slid open.
"How's that possible!" Tru exclaimed. "Sam isn't detecting any wiring, or energy fluctuations to power that!"
"We don't have an idea either." Kris said, turning on the lights of her environmental suit.
"I saw a section of the wall suddenly move, without any visible mechanism, primitive or otherwise. No nanos working either." Tru said, running her instruments on the wall. "This should not be possible! What technology were the ancient Three using?"
"Magic?" Gunny, the marine sergeant who was escorting them with a squad suggested.
"There is no such thing as magic." Kris said. "This is just something beyond any technology we have."
"I don't know princess, it seems like magic to me." Gunny grinned. "My old man used to tell stories of magic before humanity took off to the stars."
"Nelly, can you send me the frequency recording?" Tru asked.
"I'm sending it to Sam right now." Nelly said.
With two super smart computers armed with the strange frequency, the team was able to split up and explore more of the ruins. Two hours into the exploration, Tru made an exciting discovery.
"What is it?" Kris asked as she headed to the part of the ruins Tru and Abby were in with a few of the marines.
"As soon as Sam played the frequency, a section of the wall moved. Look at what I found inside."
Kris focused the lights of her suit inside the room and gasped in surprise. Penny followed right behind with Jack and they too were shocked at what they saw.
It was a large tapestry made of some unknown material. Kris had seen a few of these in the homes of her mother's friends, where they bragged that they were authentic medieval tapestries from Earth. This was larger, taking up most of the wall inside the hidden room.
The tapestry itself showed a medieval representation of an event, and the characters in the figure were actually moving.
"Aunt Tru? How can it do that?" Kris asked softly. The tapestry reminded her something she had seen before, but she couldn't place it.
"I am not detecting anything Kris." Nelly answered. "None of my sensors indicate that there is a power source, or Nanos. The tapestry is emitting a frequency similar to what we have used so far."
"I'm not an expert of Earth Medieval History, but I'm not sure that thing in the tapestry actually happened." Abby said. It was a crude two dimensional representation of a man in chains, glowing while a dozen hooded figures surrounded him.
"Maybe it's an artistic piece." Tru said as she touched. "Is your analysis complete Sam?"
"Yes Tru. Carbon scan indicates that the material existed since the late twentieth century." Sam replied. "Tapestry scans shows that it is made of silver, gold and an unknown material that I cannot match with Earth's library of fabrics."
"Nelly, I'm sure I have seen this before." Kris said. "Can you remember any shows or movies that I have watched that is similar to this?"
"No Kris." Nelly said.
"Princess, you must have been dreaming." Gunny chuckled.
Kris frowned and stared at the moving characters in the tapestry, trying to figure out where she had seen the scene before. Suddenly everything snapped in place, and her eyes widened in shock.
"That's it! I've been dreaming about this for the past few weeks!" She exclaimed, drawing incredulous glances from the others.
"Are you sure Kris?" Tru asked.
"I'm sure." Kris said. She had tried to remember these strange dreams whenever she woke up from them, but as soon as she tried to think about them, the images slip away. Now, staring at this strange tapestry, they all came back to her in a rush of images, of memories and emotions.
"Can we take this back?" Abby asked, giving the Tapestry a good tug.
"If we can remove it." Jack said. "It seems stuck at the top end."
"Let's cut it then. I'm sure professor mFumbo and his colleagues will be happy." Kris said.
A few minutes later, two marines were carrying the rolled tapestry on their shoulders after being cut at the top by a laser beam. Kris and Tru spent a few more hours hoping to find hidden rooms, but they finally called it a day after a few hours of fruitless searching.
As expected, mFumbo was eagerly waiting in the nearby camp beside the parked Wasp with a team, eager to get their hands on the strange artifact. When they heard about the discovery from Abby, the scientists or boffins as the marines called them, arranged an array of machines to analyze the artifact.
"Be careful with it." Tru said when they rolled the tapestry on eight large tables that were put together to accommodate its large size.
"Of course we will." mFumbo replied. "This is one of the few artifacts left by the Three that actually has some information. Most of the time, all we found in the ruins of Santa Maria were rocks and that strange disk I gave you. This tapestry is very exciting. "
As the scientists and the crew spent a few minutes staring at the tapestry with shock, they immediately got to work analyzing the fabric. Under the light of the camp, Kris could make out more of the details in the tapestry.
"What do you make of that?" Kris asked Tru as she pointed at the bottom of the tapestry.
"In the greatest of need, awaken Humanity's greatest warrior." Tru read aloud from the tapestry, the letters sewn with gold thread on the fabric. "Strange, it's obviously a cryptic message of some sort. Sam?"
"I am already running several combinations for the letters." Sam replied. "Nothing so far Tru."
"It's pretty." Cara was finally allowed to see the artifact, along with the rest of the marines and crew who were getting bored inside the ship.
"It is." Abby said to her niece.
"How does it move?" The twelve year old asked.
"We haven't figured that out yet." Abby said.
"We will explore the rest of the ruins tomorrow," Kris said.
"Can I come?" Cara asked.
"Sorry sweetie, but it is too dangerous." Kris said.
She smiled when she saw Cara look at Abby for support, but her aunt was in agreement with Kris on the safety issue. Alien 1 had strange creatures and foliage that were potentially lethal, and if it were not for the armor Kris and her marines had they would have suffered severe injuries. Some of the vines were actually alive, and attempted to drag their party by the legs before entangling them with thicker vines lined with thorns.
One unfortunate marine experienced it first hand, and would have died if it were not for her environmental suit.
"I feel bad for him." Cara remarked.
"On whom dear?" Abby asked.
"Him, that man in the picture." The girl pointed at the figure surrounded by twelve hooded figures. "He's trapped by those ugly looking chains."
"Could that be the warrior?" Kris asked.
"Could be." Abby shrugged. "I'm not much of a fan on fantasy though. Legends and myths? I don't have the imagination for those sort of things."
"I do!" Cara said eagerly.
"There's something strange." Penny frowned. She pressed a few more buttons in her wrist computer and shook her head.
"What is it?" Kris asked.
"Something's interfering with the communication channels to Chance." Penny said.
"I am experiencing the same thing Kris." The computer replied.
"What about Wardhaven?" Kris asked.
"We are still receiving data packets relayed by the jump buoys" Nelly reported.
"What do you think could be causing the interference?"
"Chance's relays could be under maintenance." Nelly suggested.
"That's possible." Penny said. "Chance has been undergoing several upgrades to accommodate the increased traffic in their system."
"Report this to Wardhaven." Kris said. "We'll continue the survey of the ruins, and after that we'll head back to Chance to see what's happening there."
"Got it Kris." Nelly said.
The expedition team had spent two more days exploring the ruins, while Penny continued to investigate Chance's sudden lack of communication. Both yielded negative results and finally Kris and Captain Drago decided to head back to the jump point.
Professor mFumbo and Truddy discovered something hidden in the Tapestry after the two spent countless hours of analyzing every inch of the unknown fabric.
"It's a map." mFumbo said. "Take a look at the background. It's some sort of crude drawing. I couldn't recognize it at first and tried running it through most of the database."
"I don't recognize it either." Kris said. She was amazed at mFumbo's sharp eyes. The background was very hard to see, since her eyes were distracted at the moving figures in the tapestry.
"It's the map of Earth before the sea levels have risen." Tru said. "There used to be fifty percent more land mass before their polar ice caps had risen."
"So what's on the map then?" Kris asked. "Is it like some sort of treasure map with an X that marks the spot?"
"Actually Kris, that's exactly what it is." Tru said. "We believe that whatever is on this map, it will show us a new ruin, and possibly the location of the tomb of this man in the tapestry."
