A Star Blazers Fan fiction
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story is based in the Alternate Star Blazers Universe and timeline created by Frederick P. “Freddo” Kopetz. Reference to his original characters used by permission.
Grounds of the Wildstar Residence
June 14, 2209
Colonel Gary Maples of the Earth Defence Forces was seated in front of a bank of video screens, scanning the images of the property surrounding the Wildstar home. He was head of security during the negotiations and establishment of the Interplanetary Alliance Task Force and the guest house on the Wildstar property had been set up as the security command post. Desslok of Gamilon, his wife Astrena and their children as well as Admiral Alex Wildstar, emissary for Iscandar, were staying with Derek and Nova Wildstar while details for the alliance were finalized. From the image of the main house on the screen Maples assumed the occupants had all turned in for the night as the house was now dark. A sudden flash of light from outside the guest house caught his attention. He watched as six Josiahites teleported onto the grounds with the help of Aliscea D’Shal. “Finally,” he muttered getting to his feet. On the screen he watched as Aliscea looked directly at the camera attached to the building. As she stretched out her hand the video screen he had been watching went black. One by one all the video screens went black.
“Good,” he thought, “that is one less thing for me to worry about.” Calling to his men he headed for the door, “Simmonds… Gosse… they’re here, let’s go.”
As soon as they materialized Aliscea turned to the men with her. “You know what has to be done; Foley and Smith, you are responsible for disabling the security system, once inside the house you are to provide a distraction so Lahey and Hann can grab the children. Remember Nova Wildstar and Emperor Desslok are to remain alive, as for anyone else in the house that puts up a fight, kill them. Curtis and Squires; attack the exterior of the house.” Gesturing to the final two men with her she said, “Lahey and Hann, you will come with me.”
Armed with assault rifles and semi-automatic hand guns, weapons from another era, targeting the windows Curtis and Squires immediately began shooting at the house. The sounds of gunfire and shattering glass filled the night. Intent on disarming the security system they had installed just weeks ago the other two men sprinted toward the house, Foley heading to the main entrance while Smith headed to the entrance on the deck, outside the kitchen.
Running from the guest house, Maples made it outside in time to see Aliscea and two of the Josiahites vanish in a flash of light. Followed closely by Simmonds and Gosse, he dashed up to the two men shooting at the house. Grabbing Curtis by the arm, yanking the weapon from his hand, Maples could barely contain his rage. “What the hell are you doing?” he demanded, “This was not the plan!!!”
Arch Curtis snared at him, “This was not your plan you mean.” Taken aback by his confrontational tone Maples quickly changed his focus. Indicating to the weapons the men were using he asked, “What are you doing with those antiques?”
A grin formed on Curtis’s face. Running his fingers over the barrel of the gun he replied, “Old school firearms… ever see the damage they can inflict? They are dirty and destructive and cause immense suffering before death.”
Paul Squires laughed as he joined the conversation, “Can you think of a better way to cause a distraction that is sure to draw out the Gamilon scum?” As if on cue two Gamilon security officers ran from the main entrance of the house. In their haste they did not see Mike Foley as he stepped into the shadows of the house and raised his weapon. The two Gamilon officers were dead before they hit the ground; shot in the back. Turning their back on Maples the two Josiahites resumed their attack on the house.
Their dismissive behaviour was the last straw for Maples. He had had enough of the Josiahites. As Aliscea D’Shal was responsible for carrying out the Dark Lord’s plan to grab the Wildstar children, the men around him were no longer necessary and their actions played perfectly into his own plan. He grinned. Not wanting Gosse and Simmonds to see what he intended to do he turned to them and ordered, “Go make sure those Gamilons are dead. If they aren’t, take care of it.” As soon as they dashed toward the bodies he turned his attention to the men shooting at the house. Raising his own weapon, he fired. Curtis and Squires dropped like stones.
Alerted by the sudden cessation of gunfire, Lester Simmonds looked up in time to see Gary Maples standing over the bodies of his comrades. Momentarily stunned by what he was seeing, Simmonds hesitated before drawing his weapon. It cost him his life.
Suddenly aware of what was happening, Oliver Gosse dove behind the bushes in front of the house firing as he did so, striking Maples in the arm. Returning fire, Maples managed to hit Gosse in the hand, causing him to drop his weapon. Running forward, he kicked the astro-automatic away from the fallen man. Standing above him, Maples pointed his weapon directly at the man cowering at his feet.
“How could you betray us like this?” Gosse asked. “This was not what we had planned.”
“As your cohorts said to me, this was not your plan; I assure you this was always part of mine.” Lifting his weapon once more, he fired, ending Gosse’s life. Looking at the bodies of the men on the ground around him he muttered, “I’ll take accurate and deadly over dirty and destructive any time.”
Ignoring the blood running down his arm, Maples grasped his weapon more firmly. His wounded arm would add credence to his story of being attacked. “Time to play the hero!” Ignoring the main entrance, he headed instead to the deck on the side of the house.
EDF Headquarters Training Facility
Building 3 Cadet Barracks
June 14, 22099
Jonathan Hartnell-Wildstar was worried. Lying on his bunk in the cadet barracks of the EDF Training Academy he stared up at the ceiling. He could not get his mother out of his mind. Ever since she had been attacked in their home that morning he could not shake the feeling that something more, something much worse, was going to happen. Having lost his own family when the ship they had been travelling on was attacked, Jonathan knew all too well the pain of loss. He considered himself to be truly blessed at having been adopted by Derek and Nova Wildstar. The thought of losing his adoptive family terrified him. When he had first moved into their home he could not get past his fear that they would change their minds about adopting him and send him back to the orphanage where they had found him. He did everything he could not too bring undue attention to his presence in their house. The first two nights had passed without incident but on the third night he awoke screaming from the nightmares that haunted his sleep. It was Derek who had come to check on him. When he tried to apologize for waking them Derek had stopped him. Taking a seat on the edge of the bed he explained how he had lost his family and that he still suffered from nightmares on occasion. After that night Jonathan had been able to accept his new life because for the first time since his parents had died he felt there was someone he could talk to about his fears who really understood. They were the reason he was at the EDF Academy. He wanted to follow in their footsteps with the goal of one day joining the Star Force.
From his first day at the Academy Jonathan had learned very quickly that bearing the Wildstar name was not without its challenges. From his instructors he had quickly learned that even though Derek Wildstar had been something of a rule breaker during his time at the Academy, to some he was a hero of the Gamilon and Cometine Wars and a great military strategist while there were others who considered his father to be an upstart with no regard for rules and regulations and would like nothing better than to make his son’s life miserable. Getting to know the other cadets was also difficult. Many assumed he would receive preferential treatment. They quickly learned this was not the case as many of the instructors expected him to live up to the Wildstar name. Thankful they did not to have such a legacy to endure he was soon accepted by his fellow cadets as one of their own.
With the unexpected early arrival of the Gamilon leader and his family as well as Alex Wildstar at home Jonathan had offered to return to the barracks early. He knew there would be discussions that he could not be part of and that it would be easier for everyone if they did not have to worry about him overhearing anything he shouldn’t. Jonathan had arrived back at the barracks just as the evening meal was being served in the mess hall. Under normal circumstances he would have happily joined his roommates at their usual table but that evening he was not up for being quizzed about why he had returned earlier then he was supposed to. For security reasons his father had asked him not to say anything about their guests. Not wanting to have to lie to his friends he thought it would be easier to just avoid them. He had wolfed down his meal and then gone directly to the Library wing to study. The room Jonathan shared with five other cadets consisted of three rows of bunk beds along one wall. The footlocker of each cadet was lined along the opposite wall. The door in the back wall lead to the bathroom and shower facilities. He had returned just a short time ago and was relieved to find the room empty. He knew it would not be that way for long as cadets were required to return to their barracks by twenty-three hundred hours with lights out at twenty-three thirty.
The sound of voices approaching told him his time alone was coming to an end.
Kato Ogawa was the first cadet to enter the room. From the day they met he and Jonathan had hit it off and quickly become the best of friends.
“Hey what’s eating you?” he asked, “You didn’t come sit with us and then you bugged out pretty quick from the mess hall.”
Not wanting to talk about what was bothering him Jonathan rolled to his side facing the wall. “I had some studying to do,” he answered.
Kato could see something was bothering his friend and felt sure he had the cure. ”Come on, get up. We need to be ready to sneak out of here after lights out. There is something you are going to want to see.”
Jonathan did not rise to the bate, “Not tonight Kato, please just leave me alone.”
As the other cadets came in to the room Kato flung himself unto his bunk. “Fine,” he muttered, “Have it your way.”
For several minutes Kato lay on his bunk and listened to the other cadets as they prepared for lights out. He knew the story of what had happened to Jonathan’s parents and he also knew there were times those memories could send his friend into a very dark funk. Concerned that this was what was happening he decided to take action. Placing his feet on the bottom of Jonathan’s bunk he began to push up on the mattress. A moment later he got the response he was looking for.
“Knock it off Kato,” Jonathan warned irritation clear in his voice.
Placing both feet flat on the mattress Kato pushed up as hard as he could flinging Jonathan and the mattress off the bed frame to the floor.
On his feet in an instant Jonathan grabbed his friend by his ankles and yanked him off his bunk to the floor. “What the hell is the matter with you?” he yelled. Grabbing Kato by the collar he pulled him to his feet.
By this time all the other cadets where watching and cheering, “FIGHT! FIGHT!”
Shaking off Jonathan’s grip on his uniform Kato turned to the other cadets and hissed, “Shows over. There is not going to be a fight in here. Just go to bed, all of you. I am going to have a word with this hot head outside.” Before he could reply Kato grabbed Jonathan by the arm and dragged him out of the barracks into the cool night air.
Glaring at his best friend Jonathan demanded, “Well you got me out here. What is this thing we have to go see that is so all fired import we have to sneak out of the barracks after lights out.”
“The prototype of the new Cosmo Viper, “Kato answered, “my father delivered it here about an hour ago. They will be flying it out of here at first light tomorrow morning. If we want to see it now is the only opportunity we have. And since when have you ever been concerned about sneaking out after lights out?”
In spite of wanting to stay annoyed with his roommate Jonathan could not help the grin that spread across his face. Kato’s father was a renowned aerospace engineer responsible for the design of some of the EDF’s newest ships. As it was his goal to become a pilot the chance to get to see latest ship was an opportunity he could not pass up. “Well why didn’t you say so? He asked with a chuckle. “Just for the record, flinging me off my bunk like that… not cool.”
“Noted,” Kato laughed falling in behind his friend.
As they sprinted across the training grounds toward the hangars on the other side of the academy, neither cadet noticed that they had been watched the entire time.
Stepping from the shadow of the building into the light the night security guard continued his rounds of the cadet barracks. He was unconcerned that there were cadets out past curfew. He had a much more important task to complete. Entering the building Jonathan and Kato had left just a short time before he walked past the sleeping cadets opening the door to the large bathroom at the end of the building. Pulling open the storage locker he deposited a small square package that looked no different than the other boxes containing bars of soap. Pressing a small button on the back the box began to tick. Exiting the building he proceeded to each of the remaining barracks buildings where he deposited an identical package.
Inside the Wildstar Residence
June 14, 2209
Unaware of the events unfolding outside Aliscea, Lahey, and Hann materialized in the hallway outside Ariel Wildstar’s bedroom.
“The brats are in there. I will teleport you inside. You will stay with them and keep them quiet until I return for you,” she explained. “Any questions?”
“I’ve got a question,” said Tony Hann, “If the brats are in there what do you need us for?”
“Yeah,” Chris Lahey agreed. “Why don’t you just use your fancy alien powers to grab them yourself and teleport out?”
“You dare to question me! Do you wish to see just what my fancy alien powers can do?” Aliscea asked. Not waiting for a reply she reached out with her mind, cutting off the offending man’s ability to breath. Fixing her gaze on Hann, as he watched his friend struggle to catch his breath, she asked, “Any further arguments?” He shook his head. “I thought not.” Raising her hand she sent the two men into the bedroom with the children.
“Now to take care of some unfinished business,” she said with grin. Disappearing in a flash of light Aliscea teleported herself into the master bathroom of Derek and Nova’s bedroom. Even though she knew her course of action would anger Ekogaru, Aliscea did not care. Her burning hatred of Nova drove her. She was determined to have her revenge. It was not enough to steal Nova Wildstar’s son and daughter; she wanted to destroy the babies she was carrying as well. “I am going to wipe out her whole family. I want her to know what it feels like to lose everything,” Standing just inside the door so she could hear their conversation, Aliscea waited for her opportunity. Derek Wildstar had interfered with her attack that morning, this time she wanted to make sure he was out of the way. She did not have to wait long.
When the first shots from outside had shattered their bedroom window Derek had thrown himself on top of Nova, protecting her body with his, rolling over and dragging her off the bed to the floor. A flash of insight from her psionic abilities told Nova there were intruders attempting to get into the house and that the children were the focus of the attack.
Hearing a child’s frightened cry Derek asked, “Are the children still safe right now? Have the intruders reached them yet?”
Nova closed her eyes and focused. “That was Ariel. She got a fright when the window in her room shattered.” Ariel was beginning to show very early signs of psionic ability; developing a bond with her mother. There were times when Nova was able to sense brief flashes from her daughter. “The children are frightened but okay.”
As she explained about Ariel Derek quickly opened the door on the nightstand revealing a weapons locker inside. Placing his hand on the scanner the lock clicked and opened. Grabbing his astro-automatic he tossed a second one to Nova. Getting to his feet he said, “Take it and go protect the children. I’ll go see who is in the house.”
Getting to her feet Nova nodded, checking her weapon, “Don’t wait for me… Go!”
Dashing from the room Derek was relieved to see Alex, Desslok and Talon coming down the hallway toward him. The original bedrooms, where Desslok and Talon were staying, were on the second floor. The extension that had been added to the house gave it a rather unusual layout. Visible from the living room was the staircase leading to the second floor of the house. Walking across the living room and turning to the left lead to the main entry hall while turning to the right lead down the hallway to the four new bedrooms on the main floor including the master suite.
“The house is under attack. There may be intruders inside already. Nova says they are after Alex, Ariel and Dellar,” Derek explained.
“I dispatched the guards to the grounds as soon as the disturbance started,” said Talon.
“They’re dead,” Nova stated sadly as she appeared in the doorway, weapon in hand. The four men looked at her in horror waiting for her to elaborate. “I don’t know what happened; I just saw a flash of their bodies on the ground.” Gazing at Desslok and Talon she added, “I am so sorry.”
Desslok turned to Talon, “Stay with Nova. Protect my son.”
“I will my Lord,” Talon replied, saluting his commanding officer.
As Derek, Alex and Desslok moved quietly down the hall they had no idea the children were in fact struggling in the grasp of the two assailants Aliscea D’Shal had teleported into the room just moments before.
At the end of the hallway the three men stopped. Derek looked around the corner just as Mike Foley, having gained entry to the house by disabling the alarm system, was crossing the entry hall. Catching a glimpse of Derek, Foley fired. His shot went wide, as he ducked behind the entry way table, striking the wall in a shower of paint and plaster.
“They’re in the house,” Derek said over his shoulder as he quickly pulled back into the hall. Leaning around the corner once more he returned fire, gesturing for the other two to cross the hall into the living room. Rising from his crouching position behind the table, Foley fired as Alex Wildstar and Desslok dashed past. Once more his shots failed to meet their mark, shattering the wedding pictures on top of Nova’s piano. Taking advantage of the assailants shift in focus Derek aimed and fired, striking the man in the chest. Foley dropped to the floor in a heap.
