Flight of the Claymore -chapter 3

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Chapter 3
Recovery Deck of the Dropship Singapore
Prince James J. Nakatoma stared at the beautiful silver haired and eyed young female that stood before him. He could not believe his own eyes. He had heard of Claymores but had yet to meet one. The young lady standing before him was without a doubt a Claymore the problem was, how the hell did this happen. He had pulled Jason Cole’s record during the flight to meet the Singapore. He knew that Lieutenant Jason Cole was under medical orders preventing him from having the standard bio-A.I. upgrade.

Sylvia walked up to her brother Jason slowly. “Jason is that really you?”

“Yeah, it’s me Sylvia. Don’t ask me how it happened. I still haven’t figured that one out yet. Frack, I can’t even tell you what went wrong. The last thing I remember is going head-to-head with that all-black KV-81 Sturmgewehr. Then the escape pod ejecting. The slam of G-forces knocked me out. After that I woke up inside of that cocoon over there. Now, you want to tell me why we have half the General Staff for the one-oh-first and the crown prince out here?” Jason almost snapped.

“I’ll answer that Lieutenant.” James answered. “It seems that the aerospace fighter that you used was outfitted with an illegal A.I. One that was never supposed to be anywhere near a fighter like the one you used to gain your status as an Ace.”

“Excuse me your Highness, but that doesn’t explain how I ended up with a bio-A.I. stuffed in my head. Or the full Secondary-Configuration upgrade. One that came with a sex change in the process.” Jason snapped. “It also doesn’t explain why you and the General are all the way out here?

“The A.I. in question is an Omega Class Infiltrator, Lieutenant. Those are restricted, for use, by Empyreal Decree. For a damned good reason. The research team that was in charge of the A.I. driven fighter project broke that decree, Lieutenant Cole. As for why the Crown Prince is here. He is here to pass judgement if need be.” The harshness of General Davenport’s voice dropped the temperature of the recovery deck to that of the vacuum outside the ship.

There would be no doubting of her next command. “Captain Stokes please set aside an area that we may use for a full Military Tribunal and Empyreal Hearing.”

The thought of ‘Oh shit! This is really going to happen.’ Ran through Jason’s mind. he had been so shocked by this abrupt change in direction, he didn’t hear the first half of the Prince’s question. “… or do you need medical attention?”

“Excuse me sir, but would you mind repeating that?” Jason asked the Prince.

Jason smiled at the young Lieutenant. “I asked if your alright Lieutenant Cole or do you need medical attention? You seem to be rather pale right now.”

Jason swallowed hard. “No sir. I am just shocked by what the General told me, sir.”

“So the sudden change in gender is not effecting you?” Colonel McManus asked me.

“No sir, Colonel. I know that it should, but I would rather be alive and female. Then male and dead. Which I surely would be if not for Lilly and her operating system. It was her actions that saved my life, by ejecting the escape pod.” Jason answered Colonel McManus truthfully.

“Jason, who is Lilly?” Sylvia asked her.

“Oh that’s what I named my A.I. Sylvia. I figured if we were going to die together the least I could do for her was give her a name. I mean what the frack. I was taking on half a Wing of KV-81 Sturmgewehr’s with an out of date, out gunned, underweight, totally outclassed P-38D Lightning. Whose only advantage was an illegal A.I. and a pilot that had more guts than brains.” Jason gave her sister a small smile as she said the last part.

The smack that Sylvia delivered to her new little sister was expected. Jason had braced herself for the hit. Once Sylvia had smacked Jason she pulled her into a hug whispering. “The next time you pull something like that I will kill you myself.”

“I hear ya sis. Now let go because you’re scaring the General Staff.” Jason joked.

“Officers Cole, if you’ll follow us?” General Davenport asked.

The three siblings followed the General and her Staff off the recovery deck. Only Prince James waited until Jason was next to him before heading towards the door. “Tell me something Lieutenant. Did you know that there was an Omega Class Infiltrator on broad that fighter before you took off?”

“No sir.” Jason answered the Prince truthfully.

“Would it have changed your actions if you knew?” James asked her.

“Major Nakatoma, it wouldn’t have mattered if that bird had an ancient Commodore video game system for an Attack/Control A.I. I would have still taken it out. Those three Mustangs were no match for those Sturmgewehrs. They needed help and the best way that I could give that was in a fighter. I’m not an A.P.S. pilot sir. I’m an aerospace fighter pilot and a damned good one. My place in that fight was out there in a fighter mixing it up with those KV-81s. If that all-black KV-81 Sturmgewehr hadn’t been there I might not have had my bird shot out from under me.” Jason told Prince James with a passion that revealed his own. “If I ever get the chance to face off against the Black Witch again. She’ll be the one in need of pick up.”