"This could lead us to the remains of one of the Three!" mFumbo said excitedly.
"Let's get to it then." Kris said. "Let's pack everything up, we have to check on chance and see what's wrong with their communications."
"Good Lord." Penny whispered when the Wasp approached Chance. Debris floated around the planet, ruins of the space station, along with the destroyed hulls of various merchant and military ships.
"Battle stations!" Captain Drago punched a series of commands in the console, telling the crew to prepare for the shift of the smart metal. Non essential equipment twisted and were removed, increasing the thickness of the Wasp's hull.
The orbital platform was lifeless, and Kris could see the gaping holes along the structures surface.
"Who did this?" Kris demanded.
"Traces of energy do not match any current weapons." Nelly said. "The Wasp's sensors have detected several life pods, but none of them show any life readings."
"Butchers. Whoever did this shot the life pods like a turkey shoot." Drago muttered. "Nelly, what can you tell us about Chance herself? What has happened to the planet?"
"I am not detecting any traces of activity in the major cities." Nelly said. "It's like the whole planet's dead."
"They could be hiding." Penny said. "I'm detecting faint traces of heat, I'm guessing the survivors are somewhere in the forests or the surrounding hills."
"I'll take an LAC Captain." Kris Longknife said. "I can't risk the Wasp descending into the planet's surface. That would make it easier for whoever is responsible for this to shoot us, and we can't shoot back."
"Call if you need me." Captain Drago said. "Comm, report what happened here to Wardhaven. See if you can contact any Wardhaven ships in the area. I've got as bad feeling about this."
Two Light Aerial Craft, designed for a quick drop from a low orbit ship were prepared in the hangar. They were nearly invisible to sensors or radar, because of their small size and their cross section presented a low profile.
Each could carry a squad and a pilot, and Kris was among the best around. Before her career in the navy, the princess of Wardhaven had spent her youth racing orbital skiffs after much encouragement from Grampa Trouble. She had proved to be an able pilot, able to push her craft to its limits and then some.
"You flying?" Jack asked.
"Of course." Kris said. She had on a size three battle space suit and Nelly was performing systems checks on the suit.
"We will head here." Kris had Nelly project a map into Jack's heads up display, where the Wasp's sensors had showed thermal activity.
"Where's the LS?"
"Here." Kris marked a nearby lake where the LACs could safely land. "Let's get going."
Jack nodded and faced the fourteen men and women of Wardhaven Marines. "Listen up! This will be a quick scouting mission! We're gonna find out who is responsible for this, and when we do, they're gonna pay."
"Ooh RAH!" The marines shouted.
"Get ready!" Kris said. She climbed on board LAC 1's cockpit while the rest of the squad climbed at the passenger area. The hangar bays started to drain air, and fifteen seconds later they were in vacuum.
Kris tested the controls of the LAC, checking as the keel moved as she pushed the control stick of the craft between her legs. It was no racing skiff, but it travelled just as fast.
She wiggled her hips and felt the LAC move according to her body weight, and she nodded in approval. She looked at LAC 2 and saw Gunny give her a thumbs up sign. She closed the cockpit down and she squeezed herself further into her pilot's seat. They were ready.
"Open the drop bays." Kris ordered. "Captain, we're heading out."
"Good luck." She heard Captain Drago's voice in her helmet's speaker. "We'll send a shuttle to pick you up. I'll watch the skies for you. Drago out."
A hatch opened inside the hangar, and Kris saw the blue and green surface of Chance before them. Slowly LAC 1 slid towards the hatch, and Kris waited as the motors in the hangar pushed her craft into space.
The Wasp swooped towards the planet's surface, skimming Chance's atmosphere and at the right moment, the clamps on both LACs unlocked and the two squads shot towards the planet at a steep angle. It was now Kris and Gunny's job to make sure they didn't burn into a crisp.
"Nelly, show our landing sight." Kris said. At that moment, she couldn't communicate with The Wasp or LAC 2 because of the ionization caused by her engines and the superheated air around them. A map appeared in her heads up display and she guided her craft closer to the surface.
Kris piloted LAC 1 in a series of loops and s turns, trying to slow her craft while she bled off more reaction mass and heat generated by the friction of her craft and the atmosphere.
"Prepare for landing marines." Kris said. The LAC dropped closer to the surface, until Kris pulled the controls and the LAC made a quick loop and in the process she approached the landing site at a much gentler angle.
"Corporal Li, how's LAC 2?" Kris asked the marine behind her.
"Gunny's right behind you mam." The corporal replied.
"Good, prepare for landing." Kris said.
A moment later LAC 1 landed on the lake, and a loud hiss was heard as the water cooled down the craft's hull. Kris looked to her tight and saw LAC 2 land fifty feet from her right, and she unbuckled her harness and jumped to the water as LAC 1 collected water.
"Good flying again mam." Corporal Li said. "That was steeper than what I remembered though."
"I had to push it." Kris said. "We have no time to waste Corporal. We need to get to those survivors."
"We didn't see anything." Ron Torn, mayor of Last Chance whispered as he stared into the fire. Around him, a few men and women, whose faces were covered with soot and ash munched on the rations Kris and her marines had brought. "I was out hunting with my family, when I saw the smoke from the city. I tried to contact High Chance but no one there was answering."
"It's destroyed now." Kris said. "No survivors."
"How could this happen?" Ron asked, staring at his hands. "There was a fleet from Helvetica stationed here, along with a few Greenfeld and Wardhaven ships. What could outfight against that many ships and even shoot the life pods? That's inhuman."
"Maybe they are not human." An old woman said. "This reminds me of the old days."
"You couldn't possibly mean what you are talking about, mam." Kris said.
"You look familiar girl." The old woman peered at Kris' face. She took in Kris' six foot height and scratched her cheek.
"Granma, this here is Princess Longknife." Ron said. "Kris, this is my great grandma, Martha Lei."
"Longknife!" Martha exclaimed. "I knew Ray when we fought on the Patton. Are you that Longknife girl that rumors say saved us last year?"
"She is ma." Ron said.
"A Longknife's what we need right now to fight these four eyed freaks." Martha said.
"Mam, are you talking about the Itechee?" Jack asked.
"Of course I am! Do you know any other alien species that has four eyes?" Martha asked. "That's the problem with you young ones, you forgot about the old war, you became soft. Maybe this was will toughen you up."
"What makes you think the Itechee are responsible for this?" Kris asked.
"It's their trademark." Martha said. "They always shoot the life pods, or run over them. That's how I lost my Jim."
"And the traces of energy signature did not match any known human made weapon." Nelly added.
"I need to contact Grampa Ray." Kris said. "Jack, have Captain Drago drop off a container full of supplies for these people."
"Thank you Kris. What will we do for now?" Ron Torn asked.
"Stay away from the cities." Kris said. "By now, ships will be investigating this area, wondering what happened to your planet."
"Do you need any more men?" Ron asked. "If you need anything, it's yours."
"Just stay alive." Kris said. "Try to build bunkers and bomb shelters. If this is indeed an Itechee invasion, your people might need it soon."
"There's one thing that's puzzling me though." Jack said. "Why would the Itechee choose to invade us now?"
"Where to?" Captain Drago asked when Kris entered the bridge.
"What are our options?" Kris asked.
"We could head back to Wardhaven" Drago said. "But that path would likely increase the chances of whatever is responsible for this carnage."
"Some of the old timers at chance thought that the Itechee were the ones who caused this." Jack said.
"That's what I figured when I saw those destroyed life pods." Drago said.
"I have a message coming in from Wardhaven." Penny said.
"Put it on screen." Kris said.