Hearing the gunfire coming from the other side of the living room, Sid Smith, the other Josiahite who had gotten into the house, took cover behind the breakfast bar that separated the kitchen from the living room. Seeing Alex and Desslok enter the room he raised his assault rifle spraying it with gunfire. Bullets shattered pictures on the walls, the lamps on the end tables and destroyed the cushions on the furniture. Diving behind the loveseat, Desslok returned fire. Alex Wildstar dropped to the floor behind Nova’s piano. From his position he had a clear view of the Josiahite. He also saw Gary Maples open the patio door and step into the kitchen. The sound of the door opening took Smith’s attention. Whirling around he fired at Maples, the bullet grazing his temple. Dazed, the Colonel dropped his weapon, stumbled and sank to his knees. Desslok and Alex fired at the same time. Whose shot actually inflicted the fatal blow they couldn’t tell as Smith fell to the floor.
Rising from their positions behind the furniture Alex and Desslok hurried to the injured EDF officer. Helping him to his feet Alex Wildstar got him to a chair at the kitchen table.
“Colonel, what happened out there?” Desslok demanded.
Maples hesitated for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts. “I was surprised. My security officers were working with the attackers. It was Gosse who shot me in the arm. Fixing his gaze on Desslok he continued, “Your officers are dead.”
Derek Wildstar walked into the kitchen at that moment, his expression grim. Walking to the body of the fallen Josiahite he rolled him over so he could see his face. “I recognize these men. They were part of the crew who put the extension on the house. The man in the entry hall installed the security system. I don’t understand why they would attack us or how they got onto the grounds in the first place.”
“Aliscea D’Shal was with them; she teleported them onto the grounds of the house,” Maples replied.
Derek turned pale at the mention of her name. Confirming what Maples had just told him, he heard Nova’s warning in his head, “Aliscea is here!” Turning on his heal he sprinted across the living room, heading back to the hallway that lead to the bedrooms, overwhelming fear for his family’s safety driving him.
Standing in the doorway of the master bedroom Nova looked at the Gamilon General, her expression one of deep sadness. “Talon I am so sorry about your men.”
“Thank you, so am I,” he replied, “they were good men.”
“We should check on the children,” Nova suggested, not knowing what else to say. She had taken three steps towards Ariel’s room when she was once again struck with stabbing pains in her abdomen. The pain was so sudden and unexpected she sank to her knees.
Concerned, Talon dropped to the floor beside her. “Nova are you all right?”
She shook her head in response. Unlike that morning, this time, Nova knew what was happening. She could feel the intruder inside her body. “Aliscea is here,” she sent to Derek. “I need your protection.” Focusing on Derek and the matrix, while he focused on protecting her, for the first time Nova was able to call his protection to her without needing his touch. Wrapping his protection around her like a cloak Nova focused on Aliscea, “Not this time bitch!” she sent as she forced Aliscea from her body.
In the master bathroom, Aliscea shrieked in frustration as once again her plans were foiled.
As Nova got to her feet a scream came from Ariel’s bedroom and the door burst open. Dellar had eluded one of his captors and made a run for the door. He had succeeded in pulling the door open before Tony Hann grabbed him by the hair, attempting to drag him back into the room. Ariel was in the arms of Chris Lahey, his hand firmly over her mouth. Unlike her brother, she was not struggling. Hann had his hands full as he had a squirming Alex in his arms and at the same time was struggling to keep his grip on Dellar’s hair. Little Alex was determined to get free. Taking advantage of the loosened hand over his mouth Alex bit down hard enough to draw blood. With a curse, Hann dropped him. Terrified by what was happening, tears rolling down his cheeks, Alex pressed himself against the wall in the hallway, afraid to move. Taking advantage of the opportunity Talon fired his weapon. Hann crumpled to the floor, dropping his grip on Dellar who ran to Talon as soon as he was free.
“Give her to me,” Talon demanded, aiming his weapon at the man still holding Ariel.
“Here! Take her,” Lahey said throwing the little girl at him. Taking advantage of the distraction his actions caused, he darted across the bedroom escaping out the window and into the night.
Catching Ariel Talon hugged her again his chest. Settling her in one arm he held out his free hand to Dellar. Walking into the hallway, he headed toward the master bedroom, intending to take the children there. He did not get far when Aliscea D’Shal appeared before him; grabbing Talon’s arm, leaving him no chance to react, she teleported out of the hallway taking him, Dellar and Ariel with her. Derek and the others rounded the corner into the hallway in time to see them vanish.
“ARIEL!!” Nova cried. She was so stunned by what had just happened she did not notice the Josiahite on the floor raise his gun and aim at her.
“Mommy!” Alex cried. Jolted back to reality seeing his sister disappear and frightened by what he had seen, he ran toward his mother. It was at that moment Tony Hann fired his weapon, striking the little boy in the back. The force of the shot propelled his body forward into his mother as she had stooped to pick him up, knocking them both to the floor.
In that moment, for Derek Wildstar, it felt as if time had stopped as he watched his worst nightmare play out before his eyes.
“Nova…! Alex…!” Dropping his weapon he ran to them. “Oh God no…!” The image of his son face down on top of his mother, blood spreading across his small back was one Derek would never be able to forget.
Sinking to his knees beside them Derek was horrified to see the blood gushing from Alexander’s shoulder. With shaking hands he pulled off his t-shirt pressing it against the wound.
From his position slumped on the floor Tony Hann spoke to Derek. “I didn’t mean to shoot the boy; he got in the way. I was aiming at the woman. She has to be punished! She killed our leader! She has to atone for her sins… be purged by blood or fire.” As he spoke he began to cough, a bloody foam forming around his mouth. Derek did not answer.
“You wanted to punish her!” Alex Wildstar was livid. Kneeling beside the Josiahite he grabbed him by the hair, forcing his head up. “Just look at what you did…You shot a little boy and his pregnant mother.”
Hann struggled against Alex’s punishing grasp. “She’s not even fully human! She is not fit to be a mother!” he cried.
Standing beside Alex, Desslok raised his weapon, pointing it at Hann, intent on ending his ravings. “I believe we have heard quite enough out of you.”
“Desslok, don’t,” said Alex, grasping his arm, “he may be able to answer questions for us.”
“Perhaps you are correct,” Desslok replied lowering his firearm.
Hann glared at the two men. “I’m not telling you anything,” he said as another fit of coughing overtook him. He kept that promise; they were the last words he ever spoke.
Moving over to where Derek was kneeling beside his wife and son, Desslok knelt down beside him, “Wildstar, what can I do to help?”
“He’s been shot in the shoulder. We need to stop the bleeding. Alex I need Nova’s med kit, it’s on the shelf in the bathroom.” When Derek replied his voice was surprisingly calm.
“Too calm,” thought Alex as he ran into the master suite toward the bathroom.
Back in the hallway, with Desslok’s help, Derek rolled little Alex off his mother onto his side. Relief flooded him, “the bullet appears to have passed through his shoulder, thank God.”
“Wildstar, if the bullet passed through Alexander when he fell into his mother…”
“It hit Nova,” Derek’s eyes widened in horror as he finished Desslok’s sentence.
“Let me do that,” he offered, taking over applying pressure to the little boys shoulder. “You check on Nova.” Desslok did not want to tell him he was not applying pressure in the proper place.
Alex returned with the med kit just as Derek confirmed that the bullet had hit Nova as well. “I saw the blood on her nightshirt but I thought it had come from Alex. I didn’t realize…”
The hallway was lit with a sudden flash of light. For a moment Derek was afraid Aliscea had returned. It was Astrena that appeared. She was horrified at the blood soaked scene. “My god,” she whispered. “I sensed something was very wrong then I saw a flash of the attack; I came right away. Looking around she immediately noticed Talon’s absence, he was always at her husband’s side. “Desslok where is Talon? Is Dellar with him?”
“Gone…” It was Nova who replied. “Aliscea has them...” She said nothing else, as she began to shiver, her eyes rolling back into her head.
“They’ve been shot,” Derek explained. “The bullet passed through Alexander and hit Nova. I know we have to find Dellar and Ariel and Talon but right now I am begging you, please help them.” With tear filled eyes he gazed at Astrena, his fear for his family and his desperation to help them clear on his face.
The sound of sirens could be heard in the distance. Alex Wildstar gave Astrena a questioning look. “Is that emergency vehicles I hear?”
“I contacted the EDF, well actually I showed up in General Singleton’s office and let him know your house was under attack. I will give the man credit, by his reaction to my sudden appearance in his office you would think having a person materialize out of thin air is common place. Anyway he knew something was wrong when your security system was disabled. He is sending a security detail and paramedics.” Sinking to the floor Astrena held her hands out over Alex and then Nova quickly assessing their injuries. Nova was her immediate concern, the babies were showing signs of distress and the bullet was lodged in her abdomen. The bullet wound in Alex’s shoulder was clean having passed through and Desslok was doing a good job slowing the bleeding.
Just as Astrena moved closer to her, Nova opened her eyes. “No, help Alexander first. He’s so little.” Not wanting to upset her further Astrena looked to Derek for confirmation of Nova’s request.
He nodded, “Please help them.”
Taking note of his slightly vacant expression and that he had also started to shiver, Alex realized his brother was in danger of going into shock himself. Going back into the bedroom he returned a minute later with a sweatshirt. Holding it out to Derek he said, “Put this on.” Helping him to his feet Alex guided Derek away from Nova. “I think we should step out of Astrena’s way, give her some room to work.”
Placing her hands on Alex’s shoulder, Astrena quickly stopped the bleeding and closed the wound. He opened his eyes and looked around. Seeing his mother lying on the floor beside him he tried to move closer to her. Reaching out he patted her hand. “Mommy,” he whispered. Nova did not respond.
Derek knelt down beside his son, not wanting him to get more upset. “Hey little man, I need to you keep still okay.”
“Daddy why can’t Mommy answer me?” he asked.
Derek struggled not to show his little boy how upset he was himself. “Mommy is hurt pretty bad, just like you were. Aunt Astrena is going to help make her better too.”
The sound of sirens grew closer. Looking at the adult Alex Astrena said, “It sounds like the ambulance is almost here. Would you go meet them and bring them in? We need to get your nephew and your sister-in-law to the hospital as quickly as possible.”
“I will go with you,” Desslok said, getting to his feet. “I expect there will be a security detail with them as well. I am sure they will have questions.”
Since they left the kitchen and moved back to the bedrooms Gary Maples had been seated on the floor, his back against the wall, just outside Ariel Wildstar’s bedroom. “I’ll come too.”
Watching the man struggle to his feet Alex Wildstar shook his head, “I think you should stay here. It appears you could use some medical assistance yourself.” Maples nodded his agreement, sinking back to his seat on the floor.
As she had done with Alexander just moments earlier Astrena placed her hands on the wound in Nova’s abdomen. Light emanated from her entire form, flowing over and through Nova.
“How is she?” Derek asked. His fear for his wife’s safety was clearly written on his face.
“I have managed to stop the bleeding, but the damage is severe. I cannot remove the bullet that will have to be done at the hospital.” Astrena looked sadly at him. “Derek I have to tell you about the twins… I couldn’t save them… I am so sorry.” Astrena’s words hit him like a physical blow.
The arrival of the EDF paramedics saved Derek from having to reply. Alex Wildstar lead the medical team back down the hall; seeing the look on his brother’s face he knew immediately something was seriously wrong.
Derek got quickly to his feet, allowing the paramedics room to speak with Astrena and work on Nova. Alex approached in time to steady him as he stumbled. Keeping a firm grip on his arm he looked into his brother’s face. “What’s wrong? Is it Nova?”
Derek could not bring himself to say the words out loud. He was still reeling from the news about the babies. He shook his head.
“Is it the twins? They are going to be all right… once Nova gets to the hospital…” Alex asked.
Once more Derek shook his head as his eyes filled with tears. “Astrena couldn’t help them…”
Without a word Alex pulled Derek into his arms in a brotherly hug, “I am so sorry.” He never got the opportunity to say anything else for he was interrupted by the arrival of an EDF security team lead by General Stone.
Ignoring the General Derek walked over to the paramedics who had moved little Alex from the floor to a stretcher and were preparing to do the same with Nova. “How are they?” he asked.
“Commodore your son is doing well. He is weak from the loss of blood. We are going to take him to the hospital for observation. The doctors will decide if he needs any further treatment once we get there,” the young EDF med tech replied. “I’m afraid your wife is in more serious condition. She is going to require surgery to remove the bullet in her abdomen. It is too dangerous for us to try and remove it here.”
“I need to go to the hospital with them,” Derek said struggling to keep him composure.
“Of course sir that is not a problem,” he replied. “I would suggest you ride in the ambulance with your son, it will be less frightening for him if you are with him.” Derek immediately agreed. Gathering their gear the paramedics proceeded down the hallway pushing the stretchers toward the entry hall.
Since his arrival General Stone had been standing in the hallway waiting for someone to acknowledge him. As he watched the stretchers being wheeled past he realized that Derek Wildstar was preparing to leave with them. Irritated at being ignored Stone grabbed his arm stopping the younger officer in mid stride. “Where the hell do you think you are going?” he demanded.
Derek glared at him yanking his arm free. “My wife and my son have been shot General. I am going to the hospital with them.”
Stone refused to back down. “You are not going anywhere, not until you tell me just what the hell happened here tonight.”
“Seriously… you are asking me something like that now! Are you blind?” Losing control of his temper, Derek took a step toward the older man, forcing him to step back. “Look around General, maybe you missed the bullet holes in the walls in the entry way or in the furniture but surely you noticed the bodies outside on the grounds when you arrived, or the one in my living room, or the one in the kitchen or the one right here on the floor,” he said, nudging the fallen Josiahite with his foot for added emphasis. “Just to make sure you are clear, my home was attacked, my daughter has been kidnapped by Aliscea D’Shal and as I already told you my wife and my son have been shot! I am going to the hospital with them and you are not going to stop me.”
Watching the heated exchange between the two men Alex Wildstar inwardly cringed. “This is not going to end well,” he said softly to Desslok and Astrena, who had been standing beside him silently watching the scene unfold.
The words were no sooner out of his mouth when Stone stepped in front of Derek once more blocking his attempt to leave. Balling up his fist Derek punched the General squarely in the face, knocking him to the floor. Without so much as a backward glance, he dashed after the medical team.
From his position on the floor, General Stone angrily brushed off the hands of the security guards that had accompanied him as they attempted to help him up. “Never mind me you fools! STOP that man!”
Desslok stepped in front of the two guards, his hand on the hilt of his weapon. “You are not going to do that. Commodore Wildstar is going to accompany his family to the hospital.”
Stone was incensed by the actions of the alien leader. “He’ll be court marshalled for this… striking a superior officer!” he blustered. “He can kiss his career good-bye.”
As he attempted to get up the General looked up to see Desslok staring down at him. “I would stay down if I were you.” Ignoring the note of warning in the Gamilon leader’s voice, Stone once more tried to get to his feet placing his hands on the floor to push himself to a standing position. Shifting his weight slightly Desslok placed his booted foot on top of Stone’s right hand, causing him to yelp in pain.
“General do not try my patience. My son and my General have also been kidnapped. If you have any hope for this Interplanetary Alliance and continued peace with the Gamilon Empire I suggest you focus your energy on finding them.”
Seeing an opportunity to cause trouble for the Josiahites, Gary Maples seized it. He had been watching the exchange between the two men while Astrena had taken care of his wounds. “It appears that the Josiahites have infiltrated the EDF General.”