“Lieutenant Cole, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I doubt there is a fighter craft out there that can keep up with your new and enhanced abilities. Not even those beloved P-38D’s of yours can do the job.” Prince James told her.

“I’ll find one, sir. Trust me on this. That bitch owes me a rematch. And next time, the bitch is going down, and hard.” Jason snarled. Unfortunately, it sounded more like a purr than a growl. Something the young price found rather endearing.

James had been raised around Second-Generation Death Dealers his whole life. He was one himself. As were his mother Alice and his aunts. He also knew the problem that Secondary Configurations faced, thanks to his mother, Empress Maiha. James knew that Jason would soon be hit by the very harsh reality of her situation. The first of which was the sudden and unexpected change in gender. With all the hormone driven instincts that came with her new body. Then there was the continuous presence of a voice that only she would be able to hear. Something her former life, training, and lastly medical condition left her unprepared for. James had listened to his mother Empress Maiha bitch more than once about how much easier her life had been as First High Lord of the Death Dealers James J. Owens Senior.

As they walked through the hallways of the dropship James kept sneaking little glances at the elfin young woman next to him. There was something exotic about her that he just couldn’t get out of his head. She had an unearthly beauty about her that had captured him from the moment she stepped around the cocoon into view. James had dated more women than should be acceptable for an Officer, but almost all of them had been political in nature. There had only been one true romantic encounter in his young life that meant anything to James. And that young lady was now resting in Fiddler’s Green back on Hades. Therefore, his dalliances were overlooked by his Commanding Officers because of the very harsh fact that James was a political figure under their command.

For the first time in over six years James was having problems keeping his professionalism towards another officer. Lieutenant Jason Cole was in his mind totally off the hottie scale. The problem, Jason had just woken up as a female. James knew that the young lady would need time to come to grips with her new gender. She didn’t need a horny male chasing her right now, let alone a Crown Prince.

Tell me something James. If the young Lieutenant wasn’t a newly minted woman. Would you hesitate in pursuing her?” James A.I., Stephen asked him.

Stephen old boy, that is one young lady that I would not mind getting to know better. Before you ask, yes, I know all about her record with the High Families and royals. Hell, half the people she butted heads with is only one third of the assholes I’ve gone around, and around with.” James answered his A.I.

I take it that you have more than a little respect for our Lieutenant Cole? Who has the young lady had the privilege of pissing in their corn flakes?”

I respect all three of the Cole siblings Stephen. All three of them have made enemies of the Winchell, Holloway, Crowley, and Vandamier families, that are right now my biggest pain in the ass for this whole system. But only Lieutenant Jason Cole has had the pleasure of putting a member of the Hornaday family in their place.” James told the A.I. truthfully. Stephen could also tell that James respected the Cole siblings for more than just their enemies, but their values.

James was interrupted in his private conversation with his A.I. by Jason Cole talking out load. “I can’t believe this shit happened to me. I wasn’t supposed to be able to handle having an A.I. shoved in my head. Now, I got one of the crazy ones and it is also one of the most powerful.”

“Lieutenant I hate to tell you this, but the Infiltrator class is not crazy. They’re just a little quirky. Nothing you can’t handle I’m sure.” James told her.

“Oh yeah, you get turned into a damned silver eyed witch and tell me that Major.” Jason snapped. She had finally reached her breaking point. Between the battle, ejection, Secondary-Configuration, change in sexes, and facing a General Courts Martial, had taken their toll on Jason’s emotional wellbeing. She couldn’t help herself and started crying hysterically.

James and Sylvester turned to help Jason. Only to have the distraught young Lieutenant turn and run for the Flight deck. General Davenport heard and saw what was going on. “Stand down gentlemen. Major Cole, Colonel Kelly, please see to the Lieutenant. Make sure that the Lieutenant doesn’t do something stupid. Colonels McManus, Mitchem, Wells, and Thorn you’re with me. I want those scientists in front of me before we reach New Texas. Captain Cole, Major Nakatoma, you’re with us.”

