Friday, January 27, 2012

Chapter 105 - THE INFIRMARY

Connor was much calmer by the time we reached the wing where the infirmary was located. “Please don’t take me in there,” he pleaded.

“And why not?” I asked. “You attacked the emperor. Frankly I’m surprised he hasn’t had you locked up somewhere.”

“I can’t help it. I get so mad at him sometimes. He makes mother cry. I thought it might be better after he made that…him…go away, but its not. He hit her last night. He…”

“You tried to kill her. Does that make you any better?”

He looked up at me. “I…”

I wanted to pity him. He looked so confused. I pinned him up against the wall of the hallway and brought him up a few inches to eye level. “You almost killed me. I have no love for you and I don’t trust you. If you weren’t the emperor’s son, you would have died back there in the office without so much as a whimper. You like to inflict pain; you don’t know the meaning of the word, and showing you wouldn’t help. If you want love and respect, you have to earn it.” I dropped him back to the floor and allowed him to stagger before gripping his shoulder and propelling him ahead of me into the doctor’s office.

At our unceremonious entrance, a nurse paged Dr. Makusic. We waited in the center of the room until he came to get us. When he entered the room, he smiled. I couldn’t see why; a guard was bringing him the emperor’s son and this was not a pleasant visit.

He escorted us back to his office. “I have just spoken to the emperor. I’m glad you have found your way back to us, Liam. The emperor is hoping you might be able to help in this situation.” He chuckled. “By the time you and I are done, you might just as well become a doctor yourself.”

I was confused. “I don’t understand.”

The doctor continued to explain for me while Connor sulked in his chair. “The young master here has been on medication since he was brought here. Tests have shown that his brain chemistry is unstable and the medication helps, but there are times when he manages to avoid taking it. That is when he turns violent and flies into rages. The emperor is hoping you might be able to do something about it much like you did with your young friend when you first arrived here.”

I looked from the doctor to Connor, who was doing much the same thing looking from him to me. “You want me to monkey with his brain. That’s a lot more complicated than bones and muscles.”

Connor sat up in alarm. “What are you talking about?”

I rested a hand on his shoulder. “Calm down,” I turned back to the doctor. “There’s nothing wrong with his brain, at least nothing I can fix.”

“Tests show otherwise. Please try. That’s all the emperor asks.”

I looked at Connor. Drugs he was used to; this was very different. He was terrified. His doctor was handing a guard a butcher knife and telling him to do brain surgery. I stood up and stepped behind Connor’s chair. “Give me some time. Tell the emperor we’ve gone back to the mountains. I’ll stay in touch.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chapter 104 - NEWS

That evening, Brian brought me up to date on all the current events, which included the fact that the emperor had brought his family into the city. That wouldn’t have much of an effect on my duties other then it might complicate things some. Apparently, Connor was not trusted and he had done little to earn any. It made me wonder why he was permitted to stand at the emperor’s shoulder. The situation reminded me of a saying I had heard once. “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” I suppose it was sound advice, but I didn’t like it that the bomb wielding little psycho was standing so close to the emperor every day.

That night my worries about the emperor were overshadowed by more and definitely better news. Patricia was pregnant. I think I went into immediate shock, but she took care of that too. I must have been walking on air when I reported for duty the next morning because the emperor spotted the difference at once. He just chuckled softly at my announcement. I suppose he had his own memories; to bad it hadn’t worked out so well for him. I looked at Connor where he stood. I wished that I could do something to help; a father and his son shouldn’t be so far apart. It’s such a loss. My father and I were never really close, but he was always there and I loved him very much.

I went through the office in my customary fashion and discovered that today Connor had concealed a six inch blade under his jacket. I restrained the emperor from taking his seat. “I must inform you that Connor has a blade. He didn’t have one yesterday,” I said softly in his ear.

When Connor discovered that I had found him out, he flew into a flurry of rage, drew the blade and leapt to attack us before the other guards could lay a hand on him. I must admit, he had very quick reflexes, but I stopped him short and held him a few inches off the floor while he tried to figure out where the rag in his hand came from, as well as how he was being held off the ground.

“Lieutenant, if you are finished with the security check, would you please escort my son to the infirmary; the doctor knows what to do.”

Connor’s inarticulate growls turned to cries of “No, no,” sounding more desperate each time he said it.

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.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chapter 102 - HONEYMOON

The four-hour drive to the spaceport was threatening to be a very subdued trip, but Patricia, with her wonderful instinct, changed all that. At first she began to talk; she told me all about making the things in her trunk and about her time spent away from me in the village and about all the people she had met. Somewhere along the way, her hand found its way into mine and then a little later she was snuggling close. All thoughts of the friends I was leaving behind for the rest of my life were washed from my mind by the first tender kiss that was oohh so long overdue.

The spaceport arrived rather suddenly after that, and I was forced to compose myself at least long enough to reach our ship. Much to my delight, I found out that our ship was a small shuttle; there would be no PTS boost this trip.

The crew took over responsibility for Patricia’s trunk (I did manage to remember to unglue it – barely) while I carried her across the threshold of the shuttle.

“This isn’t our home, Liam,” she said, as she snuggled close under my chin.

“Hush,” I said. “It’s a threshold. That’s close enough for now. I’ll just have to keep trying until I get it right.”

She giggled and wrapped herself around me. We scarcely made it to our quarters.

The crew left us in the shuttle after docking with the emperor’s ship, which was fine with me and we spent the time getting to know each other very, very well.

Though I wasn’t quite a virgin, I might as well have been, because it was all so incredibly different then last time, there was no comparison. I even found ways to use my magic as well, much to Patricia’s delight. Once that was started, she came up with more ideas. By the time we reached Cambay, she had become quite adept at manipulating my magic.

Mother saw to it that we had a much more traditional wedding and reception, but all her efforts didn’t interrupt the honeymoon already well underway.

Since the emperor had supplied his ship for my journey, I was surprised that he wasn’t here for this wedding at least, but I guess, since I had his ship, he wasn’t going anywhere until I got back with it. Somehow, I couldn’t see him getting on a liner, and even though he was the emperor, I seriously doubt that he had more than one ship, though I could be wrong.

In keeping with my promise, I carried Patricia across every single threshold into every single place that might remotely qualify as ‘home’ (i.e. it had a bed) and every time ended in much the same delightful way. The baronial palace has a lot of rooms.

After a month of festivities, my mother sent me on back to the emperor. After all, it was obvious I was supposed to go, since I still had his ship.

The last leg of the trip lasted five months and a handful of days; the emperor’s ship was no space liner restricted to established space lanes. It was too short for me, but all things must come to some sort of an end. I did my best to make sure that only the traveling ended.