Stone gave Maples a withering look. “Don’t be ridiculous. That’s not possible.”
“I assure sir that it is. Gosse and Simmonds were Josiahites. It was Gosse who shot me when I fired at the men who killed the Gamilon security officers. If you and your officers would come with me I will show you where the attack started.”
For the first time in a very long time Jackson Stone was unsure of what he should do. He was used to being in charge, bullying people into doing his bidding, wielding his authority like a weapon. He did not like having to answer to anyone, most especially the Gamilon leader whose booted foot was still resting on his hand. As much as it galled him to do so Stone, knowing he had no choice, looked up at Desslok. “If it meets with your approval my men and I will go with Colonel Maples. I would like to walk through what happened during the attack leading up to the abduction of your son. I also need to contact headquarters and have them send more men and the coroner to remove the bodies.”
Moving his foot and with just the slightest nod of his head Desslok gave his consent. Scrambling to his feet Stone stormed down the hallway yelling for his men to follow.
Shaking his head as he watched the EDF officer’s rapid departure Alex said, “Given everything that has happened, I would say Stone is lucky all he has is a sore jaw.”
As soon as the men were out of sight Astrena spoke, “I have to tell you something.” Certain she had both men’s attention she quickly continued, “What I told Derek isn’t true... Nova didn’t lose the twins.”
The expressions on the faces of the two men before her shifted rapidly from shock to outright anger.
Desslok stared at his wife as if seeing her for the first time. “Astrena how could you tell him that? Did you not see the look on Wildstar’s face? He was devastated.”
If she was taken aback by her husband’s anger she was unprepared for Alex Wildstar’s barely contained fury. “Do you have any idea how much my brother has gone through… how much loss he has suffered? To see his little girl get taken by a crazy woman and then watch as his wife and son get shot in front of him; you thought it was okay to tell him his wife lost the twins she was carrying! How could you be so cruel?”
“Please listen to me... I had too…” When neither man responded Astrena quickly continued, “When I first examined Nova the twins were in distress and she is seriously injured; I was not sure I could save them. I placed the twins in a protective stasis. It was the only thing I could do to keep them safe. Aliscea is determined to see them destroyed. She is not going to stop… not until she has her revenge… and she is not going to care if she kills Nova in the process.” Pointing at the body of Tony Hann she added, “Even the Josiahites are a threat to Nova and the twins. You heard him, he said she is not fit to be a mother.”
Seeing his wife was on the verge of tears Desslok pulled her onto his embrace. “You were correct in trying to protect them.”
Alex was not so easily swayed. Stone faced he stared at her, “While I appreciate what you are trying to do, I still don’t understand why you had to lie to Derek.”
Desslok replied, “I believe I can answer that, it is because of their bond. If Derek knows, Nova will know.”
Thinking of the bond he shared with Starsha, Alex nodded in understanding. “Okay I get the reason why you couldn’t tell Derek but once they get to the hospital it’s only a matter of time before the doctors tell him the truth.”
“As I said, I have placed the babies in a protective stasis. As long as I am here, and until I remove it, Nova will not be able to feel or sense the twins. And neither will Aliscea. They will both believe that she has lost them as will any doctor that examines her externally. That is why I have to get to the hospital right now, before the ambulance arrives. I need to explain to Dr. Sane what I have done. I have to ensure he is the one to perform the surgery to remove the bullet. I know we can trust him to keep the secret.” Placing her hand on Alex’s arm and looking into his eyes she added softly, “I know you are only looking out for your brother and his family, believe me when I tell you I am doing the same thing.”
“What about your family Astrena?” Alex asked, unknowingly giving voice to Desslok’s unspoken fear. “Your son was taken as well.”
To all outward appearances, in spite of the fact his officers had been killed and his son had been kidnapped, Desslok had maintained the facade of the autocratic ruler, detached and cold hearted. Astrena knew better, it was his defence mechanism, how he controlled the uncontrollable. The loving father, who adored his children, was a side of the Gamilon leader few ever saw. She could sense his feelings of utter helplessness and fear for his child’s safety. Squeezing his hand she mentally sent to him, “Talon will protect him.”
“I know,” he answered kissing her cheek. “Go, take care of Nova.”
“We are going to find them. I am going to call for help but first I must get to the hospital.” With that response she vanished in a flash of light.
The Josiahite Headquarters
Outskirts of the Federal Megalopolis
June 15, 2209
Joshua Piercy, leader of the Josiahite cult, was seated at his desk in his private office reviewing some papers when there was a sudden flash of light. His expression changed from annoyance at having been disturbed to one of absolute delight when Aliscea D’Shal appeared dragging the limp forms of Ariel Wildstar, Dellar and Talon with her. Having used her psionic ability to control them, they slumped to the floor in a heap.
Getting up from his chair the Josiahite leader walked around his desk, pulling Aliscea into a hug. “You did it!” he exclaimed, a huge smile on his face. His smile faded slightly when he realized there was one child missing. “Where is the Wildstar boy?”
Pulling herself from his grasp she answered, her tone icy, “Shot… along with his mother.”
Undisturbed by her announcement, his grin returned, “No matter, casualties of war.”
Irritated by his attitude Aliscea asked, “Don’t you want to know about your men?”
“I assumed you left them in the common area.” When she shook her head but did not elaborate, he grasped her arm, “Where are my men Aliscea?”
“All dead’” she replied, “casualties of war…”
His expression shifted quickly from one of shock to one of utter indifference. “Oh well, it matters little really. If that is the cost for success, that is the price we must pay.” Poking Talon with his foot he regarded Aliscea, a quizzical look on his face, “Grabbing the Gamilon General was a stroke of fortune but what do you purpose we do with these three? I admit I am a little perplexed as to why you brought them here.”
Shaking off her earlier irritation, fully aware she needed his help, Aliscea pressed her body against his. “Well, we have to keep them alive for the next few days; until I carry out the next step of the Dark Lord’s plan. I am sure you must have somewhere we can keep them. I would be grateful for your help.”
Pushing her back against his desk, he ground his hips into hers. His eyes darkened with desire he grinned, “I have a spot, I can’t guarantee they will be comfortable, but if you only want to keep them alive…”
Nuzzling against his neck she whispered into his ear, “Show me.”
Raising an eyebrow he indicated to the bodies on his office floor. “You do not need to worry about them,” she assured him, “they are under my control and will not wake until I decide to let them.”
Laughing Piercy took her hand, “Follow me.”
Leaving the compound, he led her to a dilapidated apartment complex directly across the street. Opening the door Aliscea’s senses were assaulted by the smells of mildew and decay. The air was damp and musty. “We use this place to deal with trouble makers and uninvited visitors who come snooping around.”
Leading her across the lobby, past a bank of no longer functional elevators, he stopped in front of a small non-descript door. Opening it, he stepped back allowing her to look inside. It was a small, windowless, cinderblock room with a broken sink, rusty drain in the floor and a light socket with a smashed bulb. “Originally I think it was a janitors storage closest but we use for solitary confinement,” Joshua explained.
Aliscea wrinkled her nose at the strong stench of urine and other bodily waste coming from the small room. A grin spread across her face, “This will do nicely. I will be right back.” She disappeared in a flash of light returning moments later with the three captives. They were still unconscious but she released her hold on them as she tossed them onto the concrete floor. Dellar landed face down, striking his head.
As he regained consciousness, and got slowly to his feet Talon’s first thought was to lash out at his captors, his life be damned but seeing the terrified expression on the faces of the two children looking up at him stopped him. Stooping down he lifted a sobbing Dellar into his arms. There was blood trickling down the side of the young boy’s face from the gash in his forehead. Turning to Aliscea he asked, “How could you do this to your own brother? He’s only a child.”
“He is not my child… He is the means to an end,” she replied.
“Desslok will never forgive you,” he warned. “He will hunt you down for this and make you pay.”
“I’m counting on it.” Aliscea laughed as the door slammed shut the lock clicking into place.
With the door closed the room was pitch dark. Cold and frightened, Ariel began to whimper.
“Want Mommy…want Mommy…”
Sinking to the floor with his back against the wall, Talon pulled the frightened children against him. Locked in the room there was nothing he could do but wait. He swore he would protect the two children with him even if it cost him his life.
Taking the Josiahite leader by the hand Aliscea teleported them out of the apartment complex. Surprised by her actions, Joshua Piercy was momentarily speechless to find himself back in his private office. “Well that was an interesting experience,” he said, reaching for her. “I have a suggestion of somewhere else you can teleport us.”
Sidestepping his advances Aliscea held up a hand to stop him. “There is time for that later but right now we have things to discuss.”
Dropping his grasp on her waist he stepped back taking a seat on the edge of his desk. “Fine my lady, what more do you require of your lowly servant?”
She scowled at him, “Sarcasm does not become you. And yes I do need something from you. This is just the first step in the Dark Lord’s plan and while it did not go exactly as planned we drew first blood. It is vital we keep them off balance.” Sauntering to the handsome Josiahite she slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him. “You referred to the Josiahites as spiders, I need you to prove it; unleash them.”
“The wheels are already in motion. Right now reporters have descended on the hospital and the Wildstar residence, My spiders within the news community shared the news of the attack to all the news agencies within minutes of the attack happening. There is no way for the powers that be within the Earth Defence headquarters to keep this story quiet.” He declared. “I think you will find what I am about to tell you amusing. One of my reporters is a former suitor of Nova Wildstar. I had him stationed outside the hospital even before you told me what had happened. Things there are going to get very chaotic but I will get to that in a minute. Apparently he has a serious grudge against our dear Commodore. Apparently he was her mother’s choice of the ideal husband for her daughter.”
“Really,” Aliscea chuckled, “so she is not fond of her son-in-law.”
“Apparently not and how do you think she will feel when she hears from the press and not Wildstar that her daughter has been injured?”
“Not well…Not well at all,” she laughed. “What did you mean that things are going to get chaotic at the hospital?”
“The world is about to find out the Josiahites are not gone as they thought and that we are a force to be reckoned with. Over the next two hours there are going to be two explosions around the city, the first at the n the training barracks that house EDF cadets and for the second, well I think I will let that one be a surprise. If all goes according to plan, the hospital is going to be overwhelmed with casualties making it easier for my spiders to spin their webs. ”
“Mr. Piercy, I believe that is news worth celebrating,” she stated pressing her body against his.
“Really, and what did you have in mind?” he asked.
“I’m sure we can think of something,” she replied, teleporting them into his bedroom.
June 15, 2209
In his office in the emergency department of Central Hospital, Dr. Sane was dozing on the sofa, a glass of spring water perched precariously on his stomach. Startled from his nap by a voice inside his head demanding he wake up, the cup tumbled to the floor as he hopped up. “What,” he mumbled, “Can’t a man even rest his eyes in peace?”
The little doctor’s mouth dropped open in surprise when he realized who was standing in his office. “Astrena!” Remembering her status, “You highness.” he quickly added. “What are you doing here? Where did you come from?”
“Dr. Sane you have to listen carefully. There are two ambulances on route to the hospital they will be here any minute.” She quickly explained what had occurred at Derek and Nova’s home and what she had told Derek about the twins. “Dr. Sane I need you to go along with what I told him. It is the only way we can protect them from another attack by my daughter.”
“You are asking me to lie about the medical condition of one of my patients. I could have my medical license revoked for such a thing, not to mention Wildstar is my commanding officer and my friend.” The look on his face told Astrena that he as struggling with his conscience.
“Please Dr. Sane, Wildstar will forgive you, and don’t Earth physicians take an oath that they will do no harm…”
“Yes we do. It’s the Hippocratic Oath,” he replied, “but don’t you try to use that against me.”
“Well consider this as a way of preventing harm from happening,” she suggested.
“All right… you convinced me,” he answered. Walking to his desk, Dr. Sane poured himself another cup of spring water which he swallowed in one gulp. “Won’t Aliscea sense your protection around Nova?”
“My daughter’s abilities may have grown but she is deluding herself if she thinks she is in any way superior to me,” Astrena sneered, her voice filled with contempt. “I assure you doctor she will not be able to tell. Even if she attempts to take control of Nova’s body again, she will have no sense of them. I do not believe she will attack again soon, now that she has Ariel and Dellar.”
“Even when Nova was attacked yesterday, I don’t understand why neither of you had any sense of what was going to happen.”
Astrena looked sadly at the little doctor. “I am ashamed that my flesh and blood could do this. Aliscea’s betrayal is complete. She has given control of the root of the Matrix to Ekogaru. While it still resides inside her, he had the ability to manipulate it. He is using it as a shield to hide her movements. That is how she was able to attack Nova and how she was able to take Dellar, Ariel and Talen.”
For a moment the doctor was silent, finally he said, “While I do appreciate everything you have told me about how the stasis is going to protect the twins, I do have a question. Not to state the obvious but Nova is almost six months pregnant, with twins, I must add, and that fact is very apparent. How does your plan deal with that...or had you even thought of it?”
“Yes Dr. Sane, I have taken measures to deal with that. When I placed the twins in stasis, I also temporarily reversed the age of the fetuses, reducing them in size accordingly. When it is safe to remove the twins from stasis, the aging process will revert to normal as well. I will be with Nova during this process to ensure it happens gradually, to protect both her and the twins from the shock of rapid aging.”
Never one to beat around the bush he asked, “And what if you are not here? What will happen then? What will happen to Nova? Is this even safe?”
“I promise you doctor Nova and the twins are perfectly safe,” the Pellian Queen assured him. “This practice has been used by my people for generations. I admit my use of the practice is a little unconventional but not without merit in this case. It is normally used if a woman became sick while she was pregnant and the illness or the treatment put the child at risk. The mother is given time to recover and the child is protected. Nova is strong but she still needs time to recover.”
Dr. Sane was not convinced. “You said you want to make sure the process happens gradually to protect Nova and the twins from shock. I know you said you will be here but I want to know what Nova will go through if you are not.”
Knowing his questions were coming from a place of concern for his friend and colleague and that he was not deliberately trying to irritate her Astrena patiently continued her explanation. “There will be no impact on the twins but it will make her sick. Imagine several months of morning sickness compressed into a span of just days.”
“Oh dear,” he said, concern on his face. “So you will be able to control the sickness?” When the Pellian monarch nodded he added, “That’s good. During the first few months of this pregnancy, Nova suffered from violent morning sickness, when she started throwing up she couldn’t stop. Twice Wildstar had to bring her to the hospital. She threw up that much she actually became dehydrated. She had to be given inter venous fluids. I would hate to see her go through that again.”
“Nova is like a daughter to me Dr. Sane; I promise you I will do all in my power to make this as easy on her as possible.”
As there was no way he could control the future and satisfied with her impassioned promise the doctor switched to questions on the immediate situation. “You said the ambulances are on route. How serious are their injuries?” he asked.
“Alexander was shot in the shoulder. The bullet passed through cleanly. I was able to stop the bleeding and close the wound. He lost a fair amount of blood, that’s why they are bringing him in, as a precaution. He should be fine,” she explained.
Nodding as he made notes, he glanced up when she paused. “And Nova…?”
“Because Alexander slowed the velocity of the bullet when it passed through his shoulder, before it hit Nova, things could have been much worse.”
She was about to continue when he interrupted her. “Wait… Stop… You said Nova and Alex have been shot. What did you mean when you said the bullet passed through Alex and hit his mother? What kind of a firearm uses bullets?”