Flight Deck of the Singapore.
I ran to the one place that I knew I would be safe. On every Flight Deck there is a storage locker for spare parts. The fact that this locker is the size of a small cabin just shows how many parts are stored there. It also never locked and the perfect place to hide when one is having a nervous breakdown. I hit the door of the store room at full speed. Once inside I slam it shut and curl up into a ball on the floor blocking the door from opening.

I know that I will have to answer to the General and the Prince for losing it, but right now I just don’t fracking care. I knew the prince was checking me out as we walked down the hallway. At first, I tried to play it off, ignore it. I just couldn’t play it off after he tried to be nice to me anymore. I mean I know that Lilly isn’t crazy or anything, I just don’t understand how this happened. Sure, Lilly gave me the technical breakdown of what was happening at the time. It was the ‘why me’ part that I didn’t understand.

Jason, please calm down.” Lilly said.

You know something Lilly I really don’t want to. Can’t I just have a small melt down right now? I mean what the frack over? What God, or Goddess, did I piss off? First, they tell me I can’t go through the Second-Gen upgrade like the rest of my classmates because of my H.H.S.S. but I can still fly. Only I can only fly if I accept Test Pilot duty only. Then after agreeing to a ‘nowhere going’ duty, the first time, and most likely, only time I will ever see combat, I make Ace. Just to be shot down and end up in a damned Secondary-Configuration cocoon. All thanks to an illegally used Death Dealer A.I. that should have been nowhere near an aerospace fighter. When I finally finish cooking, not only do I end up as the most jacked up Claymore in history, but the damned smallest. Not to mention a cute one from the looks I have been receiving from just about every man on this dropship. But the real kick in the ass is, I have a High Family nobleman. No let me correct that, I got a damned fracking royal, not just any royal mind you, but the Crowned Price of the Human Empire James J. Nakatoma, GIVING ME THE EYE!

The scream that ripped from me over this very frustrating fact must have drawn the attention of the deckhands. The pounding on the locker room door let me know someone wanted in. I move to the back of the locker and hide behind a set of steal shelves. Lilly gives me the id’s for the two people on the other side of the door. One is my sister, the other is one of General Davenport’s Colonels. I notice that both of them are medical personnel and doctors.

I wait for them to open the door and just come in. When all they did was knock again I realized that they were waiting for me to invite them in. “Ah the hell with it! Come in!” I call out.

As the door opened I was not surprised to see my sister entering just before Colonel Maire Kelly. Of the two of them, I only knew where I stood with one of them. “Well sis, just how bad did I just frack the pooch?”

Colonel Kelly chuckled. “Lieutenant, you have a very funny way of explaining a well-deserved breakdown. Shit I’m surprised that you didn’t pop your top the moment you stepped out of that cocoon. Can you tell us what brought it on now, or do you need more time to collect your thoughts?”

I took a few more seconds before I answered her. “Ma’am all I can say is that it hit me like an A1-E2 Skyraider with a full bomb load. I don’t know what came over me. I just couldn’t take all the stares from those men in the hallways. My HUD kept painting targeting crosshairs on everyone that just looked at me. I was in overload. Lilly kept trying to override my natural response to what I saw as hostile targets.”

“Wait a minute here Jason.” Sylvia said. “Are you saying that you’re controlling the targeting program not your A.I.?”

“Um… yeah. That is exactly what I am saying sis.” I answered truthfully only to have Colonel Kelly give me a strange look. “I know what it sounds like Colonel, but that is the way things are working between me and my A.I.”

“I’m sorry Lieutenant, but it shouldn’t be working that way. As it is, you shouldn’t be alive right now. There has never been a Secondary-Configuration Claymore. You are a total mystery to the Medical field.” Colonel Kelly said as she scanned me with her A.I. sensors. I knew what she was looking for and what she wasn’t finding. I just waited for her next question. I also knew that my sister Sylvia was doing the same thing. “Lieutenant where are your personal combat weapons?”

“I have a better question than that, ma’am. Jason what is up with your nervous system. Shit, what did that crazy assed C.O.B.R.A. program do to your muscles? I won’t even go into what happened with your tendons and bones. Talk to me here Jason.” Sylvia was almost pleading by now.

“I think you need to take a breath Major Cole and relax. Just let your sibling answer in their own good time.” Colonel Kelly ordered my sister.

As I sat there listening to the two of them asking me their questions I had calmed down enough to give them coherent answers. At least as coherent as they come. “Colonel all I know is when it comes to the personal combat weapons I don’t have any. The only reason I can figure for this is that I am a fighter pilot. If I get shot down I either die in the air or on the way down.”