The image of Admiral McMorisson and Grampa Ray appeared on screen, and instead of the usual background of paintings and portraits of previous admirals, it was a battle bridge.
"You can't imagine how relieved I am to see you well." Ray Longknife said. "How are you Kris?"
"I've been better." Kris replied. "Have you read the report I sent you?"
"I did." Raya nodded. "What happened in Chance is not an isolated incident. Several of the frontier planets have reported the same situation. The queens of the Itechee are on the move, and it looks like they finally decided to show their ugly faces. The Wardhaven Battle fleet is assembling as we speak."
"What are our orders?" Kris asked. She wanted to get revenge against those aliens that had slaughtered the people of Chance. The faces of the men, women and children that helped her last year flashed in her mind. She wanted to join that battle fleet and start looking for the Itechee.
Kris was so deep in thought planning her revenge that she failed to see the quick glance Admiral McMorisson and grampa Ray gave each other.
"Captain Drago, what was your original plan after you explored the ruins of Alien 1?" McMorisson asked.
"We were supposed to head to Earth, admiral." Captain Drago said. "The boffins have uncovered a clue from the artifact we recovered, showing the map of Earth."
"And you think this would lead you to the..." King Ray looked back at the report. "Humanity's greatest warrior?"
"Or his tomb." Kris replied. "That isn't important for now. The Wasp is a fast ship, where do you want us?"
"Continue on your mission Kris." Ray Longknife said.
"That's an order lieutenant." King Ray said. "The rim worlds cannot fight the Itechee alone. We need you on Earth to gather support for us while we hold them back."
"Yes sir." Kris said.
"And why don't you continue with that exploration of yours?" Ray suggested. "You might uncover the some useful technology that could be of use to push back this invasion."
"I understand Grampa. How are father and mother?"
"You know them. Your mother has been on all the talk shows this morning, talking about the invasion. I still don't think she believes that this thing's for real."
"He's hold up in parliament with your brother. Honovi's trying to explain to the Wardhaven alliance that we need their contribution to the war effort."
"It's started?" Kris whispered.
"Yes. There are already skirmishes along the beyond rim worlds. The Greenfeld alliance is sending a task force to help us, and I think it's because of your efforts last month. " Ray smiled. "Your other great grandfather is in the front lines, assessing the combat strength of the Itechee."
"Tell Grampa Trouble to stay safe." Kris said. She was eager to hear more news, but it looked like the conversation was over. Kris saw Admiral McMorisson give a signal with his hand and Ray turned back to the camera. "I have to go Kris."
The screen went blank and Kris noticed that everyone in the bridge was now looking at her.
"Let's head to Earth." Kris said. The bridge crew turned back to their stations while Captain Drago looked thoughtful as he stared at Kris.
"Thank God for you Longknifes." The Skipper said. "Only they could get us out of this mess, and I'll only follow a Longknife to battle, and no one else."
Kris blushed as the bridge crew gave a mighty war cry.
She looked around as the heavy rains fell on her, soaking her clothes and hair while the cold wind took the warmth from her body.
Kris shivered and rubbed her arms for warmth, desperate to find shelter from the storm. A nearby tree was hit by a bolt of lightning and Kris rolled to the side as the tree fell on where she had been standing a moment ago.
She reached a clearing and finally she breathed out a sigh of relief, glad to escape the forest. She looked up and saw a large castle, far larger than anything she had read about or seen in the pictures. It had several large turrets, and its battlements were enormous. Large wooden doors stood at the entrance, it was so massive that Kris knew that the Wasp without the containers attached to her hull, could fly through it.
She heard a strange tune that suddenly lifted her spirits and made her warm and slowly she saw the great doors open.
"Out of the question Abby." Kris said as her maid and Wardhaven liaison officer held a scandalous blue dress in her hands. "Where did you get that?"
"I always come prepared." Abby said. "This is the latest fashion in Earth, and that order of the wounded lion would be better on this dress than with your navy uniform."
The Order of the Wounded Lion was the highest decoration Earth could give, and Kris received hers when she foiled an attack on the Earth Battle fleet a year ago. Kris was the weapons officer of the Typhoon, a fast attack corvette that was part of Recon six.
She had led a mutiny against her captain, when she realized that he and the other captains of recon six were acting against orders, intent on destroying the lumbering battleships. Upon further investigation by Wardhaven, they had uncovered a plot where a few of the navy officers, tired of Earth influence on the rim worlds, tried to instigate a war on her and the rim worlds.
Kris was glad that she had saved the Earth Battle fleet from destruction, despite their old age, they still had some of the most powerful arsenal in any ship with their colossal eight inch long guns that had stood head to head with the Itechee cruisers.
"Fine." Kris relented. "I still wonder why Earth women are so obsessed with this type of fashion. Every year the styles become bolder, and I won't be surprised if next year they decide to abandon clothes!"
Abby chuckled and continued adjusting the straps on Kris dress. Already Kris felt cold, since the dress was so low cut that one tug at her skirt and her nipples would pop out! The skirts were no better since parts of the skirt was woven from a transparent material, hiding and teasing Kris' most delicate body parts at the same time.
"I feel worse than when I went undercover in New Eden as a hooker." Kris grumbled. "And this shoes are killing me! The Rim is being invaded and I have to dress up to plead for help!"
"Perhaps this will offer you some modesty." Abby placed the sash where the order of the wounded lion was housed on her shoulders, and she fastened the end on Kris' opposite hip with a golden pin. The sash covered part of Kris' cleavage, but she didn't feel any better.
Kris took a deep breath and stepped out of her room, and headed to the walkway where several of Earth's politicians and reporters were eagerly awaiting her.
"I thought Rim humans wore animal skins and fur."
"She looks like a regular earth woman."
Kris rolled her eyes at the ignorance of some of the Earth citizens. Just because she belonged to the Rim worlds does not mean they were uncivilized! This was the major misconception ignorant Earth citizens thought of the Rim worlds, though in truth Wardhaven and even Greenfeld ships were more advanced than the legendary Earth Battle Fleet.
Kris walked with her head held high, her six feet making her stand out, catching the eye of every person in the dock. She was not just representing Wardhaven now, but the other Rim powers.
"Princess Longknife! Is it true that the Itechee are back?"
"What is Wardhaven doing?"
"Is this some elaborate hoax by the Rim worlds?"
Kris stopped when she heard that question and she spun on her heel and faced a pimply faced reporter.
"This is no hoax." Kris said. "My ship had just been to Last Chance, and everything on the planet and in orbit was destroyed. I saw the life pods were shot. Helvetica, Greenfeld and Wardhaven ships in Last Chance are now just scrap metal, courtesy of the Itechee. The Rim Worlds need Earth and the seven sisters for support. "
Kris gave the cowed reporter a withering glare and continued on her walk, her bare leg seen from the slit that rose up to almost her navel.
Jack and Captain Drago followed her down the catwalk, with Penny, Tru and Abby bringing up the rear. The flash from cameras came from both directions as the press and the Earth citizens eagerly looked at the Princess from the Rim worlds.
Kris smiled when she spotted General Ho, commander of all armed forces of Earth waited at the docks, surrounded by politicians eagerly awaiting Kris. Having grown up with a family of war heroes or politicians, Kris knew they all mostly after her popularity, either through an endorsement for their reelection or a photo opportunity.
Then there were the other types of politicians, they were drunk on their power and only wanted what was inside Kris' panties, if she wore one in this dress. She was thankful Jack was with her, he had always kept an eye out for those types of politicians, and usually bailed Kris out when they got too touchy. She tolerated the lecherous grins and the occasional dirty looks, but beyond that Kris would respond, either with her guns or her fists.
The politicians crowded around her as she stepped of the gangway, they were shaking her hand as flashes nearly blinded her.