“An antique firearm, the people who attacked the house were using them. I have never seen such weapons. They can inflict some pretty horrific injuries. Alex Wildstar said weapons like that have not been used since the end of the 21st century.”
“Oh yes, since then we have found much more civilized ways to kill each other.” He snorted in disgust. “I am sorry I interrupted you, please I need to know about Nova’s injuries.”
“As I explained the bullet passed through Alex before it hit Nova. I was able to stop the bleeding. The babies were in distress, I had no choice but to put them in stasis, the fact it will protect them is just an added bonus. The bullet is still in her abdomen. I couldn’t risk removing it there. You are going to have to do it.”
“I am going to need the assistance of a nurse I can trust during surgery,” he muttered to himself glancing at the schedule to see which nurses were on duty that night.
It was obvious to Astrena that she had been dismissed; Dr. Sane clearly had his mind on his incoming patients. “I have to get back before General Stone notices I am gone,” she said in farewell.
At the mention of the General’s name he swivelled around to look at her. “Stone! What is that old buzzard doing there?” He grinned as Astrena rolled her eyes in response before she vanished from his office.
Looking once more at the schedule in his hand one name stood out Natalie Fisher. Not only was she one of his best nurses, she also a member of the EDF reserve forces and a personal friend of Nova and Derek Wildstar. She had been a bridesmaid at their wedding. Dr. Sane new with absolute certainty he could trust her with the truth about Nova’s condition.
Leaving his office the little doctor headed directly to the nurses station in the Emergency department. On duty were three nurses, Natalie Fisher, Isabelle Mitchell and Nancy Fry. It was unusual for all three nurses to be in the station at once but it had been an unusually quiet evening. Seeing him approach and the grim look on his face Natalie got to her feet.
“Is there something I can do for you Doctor?” she asked.
“We have two ambulances inbound and two patients with gunshot wounds and I do not mean from any of our standard firearms. One of the patients is going to require emergency surgery,” he answered. “Miss Fisher, I am going to need you to assist me.”
“Gunshot wounds Doctor. I’m not sure I understand what you mean,” the young nurse admitted.
“I mean actual bullet wounds from antique firearms,” he explained.
Gazing over the top of his glasses at the two nurses still seated at the nurse’s station he asked, “So what are you two waiting for… an invitation to get the exam rooms ready? Let’s go… move!”
Deep in conversation with Natalie Fisher as they headed toward the ambulance bay, Dr. Sane did not see the exchange of glances between Isabelle Mitchell and Nancy Fry.
Pulling her companion into the exam room with her Nancy Fry could barely contain her excitement. “Oh my god Isabelle, they did it! Gunshot wounds… it has to be from the attack on the Wildstar home. I wonder who was shot.”
“Who cares…? It was all I could do not to laugh when that fool doctor can out and told us,” Isabelle Mitchell smirked. “You know what happens next…”
“Yeah…BOOM!” The two Josiahite nurses started to laugh.
When the ambulances arrived a few minutes later Dr. Sane was standing in the ambulance bay with Dr. Stephen Lucas, the ER medical resident and Natalie Fisher. On the first stretcher was Alexander Wildstar. He was awake and crying.
“Want Daddy,” he sobbed.
“Move him into exam room one,” Dr. Sane instructed the paramedics. “Dr. Lucas you will be responsible for his examination.”
“Yes sir,” he replied. He was about to follow his patient when the door to the second ambulance opened and Derek Wildstar stepped out. “Dr. Sane isn’t that…”
“Derek Wildstar… yes it is.”
“Then that little boy… my patient…”
“Is his son…so don’t screw up.”
Wide eyed, he nodded at Dr. Sane and rushed off behind the paramedics as they wheeled the stretcher away.
With their focus fixed solely on their patients, neither doctor noticed the man lurking at the edge of the ambulance bay, a camera in his hand. Staying close to the shadows he snapped shot after shot of the patients as they were removed from the ambulances and wheeled into the hospital.
Scott Foley could not believe his luck when he realized who the patients were. Instinctively he knew he was on to a huge story. His assumption was confirmed just minutes later when he got a look at Derek Wildstar. Clearly something serious had happened; the man’s face, hands and clothing were soaked in blood. The attack on the Wildstar home was not the story Joshua Piercy had sent him to cover, but he knew his leader would want him to share the pictures.
As the stretchers disappeared from view into the hospital, Foley dashed to his air car. He would upload the images to the live news feeds but first he wanted to get a statement to accompany them. Pulling his car off the parking lot, he drove into the night toward the home of Nova’s parents, Karl and Teri Forrester.
As the stretcher holding Nova Wildstar was removed from the ambulance Dr. Sane directed the paramedics to take her into exam room two. “Natalie I need you to go make sure operating room one is prepared. Nova is only going to be in the exam room long enough for me to get her vitals then we will be moving her directly to the OR. The bullet in her abdomen has to be removed immediately.” With a nod of understanding at the doctor, Natalie gave Derek a quick sympathetic hug as she went past.
“Everything will be all right,” she said, giving him an encouraging smile.
“Wildstar are you all right?” Dr. Sane asked, concerned at his slightly vacant expression.
“I’m okay Doc; you don’t need to worry about me. Please just take care of my family. Astrena thinks Nova may have…” His voice trailed away leaving the thought unfinished. He could not bring himself to say the words out loud somehow believing if he didn’t say it, it wouldn’t be true.
“I know… she told me…”
Derek looked startled at the doctor’s statement. “Told you… how… when…?”
Mentally Dr. Sane slapped his hand into his forehead. “Just brilliant Sane… You almost blew it!” Recovering quickly he explained, “Your brother Alex sent her here to let me know what had happened and explain what she was able to do for their injuries.”
Clearly distracted, Wildstar just nodded as he started to follow the paramedics as they pushed the stretcher into the emergency department.
Moving into the light coming from the entrance of the hospital, Dr. Sane got his first good look at Derek. What he saw shocked him. The younger man looked like he had escaped from a horror movie. There were streaks of dried blood on his face and hands. From what he was wearing, a navy hoodie and plaid pajama pants, it was obvious he had either been in bed or preparing for it when the attack started. They were also stained with blood. Most concerning of all to the doctor was just how pale he was and that his eyes appeared unfocused. He looked like he could fall down at any moment.
Grabbing his hand Dr. Sane noted it was ice cold. “He’s going into shock.”
As they entered the hospital, Dr. Sane called to the closest nurse. “Miss Fry can you please show Commodore Wildstar to the private waiting area outside exam room one and could you please get him a blanket as well.”
Derek immediately protested, “What! No… Dr. Sane I have to stay with them.”
“No Commodore, what you need to do right now is sit down before you fall down. You look like hell. I know you are afraid for them but you have to let us take care of Nova and little Alex right now. I need to know you will be where I can find you...”
Derek gave the doctor a rueful smile. “I guess sitting there will make it easy for the military police to find me when they turn up.”
“Military police,” the doctor repeated looking confused. “Wildstar what on Earth are you talking about? What did you do?”
“General Stone turned up at my house with an EDF security detail. The paramedics were just getting ready to load Nova and Alex into the ambulances to bring them here. They had even suggested I go in the ambulance with Alex to help keep him calm.” Suddenly feeling very tired Derek sighed running his hand through his hair. “Stone refused to let me leave, so I punched his lights out. The last I saw of him he was flat on his back looking up at the ceiling. By the time I made it outside the ambulance Alex was in was already gone. He must have been frightened, I heard him crying when we got here.”
Dr. Sane would have laughed at what he had done to General Stone, if the young man standing before him had not looked so utterly wretched. His heart ached with sympathy. “Wildstar, your family is in good hands.” In an attempt to lighten the mood he added, “Besides I can’t possibly let you see your son looking like you do at this moment, you really would frighten him.”
Wildstar was about to ask the doctor what he meant by that when he noticed his hands. Turning one over he noted it was covered in dried blood. Clenching his fingers into a fist he looked at Dr. Sane, his eyes filled with tears. “It’s their blood.”
“Go with Miss Fry. I will have her bring you a wash cloth, a towel and a clean set of hospital scrubs. I have to go prepare for surgery.”
Listening to the conversation between the two men the Josiahite nurse could not believe what she was hearing. She could hardly contain her glee. The Josiahites had successfully shot two members of the Wildstar family and one of them was Nova Wildstar herself and from what she had heard she was not in good shape. While she was delighted by what she heard, Nancy Fry was far more interested in the fact one of the Wildstar children was also at the hospital. Apparently not everything had gone according to plan, as the children were the target of the attack. She knew Joshua Piercy, the Josiahite leader, would not be pleased they had failed to take all three children. “This could be my opportunity to prove my worth to the group. I just have to find a reason to get the boy alone. If I can sneak him out of the hospital and bring him to our leader, I will be a hero.” She vowed to watch for her opportunity.
Shifting her attention back to her immediate task she gestured for Derek to follow. “Please come this way.” Leading him into a small waiting room she handed him the blanket she had pulled from a cart in the hallway. “Make yourself comfortable, no one will bother you in here. I’m going to get the things Dr. Sane requested. I’ll be right back.”
Sinking into one of the chairs Derek ran his hands through his hair. His mind racing, he was unable to sit still. He could not shake the overwhelming fear that he was going to be alone again. Getting to his feet once more he began to pace around the small room. Derek stopped as the door to the waiting room opened. Nancy Fry came in carrying hospital scrubs, a facecloth and a towel. Handing them to Derek she pointed to the small washroom he had not noticed when they first entered the room. “You can get cleaned up in there. It’s kind of a small space but it does have a sink and a mirror.”
Taking the items she held out he gave her a tired smile. “Thank you.”
She returned his smile momentarily feeling sorry for him, “Commodore can I get you anything else? Tea or coffee?”
“No thank you, I’m fine.” Indicating to the bundle in his hand he said, “I guess I should go get changed.”
Stepping into the small bathroom Derek was shocked when he caught a glimpse of his appearance in the mirror. He completely understood why Dr. Sane had not wanted Alexander to see him. Grasping the sink he studied his reflection. On its best day his hair was unruly, right then it was in complete disarray from having repeatedly run his hands through it. The dried blood of his wife and his son covered his hands and was smudged on his face. Filling the sink with warm water, Derek grabbed the wash cloth and soap wiping the bloody streaks from his face before scrubbing his hands. The florescent light above the mirror glinted on his wedding band. Raising his hand to examine it more closely he was dismayed to see it was also caked with dried blood. For the first time since their wedding day, when Nova had placed it on his hand, Derek removed his ring.
Placing the gold band in the palm of his hand he dipped it in the water. Taking the wash cloth he gently rubbed the surface of the ring making sure there were no traces of blood in the grooves of the Celtic pattern etched around the band. He smiled as he remembered Nova’s Surprise when he had chosen his wedding ring.
“Are you sure that’s the ring you want?” she asked, “Your heritage is Japanese and that ring has a Celtic pattern.”
“I’m sure. The jeweler says it’s one of a kind,” he replied kissing her, “just like the woman I am going to marry.” She had blushed scarlet at his words.
As he held it up to the light to make sure it was clean, he noticed there was an inscription on the inside of the band. It read, “When you wish upon a star.” He had not known it was there but he knew at once the event Nova was referring too. During the voyage to Iscandar, one evening he had found her alone on the observation deck. When he had asked what she was doing she said she was wishing on the Voton Star which she had informed him was also called the wishing star. When he had asked what she was wishing for she had refused to tell him, that it was a secret. The star turned out to be a trap set by the Gamilons that had almost stopped them from getting to Iscandar. When the incident had passed he found her once more wishing on the star. He had given her a hard time but undeterred she had told him she believed the power of her wish would find the right star to make it come true. He had again asked what she was wishing for. She told him that she wanted a certain someone to fall in love with her. When he asked who, she told him that was the secret. A lump lodged painfully in his throat and his eyes filled with tears as he slipped the ring back on his finger. “I guess your wish found its star sweetheart.” He whispered. Stripping off his blood stained clothing he quickly changed into the hospital scrubs he had been given and headed back into the waiting room.
Derek had just sat down when the door opened and a tall young man in a lab coat entered the room. Holding out his hand to Derek, crossing to where he was seated, he introduced himself, “Commodore Wildstar, I’m Stephen Lucas. I am the doctor looking after your son.”
Getting to his feet Derek shook the doctor’s hand. “How is he? Can I see him?”
“He’s going to be fine. Dr. Sane told me about the abilities of Queen Astrena. He is very lucky she was there or things could have been much worse. That she was able to close the wound in his shoulder saved his life. In all likelihood, a child that young, he would have bled to death before the paramedics arrived.” Derek turned pale at the thought.
“I understand that you and your son share the same blood type.”
“Yes we do,” Derek confirmed, “but why? I don’t understand. I thought you said he’ll be fine.”
Seeing the fear on his face Dr. Lucas quickly reassured him, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to worry you. Alexander is going be fine but he lost a lot of blood. I would like to do a transfusion before he is released. It will make him feel better and restore his energy level to normal.”
Sitting up on the exam table Alexander Wildstar began to cry as soon as he saw his father enter the room. “Daddy…! Daddy…!”
Striding across the room, Derek was shaking, tears rolling down his cheeks, as he scooped the little boy into his arms. The reality of just how close he had come to losing his son hit him. “Thank God you’re okay,” he whispered hugging him tightly against his chest. “I don’t know what I would have done if anything had happened to you.”
Isabelle Mitchell, the nurse who had been assisting with Alex Wildstar’s assessment, approached Stephen Lucas. “I have everything ready for the transfusion Doctor. We just need to have the patient lie back down on the exam table and his father can take a seat in the arm chair.”
“Thank you nurse,” he replied. As she moved from the doctor’s side, he placed his hand on her arm stopping her. Gazing at the two dark heads bent close together he said, “Let’s just give them a minute.”
Derek was still holding Alex tightly when Isabelle walked up them. Holding out her arms she addressed Alex, “I need you to lie back down on the table now.”
When she attempted to take him from his father he began to struggle, wrapping his arms more tightly around Derek’s neck. “NO…! Want to stay with Daddy!” In truth, Derek was reluctant to let go of his son.
Seeing the anxiety mirrored on the faces of father and son Dr. Lucas intervened. “Alex what if I let you sit over there in that big comfy chair with your daddy. Will you let Nurse Isabelle take care of you then?”
Alex had his face turned into his father’s chest, refusing to look at the doctor. Hearing the question he peeked up at his father. Catching his son looking up at him Derek said, “Sounds fair to me.”
Alex peered at the doctor over his father’s shoulder, “No needles!”
Aware that the transfusion would in fact require needles but not wanting Alex to get upset again Derek said, “Well we both have to have a needle. We will be connected through that machine so I can share my blood with you. How about you sit back on the table and watch while I let Isabelle put the needle in my arm first.”
He stared hesitantly at the adults around him, his large brown eyes wide and wary. “Okay,” he finally agreed.
Placing Alex back on the exam table, Derek took a seat in the large armchair. Pushing the cart of equipment next to the chair, Isabelle Mitchell promptly inserted the needle for the transfusion into his arm placing a piece of medical tape across the injection site to hold the needle in place.
“Your turn now,” said Isabelle as she turned to Alex. He had been watching intently from his seat on the table. As she approached Isabelle could see the look of fear on the little boys face. “You can sit with your Daddy if you want.”
Nodding he held out his arms to her. Picking him up Isabelle carried him to his father, gently laying him on Derek’s lap. Kneeling down in front of them she takes the needle into her hand. “Ready?” she asked.
Glancing at his father for reassurance he held out his. His lower lip quivered but he did not make a sound as she inserted the needle into his arm.