The Colonel gave me a thoughtful look before asking me another question. “Could it have more to do with the need to increase, your muscle, nerve, tendon, and bone density to handle the operation of an aerospace fighter at extremely high G’s?”

I thought about what the Colonel just asked only to have Lilly give me the answer. “Jason I have been analyzing what the C.O.B.R.A. program did to the two of us. The Colonel can very well be on the right track for the modifications to your body. Then we start factoring in your H.H.S.S. all these modifications are necessary. Do you understand?”

Thought about it and had to agree. “Thanks Lilly. Yeah I can see why the C.O.B.R.A. went nuts the way it did now.”

Looking back up at the two Doctors I smiled. “Okay docs here’s the deal. According to my A.I. Lilly the Colonel’s idea for my less than conventional modifications being due to the necessity of handling flight operations is on target. There is also the little problem of my H.H.S.S. that the C.O.B.R.A. had to taken into account. Without the increase in muscle, nerve, tendon, and bone density Lilly would not be able to keep up with me during an episode. Oh, and by the way Sylvia, according to Lilly one of the little problems with my oh so lovely upgrade is that I am now in full H.H.S.S. all the time.”

You would have thought I had just smacked the Holy Reverend Mother Katsumi from the looks on their faces. Colonel Kelly looked over at Sylvia. “Please, tell that your sister is not referring to Hyper Hysteria Savant Syndrome, Major?”

“Ma’am I wish that I could tell you she wasn’t but lying to a superior officer is a Courts Martial Offence. I have worked too damned hard for my rank. Jason is referring to Hyper Hysteria Savant Syndrome ma’am. She was diagnosed as having the condition at the age of twelve. As it is not a disqualifying condition she still managed to finagle her way into flight school.” Sylvia told Kelly.

I don’t think that either of them noticed that I winced when they used the feminine to describe me. Every time I heard ‘her, she, sister,’ or any other female pronoun I wanted to crawl out of my skin. Lilly must have picked up on my distress and decided to force me to confront my new sexual situation.

Jason, I know that you do not wish to discuss this, but the fact remains. You are now a female. Your approximate physical age is seventeen. And due to the physical modifications by the COBRA program is now fixed. I know that you wish this had not happened to you, but it has. I only want to know what you are going to do. Are you going to curl up in a ball and hide from the universe? Or are you going to face this head on and with it, the universe as the hard charging, devil may care, hot shot pilot that in their first engagement earned Ace against fracking stupid odds?”

I wanted to tell Lilly to go frack off, and that she had to be wrong about me not aging. But for some reason I knew that she was right. “Lilly am I going to have to deal with you nagging me like this from now on?”

Yes, most likely, but only when you’re letting yourself get sucked into a scene like the one that nearly consumed you like this last one. Look Jason, I have a suggestion for you. One that you’re not going to like.”

I sighed as I had a pretty good idea of what she was about to suggest. “Lilly have you ever heard of the twin goddess of Justice and Vengeance?

There is a reference in the data on Claymores that I found earlier. Are you speaking of Terresa and Lilith of the ancient Isle of Sky myths?

That is exactly who I am talking about. Do you think that I can pull off the whole goddess name?

Which shall you be dear sister? Terresa the goddess of Justice? Or the Vengeful goddess Lilith her twin sister?

I know I am smiling as I answer Lilly. “I thought you would have figured it out all ready Lilly. After all, the diminutive of Lilith is Lilly after all.”

I clear my throat to get the two arguing doctor’s attentions, while Lilly goes on a tirade about who was I to call her a vindictive bitch inside my head. “Excuse me doctors but I believe that to make things easier for everyone around that it would be best to change my name. I mean do I look like a Jason to you?” As I asked them this I stood up and held my arms to the side at shoulder height.

Sylvia just sighed as she pulled me into a hug. “Okay Jason what brought this on? I know you all too fracking well. You don’t do impulsive. Wait let me amend that, outside of combat and flying you don’t do impulsive.”

Colonel Kelly looked over at my sister. “I take it, that your younger sibling is not known for prudence or patience?”

“Jason is about as prudent as a loaded PPC in the face and as patient as a Bathonian nighthawk on the hunt on most days. When Jason gives you a half smile, start to worry. When the half small becomes a full one, start looking for the exits. If you ever see a toothy smile, run. Run as fast as you can because a shit storm of epic proportions is about to make planet fall.” I wanted to pound Sylvia as she just smirked at her description of my character but with the Colonel there I couldn’t.