"Princess Longknife!" Kris heard General Ho's deep bass voice above the noise. "If you will follow me please?"
Kris sighed with relief as the colonels, majors and captains that surrounded the old general physically moved the politicians to the side to make way for Kris and her party to safely pass through. A large car was waiting for her and she immediately jumped in, careful not to give the newsies anything to see under her dress. It wouldn't be proper for a princess, asking for military support, to have her privates displayed at the Earth news channels.
Earth Military Command, Paris
General Ho and the Earth Senators watched the aftermath that the Itechee caused in Last Chance. Nelly added the images of the other Rim Worlds that had suffered the same fate, courtesy of Admiral McMorisson and Wardhaven Intelligence Services.
Kris watched as the latest stream of data reached Nelly and she looked at the images of the Wardhaven ships fighting a larger Itechee fleet. This was the first time Kris had seen the alien invaders aside from the recordings and pictures in the library and history classes. The Itechee ship designs seems to have changed little from eighty years back, their organic shaped ships firing the trademark green pulse lasers at the retreating presidential class Wardhaven ships.
"Kris, we have just received this transmission from the Itechee War Queen of this sector." Grampa Trouble said from the screen. Wardhaven scientists have decoded the message to English. General Trouble out."
The image of a large four eyed creature stared at them, and some of the politicians blanched at seeing such a scary face. The military officers reacted better, by the narrowing their eyes and settling their faces into grim masks.
"Humans, surrender now." The digitized voice translated the grunts and clicks made by the War Queen. "We have superior numbers, and we will annihilate your race. There is no peace between us, there is nowhere to run."
The image flickered out and the large picture on the screen flickered out. Immediately the politicians started shouting, arguing amongst themselves for a solution to this crisis.
"We have expanded too quickly!" A senator said. "That was why I have proposed tighter control on the rim worlds, but no one listens to me! Look where we are now!"
"Shut up coward." The senator from Europa said. "Human expansion is unavoidable. The question now is how do we respond?"
"The problem senators is that the Earth Battle fleet, no matter how formidable we are, lack the state of the art technology that the Rim worlds posses. Their smart metal technology and state of the art reactors have surpassed ours." General Ho said. "I ask for the emergency funds to overhaul the first eight of Earth's super cruisers."
"But that would cost too much." A senator remarked.
"There is no time! The Rim worlds are doing everything they can to slow down the Itechee's advance, and you're talking about budgets?" General Ho asked. "Are you even human?"
"That's not what I mean." The senator said, flustered from the scolding he received from a War Hero.
"Senators, what about the Rim? We desperately need your help." Kris stood up as the hundreds of eyes focused on her.
"We will send a fleet of the corvettes to Wardhaven." General Ho said. "Wardhaven is the key planet, since she has the most jump points that lead to the Earth system. Our super cruisers will have to undergo modifications before they join the battle."
"That won't be enough." Kris said.
"I'm afraid I cannot commit the super cruisers, Princess." General Ho said. "Until this point, you presidential class battleships have more chance of holding back against the Itechee than my aging fleet. You just have to hold on."
Kris nodded. She knew the state of the Earth Battle fleet, and she couldn't d much up to this point. Years of budget cuts and corruption had caused the once proud and feared Earth Battle fleet to lie helpless while the Itechee ravage across dozens of human worlds. The Rim worlds had done all that they can to strengthen their military ships, but it was not enough. They were technologically advanced, but no amount of ice armor could withstand a direct hit from a dozen lasers.
"I have done my duty to inform you about the Itechee threat." Kris stood up once the senators filed out. She had rejected more than a few discreet offers of private dinners and adult recreation. "I'll now return to my ship and head back to Wardhaven."
"Princess, I have received instructions from Ray Longknife." General Ho said. "I'm afraid you can't head back to Wardhaven, it's too dangerous."
"Then give me an escort, General." Kris said.
"I can't do that either." The old war hero said. "You're a symbol to us Princess Longknife. A symbol that even against overwhelming odds, we can prevail. I have seen your exploits in Chance and the battle of Wardhaven, and you might not know this but they are widely discussed here."
"You're a Longknife, and when the shit hits the fan, people will not panic if there's one Earth."
"Someday General, I hope you can tell me more stories of what my ancestors have done to receive such praise."
General Ho exchanged grins with the other Earth commanders that had personally fought side by side with Ray Longknife or General Trouble. "I'll be glad to, princess, but I think you're cutting yourself short. Look at your own exploits and ask me that again."
Kris shook her head as the Military officers filed past her and into the exit, leaving with the Earth commander assigned to be her guide for the duration of her stay.
"I find one thing that is peculiar with all this." Trudy observed.
"What is it?" Jack asked.
"Technically, Kris is the princess of the Wardhaven and its allies since they voted Ray Longknife as King. Outside Wardhaven space, she's just a regular Navy lieutenant." Tru said.
"And that means what?" Kris asked. She remembered her time in Greenfeld space before she had saved her family's most bitter rival from an assassination attempt. The Greenfeld officers never called her a princess, only a lieutenant, brat or even slut.
"That means that they are honoring you, and they respect you." Tru said. "Now let's head to that dinner General Ho had invited us to. I can't wait to try out that authentic French dinner that your mother always brags about."
The Wasp streaked across the skies as a pair of PT boats escorted her across the English Channel. It seems that General Ho was dead serious about Kris' safety, and he wasn't taking any chances. Kris found his concern for her safety amusing, since she had faced assassination attempts a dozen times and survived and several combat missions where bullets zoomed millimeters over her head.
Kris had defeated six Greenfeld super battleships with only a dozen patrol boats as they attempted to lay waste on Wardhaven. The casualties they had suffered in defense of their homeland while the Wardhaven fleet tried to rush back to help had been severe. Penny had married Kris' long time friend and fellow lieutenant, Tommy Lien. Tom had died in the battle of Wardhaven, saving his wife from death by pushing her to safety. They had been married for a week.
She had commanded an aging battleship, the Patton, and with the Wasp and the merchant ship the Resolute, managed to fight off four Greenfeld cruisers in Chance.
"There it is, Britain." Nelly said excitedly while Cara hovered on Kris' station. The young girl had promised not to touch anything and she was behaving as she promised.
"Can you compare it with the map?" Kris asked.
"Scotland should be visible in ten minutes." Nelly said.
"Land by that lake." mFumbo said. He checked his map again and nodded to Slowan. The helmsman guided the Wasp to a gentle landing while the two smaller patrol boats patrolled the surrounding area.
"Kris, I am getting strange frequencies similar to the one we recorded in the ruins of Santa Maria." Nelly reported.
"Where?" Kris asked.
"It's coming from everywhere." Nelly reported.
Kris and her team explored the lake and the surrounding forests. Everything went fine, until Nelly and Sam pointed out Kris and the other's strange habit.
"Why haven't you covered Grid three?" Nelly asked. "Every time you approach that area, you turn back and find something else to do."
"I never realized." Kris said. She looked at the location of Grid Three and only saw what looks to be an ancient rock quarry that had been abandoned. She moved toward the quarry when she found herself heading back to the ship.
"Kris, you're doing it again." Nelly said.
Kris stopped in her tracks and forced himself to remain where she stood. Something strange was going on.
"What have you got Nelly?" Kris asked.
"I'm detecting a frequency and a strange energy fluctuation a hundred meters in that direction." Nelly reported.
"Do you think that this strange frequency is the one forcing me to turn back? Is it like some sort of protection?" Kris asked. She looked back to her team and noticed that not one, even Jack was looking at her direction.
"That is what I suspected." Nelly answered.