Isabelle smiled at her little patient. “All done,” she said, “You were very brave.”
Alex smiled at her as he snuggled into his father’s chest and closed his eyes. Taking a blanket from the exam table she covered them both.
“Thank you,” Derek said in appreciation, “you were really good with him.”
Flipping a switch on the top of the machine that would regulate the transfusion, it hummed to life. Watching the progress of the blood as it passed through the needle in Derek’s arm to the tube leading to the transfusion pump and then into the tube leading to the needle in Alex’s arm, Dr. Lucas was satisfied it was functioning properly. “The transfusion should only take about a half hour, after that Alexander is free to go. Is there anything I can do for you while you wait?”
“If you could find out about Nova… my wife… how she’s doing…”
“Of course, let me see what I can find out, I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Moving toward the door the doctor stopped, “Miss Mitchell, come with me, let’s give the Commodore and his son some time alone.”
Shifting in the chair Derek wrapped the blanket more snugly around them both. He was relieved to see Alex had drifted off to sleep. He had not known it was possible to love other human beings as much he loved his children and their mother. Studying his son’s sleeping profile, kissing the top of his dark head, Derek was overwhelmed with emotion. Closing his eyes he focused on Nova, reaching out through their bond. He could tell she was alive but got no response. He had difficulty keeping his focus as questions he could not answer raced through his mind. Where was Ariel? Was she safe? What was happening at his house? Where was Aliscea and what else was she planning? What was happening to Nova? Keeping his eyes closed he tried to block out the questions, to find a few minutes of peace. Emotionally drained Derek joined his son in the oblivion of sleep.
Exam Room Two
How long he had been asleep Derek did not know. He awoke with a start as someone shook him. His stomach dropped when he saw Dr. Lucas and Dr. Sane standing in front of him, their expressions grim.
Dread filling him, Derek began to rise from the chair, Alex still in his arms. “Nova…? Is she…?” he asked.
The little doctor placed a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Sit down Wildstar. I will answer all your questions about Nova but first there is something I have to tell you.”
Instantly alert Derek noticed the increase in noise and activity outside the exam room. Raised voices, shouted medical direction mixed with cries of pain. Seeing the look that passed between the two doctors he knew that something else had occurred. “What’s happened?”
“There was an explosion at the Earth Defence Force Training Facility about an hour ago,” Dr. Sane began.
“Where Doc? What part of the training facility?” Derek could feel his heart racing. His son Jonathan was an EDF cadet and had returned to the training facility just hours ago.
As much as he hated to tell him, Dr. Sane knew he had no choice. “It was in the cadet barracks.”
It took Derek a moment to process what he was hearing. That another member of his family could be injured or worse was too much to comprehend. “Do they know what happened? How many cadets were hurt? Where any of the cadets killed? Jonathan…”
“Wildstar the injured are still arriving; so far Jonathan is not one of them. There are seven confirmed dead but they have not been identified yet. I hate to leave after telling you this but Dr. Lucas and I are going to have to get back out there.”
“Doc what about Nova?”
“When I came back to tell you your wife was still in surgery you and Alexander were both asleep,” Dr. Lucas explained. “I thought you needed the rest so I didn’t wake you. And then the explosion happened and everything here got a little crazy”
Dr. Sane took up the story, “We had to take Nova directly into surgery. I removed the bullet and repaired some internal damage, the bullet nicked her intestine. The surgery took longer than anticipated but Nova is going to be fine. She is very fortunate Astrena was there to stop the bleeding.”
Not wanting to ask but needing to know Derek asked, “Doc, the twins…?”
“I’m sorry Wildstar,” he answered, sadly shaking his head.
The thin thread of hope he had been clinging to, that Astrena had been mistaken, evaporated. “Does she know?” he asked.
“No not yet,” the doctor replied. “I will tell her when she wakes up.”
Taking a deep shuddering breath, Derek shook his head. “No Doc, I’ll tell her... I need to be the one to tell her.”
Dr. Sane had never seen his friend and commanding officer look so utterly defeated. “Nova was in recovery. We moved her into a room as soon as she came out of the anesthetic. With the dose of pain medication I administered she has been asleep ever since.” Examining the transfusion pump, Dr. Sane said, “I see that the transfusion has stopped. Dr. Lucas will take you to her room but for now I would suggest you stay here and let Alex sleep. There is a swarm of reporters outside. The explosion brought them here and they seem to have gotten wind that something happened at your house. They know you are here. They were taking over the lobby and disrupting hospital operations so I had security kick them out.”
Derek groaned, “How did they find out so quickly?”
He shrugged in response, “I have no idea but to make sure Nova is not disturbed we moved her to the secure wing of the hospital.”
“Thanks, Doc.” The doctor was about to leave the room when Derek stopped him with another question, “You said you had to repair some internal damage. That damage… will we… will Nova… be able to have more children?”
For the first time since he entered the room Dr. Sane smiled. “Yes Derek that I can promise you. You and Nova will have more children.
Watching Dr. Sane leave the room Derek sat back in the chair. He felt utterly numb. Shifting his sleeping son more comfortably in his arms, allowing Dr. Lucas easier access as he removed the transfusion needle from his arm. Alexander did not stir from his sleep when his was removed. Getting to his feet once more, Derek tenderly kissed the top of his son’s dark hair. “I know Dr. Sane said we could stay here but with all the injured you probably need this room.”
“If you want to stay here while Alex is sleeping, that will be fine. No one will ask you to leave. I have to get back but I can come back in about an hour to take you to see your wife. She is not going to wake before then.”
Derek gave him a grateful smile. “I would appreciate that. I would like to be close by in case there is any news on Jonathan.”
“Nancy Fry, one of the nurses you met earlier, will be just outside if you need anything. I’ll make sure she knows to check on you.”
Glad for a few minutes alone to sort through his jumbled feelings, Derek was about to sit back in the chair when the door of the exam room burst open. A furious Teri Forrester stormed in, followed by her husband and a man Derek assumed was hospital staff.
“My daughter’s house is attacked, she is injured along with my grandson and I have to find out about it from the press!” she shrieked at him. “How could you let that happen? What is wrong with you?”
Struggling to keep his emotions in check Derek stared coldly at his mother-in-law. “Mrs. Forrester, please lower your voice, Alexander is asleep,”
Remembering where she was Teri Forrester lowered her voice but her fury did not diminish. “It would appear that once again her relationship with you has put my daughter and my grandchildren at risk.”
Karl Forrester was appalled at his wife’s behaviour. He admired Derek and it was obvious to him how much he loved their daughter. He could not understand Teri’s animosity toward the young man. Seeing how upset his son-in-law was he turned on her. “Teresa that is enough.” She scowled at her husband but said nothing else.
Disturbed by the raised voices Alexander opened his eyes. In a sleepy voice he said, “See Mommy soon?”
Startled by the little voice Derek turned his attention to his son, “Yes… soon, I promise.”
His eyelids drooping, he gave his father a sleepy smile. “And Ari?” he added before once more drifting off to sleep.
Those softly whispered words and the events of the last twenty-four hours were too much. Unable and unwilling to fight any longer Derek sank back into the chair clutching Alexander more closely to his chest. He opened his mouth to speak to his in-laws but thought better of it. He did not know what to say. He was on the verge of tears.
“Derek can you tell us what happened?” Karl Forrester asked. “All we know is your house was attacked and that Nova was hurt.” The appearance of Nancy Fry, one of the nurses on duty saved him from having to respond.
“Is everything all right in here Commodore?” she asked. “I heard raised voices.”
Getting up from the chair Derek walked over to the nurse, “I have to speak with my wife’s parents and I am afraid we will disturb Alex. If it’s not too much trouble would you mind taking him into the waiting area and watching him for me?” Glancing at Karl and Teri Forrester he added, “This shouldn’t take long.”
Nancy Fry could not believe her luck; Derek Wildstar was actually asking her to take his son. With the confusion in the emergency room it would be a simple matter of slipping out of the hospital and delivering the child to Joshua Piercy. She smiled at him, “It will be no trouble at all. I’d be delighted to take him.” He handed her his bundled up, sleeping son. Turning on her heal the Josiahite nurse headed back into the Emergency Department, Alexander Wildstar clutched in her arms.
“I’ll answer all your questions in minute Mr. Forrester,” Derek said, “but first I have a question.” Addressing the man who had entered the room with Nova’s parents he demanded, “Who the hell are you?” The notebook he was holding in his hand told Derek the stranger was not part of the hospital staff as he had first assumed.
“I’m Scott Foley.”
Having turned around to see who Derek was referring to Karl Forrester was surprised to see he had followed them into the room. “Scott you have no business here.”
Teri interrupted her husband. “Scott is a reporter with the Japan Times. He showed up at our house with pictures of Nova and Alex on stretchers being taken into the hospital. He is the one who informed us of what happened. No one else bothered too,” she added pointedly. “He and Nova are old friends. They attended college together.”
Foley gave Teri Forrester a wolfish grin. “You know Nova and I were much more than just friends.”
Blushing at the implication of his words she acknowledged his statement, “I really thought he was going to be part of the family.”
Derek frowned. “One of the many men Teri Forrester thought would have been a more suitable husband for Nova,” he thought to himself.
“So now I know who you are.” he said “Why are you here?”
“I would have thought that was obvious,” the reporter replied, “This is news. Teri said if I came back to the hospital she would give me exclusive details, maybe even get me in to talk to Nova.”
Karl Forrester gaped at his wife. “Teri how could you tell him that?” She scowled at him but did not reply.
“I’m afraid Teri was mistaken,” Derek said softly, advancing on the reporter. “You have two options, you can either walk out of here right now or I can throw you out. The choice is yours.”
Backing toward the exit Scott Foley held up his hands, “Hey keep your shirt on, I’m going. It was worth a shot.” As he opened the door to the exam room, preparing to leave, the reporter could not resist a final dig, “I’m a lover not fighter, just ask your wife, she knows.”
Derek watched the door swing closed his back to Nova’s parents. The silence in the room was deafening. Turning around he regarded the older couple. Finally he asked, “Mrs. Forrester is that really the kind of man you wanted your daughter to marry?”
“YES! Yes he is!” her voice shrill with emotion. “If she had married someone like Scott, and not some military man, she wouldn’t be in the hospital now! None of this would have happened!”
Walking back across the room Derek slumped into the chair he had vacated earlier. “Maybe you’re right,” he agreed, without looking up.
Karl Forrester did not miss the momentary satisfied smile that flickered across his wife’s face. Deciding it was neither the time nor place for that discussion he instead grabbed a stool and pulled it up beside the chair. He tentatively placed his hand on Derek’s arm. “I am truly sorry about all of this. When that damn fool reporter turned up at our house with pictures of the ambulances, and what looked like Nova and Alexander on stretchers, I didn’t know what to think. Scott told us your house had been attacked and that people had been killed. I must be getting old, I didn’t even realize he had followed us into the hospital until you spoke to him.”
Placing his hand on top of the one on his arm, Derek gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t worry Mr. Forrester I know none of this is your fault.”
“Please, can you tell me what happened? Where are Nova and Ariel? Were they hurt? Are you and Alex okay?”
Looking from Nova’s father to her mother Derek debated about what to say. He decided to stick with the attack on the house they did not need to know about the events of earlier in the day. He was certain Teri Forrester would blame him for that as well.
Directing his comments to Nova’s father Derek quickly recounted the events that had brought them to the hospital. “We had finished dinner and our guests had retired for the night.”
“Guests?” asked Karl Forrester
“Oh sorry, I should have mentioned my brother Alex as well as Emperor Desslok, his wife Astrena and their children are staying with us.” Seeing the questioning look on his father-in-law’s face he quickly explained, “Mr. Forrester I am sure you are wondering what they are doing here but I’m afraid that I am not at liberty to say. It is a matter of national security.”
From her position leaning against the exam table, her arms folded across her chest Teri Forrester glared at the two men. “Humph! That’s convenient,” she muttered.
Refusing to rise to the bate Derek continued his story. “We had just gone to bed when the attack started. The attackers started shooting at the house with antique firearms, one of the bullets shattered our bedroom window. Nova sensed there were intruders trying to get into our house; they were after the children. We grabbed our weapons. I wanted Nova to stay with the children, she could protect them. She agreed. Desslok had General Talon, his head of security, stay with her as well.” Overwhelmed by images of what he had witnessed, Derek fell silent. It was several minutes before he spoke again.
“I headed to the front of the house with my brother and Desslok. Two intruders had breached the security system. We took them out.” Derek glanced at Nova’s father. He nodded his understanding without interrupting. “Apparently there were more on the grounds. Colonel Gary Maples and two of his men had been assigned as additional security. It turns out the two of them were in on the attack. Colonel Maples managed to stop them but not before they killed two Gamilon Security officers. The colonel was shot twice himself in the process. What we didn’t know was there were men already with the children.”
Karl Forrester sat in stunned silence, appalled by what he was hearing. He could see Derek trembling as the young man went on with the story. “I left her with Talon, outside Ariel’s bedroom. I thought she would be safer there. I was wrong. I’m not completely sure what occurred next. We ran back to the bedrooms, as we turned the corner of the hallway, I saw Aliscea D’Shal grab General Talon by the arm. He was holding Ariel in one arm and had Desslok’s son Dellar by the hand. She teleported away taking them with her. One of the attackers was on the floor in a pool of blood. I thought he was dead. He wasn’t. He fired his weapon just as Alexander ran to his mother.”
All pretense of control gone Derek ground his fists into his eyes dashing way the tears that threatened to roll down his cheeks. “I watched my daughter vanish and my wife and son get shot in the span of less than a minute.”
Karl Forrester was visibly shaken and confused by what he had been told. “But I don’t understand Alexander looks fine now.”
“He is, thanks to Astrena’s intervention,” Derek explained. “She was able to stop the bleeding and close the wound.”
Out of patience with his explanation, Teri interrupted. “What about Nova?” she demanded. “What happened to my daughter? You said she was shot as well.”
“I’m sorry Mrs. Forrester I was just getting to that. Alexander was running to Nova when he was shot. He fell into her. The bullet passed through his shoulder and hit her… in the abdomen.”
As the full implication of his words hit, she looked at him with horror. “The twins?”
Derek shook his head as the ability to speak deserted him.
A commotion outside the examination room brought further conversation amongst the room’s occupants was to an abrupt end. The door burst open. Admiral Alex Wildstar entered the room dragging a struggling Nancy Fry with him. Following close behind was Jonathan Hartnel-Wildstar holding little Alex by the hand.
Startled by the sudden appearance of his brother and eldest son Derek was on his feet before the door closed behind. “Thank god you’re safe,” he said wrapping his son in a crushing embrace. Looking to his brother he asked, “Alex what are you doing here? Has something else happened?”
“To be honest with you Derek I think myself and Jonathan may have prevented something else from happening,” he replied. “We caught this one trying to leave the hospital with Alexander.”
All eyes fixed on Nancy Fry as she tried to yank her arms free from her captor’s grip. Giving up her struggle the petite nurse stared defiantly at Alex Wildstar. “My master has need of the third child. If you had not shown up I would have succeeded.”
Derek turned pale at her words. The very fact he had handed Alexander over to her, assuming she would keep him safe, made him physically ill. “God I am a fool, I trusted you.”
“That was your first mistake.” Studying the faces around her she snickered, “You all have no idea what’s happening; what’s going to happen. I am Nancy Fry. I am a spider in the Order of Josiahites; a loyal follower of the teachings of the Prophetess Yvonna Josiah.” Taking advantage of the distraction her outburst had caused she brought her booted foot down hard on Alex Wildstar’s instep.