“Damn it! Sylvia! I am not that bad!” I snapped.

“Then what do you call taking an experimental aerospace fighter into a battle at over six to one odds?” Colonel Kelly asked.

“A tactical decision between being blown to kingdom come for certain and giving my family and the passengers aboard this ship a chance to get away. I am a Fighter Pilot ma’am. My battle station is and always will be in the cockpit of a fighter. If I die in combat it will be breaking the sound barrier with guns blazing and my ass set on fire.” Even as I answered Colonel Kelly, I knew that I would do the same every time I was put in that situation. I also knew that I would now be hunting the feelings I got from my first combat experience.

“Major, I find that your youngest sibling is like most other young fighter pilots.” Kelly then looked me in the eye. “Lieutenant, I would like to give you a piece of advice. There is an old saying, very old saying. There are old pilots. There are bold pilots. But there are no old, bold, pilots.”

I got the hint Colonel Kelly so beautifully gave me. “Yes ma’am. I read you load and clear. I pulled a boneheaded stunt by just taking the first fighter I found.”

“Now, you’re thinking Lieutenant Cole. As for taking on those ridiculous odds, you will find that most pilots would have done the same thing. For some reason, you lot just cannot sit still when they can drive a fighter.” Kelly just chuckles.

“Ma’am, you can say that again.” I smirked. While my sister just rolled her eyes.

“Now that we have that settled, what do you want us to call you now?” Sylvia asked.

“I might as well make a statement with my new look sis. Do you remember mom’s stories from when we were kids? You know the ones about the ancient gods and goddesses. I have an A.I. named Lilly, I figured I would go with Terresa.”

I guessed that Colonel Kelly didn’t understand the reference, but Sylvia sure as hell did. “The twin goddesses of Justice and Vengeance. Kind of befitting as they were said to deliver death from above.”

Colonel Kelly looked over at Sylvia. “May I know to who this goddess is that you are referring to Major?”

“Back on ancient Earth there was a place called the Isle of Sky. Among the peoples’ many gods and goddesses were a set of twin girls born to the goddess of Truth, Annette. The two girls were known for their compassion and fiery tempers. But, above all they were known for their beauty.” The smile played across Sylvia’s face as she remembered the story our mother told us as children. “When they came of age, each girl took on a different aspect of the law. One became Justice the other Vengeance. The only way to tell the two apart was by the swords that they carried. Two Claymores of deferent metals. One black as night, the other bright as day.”

“Who carried which?” Kelly asked with true interest.

“Nobody really knows the answer to that, Colonel. Only that those were the weapons of the twin goddesses. They and their story have faded into legend now. All we have left are their names and their description. Which Terresa is the spitting image of, unfortunately. Her pure white hair, silver eyes, and elfin looks would mark her as one of their disciples in those ancient times.” Sylvia answered Colonel Kelly.

I watched as Kelly got a thoughtful look on her face. “There are currently fifty-three Claymores stationed throughout the Empire. Almost all of them appear similar to your sister, Major. Can you maybe explain why she is the only one that doesn’t have the standard weapons of every Second-Generation Death Dealer?”

“I think that I can answer that, ma’am.” I spoke up before Sylvia got herself in over her head. “It has to do with the E.L.S.S. in that escape pod and the C.O.B.R.A. program that changed me. Neither of them had the needed parameters for a full conversion. All the two programs could do was save my life and ensure that I would be able to survive more than twenty-four hours.”

“Damn! That changes matters greatly. We need to get to the Courts Martial fast. Do you think you can hold things together enough to testify Lieutenant?” the look on Kelly’s face let me know that the shit just hit the fan.

“I can keep my shit together, ma’am. At least long enough to put those three jackasses behind bars or on the chopping block. I do have one last question before we rejoin the Courts Martial. How is it that the General and her staff could be here so quickly? I know that it is a five-hour trip from New Texas. Even using a SHST it would take three hours.” I could tell that the two of them didn’t want to answer that question just then. “Cough up, sis.”

“Fine. Alright little sister, I’ll tell you. It took the recovery crews more than two and half hours to find your pod and another half hour to recover you. Why do you ask?” Sylvia answered.