Kris nodded and headed back to her team. "I think I found something."
Ten minutes later Kris headed towards a the direction of Grid three, with Jack, Professor mFumbo, Aunt Tru and a few marines following behind her in a single file. Jack had one hand on Kris' shoulder, and the others followed his actions. Kris discovered that the frequency that Nelly played from the artifact imbedded in her circuitry had an effect that lessened or even negated the feeling of wanting to turn back from grid Three.
Kris led Jack by the hand to the path towards grid three, and she was surprised that Jack was not feeling the similar effects she experienced. When she let go of Jack's hand, the marine lieutenant immediately headed back to the staging grounds, not realizing the effect the frequency had on him.
"Are you sure this is the right path?" Professor mFumbo gasped for breath. They had been walking for five minutes on a slightly steep incline and it was taking its toll on the old scientist.
"I'm positive. The energy fluctuation readings are also getting stronger." Kris said. She had started to feel that she wanted to go back to the ship but Nelly reminded her of her task. She forced herself to continue and started listening to Nelly's voice rather than the feeling she had.
Kris felt Jack's grip on her shoulder tighten and she looked back to see what was wrong. Her party was feeling the same effects that she had, and the only way to counter the strange feeling was to hold on tighter to those that were in front of them.
Kris stepped past what looked to be ruins of an old gate when suddenly the intense feeling she felt a few minutes ago vanished completely.
She hurried forward and saw Jack and the others let out relived breaths.
"Kris, take a look around." Nelly suggested, her voice unusually soft.
"What the hell?!" Kris gasped when she looked at the ruins of a massive castle. Some of its spires and towers still stood, Though Kris could see a section of the wall had collapsed. While the others continued to stare at the ancient castle with open mouths, memories of her dream flashed across her eyes.
She looked up and saw Tru and Jack looking down on her, and Kris realized that she was sitting on the ground. "I saw this place once. In my dreams."
Tru frowned and sat beside the woman she considered a daughter. "What did you remember in your dream?"
"There was a storm, and I was looking for shelter." Kris said. Her most recent dream was very vivid, and she could remember most of the details unlike the others.
"Then is saw this castle, but it was not like this in my dream. It even had flags on top of the towers." Kris said.
"What happened then?"
"There was this strange tune, and the large doors opened. Then I woke up." Kris looked up to see most of the team was now listening behind Aunt Tru and Jack.
"What did you find out?" Kris asked Professor mFumbo while Jack gave her a hand to pull her up.
"This castle does not exist in any of the historical records." mFumbo said. "Nor does it match any of the pictures of the castles we have on our record."
"And what about the strange effect when we headed here?" Kris asked.
"Our sensors have identified the source to be somewhere deep inside the structure." mFumbo said. "There also appears to be a strong electromagnetic field in the area. While this is of no concern to our equipment, the field could weaken the lifespan of the nanos we will send to investigate the ruins.
"I don't care." Kris said. "Do what you have to, but we must open that door. Have you tried to shoot the door? It looks like wood."
"We haven't." Jack said. HE nodded to gunny and the marine sergeant fired several rounds from his M-6. The bullets whizzed past the air and slammed on the door, destroying the vegetation and vines that had crawled up its surface. Once the dust settled the wooden doors still stood, unmarred or even singed by the laser bolt.
"That's impossible." Gunny muttered. He immediately walked towards the door and touched the spot where the bullets connected. "There's no holes, or even residual heat mam. It's like the ruins in Alien 1."
"Let's get the rest of the team back here. I want..."
"Kris, I am detecting an anomaly in the artifact inside my circuits." Nelly said.
"What's happening Nelly?" Kris asked. "Eject the artifact if it's damaging your systems!"
A small slit appeared on Nelly's shell and suddenly a coin sized disk was spar out from the computer. "I have not detected any damage in my circuits, but the strange energy that the artifact started to generate had overrun my buffers. If I did not stop it, it could have reached you."
"What can you tell of the energy signature?" Tru asked.
"It has the same frequency like the ruins we found in Santa Maria, Alien 1 and with this castle." Nelly said.
Kris nodded and picked up the strange artifact the size of a Wardhaven Dollar coin that had rolled down by her feet. She heard Nelly shout out a warning but it was too late, the moment her finger made contact with the artifact, light erupted from inside the castle, throwing off beams of light from the windows around the structure.
Kris heard a loud rumble while and then a powerful shockwave erupted from the castles, knocking everyone flat on their backs.
A minute later as the dust began to settle Kris heard shouts from the rest of the marines and crew of the Wasp that they had left down the hill. Kris slowly stood up and helped Aunt Tru stand up while Gunny and Jack looked around, ready for an attack.
"I told you not to touch it." Nelly said. "The energies I detected was trying to reach you, it was trying to reach the buffers I had set up to protect your consciousness from my systems."
"It's too late." Kris coughed. She wiped the dust from her face and shoulders and looked around. In the distance she could see a squad of marines running towards them at full sprint, their m6s at the ready.
"It's all right." Kris said. "It was just an accident."
"What happened princess?" Captain Drago asked. He had his side arm with him, while his eyes looked for any type of threat.
"There was some strange energy blast." Kris said. "How did you get here anyway?"
"We ran." Drago said. "Whatever it is that you experienced going up here seems to have vanished with that explosion. Suddenly, instead of an old quarry we saw this ancient castle."
"We're just about to investigate the grounds." Kris said. "Is anyone hurt?"
"Everyone's fine." Jack said. "Gunny just got banged up, but he's tough."
"Kris! The doors have opened!" Tru said, pointing to the castle.
"I am getting strange energy frequencies from inside the castle and the artifact." Nelly reported.
Kris looked at the artifact in her fingers. It was glowing softly, but cold to the touch. "Nelly send a few nanos through that door, I want to see what's inside before we go in."
Kris and the rest of the Wasp's crew waited until the nanos had made a thorough investigation of the ruins. Ten minutes later, Nelly finally gave her report.
"A few of the nanos have unexpectedly shut down." Nelly reported. "Their exposed nano circuitry did not withstand the electromagnetic field."
"Is it safe to go in?" Kris asked.
"As far as I can tell. There are strange energy frequencies from all over the ruins, and a strong one in the large chamber."
"Let's go marines." Kris said.
The marine company divided into squads and formed a perimeter, with Kris at the center. They slowly went inside the ruins, with M-6s ready to stitch anything considered a threat. They moved towards the chamber that Nelly had reported having the most energy intensity and entered what appears to be the largest room they had ever seen.
"That's big." Jack whistled. "Part of the roof has collapsed though."
"It's still an impressive feat of engineering." mFumbo said as he read the results from his scans. "I analyzed the structure of the building. Whoever built this place must be a genius or he doesn't understand the laws of physics!"
"What do you mean?" Tru asked.
"Look at the roof." mFumbo said. "It's far too large for these walls to support it. I don't even see counter weights or anything, and the roof is not made of a shape I know that could distribute the stress of the structure! I'm amazed that it hasn't collapsed!"
"Princess, something's up ahead." The lead Marine, Sergeant Bruce said. His squad was busy removing cobwebs so that the rest of the crew could walk in unhindered.
"Gross." Penny shivered when a stray piece of cobweb tickled her cheek. "I don't like spiders."
"Don't worry Lieutenant Lien." mFumbo said. "Spiders in this part of Earth are not that dangerous compared to the other regions. If you see one that's... Holy mother of God!"
A large spider, the size of a coffee table suddenly leaped towards the Professor and if it were not for the marines with them, he would have suffered severe bite marks on his face.
"Switch to bullets!" Gunny shouted, flicking his M-6 from sleeping darts to the lethal ammunition. "Defensive perimeter!"