Taken by surprise, he grunted in pain. The momentary loosening of his grip on her arms was all she needed; whirling around she raked her nails across his face before sprinting for the door.
Her escape attempt was short lived as two burly security guards appeared at the door. “Grab her!” Alex yelled to the men. They quickly complied with the order, dragging the hissing and spitting nurse back into the room.
“Are you all right sir?” one of the guards asked, noticing the blood running down Alex’s cheek.
Alex raised his hand to his cheek, “It’s nothing, just a scratch,” he replied.
“What do you want us to do with this one?” the other guard asked.
“Get her out of here,” he answered. “But I need her locked up somewhere close by for questioning.”
The two guards exchanged glances. “We can lock her in the drug dispensary. It’s the most secure area on this floor.”
Alex nodded his approval. “I want a guard posted outside at all times. No one is to enter that room without my express orders. Is that understood?”
“Yes sir,” the guards responded in unison. Turning their prisoner toward the door they headed out of the room.
As she was dragged from the room Nancy Fry yelled a final threat. “The Josiahites have become spiders Derek Wildstar, we are everywhere and you cannot stop us. Your family will never be safe.”
“That crazy girl is right,” Teri Forrester stated acid in her tone. Descending on Derek she continued, “My daughter and her children will never be safe as long as she is with you.” The tone of her voice getting sharper with each word she spoke. Coming to a stop in front of him she jabbed her finger into his chest. “It’s your fault that she was shot and it’s your fault she lost the babies.”
“What…! No…!” The anguished cry came from Jonathan. Gazing at his father with pain filled eyes he swallowed hard in an attempt to dislodge the lump that had suddenly formed in this throat. Dropping Alex’s hand he took a step toward his father. “Dad, I’m so sorry. Is Mom okay?”
“I haven’t seen her yet. They have moved her from recovery into a room in the secure wing of the hospital,” he answered. “How did you get here? I just heard about the explosion at the Barracks. Dr. Sane said the damage was extensive and a lot of cadets had been hurt. I was terrified you might have been injured or worse.”
“Uncle Alex came and got me. He was afraid I wouldn’t be safe at the academy. He was with Commander Singleton when the explosion happened.”
Derek saw the strange looked that passed between his brother and his son.
“Are you going to tell your father where you were when the explosion occurred or should I?” Alex asked.
Knowing he had no choice Jonathan explained where he had been. “Kato and I had snuck out of the barracks after lights out.” The look on both men’s faces told him they were not happy with his actions. He quickly continued his story, “Kato’s father is an aerospace engineer. He had delivered the prototype of the new Cosmo Viper. We went to check it out. We were almost back to the barracks five minutes sooner and we would have been. The force of the explosion knocked us to ground.”
Even though he was not pleased with Jonathan’s sneaking out and defying Academy rules, Derek could not help the sense of relief that flooded over him. On top of everything else the thought of having to tell Nova something had happened to him was beyond consideration.
“When I arrived at EDF Headquarters Commander Singleton was waiting for me. I had contacted him to let him know I was on my way to get Jonathan. We were walking towards the barracks when the explosion occurred. By the time the Commander and I got there the air was thick with smoke and we could hear cries for help. That was when I saw Jonathan and his friend Kato were running toward the barracks.” Alex explained, pride in his voice. “We would have been here sooner but I couldn’t get him to leave. He was determined to help in the rescue efforts.”
Set free and bored with the adult conversation going on around him, Alexander wandered over to his grandfather and climbed on to his lap.
Alexander was not the only one tired of the conversation. Teri Forrester had reached her limit as well. “I’ve had enough of this.” Striding across the room she attempted to snatch Alexander from his grandfather. “Come with Grandma, Alexander. We are leaving.”
The little boy was not willing to go with her clutching Karl Forrester’s jacket. “No Grandma, let go! Want to stay with Grandpa.”
Karl was appalled at her behaviour. “Teri what do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m leaving,” she hissed, “and I am taking Alexander with me.”
“You can leave if you wish Mrs. Forrester but you will be going alone.” Alex Wildstar informed her. He was across the room in three strides. Stopping in front of the exit he turned around, “now I think you should do as my nephew is asking and let him go.”
As irritated as he was with his mother-in-laws behaviour Derek could not help but grin at his brother’s imperial tone. “Mrs. Forrester I am sure you remember my brother, Admiral Alex Wildstar, Commander of the Iscandarian Imperial Fleet and consort to Queen Starsha.”
Teri refused to be intimidated. “I know who he is and I don’t care. It’s because of your involvement with Iscandar, Gamilon and the bloody EDF that all this has happened. You care more about them then you do for your own family! I am going home and I am taking my grandson with me.”
Karl Forrester rose to his feet. “Teri put him down… NOW! Can’t you see you are frightening him?” Derek stared at his father-in-law in amazement. It was the first time he had ever heard the man raise his voice.
Placing Alexander on his feet Terri Forrester glared at her husband. “Karl you know I’m right.”
Frightened by the raised voices and angry faces he immediately darted to his father. His bottom lip trembling and his eyes filled with tears he clung to Derek’s leg. “Want to go home,” he sobbed as his father scooped him up. “Want Mommy.”
Karl Forrester could barely contain his fury. Seeing his grandson in tears was the last straw. “What I know right now is you owe Derek an apology, not just for the things you have said but for your appalling behaviour as well.”
Folding her arms across her chest her lips compressed in a tight line, she stared mutinously at her husband. “Nova and the children are not safe in that house with him!”
“Actually Mrs. Forrester it was Josiahites who attacked Derek and Nova’s home tonight,” Alex informed her. “Correct me if I am wrong but that cult of religious fanatics was founded by your own sister wasn’t it? It was a Josiahite that shot your daughter and your grandson and it was a Josiahite that helped Aliscea D’Shal kidnap Ariel not to mention Desslok’s son and General Talon. They have single handedly put this planet on the verge of war with the Gamilon Empire. Before you start pointing fingers of blame at my brother I suggest you have a hard look at your own family.”
Seething with barely contained fury she gaped at the Admiral. She could not believe he had spoken to her with such a tone. “Are you going to let him speak to me like that?” she demanded giving her husband a withering look.
“Yes I am, someone needs too,” Karl Forrester replied, “besides it’s the truth.”
“I don’t have to stand for this! I’m leaving.” Shoving Alex Wildstar out of her way Teri Forrester stormed from the room.”
With a sigh, Karl Forrester took a step toward the door, “I’d better go find Teri before she causes any more trouble.” Turning to Alex he extended his hand, “Admiral, please accept my apologies.”
Grasping his hand Alex shook it. “That is not necessary Sir.”
“Derek if you need anything or if I can help in any way...,” his voiced trailed away. “Take care of my baby girl and find my granddaughter.”
Handing Alexander to Jonathan, Derek hugged his father-in-law. “I will... I swear to you.”
Brushing back his dark locks Karl placed a kiss on Alexander’s forehead. To Jonathan he said, “Take care of your father and your brother.”
“I will sir.”
With a final sad smile Karl Forrester left the examination room in search of his wife.
Putting Alexander down Jonathan knelt before him, “Hey Squirt how about you and I go find the cafeteria and get some milk.
“Chocolate?” he asked.
Holding out his hand Jonathan grinned at his little brother, “Sure, Chocolate.” Turning to Derek he said, “This will give you and Uncle Alex an opportunity to talk.”
Even as he nodded his consent, Derek was struck with an overwhelming sense of dread at letting his sons out of his sight. He knew it was irrational but still cautioned, “Jonathan, there are reporters swarming around the building so be careful.”
“Don’t worry Dad, I will.”
In spite of the limited time they got to spend together over the past few years Alex Wildstar was still surprised at how easily he could still read his younger brothers facial expressions and body language. He could easily see Derek’s fear for his sons as they left the room. Concerned about how he was doing personally Alex asked, “How are you holding up?
He shrugged in response. “I’m okay I guess, just tired… numb… and afraid, really afraid of what could happen next,” the depth of his anxiety reflecting in his dark eyes as he gazed at his brother. “Alex what did you mean when you said the Josiahites have pushed us to the brink of war with the Gamilon Empire? I know Desslok has to be worried about Dellar and Talon but I can’t believe he would want to start a war. I need you to tell me what happened at my house after I left.”
“You mean after you knocked General Stone on his ass?” he asked with a grin.
“Yeah after that,” Derek chuckled. Turning serious once more he added, “How mad was he? I have been half expecting the military police to turn up here and drag me away.”
“General Stone was pretty angry, he was cursing a blue streak, screaming that your career was over. He ordered his men to go after you but Desslok stopped him. He informed the General that his son and his head of security had been taken with the aid of a group of Earthlings. He went on to add that if the EDF had any hope of the Inter Planetary Alliance agreement being signed Dellar, Talon and Ariel had best be found alive and unharmed.”
Running his hands through his hair in frustration with a heavy sigh Derek sat down on the stool Karl Forrester had been seated on earlier. “So that’s it then, the alliance is dead in the water.”
“No not at all. The alliance treaty has already been signed. On the trip to Earth we discussed it and with a few minor changes, which General Singleton approved, it was agreed to by the Gamilons, New Pellias and Iscandar. We signed it before we even arrived on Earth. Desslok said what he did to get General Stone focused on the situation at hand and not on his personal vendetta against you. It worked, by the time I left to go get Jonathan the house and grounds were swarming with security from the Earth Defence Forces as well as security from the Gamilon and Iscandarian Embassies.”
Derek raised an eyebrow in surprise, “Really? I’m amazed Stone agreed to that.”
“That’s right you don’t know,” Alex explained, “it turns out those two EDF security officers who were with Colonel Maples were Josiahites.”
“Well that certainly explains a lot but it also poses a whole new set of problems.” The whole situation chilled Derek to his core. “Alex how are we going to find Aliscea and the children? What do I tell Nova?”
“Tell her the search is already under way. Astrena and Desslok have gone to the Gamilon Embassy. Astrena is in a meditative trance. She is searching for Aliscea. Starsha is doing the same thing. She has also contacted the other members of the Blue Council. Astrena believes Aliscea has given Ekogaru control of the root of the Matrix and that he is using it to shield Aliscea’s movements. That is what Astrena went to confirm in the old texts at the Pellian Embassy when she left your house earlier.”
“But why didn’t she know the matrix could be used like that?” he angrily demanded.
“It is the first time in a millennium that the Matrix has been stripped from its chosen bearer and this is the first time it has ever been split over multiple hosts.” Alex could not blame his brother for being angry but felt the need to defend the Pellian Queen. “Derek she is doing everything she can. She was distraught when she found out Dellar was taken.”
Ashamed of what he had said Derek attempted to explain his feelings. “I know you’re right, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. It just feels like the universe is trying to see how far I can bend before I break. But here’s the thing I’m already broken. Nova is the one who put me back together.” The look in Derek’s eyes grew distant as he recounted the memory that still haunted his nightmares. “There has only been one other time in my life that comes close to how I felt tonight; when your ship did not return from the battle near Pluto. They told me you were dead and from that moment I was completely alone in the world. It was then I met Nova for the first time. We started out as friends, she was always there for me. It wasn’t until we discovered your ship, the Paladin had crashed on Titan that I saw her as more than a friend. For a brief moment I had hoped you could still be alive. She wept in my arms, sharing my grief, when we confirmed there were no survivors. I think that’s when I started to fall in love with her. Seeing Ariel vanish and then to watch Nova and Alexander get shot brought all those feelings back, my family was being taken from me and I was going to end up alone again.”
As he finished speaking, Derek looked up to see Alex staring at him with a grief stricken expression and unshed tears in his eyes. For the first time he fully understood how much Derek had endured following the death of their parents. Yanking him from the stool Alex pulled him into a brotherly hug. “You’re not alone and I swear to you we will find Ariel.”
Both men turned as the door to the exam room opened. The colour drained from Derek’s face as Jonathan, holding little Alex by the hand, re-entered the room followed closely by one of the EDF security guards he had seen earlier.
Jonathan’s expression immediately told Derek something was wrong. “What’s happened?”
“That crazy nurse, the one who tried to take Alexander, she’s dead” he replied, “And so is one of the security officers who was guarding her.”
“My God! How?” Derek exclaimed.
Alex Wildstar’s shock quickly turned to anger. ’What the hell happened?” he demanded fixing the guard with a steely glare, “no one was supposed to get near her until I questioned her.”
Frightened once more by raised voices Alexander dropped his brother’s hand and darted to his father. Picking up his son Derek walked over to the recliner they had been seated in for their blood transfusion. The blanket they had been wrapped in was still on the seat. “Want to go home,” he whimpered. Placing Alexander on the chair he neatly tucked the blanket around him.
“I know you do. While you’re waiting why not close your eyes.” As he spoke he gently rubbed Alexander’s back hoping to lull him to sleep.
“Admiral, I’m afraid what happened is my fault.” The young officer met his superior officer’s gaze without blinking. “I left my post. I left the dispensary unguarded. I believe both she and my partner were killed while I was gone.”
Alex grabbed the security officer by the lapels of his uniform jacket hauling him forward so they were nose to nose. “YOU DID WHAT?” Seething with rage it took all of his self-control not to slap the young man senseless.
Pulling on his uncle’s arm Jonathan sprang to his defence. “Uncle Alex, please stop, let us explain. This is not Jessie’s fault.”
“I take it you know this man.” With Jonathan’s nod he released his grip on the young guard. Folding his arms across his chest he waited for them to say something. “So go ahead than, explain it to me. I’m listening.”
“Sir my name is Jesse Asano Private First Class with the Earth Defence Forces security detail.” Standing rigidly at attention, arms by his side, his expression gave no hint to his emotional turmoil. He continued his story “I am normally assigned to the night watch. That is where I met Jonathan… Cadet Wildstar.”
Derek had been listening but his attention had been focused on comforting his youngest son who was tired, upset and asking to go home. His head snapped up, “So how did you end up here tonight?”
“There was a last minute change in the scheduled duty roster. Several of the senior officers called in sick.” Addressing Derek Asano finished his story. “Commodore, I heard about the attack on your home and the attempted kidnapping of your son. When I saw them walk past me I was worried it wasn’t safe for them to be wandering the hospital alone. The Emergency Department is madness right now dealing with all the wounded cadets. Additional medical staff have been called in. If someone wanted to cause more trouble it would be easy for them to blend in.”
Leaning against the examination table, his expression grim, Alex Wildstar was an imposing figure. “Who is at the dispensary now? I assume you did not leave the scene unattended?”
“No sir, the military police have taken control of the scene,” Asano stammered in reply. Seeing the looks of surprise on the faces of his superior officers he quickly explained, “They came with the wounded cadets.”
“There were two of you assigned, where was the other guard?” He asked.
“He had gone to the lavatory; I knew he would be back in a few minutes. The dispensary was locked from the outside and we had the only keys. I knew the prisoner could not get out so I offered to accompany them to the cafeteria, I felt it was my duty to ensure their safety. We passed him in the hallway on his way back. It could not have been more than five minutes from the time I left to the time he got back there. When we returned a short time later, the door to the dispensary was open. I found Max, I mean Private Masters, on the floor just inside the door, a hypodermic needle sticking out of his neck. The nurse had also been stuck with a needle. It was in her thigh. This was attached to it.” He handed Derek a folded piece of paper.
Scanning the note, Derek’s eyes widened. Dropping his hand to his side he let the paper slip from his grasp. “Jonathan I want you to take your little brother right now and go with your Uncle to the Iscandarian Embassy. You will be safe there.”