“Well shit! It looks like I was cooking for a lot longer than I originally thought.” I turned towards the door with a sigh. “Colonel, I hate to say this, but I think we’re going to need those fighters out there before this tub reaches the Spaceport at Huston Central on New Texas.”

“Care to explain your reasons, Lieutenant or should I just take you at your word?” Colonel Kelly asked with a straight face.

“Because out there right now, is someone trying to stop this dropship from entering this system. It is just a hunch, but I believe it has to do with those A.I. controlled fighters setting on the flight line. And our unwanted friends from earlier want those A.I.’s in a major way.” As I explained my reasons Kelly and Sylvia got these strange looks on their faces.

Colonel Kelly spoke up first. “How long do you think we have before your playmates come back Lieutenant?”

“I give us maybe an hour, two at the most, before those KV-81’s come back. This time though they will not be alone. I figure there will be at least two squadrons of torpedo/bombers with them. The only saving grace we have is there has to be a heavy Carrier out here. That is the only way those fighters, and TB’s can operate this far out.” It took Colonel Kelly a few seconds to understand what I was getting at, with Sylvia coming in just a scant few seconds behind her.

“Terresa, just how do you figure all that?” Sylvia asked me.

“Sylvia, there was a jump inhibitor on the gate as we were approaching. Those KV-81’s were just waiting for us to pop through the gate. Then there were the two Mosquito medium class torpedo/bombers out there during the battle. Those babies don’t have the range or longevity to just hold on station for indefinite periods of time. They burn through way too much fuel just getting off the deck. So, they have to refuel regularly. Even for a normal mission they must refuel shortly after takeoff. That means there has to be a heavy Carrier class dropship nearby.”

“Major Cole, I hate to say this, but your sister has nailed the situation down as tightly as anyone currently can.” Colonel Kelly turned and opened the door. “Tell me what you need Lieutenant, and I will make sure you get it.”

I spotted one of the flight deck maintenance crew. “Crewman, do you have any replacement flight computers for the fighters on board?”

“Aye, ma’am. We do. They’re just your normal everyday combat control and security computers though.” The crewman could tell that I was a Military officer.

“That doesn’t matter crewman. Just pull those A.I.’s from the Lightnings and replace them with the standard combat control and security computers. We’re going to need those two fighters. And those A.I.’s are now evidence in a Courts Martial and possible Empyreal Investigation.” I told the man.

The crewman snapped me a salute and turned to carry out my orders. As he was walking towards the first Lightning he started issuing his own orders. “Gates, Willes, breakout two VF-110s CCS’s from storage. Carrington get started on pulling that other Lightning’s A.I. NOW! I want those birds ready to fly in twenty minutes.”

Conference room, Command Deck, Dropship Singapore.
James Nakatoma had been standing off to one side listening to the Research Team defending their use of prohibited A.I.’s for the past twenty minutes. The more he heard the more he wanted to just gut the whole damned team. He wasn’t the only one who was close to losing his temper either. The young Special Operations Captain standing next to him had already been ordered to stand down once. When the door opened to the conference room both men looked to see who was entering.

The two men had different reactions to the three women who entered. Especially to the white hair beauty who entered last. For Sylvester seeing his newest sister was not only a shock still, but disturbing. To him the idea of Jason now being a Claymore was more disturbing than him now being a female. Sylvester had a Claymore in his platoon when he was a young Second Lieutenant. That young man was deadly in ways that scared the rest of his men. To have one of those deadly individuals in his family now, set Sylvester on edge.

To James the young lady was beautiful to the point of being exotic. Then there was the way that she moved. He knew that Jason had never been trained in his family’s home temple, but she already moved as if made of smoke, and shadows. There was an air of deadliness that surrounded her to the point that made him want to test his metal against her. He could already tell that the youngest Cole sibling would be a worthy match for him. One that even his grandmother Dai Etsu would approve. James also knew that he would have to bide his time waiting for her.

As the two female members of Sylvester’s family join him and James to the side of the room, General Davenport kept her attention solely on the research team. She had to because if she let her attention wonder towards the silver hair beauty that had once been Jason Cole she would just kill the research team outright. As it was the charges against them were enough for Prince James to take the proceedings from her. As it was Davenport was seriously considering turning it over to Prince James. So, when Colonel Kelly approached her Davenport interrupted the proceedings. “What do you have Colonel Kelly?”