Kris as was her nature moved at the front, shooting down the giant spiders that had suddenly come from nowhere.
"Nelly, I thought the place was safe!" Kris shouted. She reloaded her magazine and aimed at a spider that was trying to grab Gunny.
"It was! The nanos reported no activity!" Nelly said.
"Then where did these things come from?" Kris shouted. A few more spiders got stitched and the rest, realizing that their prey was difficult to capture, decided to retreat.
"I've never seen spiders this big before." mFumbo said as he peered closer to a twitching spider. "Look at the size of those fangs!"
"The web strands made by these spiders are unusually strong." Tru said, examining a strand. "Sam, have you analyzed its composition?"
"It has an unnaturally organized web of carbon molecules and an unknown matter." Sam said. "It's even stronger than the synthetic fibers we use for armor."
"Imagine if we could use this for the full body stockings!" Jack said. "This could stop a bullet from point blank range!"
"Sergeant Bruce, you said something's ahead?" Kris asked.
"Yes mam." Bruce said. "It appears to be glowing."
"On your toes marines." Jack said. The group walked slowly towards the middle of the large chamber, cutting down overgrown vines or super strong spider strands that mFumbo and his scientist collected.
"This is amazing!" mFumbo said. Kris guessed that the scientist from Wardhaven was fully satisfied and happy with his decision to join her crew. Early on when Kris was chasing pirates, mFumbo complained to no end that they were just 'wasting time and they should head to Alien1 for some real science'.
"This species of Fauna and the spider are new discoveries!" mFumbo said. "Do you think they are native to where the Three's home world?"
"You could ask him." Jack said.
Kris followed Jack's gaze and her eyes widened with shock. Amidst the ruins of the collapsed roof was a strange structure, slightly glowing and transparent. To Kris, it looked like a large crystal, several times the size of the crystals she used to dig at the crystal caves in Wardhaven. Inside the large crystal was a figure of what looked like a man, with his hands chained to the ground.
"This is astonishing." mFumbo whispered. "I can't remember any mummification methods in any historical records."
"Look at the designs carved on the crystal's surface." Tru said. "Sam, do this match any known earth language?"
"Nothing in the registered language database Tru." Sam said. "But I have a match with some of the symbols with the artifacts in Earth's museums, some of them match."
"This is clear proof that the Three had visited Earth before the age of space exploration." mFumbo declared. "Their mummification methods are amazing! I don't see any decay on the body."
"I don't think he's dead." Kris said. She couldn't tear her eyes from the face of what looked to be a young man, whose eyes were closed. "This was the strange being that she had been dreaming about for the past few weeks."
"Do you think that tapestry is telling the truth?" Penny asked. "Could this be the warrior it described?"
"It's very possible." Truddy said. "How could he be alive though? My sensors tell me that the crystal is not even below the freezing point. Nothing could preserve a live human without cryogenic freezing."
"He might be one of the ancient Three." mFumbo speculated.
Kris walked closer to the crystal, as if drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Her fingers traced the carved symbols on the crystal's surface while the disk artifact pulsed in her other hand. She felt a rectangular hole in the crystal and she realized that the artifact in her hand could fit perfectly in the slot. True to her bloodline and name, Kris Longknife plunged into the unknown and inserted the artifact into the slot.
Kris felt the earth shake beneath her feet while strong hands grabbed her shoulders and pulled her away from the large crystal.
"What's happening?" Professor mFumbo shouted. The old scientist ducked as more pieces of debris fell on their heads.
Kris heard loud cracks and saw the crystal from stress lines along its surface. "I think I did something stupid!" Kris shouted.
"It's breaking apart!" Jack shouted while he continued to hold the stubborn Wardhaven princess to the ground. Pieces of the crystal fell on their hair and shoulders and they all watched as the large crystal structure break apart.
"Good God." Tru whispered. They could clearly see the rise and fall of his chest as he started breathing.
"Whoever that is, he's alive!" Gunny said. "Marines! Sleeping darts on the ready!"
Squad two and three immediately raised their M6s and pointed it at the newly freed being.
"Don't hurt him!" Kris shouted. If this was a member of the ancient Three that built the interstellar jump points, his knowledge could be of help to them.
Then everything suddenly went quiet and Kris could feel her heavy breathing and the beat of her heart, pounding furiously from the fear and excitement she felt. They could clearly see what looked to be a young man in strange robes. They heard a loud inhale of breath and they all gasped when he took a small step forward.
"He's waking up!" Penny whispered, but in the quiet of the chamber her voice could be clearly heard.
Then the young man raised his arms and the silver chains that were attached to his wrists cracked and burst into a million pieces. The young man opened his eyes, and they glowed with an eerie light that even the bravest of the marines felt like running to safety.
That was enough for one of the newly recruited marines to fire and she sent four sleeping darts to the newly awakened being. The others followed soon, and soon a hail of darts headed to the newly awakened being.
To everyone's amazement, the young man swept his hand and all the darts along with the marines nearest him crashed to the wall, as if pushed by an invisible large hand.
"That's it!" Gunny shouted and ordered the rest of the marines to open fire, seeing that some of his troops were attacked.
The man moved his other hand and immediately the darts crashed to the other wall, along with squad four and five. Seeing that their attacks were ineffective, Jack ordered a cease fire.
The group fell back as the young man moved closer to them, when his eyes stopped glowing and he fell to the ground, unconscious.
Everyone remained still, as if the slightest noise could wake him up, until finally Kris walked slowly towards the unconscious body, while her marines closely walked beside her.
Kris knelt down, and she realized that her hands still shook from nervousness and excitement. She turned the young man on his back and saw a fairly youthful face. HE could pass for a regular human, Kris thought. She felt for a pulse in his neck and looked back at her guards.
"He has a pulse, whoever he is." Kris said. "He's unconscious."
"What is he?" Gunny asked, his M6 still aimed at the being that disabled half his company with ease.
"He looks like a human." Kris said. "Professor?"
"All scans indicate that he's just a regular human. Heart, Lungs, everything's the same." Professor mFumbo said. "How is this possible? How could he still be alive?"
"We just have to wait for him to wake up." Kris said. "Get a stretcher, let's bring him outside. This castle might collapse on our heads in any minute after that earthquake."
"Are you sure that's wise?" Jack asked. "He attacked us. We don't know what he's capable of."
"I'm beginning to think that the tapestry we found in Alien 1 was telling us the truth." Kris muttered. "Seeing what he did to the Marine Company, we could use his talents."
"You heard the Princess." Gunny said. "Get going! You okay corporal?"
The corporal who was part of the first two squads that hit the wall nodded. "I'm fine sergeant. I might feel some bruises tomorrow, but nothing's broken."
"What happened out there?"
"One minute I was trying to empty my clip at him, and then I felt something hit me hard, enough that me and my squad hit the wall." Corporal Li said. "I don't understand how's that possible sarge. What is he?"
"That's what the boffins and the Princess is going to find out." Gunny replied. "If your men are all right, get to the doc to have your bruises check. Tell squad six to stay close to the princess."
"Got it Sarge," Corporal Li said.
"Is this all necessary?" Kris sighed as a squad of Marines lined up beside her. She had decided to visit the young man in the mobile medic bay that the marine medic had set up. The young man was lying on the bed, sleeping soundly from the snores she heard.
"Yes mam." Corporal Li saluted her.
"Fine, but don't disturb me when I talk to him." Kris said.
"What is he mam?"
"From what the doc says, he's a human like us."
"Really? From what he could do, he sure doesn't look like a human to me. Maybe he's one of the Three?"