“But Dad I want to help with the search for Ariel.” Jonathan wanted to protest further but seeing the strain on his father’s face thought better of it.
“I know you do and I appreciate it but right now I need to know you are both safe,” he replied. “Please I am asking you to do this for me.”
Stooping down Alex retrieved the note from the floor. A shiver ran down his spine as he read, “We leave you proof we spiders are everywhere. No one is safe. Once caught in our web no one escapes… no one survives.”
“Alex I haven’t seen Nova yet. I have to make sure she is okay. I am not convinced she is safe here. I have no idea how long I will be.”
Taking the sleeping Alexander from the chair he gave his brother an understanding nod. “Take your time. Come to the embassy when you’re done here. It’s the safest place you can be right now and you won’t have to worry about reporters. I will be meeting with Astrena and Desslok later.”
Still standing at attention it appeared to Jesse Asano the two men had forgotten his presence in the room. Clearing his throat to gain their attention he asked, “Admiral, what do you want me to do Sir?”
“You are coming with us. You and Private Masters were the last two people to see Nancy Fry alive. You may have seen something that could help identify the individual responsible.” He refrained from adding his concern the Private’s life could be at risk. “We will talk further when we are safely at the Embassy after which you will be assigned as personal security for my nephews.”
Totally dumbfounded at the latest turn of events, Jesse did not respond.
“You assessed the situation, determined it was unwise for my nephews to be walking through the hospital alone and took it upon yourself to ensure their safety. I appreciate initiative. I will clear this with your superiors on the way out.”
Not knowing what to say all Asano could do was nod.
Giving Jonathan a quick hug and dropping a kiss on Alexander’s forehead Derek watched his sons walk away with their Uncle. He was struck with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. After his parents had been killed he had been forced to live at St. Anslem’s orphanage. Alex was shipping out with the Earth Defence Forces and he had no other family. Watching them walk away felt eerily like the day he had watched Alex walk away leaving him alone on Earth.”
“Get a grip Wildstar,” he muttered to himself, “now is not the time to start losing it.” Shaking his head and taking a deep breath he headed for the door his thoughts focused on Nova. He needed to see her. As if sensing his thoughts Dr. Lucas was right outside the door when he opened it.
“Commodore, I just saw your brother leaving with your sons so I assumed you were going to want to go and see your wife.”
Derek nodded in gratitude. “I do, very much.”
Leading him across the waiting room the doctor swiped his security card opening a door to a back hallway. As they approached a bank of elevators Dr. Lucas explained the area of the hospital they were in was for authorized staff only. “It allows for the private movement of doctors and patients, invaluable on days like today.”
Exiting the elevator they headed down the hallway to Nova’s room. As they approached Derek was surprised to see a Gamilon Security guard posted outside. He regarded the Doctor with a quizzical look.
“Dr. Sane said you would want an explanation. Emperor Desslok insisted. He said that the incident tonight proved EDF Security has been compromised. He was unwilling to take any chances with her safety.”
Stopping outside the door the doctor extended his hand. “I’m afraid I have to get back.”
Shaking the doctor’s hand Derek smiled. “Thank you… for everything.”
Entering the room he could see Nova was sleeping. His heart twisted painfully. She looked so fragile hooked to an assortment of medical equipment monitoring her condition. He hated the thought of causing her more pain but the news about the twins had to come from him. Taking the lone chair in the room he pulled it up next to the bed and sat down. Folding his arms on the side of the bed he rested his chin on top and watched his wife sleep.
6th Floor Private Wing
Nova Wildstar’s Room
Opening her eyes for a moment Nova was unsure where she was. Her head felt heavy and there was a dull ache radiating from her abdomen. Lifting her hand to push her hair out of her eyes she noticed the tubes attached to an IV. “A hospital,” she thought, “I’m in a hospital.” The reason why she was there came rushing back. Looking around she realized Derek was in the room with her. He was slumped in the chair, his arms folded on the bed with his head resting on them. She tried to call his name but her mouth was so dry it felt like it was filled with cotton wool. Reaching out she managed to stroke his hair.
Deep in thought going over the events of the last 24 hours Derek did not immediately notice Nova staring at him. He looked up when he felt her hand on his hair. Getting to his feet he leaned in and kissed her. “Hey look who’s awake.” Studying her face for any sign of pain or discomfort he asked, “How are you feeling?”
Unconcerned about herself Nova immediately asked about the children. Her voice was barely audible coming out as a raspy whisper. “Alexander…he was shot. Where is he?”
Taking the jug from the nightstand next to the bed, Derek poured some water into a cup. Supporting her as she sat up he held it to her lips. Nova sighed in relief as the cool liquid slid down her throat. Finishing the water she asked again, “Alexander?”
“He’s fine. The bullet passed through his shoulder and Astrena repaired the damage. He is with Jonathan and Alex at the Iscandarian Embassy.”
“And Ariel?” Derek could feel her trembling as she leaned against him, whether it was from exhaustion or fear he did not know.
He shook his head. “We haven’t found her yet but Astrena and Starsha are meditating in an attempt to find Aliscea. They have the Blue Council helping in the search as well.”
“Astrena must be frantic to find Dellar.”
“She is,” he confirmed. “She is taking comfort in the fact Talon is with them. He will keep them safe.”
As a dull pain moved across her abdomen, Nova shifted her position in an attempt to ease the discomfort. She suddenly froze her eyes filled with fear, “I can’t feel the babies.” Grasping his hand in desperation she placed it on her stomach. “Derek… why can’t I feel the babies?”
He didn’t have to say anything, the pained look on his face and his feeling of despair coursing through their bond told her everything she needed to know. She began to cry, shaking her head in disbelief. “No… no… please Derek tell me it’s not true.”
Battered by the flood of raw emotions he was receiving from Nova the depth of her grief threatened to overwhelm him. The loss was still so new it was like an open wound and he was at a loss as to how to comfort his wife. What could he possibly say to make her feel better when his own heart was aching? Mindful of the IV and other tubes he climbed onto the bed beside her. Gathering her into his arms, his tears mingled with hers. “I’m so sorry sweetheart. The bullet did a lot of damage. Astrena was able to help you but it was too late for the twins.”
Utterly inconsolable she collapsed against him. “No… oh god no….” Her heart broken sobs racked her slender frame. Unable to do anything else he held her as she cried. As the sobbing came to a gradual end Derek realized she had cried herself to sleep. Unwilling to disturb her he settled her more comfortably against his chest and relaxed against the pillows on the bed. Lying there he studied the young woman asleep in his arms. On her face he could clearly see the tracks of the tears that had rolled down her cheeks. He hated to see her cry. The need to protect her from anything else that could cause her harm or sorrow surged through him. She had saved his life both literally and figuratively and he would do no less for her.
“You are my heart,” he whispered to her as he brushed a stray lock of hair back from her face. “I will love you to my dying breath.”
The warmth of Nova’s body, the constant beep of the heart monitor and the sound of her breathing began to make him groggy.
“That’s right Derek, go to sleep and dream,” breathed a voice in his head. “Everything you see is just a dream, nothing is real.”
Briefly disoriented Nova was unsure what had awakened her. Derek was asleep beside her. She immediately sensed they were no longer alone. Looking up her heart began to pound; Aliscea D’Shal was standing at the foot of the hospital bed.
“I’ve been watching you sleep. Sickeningly sweet really, does he always wrap himself around you like that?” she asked. Derek’s arms were wrapped around her holding her close.
“One of the most beautiful things in my opinion is falling asleep with someone you love holding you close making you feel perfectly safe,” Nova snapped, “But you wouldn’t know anything about that would you?”
The look on Aliscea’s face as she stared at Derek sent a shiver down her spine and she instinctively moved closer to him. Shaky and weak from the effects of the anesthetic Nova knew if Aliscea tried anything she could do little to stop her. “Derek!” Through their bond she called for him. “Derek wake up! Aliscea is here!” He did not respond. Grabbing his shoulder she attempted to wake him.
“Save your effort, right now your sweet loving husband is under my control” Aliscea sneered, “he’s not going to wake until I let him. Do you honestly believe I would be stupid enough to make the same mistake again?”
Frightened at being alone with Aliscea in her current condition Nova feigned ignorance, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t play dumb with me. You and I both know Derek has a portion of the matrix residing within him. That he has been able to protect you by forcing me out of your body it would seem he has also learned to use it. Very clever, it never occurred to me that my mother would choose multiple hosts.”
“It wasn’t your mother’s decision. The matrix chose him.”
“It makes no difference what my mother did or did not do. My abilities have grown greatly since that night aboard the Argo. To keep him from interrupting our conversation I realized it was him I needed to control of and not you. He is the key. Unlike the last time right now he unaware of my control. Everything that happens now will be nothing more than a dream to him. As long as I control him you cannot call for his help.” Pulling up the chair she sat down, stuck her feet up on the bed, leaned back and studied her nemesis.
“It appears you are no longer pregnant,” she observed, “I see someone finished the job for me. Apparently those Josiahites were not completely useless after all.”
Nova’s eyes filled with tears but she said nothing.
“Oh what’s the matter? Have I upset you?” Aliscea asked with barely contained glee. “I guess losing your daughter and then losing your babies must be difficult.”
Glancing toward the door Nova silently prayed the guard posted outside would intervene.
“Forget it Nova, you are on your own. The guard outside has no idea anything is happening in here. If he looks in all he will see is what I want him to see. He thinks you are both sleeping.”
Nova stared at Aliscea, all the hate she felt for the woman seated so nonchalantly beside the bed mirrored in her eyes. There was nothing she wanted more than to be able to wipe the smug look off her face but utmost in her mind was protecting her husband. She remembered all too clearly how much Derek had suffered, both physically and emotionally, the last time Aliscea had taken control of him. The incident had occurred just over four months ago while they were on board the Argo in orbit around Iscandar. She shuddered as memories of what had occurred that night came flooding back.
It had started as a night like any other.
Leaving the bridge of the Argo together Derek and Nova stepped into the lift to the Captain’s quarters. As soon as the door closed behind them Derek wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her back against his chest. Nova giggled as he nuzzled her neck and nibbled on her ear. “Let’s take Alex and Ariel to the nursery for the night,” he suggested, eager for some time alone with his wife.
Between her bouts of morning sickness, caring for the twins, and their respective ships duties, it had been more than a week since they had made love. Turning in his embrace so she was facing him she put her arms around his neck kissing him. “I think that is a wonderful idea.”
Half an hour later they were finally alone in their in cabin. After stripping off his uniform Derek lay down on their bunk pulling Nova down beside him. Kissing, caressing and teasing he removed her uniform. As they made love and fell asleep in a mass of twisted bed clothes and intertwined limbs they had no idea what fate had in store for them later that night.
Jolted from sleep Nova sat up and rubbed her eyes. The cabin was dark except for panorama of stars gliding past the windows. Sensing that she was awake and troubled Derek gathered her into his arms. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“It’s nothing, just a bad dream.” Snuggling close to him resting her head in the curve of his shoulder, the solid feel of his body pressed against hers and the steady sound of his heart beat under her ear gave her comfort. Rolling to his side Derek pulled her flush against him, holding her close. It was not long before his desire for her became evident. Kissing her deeply he began to make love to her again. He reverently explored her body leaving her squirming with desire. Poised above her, ready to enter her body he vanished.
In the darkness of the cabin Nova could not understand what had happened. How could he simply vanish? Just seconds later she heard his angry cries for help and Aliscea’s laughter in her head. It was then she realized she was not alone in the room as she had thought. Flicking the switch on the bedside table lamp the scene she beheld still haunted her nightmares. Derek lay spread-eagled on the floor of their cabin, an unseen force holding him immobile, his aroused state on full display. Standing over him was a naked Aliscea D’Shal. Bolting from their bunk Nova lunged at her, intent on shoving Aliscea away from her husband. Flicking her wrist a ball of energy flew from her fingers knocking Nova backward. Dazed by the blast, for a moment all she could see was stars. As her vision cleared Nova was horrified at the sight of Aliscea straddling Derek’s thighs.
Even though he was unable to move Derek was fully aware of everything that was happening. Pinned to the floor he refused to give in. “Aliscea have you gone mad?” he demanded. “What do you think you’re doing?” In her unclothed state and her position across his thighs it was obvious what she was intending to do and he was determined to prevent it. “Do you intend to shame me in front of my wife?”
Desperate to help him Nova’s mind was racing. How could she get Aliscea away from Derek?
“I would stay right there if I were you,” Glaring at Nova her hand began to glow. Leaning forward she placed her hand on his chest. “That last energy blast knocked you on your ass, what do you think one would do this close to his heart?”
Those callously spoken words stopped Nova cold. Terrified Aliscea actually intended to kill him she tried to get her attention away from Derek. “Aliscea I’m your friend I don’t understand why you’re doing this? What could you possibly hope to gain by forcing yourself on him?”
“You’re my friend!” Aliscea snorted in disgust. “You stole my mother’s affection, she gave you a seat on the Blue Council and she expects me to train you to use your newly developing abilities. Oh no Nova, you are not my friend. I have no friends on this ship. I have renounced you all. I, Aliscea D’Shal, am a sworn servant of the Dark Lord, Ekogaru and I do this to prove my loyalty to him.”
Willing to do anything to protect the man she loved Nova offered her only barging chip, “I am the one you are angry with. Derek has done nothing to you. Let him go and you can take your anger out on me.”
“Nova… Don’t…” Derek’s words echoed in her head.
“You’d like that wouldn’t you. Oh no, I think not, I am going to take something that is yours and you are going to stand there and watch,” Aliscea laughed. Leaning down she kissed Derek full on the mouth. “I am sure you are still adjusting to being a bonded pair. Did my mother explain to you everything that means? It is much more than just an emotional bond; there is a physical aspect as well. Once physically bonded the couple’s bodies become biologically and chemically imprinted on each other. That is what makes it possible to sense what the other is feeling and communicate telepathically. To keep the connection pure joining with someone other than the one to whom you are bonded is painful in the extreme. By my physically joining with your mate in the most intimate way possible your bond will be contaminated damaging your psionic connection. By doing this I will prove my loyalty to the Dark Lord. I will become one of his trusted inner circle but even more than that Nova Wildstar I want to cause you pain.”
Frantic for help Nova reached out with her mind to Astrena and Starsha. “Aliscea has betrayed us and attacked Derek. I need help… please hurry!”
Ignoring Nova, Aliscea turned her attention to Derek. Wrapping her fingers around his penis she stroked him before taking him into her mouth. A prisoner in his own body he could not push her away and he could not stop his response to her touch. Tears of shame slid down his cheeks. The dull ache in his head that had started when Aliscea kissed him became a blinding pain. It felt as if his head was about to burst.
Certain he was about to die he reached out to Nova with his mind. “I’m sorry” he sent her. “I love you.”
As his words echoed over and over in her mind they seemed to gradually become more distant as if the strength of their connection was fading. Nova had never been more terrified or felt more helpless. There was nothing she could do as long as Aliscea kept her hand on his chest maintaining her threat to his life.
Sensing he was about to climax Aliscea adjusted her position across his thighs, “Looks like someone is ready for me.” She grinned down at Derek. Leaning forward she whispered, “This is going to hurt.” As she slid his erection into her body he went ridged and screamed in pain.
Derek's cry sent a blinding pain through Nova's temple forcing her to her knees. For a moment it felt as if the very fabric of her soul had been torn open and her connection to him blinked out.