“Ma’am, I have performed a full biometric scan of Lieutenant Cole. It is my opinion, along with Major Sylvia Cole’s, that she would not have undergone the Secondary-Configuration process if she had not been exposed to an undocumented and HIGHLY illegal A.I. An A.I. that has been strictly forbidden for use by Empyreal Decree. I do not know what these so called scientists were trying to do, but if it had not been for Lieutenant Cole’s unique medical condition, she would now be dead.” Terresa had to give it the Colonel. The woman didn’t pull her punches and she wasn’t done by a long shot. “I hereby wish to file charges of attempted murder in the first degree, depraved indifference, willful disregard of human rights, and multiple violations of an Empyreal Decree of a scientific nature.”

Hearing this last charge Davenport leaned forward. “Doctor, do you have any proof for the last charge?”

“The evidence is on its way up here as we speak, General. Two Omega Class Infiltrator Death Dealer A.I.’s, General Davenport. Not counting the one that forced Lieutenant Cole to undergo a Secondary-Configuration that is a total of three known such units but does not count for unknowns. Which I am incline to believe there are more of.” When Kelly finished Terresa wanted to shit.

The reason for Terresa’s surprise was what Lilly asked her after Kelly finished. “Terresa, is Colonel Kelly referring to the other six units on New Carolina?

Instead of answering Lilly Terresa stepped around to address the Courts Martial panel. “Ma’am, sirs, I believe that you should know there are six more such A.I.s on New Carolina at this time.”

“Excuse me Lieutenant Cole, but I need for you to identify yourself for the record.” Davenport asked in a polite tone of voice.

Terresa sighed as she didn’t want to just give up on her old life, but because this was an official situation that demanded it of her. “Flight Lieutenant Second Terresa Cole, formally Flight Lieutenant Second Jason Cole, service number one-nine-seven-seven-three-eight-eight-two-one, currently unassigned.”

“Thankyou, Lieutenant Cole. Let the record reflect that the Lieutenant was the one to give the new name reflecting her current gender. Lieutenant do you whish to continue to use the feminine for address?” Davenport was doing her best to nail Terresa down as to which sex she was going to use. Terresa just nodded her head sadly. “Lieutenant, we all understand the situation that you have been forced to endure. I for one wish to commend you on your bravery in this matter.”

“It’s not being brave ma’am. Just practical.” The tone of Terresa’s voice left argument as to how she really felt, or who she blamed as she turned to face the research team. “Personally, if you want to reward me for putting up with this bullshit, just give me five minutes with the ‘good doctors’ in a locked cell, and a dull fracking butter knife. After that I’ll be just fine.”

Everyone in the room chuckled until Prince James Nakatoma stepped in front of the Court Martial Board and General Davenport. “Major, I take it that you have something else to add to the investigation?”

“No, General, I have nothing more to add. Only to let you know that as of this moment this is no longer a matter for the Military.” The research team relaxed at hearing this, they figured the Prince was stepping in on their behalf and pardoning them. They just knew that their work with the Death Dealer A.I.s though illegal; would sway the Empyreal Family, if not the Military. “I, Crown Prince James J. Nakatoma, oldest son of Empress Maiha Nakatoma, hereby sentence these criminals to death. Their flagrant disregard of an Empyreal Decree once is grounds enough to imprison them for the rest of their natural lives. These people have not only disregarded that Empyreal Decree but have gone out of their way to violate it for a total of nine times. Use the airlock and eject them. They will not be allowed any drugs to alleviate their pain as they die.”

When the research team went to plead for mercy James just turned pulling his katana with a sureness that spoke of years of training. His strikes were clean, precise, and deadly. All three members of the research team were dead before their heads hit the floor. Pulling a silken cloth from behind his belt James wiped the blade of his sword down. “General Davenport, by Empyreal Decree, the record of these proceedings is to be broadcasted across the Empire. Let this be an example of what happens when Decrees from our Empress are ignored or violated. Ensure that all scientific communities, research teams, conclaves, schools, everywhere understands that there will be no mercy for those that do.”

General Davenport along with the Colonel’s there had been expecting the Prince to step in at some point, but not in the manner he just had. They all knew that Prince James hated using his title, doing his Empyreal obligations, and just about everything else that came with being the Crown Prince. For him to just walk up and pass an Empyreal Decree, after carrying out a death sentence tied to another Empyreal Decree, was setting a president for the young Prince. A president that Major General Carol Davenport would ensure made it back to the Empress.

“As you command, your Highness.” Davenport said as she stood up. “It will be done.”