"We don't know for now." Kris said. She entered the medical bay and found the young man comfortably sleeping on an air mattress. The marine medic and Professor mFumbo along with one of his assistants was closely monitoring the results of their full body medical scans.
"Why isn't he being treated?" Kris asked.
"As far as I can tell, nothing's wrong with him, aside from signs of exhaustion." The doc replied. "His pulse, breathing, respiration, he's as normal as you and me."
"And why is he still in these robes?" Kris asked. "He should be wearing a medical gown by now."
"We don't want to do anything to wake him up." The doc admitted.
Kris rolled her eyes and looked back as Jack, Truddy and Captain Drago entered the tent. "What are you all doing here?"
"We're curious of course." Truddy replied.
"Abby wanted to come, but once Cara heard of the news, she had to stay behind and watch her." Jack reported.
"She's doing as you ordered. She told Earth command that we're just exploring some old ruins of the Three, but there are no significant discoveries, yet." Jack replied.
"Kris, he's waking up." Tru pointed out.
"Go on back away." Kris whispered. She hurried beside the young man's bed and raised her hands, palm up in a non threatening manner.
She heard a groan and observed the young man carefully. He blinked a couple of times and stretched, revealing green eyes and a faint scar on his forehead. The young man focused his eyes on her and a frown crossed his face.
"Who the fuck are you?"
Kris leaned back, surprised at how she was addressed. She heard a few chuckles in the marines and gave them a glare that quickly shut them up.
"I'm Kris. You can understand English?"
"Of course I could. We won't be having this conversation if I couldn't." The young man rolled his eyes and slowly sat up. To his surprise the bed moved with and he leaned back on it.
"What's your name?" Kris asked kindly. "And how were you able to do what you did earlier?"
The young man didn't reply and only looked around the room, and eyeing the medical equipment beside his bed with interest.
"So, those bastards really did it." He muttered. "I can't believe it, when I get my hands on those stuck up pricks I'll shove their prophecies where the sun don't shine."
By now, several rumors were circulating around the camp about their new guest. Some thought he was a member of the Ancient Three, while others thought he was an alien being, and the few of the religious members of the crew thought he was a prophet, or even an angel sent by God.
The marines stationed inside the medical bay heard all these rumors, and had stared at the unconscious guest with reverence or awe. What they didn't expect was that the young man swearing like a shit storm, and in front of Princess Longknife no less! He was even worse than Gunny!
"Excuse me?" Kris asked, surprised at his vocabulary.
"Nothing." The young man said. "What's your name again?"
"I'm Kristine Longknife, Princess of Wardhaven and..."
"Never heard of Wardhaven before." The young man interrupted her.
"You really should learn some manners." Kris said, beginning to lose her patience.
"Yeah, my friend always told me that I picked up too many things from Ron." The young man said. "Do you have any food here?"
Kris looked taken aback by what he said, but she glanced at the doc who nodded. "I'll have someone bring something. Can you please tell me your name?"
"It's Harry." The young man said. "So you're a princess huh? You don't look like a princess."
"She is!" Nelly said.
"Who is that?" Harry asked suddenly.
"This is Nelly, my personal computer." Kris said as she tapped Nelly's case that was around her neck.
"Wow, it's like Star Trek." Harry said, staring at Nelly. "Beam me up Scotty!"
"You watch that classic show too?" Corporal Li asked. Kris looked back and remembered that the corporal was the one who remarked that the fast attack corvette Typhoon looked like a Klinger Bird of a something.
"Classic?" Harry asked, staring at the corporal. "Right, future." He closed his eyes and groaned.
Seeing that Harry was not at all acting like a hostile alien, mFumbo and Tru stepped forward beside Kris.
"Our scans indicated that you belong sometime in the late twentieth century." mFumbo said. "Do you know how you came to be here?"
"That's about right." Harry said, looking at the old man that strangely resembled Arthur Weasley without the red hair. "The last I remember, it was 1999 and I was getting ready for a ceremony."
"Good lord, you're almost 500 years old!" mFumbo declared.
"I've been asleep that long?" Harry asked.
"You are." Kris said. "How did you become imprisoned there?"
"It's simple." Harry said as his fists clenched with frustration and anger. "Because I'm Fate's bitch, that's why."
"Kris, for Humanity's greatest warrior, he's not really impressive." Nelly observed.
"Hush Nelly." Kris said.
"Who said that crap?" Harry asked.
"Nelly, project an image of the tapestry." Kris ordered.
Harry's expression darkened when he saw the Tapestry and after a few moments he looked away. "Who ever made that, I'll kill them. Who do they think they are, dictating my life?"
"You were imprisoned against your will." Kris said softly.
Harry nodded and as he stared at his hands. "I was. How did you know?"
"I dreamed about what happened to you." Kris said.
"Don't tell me you're a seer." Harry said. "I have enough of those types of people."
"Seer? Do you mean prophets?" Kris asked. "I don't think so."
"They're the same thing." Harry said.
"How did you disable my marines like that?" Kris asked.
Harry remembered the projectiles headed for him and looked at Kris, studying her face to see if she was telling the truth.
Kris felt like her thoughts were being read, like she was being judged and looked away, unable to hold his gaze.
"I can't, it's a secret." Harry replied. "Now where's the food you promised?"
Kris quelled the feeling of irritation bubbling within her. This Harry was hard to talk to. "It's on its way. I think I'll have a late lunch with you."
"This tastes like shit." Harry declared after taking one bite of the grub Kris served.
"I'm sorry, but it's what we can come up in such short notice. It's filled with the necessary nutrients your body needs." Kris said. "If you can wait longer, dinner will be served in two hours. Until then, this is all we have."
"For a first meal after hundreds of years, this sucks." Harry said."Don't you have any restaurants near this area?"
"I heard of a good restaurant in Paris." Kris said. "But I haven't been to that place. This is my first time in Earth."
"Do you have a map?" Harry asked.
"Nelly, project a printout of the restaurant."Kris said.
Harry studied the hologram and shook his head. He couldn't recognize any land marks. A tall structure caught his eye, and recognized the shape of the Eiffel tower. Maybe this could work, and he needed some real food in him.
"What's the currency used these days?" Harry asked.
"In this part of Human space, we use the earth dollar." Kris explained. "Mostly we transact using our personal computers."
"Right, you're coming with me, since I don't have any money." Harry said. He looked at his clothes and frowned, it wouldn't do to stand out in the future. A moment later his robes shortened and flowed to a simple white shirt and jeans.
"How do I look?" Harry asked.
"How the hell did you do that!" Kris shouted. The marines outside the door heard the commotion and started to open the door. Harry frowned and with a wave of his hand, the door sealed shut.
"How do I look?" Harry asked again. "Will I stand out in this?"
"Not really." Kris said, her eyes wide while Nelly once again started to freak out with what she saw.
"Hmm, maybe a jacket would be nice."
Kris watched as the pillow morphed into a gray jacket and she quickly jumped back and drew her side arm that was hidden in her waist.
"Hey, none of that." Harry frowned and with a snap of his fingers, Kris' pistol flew out of her grip. She jumped to catch her gun, but it travelled to fast towards Harry.
"I won't hurt you." Harry said as he caught the gun. "Now grab my arm, were going to eat some real food!"
"Grab your what?" Kris shrieked. Behind her she could hear the muffled shouts and cursing of her marines.
Harry lost his patience and grabbed Kris' elbow, and a moment later she felt a tight sensation coursing through her body, like the life was being squeezed out of her.
She looked around and suddenly found herself in a totally different location with Harry standing beside her.
"How the hell did you do that?" Kris asked.
"Kris! We're in Paris!" Nelly said.
"Like I said, I'm hungry." Harry said. "Lead the way to that restaurant, uhmm Nelly."
