Friday, January 13, 2012

Chapter 103 - BACK TO EARTH

I thought I would be moving back into an apartment much like I lived in last time, but I found out upon landing, that the emperor had given us his mother’s palace and it’s surrounding grounds as a wedding present, as well as the use of his ship for the duration of my honeymoon. I was stunned to say the least. I would have to discuss this with him when I saw him next. The use of his ship was nice and ensured my return, but the palace was more than I deserved. It should have been held for someone in his family to use someday, not a guard, no matter how important or liked that guard might be.

When we arrived at the place, I found that it was fully staffed and stocked. All that was lacking was the master and mistress of the house…us.

Two days later I received my orders and my uniform by special courier; I was to report for duty first thing in the morning. The honeymoon was over. Well, I thought it was. Patricia sent me to work after a glorious water dance. I was still grinning when I was ushered into the office of the emperor.

The office was much the same as I remembered though many faces had changed. Much to his guards’ discomfort, the emperor stood to greet me like he would never have done to any other person in the empire. “Liam, it’s good to see you. You look well and happy. Married life must be good for you.” He clasped my shoulders smiling; even his eyes twinkled.

It had been almost four years since I had seen him last and he looked no different. “It is, my lord. It’s good to be back.” I hadn’t really thought about it much, but it was good to be back here at the emperor’s elbow.

Another young man stepped up behind the emperor. “I remember you.”

I looked at him closer. At first, I thought he was just another guard, but a closer look told me that he was too young for such a position. Take four years and the trim black whiskers from the young face and it left me with very little, but his resemblance to the emperor told me who he had to be. “You must be Connor. I’m afraid I didn’t get much of a look at you last time I saw you. You left me with a few other things to worry about.”

Further conversation was halted by his father’s hand on his arm. “Not here,” he warned quietly. I wondered if this was why I had been compelled to return. I’m sure I would find out soon enough.

A few moments later, another familiar face entered the room. “Brian,” I said as soon as I recognized him. Gray was showing at his temples and captain’s bars glittered on his collar.

None of that stopped him from shaking my hand tightly and clasping my elbow with his other hand. “Liam, it’s good to see you again. I always knew you’d end up back here.”

The emperor resumed his seat with his son at his shoulder and Brian led me over to stand in front of the desk to receive my personal orders. The first thing the emperor did was open a small, flat, satin covered box. Inside was a medal and a set of lieutenant’s bars. “Captain Wilson, will you do the honors?”

Obviously, this had been discussed before my arrival because Brian knew exactly what was going on. He took up the rank. “This is for service to the emperor over and above the call of duty.” He replaced my sergeant’s stripes with the lieutenant’s bars, and then he took up the medal. “This is for the extreme act of bravery you have shown in seeing to the protection of the emperor and his family.” He pinned the medal to my chest and then stood back and saluted.

I had never had any kind of formal military training so I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. Guessing, I imitated him by returning the salute. Apparently, it was what was expected. He brought his hand smartly back to his side and then extended it for a handshake. “Congratulations, Lieutenant.”

The emperor quietly cleared his throat, which moved us to the next order of business. “Captain, at your earliest convenience you will bring Lieutenant McTavish up to date on any changes that has taken place over the last four years, but for now, Lieutenant, you will take up your customary position at my side and perform your duties as you did before.

“Yes, sir,” I said and I moved around behind the desk and took up the position I had held before as if no time had passed.

“Meet me at the carport this evening,” said Brian. “I’m inviting myself over for dinner.”

I nodded absently as I made a magical sweep of the office. My efforts earned a couple squeaks from the secretaries and a chuckle from the emperor who lifted his elbows from his desk when he felt the shimmer under them.

Connor looked in confusion from the girls across the room to his father, but he didn’t see what had happened. The fact that his father didn’t see fit to enlighten him didn’t escape my notice either.

That afternoon, after I had escorted the emperor and his son to their quarters, I laid my hand on the closest wall. Not only did I clear the entire apartment, I also turned the place into a sounding chamber. I then sat down in the outer chamber to finish out my shift and write out my daily report. In it, I explained what I had done to his apartment. Now, no matter where I was or what time of day it was, all anyone had to do was utter my name and I would hear them, and now that I could teleport, I could be there in a heartbeat if there was trouble. There were a few drawbacks; the mention of my name would make the connection every time, even during casual conversation.

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