Crown Prince James just nodded his head at Davenport’s acknowledgement of his Royal command. Then with a bow to General Davenport. “Thank you, General. I apologize for losing my temper in such a manner. I shall endeavor to keep better control over my anger in the future.”

“Prince James, I have been in the service of your mothers for the last thirty years. I even have had the pleasure of being a palace guard in my younger years. If I may say something without seeming disrespectful?” James just nodded his head to General Davenport. “I have seen your mothers, aunts, and grandmother lose their tempers, and to be blunt you have nothing on them.”

James just chuckled hearing this from Davenport. “You’re not the first one to tell me that General Davenport. Right now, I’m just glad my sisters are not here.”

Terresa couldn’t help herself. Her natural curiosity just wouldn’t let her. She just had to know what James meant by that last statement. “Why is that sir?”

James turned and faced her chuckling. “The mess would be a hell of a lot bigger to clean up is why. I love my sisters Ohmie and Ahmie dearly Lieutenant, but they tend to take after our mothers when it comes to putting idiots in their places. Something like this would have had them in ‘full-on, beat-down, leave no survivors’ mode.”

Sylvester had by this time walked up next to Terresa. “Trust me sis. I had a few classes with the Princesses. If they had been here I think they would have peeled several layers of skin off those three before throwing them out the nearest airlock.”

“I see that you know my sisters well, there Captain. Can I ask how you know them besides in the classroom?” James asked Sylvester.

“Sir, you can be assured that I never once made an ungentlemanly like advance towards your sisters. Not that the thought didn’t cross my mind. They are very beautiful after all. They do take after your mothers.” Sylvester answered.

“Sy, you are so full of shit that it is pathetic.” Terresa quipped. “Sir, if you ever want to know the truth about my big brother’s interest in your sisters just drop me a line. I got more than enough blackmail to share.”

James just chuckled as Sylvester turned red. “Captain Cole, take some advice. Just surrender while you’re ahead. When it comes to baby sisters they never fight fair and have no problem with ratting out their older siblings. More so than baby brothers. Trust me, I know, I have both. I’ll trust my little brothers, but never my sisters with the secrets of my love-life.”

“No offence, Major Nakatoma, but you could have given me that piece of advice BEFORE I put my foot in my mouth.” Sylvester snarked.

“Right now, Sy, that is the least of our problems. So, pull your head out of your ass because Terresa needs to fill the rest of the General Staff in on our situation.” Sylvia snapped at her brother.

“What are you not saying, Major Cole?” General Davenport asked as she walked up to the four younger officers. “What about our situation is so important?”

“I think that is where I come in ma’am.” Terresa started off. “We have a five to eight hours flight time to New Texas. Between here and there we are a great big target. A target that has a heavy Carrier hunting it and we have maybe another hour at the most before the ‘welcoming wagon’ returns.”

“How did you come by this information Lieutenant?” Davenport snarled.

“I put two and two together and came up with four, ma’am. By that I mean, two full Flights of KV-81’s and two Mosquito torpedo/bomber class attack craft. None of which can operate this far out without some kind of support. That means a heavy Carrier Class dropship, at the minimum a Midway class Carrier. We add in the jump inhibitor on the gate it all adds up to someone not wanting this dropship reaching port. The only thing on this tube of any importance until you and the Prince showed up was those three A.I. driven fighters. Unless Captain Stokes is hiding something.” Terresa figured she had nothing to lose so she put all her cards on the table.

General Davenport was many things, but stupid wasn’t one of them. She had already figured that there was something on this dropship the Amazons wanted. She just didn’t have an idea of what that could be or how far they would go to get their hands on it. Now, out of nowhere, this young Flight Lieutenant had given her the answer as if it was obvious as the nose on her face. Davenport had to put these thoughts to the side for now. The sound of a warning klaxon rang throughout the conference room and all through the Singapore.

For Terresa that sound meant one thing. Time to suit up one more time. Looking over at Colonel McManus, Terresa gave the big man a crooked smile. “Well sir, there are two P-38D Lightnings in need of pilots. I could really use a wing man out there. Care to join me in one last grand adventure before Colonel Kelly decides she has to have you put out to pasture?

“If anyone else had asked me that way Scorpion, I would have them clapped in irons. Seeing as how your reputation proceeds you I will take it as a compliment.” With bow to Terresa and a wave of his arm. “After you Lieutenant. Besides, it would be rude to not formally welcome our guests in a manner befitting their attitude.”


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