"Nelly, inform Sam where we are." Kris said. She realized that she was quite powerless against this young man who had strange powers. "Tell them we'll be back in an hour."
"Make it two hours, I want to look around after eating." Harry said.
"Why would you do that?" Kris asked.
"I want to see if humanity's worth saving." Harry said, not looking back at her confused face.
"Are you sure you're fine?"
"Yes Jack. I'm eating dessert right now." Kris said. Her ex-bodyguard and Marine lieutenant of Wardhaven was very agitated when Kris was kidnapped while under his nose. Jack Montoya was about to launch a rescue mission when Kris called back to assure the crew of the Wasp that she was fine.
Harry was finishing his ice cream while he continued to watch the screen where images of the battles between the Rim Worlds and the Itechee were being played out.
"You're pretty famous." Harry said. "I heard your name about a dozen times."
"I came from a famous family." Kris explained about her two great grandfathers, War Heroes in the first Itechee War.
"They're still alive?" Harry asked.
"Genetic engineering has come a long way." Kris said. "Humans now have a life span of up to two hundred fifty years."
"So how old are you?" Harry asked. "Fifty?"
"Stop laughing Nelly!" Kris muttered. She looked back at her kidnapper and frowned at him. "I'm twenty two."
"Wow, you're older than I am by a year." Harry remarked.
Kris asked Nelly to mentally file that detail. Harry was very vague about his past, and it was confusing because she couldn't research on his background with Nelly. Usually every assassin, politician or pirate always leaves an electronic trail that Nelly could find in seconds.
"I need to look around more." Harry said as they walked down the street. "I'll see if the old places are still up."
"But you can't." Kris said. "We need you..."
"Catch." Harry tossed her a golden coin, and once Kris caught it, she felt a tug on her navel and she vanished from the street.
Kris slammed face first into the floor of the medical bay, and she slowly looked around to get her bearings.
"Kris!" Tru ran towards her and helped her to her feet. "Sam, tell everyone that Kris is back."
A minute later footsteps were heard and the door to the medical bay opened, revealing a worried looking Jack, Penny, Captain Drago and Abby.
"Thank God." Captain Drago said. "I don't know how I would explain to King Ray that you got kidnapped."
"What happened Kris? Where is he?" Tru asked.
"We went to dinner in the Louvre" Kris said. "I don't know how, but one moment I was here, then the next I was in Paris!"
"How did you get back?" Jack asked.
"He tossed me a coin, and the second I touched it, I was here." Kris said. She was shaken by what happened, but she couldn't show her fear to her men. She was a Longknife, she couldn't freak out now.
"What the hell is he?" Penny asked.
"I don't know, but I swear I'll find him." Jack muttered. "And when I get my hands on him..."
"What can you do against a man who has powers like his?" Kris asked.
She finally understood the full meaning of the tapestry and its cryptic message. Harry was indeed humanity's greatest warrior, and with his powers, he could greatly help against the escalating war.
Jack didn't have anything to answer Kris and he only growled and folded his arms.
"It's hopeless." Truddy said. "He has no record, electronic or otherwise."
"There has to be some way." Kris said.
"I'm sorry Kris." Nelly said. "I am monitoring all news feeds. Nothing has appeared that is related to him so far."
"And if has the ability to appear anywhere he wants in a split second, he'll be harder to catch." Jack added.
"Call me if you find anything." Kris said. "I need to take a bath."
Kris walked back to her room, her posture hunched over as a mark of her failure. She had been so close, but in the end he slipped from her fingers.
"General, couldn't we help at least." Kris asked. "The Wasp is fully equipped to fight off these bastards."
"Stay where you are princess." General Ho said. "The defense fleet is engaging that Itechee carrier as we speak."
"Have you heard any news from Wardhaven?" Kris asked.
"It's a stalemate right now." General Ho replied. "They've been able to stop the invasion in the Paris system with the arrival of the Greenfeld fleet."
"I understand. Longknife out."
Kris looked back at Captain Drago and Penny who were busy watching the battle above Earth's orbit. An Itechee carrier was able to slip past the Wardhaven blockade and had managed to creep to Earth. Incompetent men in the asteroid watch posts were caught with their skirts down and their warning came too late.
The Itechee carrier was slowly being pushed back by the arrival of the Defense fleet that was stationed in the moon, but not before it was able to launch its fifty fighter bombers that were now wreaking havoc across the planet.
The small PT boats, agile attack fighters with a crew of seven now chased the Itechee fighters across the atmosphere while the Wasp, still stationed in Britain, looked on.
"Captain, I have detected two Itechee enemy craft approaching London." Penny said.
"Where are those damn PT boats?" Drago asked.
"One is tailing them, but at this rate, it's going to be able to fire its lasers on the city before it gets chased out." Penny said.
"Let's take head them off." Kris said.
"But General Ho..."
"When has a Longknife followed orders?" Kris asked. "He said for the Wasp to stay where we are, and if an enemy ship is coming towards us, we have a right to defend ourselves. What is he going to do? Arrest me?"
"Right." Drago said. "Drop the containers for now. This is an atmospheric chase, we don't need drag slowing the Wasp."
"Helm set for an intercept course."
"Aye Captain." Slowan said.
"Damn they are quick." Kris said as she tried to lock on the Itechee fighter while the other PT boat harassed the other. "Nelly, do you have a pattern on their jinxing maneuvers?"
"Working on it." Nelly said.
The Wasp chased down the much smaller Itechee fighter like a menacing bird of prey, and they had managed to bully the Itechee craft away from London.
Kris read Nelly's predictions and aimed her pulse lasers to the left of the Itechee. The Wasp fired four 24 inch pulse lasers and two connected and hit the enemy fighter's engines.
"Good shooting." Captain Drago said. "Helm, turn the Wasp around and see if we could help that PT boat with the other one."
"Sir, The Itechee fighter is making a run for London. It managed to shake the PT boat off its tail."
"It's like what Grampa said in his stories." Kris said. "The Itechee do not care if they will survive, as long as they kill enough humans when they die."
"How long until it reached within firing range of London?" Drago asked.
"45 seconds sir." Penny said. "I don't think we'll make it in time, it will be able to get a shot before we reach it."
"Can the 5 inch guns get a bead on it?"
"It's hugging the land sir, using the valleys and hills as a cover." Penny said.
"This won't be pretty. A lot of people are going to die down there." Captain Drago said.
The Wasp's sensors locked on the small fighter and images of the circular ship appeared on the screen.
"It's charging its weapons." Penny said.
Kris and the bridge crew prepared for the aftermath of destruction in London caused by the cowardly attack by the Itechee fighter when suddenly a red blast of energy erupted from the ground and hit the Itechee fighter, destroying it in seconds.
"What the hell? What weapon caused that?" Captain Drago asked.
Kris frowned and analyzed her console to see any residual energy that showed where that powerful blast came from.
"I have no idea Skipper." Kris said.
"Captain, there's something ahead." Slowan said.
"Another enemy fighter?"
"No, something much smaller." Slowan said. "I'll put it on screen."
Kris stopped her work to recharge the lasers when she saw the floating figure of Harry, the person she had spent a week to find. It was not supposed to be possible, but there he was, in a simple white shirt and jeans, floating a mile above the city.
The Wasp was still travelling at a subsonic speed and soon passed over the city, and the image of Harry on the screen disappeared.
"I'm tired of saying this." Captain Drago muttered. "But how the hell did he do that?"
"Holy fuck." Penny said. "Did you see what he did? Maybe he is a god, or an ancient Three."
"I'm just Harry."
Kris shrieked when suddenly Harry was standing behind her, looking over her shoulder at the console. "Nice ship Kris."