It was in that moment Astrena appeared in their cabin. Throwing her hands up two blasts of psionic energy flew from her fingers striking Aliscea. Nova watched in stunned amazement as Aliscea was flung backward slamming into a bulkhead. Astrena moved across the room so quickly that Nova was not certain how she had done it. Grabbing the limp form of her daughter by the arm they vanished.
A soft moan brought her attention back to Derek. Free from Aliscea's control he had rolled to his side, his knees drawn up to his chest. He slowly pulled himself into a sitting position. Kneeling beside him she reached out and gently stroked his cheek. "I love you," she whispered.
He placed his hand on top of hers. “I couldn’t stop her. I’m so sorry.” As he gazed at her the pain and shame reflected in his eyes tore at her heart.
Focused on Derek, Nova was startled by Astrena's voice in her head. "I will return once I have dealt with my daughter but there is something you must do immediately, make love to your husband."
There was nothing she wanted more than to take him in her arms and comfort him but she was not sure how he would react to that suggestion. "Astrena given what he's just been through I don't know if he's ready for that. I don’t know if I’m ready."
"I know and I would not suggest it if it was not absolutely vital. Derek's life is at risk. I can sense his connection to you is fading. You must physically join with him to repair the damage Aliscea has done to your bond. I must go but will explain further when I return. Nova there is no time to waste."
Astrena’s words terrified her. Brushing his hair back she looked into his eyes. Reaching out through their bond she knew he was suffering. She was relieved the connection was still there but frightened at how faint it was becoming. She said softly, “I know you’re in pain. Will you let me help you?”
Getting to her feet she helped Derek get to his. Taking his hand she led him back to their bunk. “I want you to lie back. If you’ll let me I am going to make love to you.” He hesitated for a moment before nodding.
Still unsure of what she was suggesting he lay down on the bunk. "You still want me, even after what you just saw?" His expression was a mix of hope and disbelief.
Nova lay down beside him. Leaning up on her elbow she stared into his face, "Derek Wildstar I will always want you. I love you." Adding emphasis to her words she kissed him. "What happened was not your fault."
Wrapping his arms around her he pulled her against his chest. She could feel him shaking as he held her. "Will you trust me?" She asked. At his nod she reached out and gently touched his genitals.
He flinched. Nova quickly pulled her hand away fearful of hurting him further. "What she did to me, it really burns,” he whispered catching her wrist, “but I’m okay, don’t stop. I need you.”
Just as Aliscea had done to him Nova took him in her mouth but for her it was an act of love and cleansing, not one of violation. With her tongue she wiped away the physical remnants of her husband's attacker. Wanting to be sure he knew that she did not blame him for what happened she focused on sending him all the love she felt for him through their bond. She felt him gradually relax and respond to her. Placing a kiss on his navel Nova gradually made her way up his body. Straddling his thighs she was about to join her body to his.
Derek's reaction was immediate and panicked, "No! Not like that! Nova Stop!" His expression stricken he gazed at her. “I can’t… Not like that… Not with you.”
Looking at their position on the bunk she instantly realized in her attempt to help him she had in fact repeated everything Aliscea had done to him and had been about to take him into her body in the same way.
“I was about to…just like she did…” Her voice trailed away. Horrified she collapsed in a ball beside him on their bunk.
Determined not to let what had happened come between them, Derek gathered her into his arms. Flipping her on to her back he pinned her to the bed with his body putting them in the exact position Aliscea had interrupted earlier. He wanted nothing more than to find comfort in her embrace but he could not bring himself to do more than stare into her face. In spite of her assurance she did not blame him for what had happened, Derek could not get past the feeling he had let her down. His desire for her at war with his sense of honor held him immobile.
Sensing his hesitation Nova reached out to him with her mind. The depth of her love for him flowed over and around him. “I love you Derek Wildstar. I will always love you, no matter what. You are mine and I am yours… always.”
It was the encouragement he needed. Kissing her deeply he entered her body in one thrust. There was an urgency to the rhythm that left them breathless. Nova matched him thrust for thrust. Their act of love was so much more than a joining of bodies it was a reconnection of heart, mind and soul.
Aliscea’s attempt to force them apart that night had failed. Not only had her attack on Derek strengthened their bond but it had made them closer than ever. With Derek once more under Aliscea’s control Nova was terrified she would use the opportunity to take revenge for her past failures and really do him harm.
As if picking up on her thoughts Aliscea grinned wickedly. “You know that while I have control I can make him do anything I want and I do mean anything. I can hurt him…” To illustrate her point she flung Derek from the bed to the floor, his head striking the night stand as he fell.
“I can make him hurt himself…” Getting up from the floor Derek picked up the small pair of medical scissors from the top of the night stand. Driving the blade into his arm just below the elbow he dragged them down the length of his inner arm opening a six inch gash. Nova watched in horror as blood oozed from the wound running down his arm and dripping to the floor.
“Stop it!” she cried, “For the love of God, I’m begging you just stop. Stop hurting him.”
“You don’t want me to hurt him anymore, fine I’ll stop.” Pulling the scissors from his arm Derek let them drop to the floor. Aliscea grinned maliciously, “He can hurt you instead…” Staring straight at her Derek lurched forward.
Nova knew she was in no condition to attempt using her developing abilities to stop him. Her heart skipped a beat when she noticed his dark brown eyes were now a cold steel blue. For the first time ever Nova was actually afraid Derek would do her harm. In a desperate attempt to break Aliscea’s hold on him she tried to reach him with their bond. “Derek… please fight her…don’t let her make you do this.”
Grabbing her around the throat he began to squeeze cutting off her ability to breath. Struggling to break his grasp Nova was on the verge of blacking out. In her mind she screamed his name, “Derek! You’re hurting me! I can’t breathe!”
Her distress pulled at Derek’s consciousness. The dreamlike state he had been in cleared making him suddenly aware of what he was doing and that he was not in control of his body. Reaching inside he called on the matrix for help. His hands dropped to his sides and his eyes cleared briefly. The exertion to get free had taken a huge physical toll; he gave Nova a dazed look and murmured her name before collapsing in a heap on the floor.
“DEREK!” Ignoring the tearing pain it caused in her incision Nova struggled to a sitting position, intent on getting to him.
“Enough of this,” Aliscea shrieked in fury that once more he had been able to disrupt her plans. “If you ever want to see your brat or my precious little brother again you are going to listen to me and do exactly what I say.”
Nova immediately stopped her attempt to get out of her hospital bed. Worried about Derek but terrified for her little girl’s safety she gave Aliscea her full attention.
“Five days from now you are going to meet me at Mystery Hill in North America.”
“Mystery Hill?” Nova gave her a puzzled look. “I’ve never heard of it; where in North America?”
“Don’t worry my dear mother is familiar with the site. It was an ancient meeting place of the Blue Council. You will be there before dawn, bring Desslok and no one else.” When Nova nodded Aliscea continued. “Let me be crystal clear, make sure Derek and Astrena stay away. If I even sense their presence anywhere near the site Ariel will be the one to pay the price. Do you understand?”
“I understand,” Nova replied. Sounding braver than she felt she added, “Now let me tell you something Aliscea D’Shal; if you have hurt Ariel or Dellar there will be nowhere in the universe for you to hide. I will hunt you down and kill you.”
“Five days.” With those final words Aliscea vanished.
Ignoring the protests of her body, with shaking hands Nova removed her IV and began to pull off the medical sensors attached to her skin setting off the alarms on all the monitors. Flinging back the covers she swung her legs over the side of the bed determined to get dressed. Derek regained consciousness and sat up just as Dr. Sane and his medical emergency response team burst through the door.
As it was clear his patient was not in any immediate medical distress he dismissed the response team. Appalled to see his patient, just hours after surgery, attempting to get out of bed Dr. Sane rushed forward to stop her. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Are you trying to rupture your stitches?” Seeing blood splatters on the blankets he was concerned she had injured herself in some way. “Where did this blood come from?”
“Aliscea was just here,” Nova replied her voice shaking, “and the blood is not mine its Derek’s.”
Getting to his feet Derek was shocked by what he was hearing. It frightened him that he had no clear memory of what had occurred. The dreamlike flashes he did recall were extremely disturbing. His confusion at what had happened came out in a flurry of questions. “What do you mean she was here? Why didn’t you wake me? Why did I wake up on the floor and how can that be my blood?”
Relief flooded through her that his eyes had returned to their original color. “She took control of you while you were asleep. She showed me she could make you do anything she wanted including hurting yourself. ” Taking his hand Nova turned it over revealing the oozing gash in his arm. “You did that with the scissors there on the floor.” Not wanting to cause him further pain she did not tell him what he had done to her. “I was afraid she might really hurt you or do God knows what to Ariel if I made her angry.”
The open wound on Derek’s arm brought Dr. Sane around the bed. Taking the rolls of gaze and sutures from the supply cabinet on the wall he indicated for Derek to take a seat. Examining the wound he quickly stitched it up and applied a dressing.
Taking advantage of their distraction Nova slid off the bed and attempted to stand. Lightheaded and nauseous she clung to the bed to keep from falling.
“Nova Wildstar get back in that bed. You were shot and you have just had major surgery to repair internal injuries. You need to rest. I cannot release you.”
Ignoring the doctor’s plea Nova looked at Derek, “Aliscea gave me instructions; where I have to meet her in five days. I have to talk to Desslok and Astrena. I can’t stay here.”
Derek was all too familiar with the stubborn tilt of her chin he knew she would not go down without a fight. He could also tell by looking at her she was in no condition to be out of bed. “Sweetheart please listen to Dr. Sane. If you hurt yourself further you won’t be able to help anyone.” His plea fell on deaf ears.
Folding his arms across his chest, Dr. Sane glared at his stubborn patient. “Fine if you are determined to hurt yourself I won’t stop you. I will sign your release papers if you can walk from here to the bathroom without any help.”
Ignoring the two men watching her, Nova gingerly let go of the bed focusing on standing unaided. Even though beads of perspiration trickled down the side of her face and her body was shaking she could not resist giving them a satisfied grin when she managed to stay on her feet.
Equally determined to see his patient back in bed Dr. Sane pointed across the room, “Okay, the bathroom is over there.”
To her credit Nova managed three steps before her legs refused to hold her up any longer. Derek caught her before she hit the floor. Cradling her in his arms he carried her back to the bed.
Catching Derek’s eye and his quick nod Dr. Sane knew the issue of Nova leaving the hospital was under control. As soon as Derek laid her back on the bed the little doctor quickly reinserted the IV and reattached the heart monitor. It was then he noticed the faint bruises on her neck. They had not been there when he had examined her earlier. Concerned he asked, “Nova how did you get these bruises? What did Aliscea do to you?”
Desperate to move the attention away from the bruises and how they came to be there Nova tried to brush it off. “It’s nothing Dr. Sane. I didn’t even know they were there.”
Moving closer to look at marks on Nova’s neck, Derek turned pale as the image of him with his hands around her throat flashed through his mind. “Doc I don’t think it was Aliscea who made those marks. I think it was me.”
Dr. Sane snorted in disbelief, “What do you mean it was you? Don’t be ridiculous, you would never hurt Nova.”
Through their bond she could feel his anxiety and his unvoiced question. She could not look him in the eyes. Head down she murmured, “I didn’t want to upset you.”
From the moment Derek had told her about losing the twins to opening her eyes and finding Aliscea standing at the foot of her bed, she had forced her fear and grief aside. She had thought only to protect her family. Seeing the haunted expression on her husband’s face was her emotional undoing. The barrier she had created to keep her feelings at bay burst open crashing over her like waves breaking on rock. She started to shake.
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
Derek was at her side in an instant. Grabbing the small kidney shaped bowl from the bedside table he held it as she threw up what little contents there was in her stomach. Wracked with dry heaves Nova continued to retch. Finally, physically drained she fell back against the pillows.
“Nova you know I was aware of everything that happened the last time Aliscea took control of me, everything she forced me to do. It was one of the most humiliating and painful experiences of my life. This time was different. It felt like I was dreaming so I am not sure what is real.” His expression fearful he asked, “Did I really try to hurt you? I need to know.”
Her momentary hesitation answered his question. She felt the rush of shame flood over him. Struggling with his emotions Derek walked to the windows. Placing his hands on the window ledge he rested his forehead against the glass. “I hoped I had imagined it.”
Knowing it was a conversation he did not want to be a part of Dr. Sane quickly made an excuse as he left the room giving the young couple privacy to deal with their pain.
“Derek look at me,” Nova refused to let him beat himself up over an incident that was not his fault. Turning around he leaned against the ledge, looking at Nova but not moving any closer.
Undeterred she asked, “Tell me what you remember.”
“I don’t really remember any of it. I just got a flash of my hands around your throat,” He replied, his voice flat, “I tried to choke you.”
“And then what happened?”
“I heard you scream my name in my head. Somewhere in my consciousness I realized what Aliscea was trying to make me do to you. Under her control or not I could never hurt you.” Derek looked at Nova in amazement. “I fought her for control and called on the Matrix for help. The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor.”
“I think the struggle to break free took its toll physically and you passed out. I don’t think Aliscea is going to be able to take control of you again, not after this.”
“I really hope you’re right,” Derek replied, “She’s not going to like it.”
Nova was about to reply. The words died on her lips when she heard a very faint, “Mommy” echo through her mind.
“Oh my God Derek I think I just heard Ariel calling out to me.”
From the moment he first held her Ariel was Daddy’s little girl and she had him firmly wrapped around her little finger. “What! Are you sure? Talk to her see if she responds.”
Focusing her thoughts on her daughter Nova reached out into the void in the hope of reaching Ariel. Even though she was not quite three Ariel had begun to show early signs of developing a bond with her mother. There had been moments over the past few months Nova had been able to sense her daughter's feelings. More recently Ariel had started to send her thoughts, they were brief but coherent.
"Ariel, it's Mommy, can you hear me?"
After several minutes of trying with no response Nova was about to give up when she once more heard, "Mommy."
Relief flooded over her. "Sweetie can you tell me where you are?"
"It's dark. I can't see anything," Came the frightened reply.
"Are you alone?"
"No Dellar is here. He’s hurt."
That response made Nova's heart race. How badly was he hurt? "Is General Talon with you?"
"Yes. I’m cold. I want to go home. Tell Daddy to come get me." As Ariel got more upset the connection Nova had with her began to fade."
"She's gone, I lost her," Nova said as she opened her eyes. “She was crying. She says it's dark and she's cold. She wants to go home and she wants Daddy to come get her. "
“At least we know she’s alive and that she’s not alone,” Derek replied taking a seat beside Nova on the bed.
Nova could only nod as the control she’d been clinging to dissolved. Completely distraught she burst into tears. "Aliscea has our little girl and she doesn't want to meet for five days. What if she hurts her? What are we going to do?"
“I don’t know sweetheart. I really don’t,” he answered honestly pulling her close.
Clinging to Derek she sobbed, “We lost the babies because of her, we can’t lose Ariel too.”
Before answering he kissed her gently on the lips. “I swear to you we are going to get her back.” If he had to move heaven and earth to make it happen it was a promise he intended to keep. Murmuring soft words of comfort he held her as she sobbed. How long they sat there he could not say. As she held his hand Nova rubbed his wedding ring between her fingers.
Lifting her hand to his lips he kissed it. “You never told me you had my ring engraved,” he said.
“You discovered it.” When he nodded she smiled. “I was going to tell you on our wedding day but then I thought it would be a nice surprise if you discovered it for yourself. At the time I had no idea you would never take it off.”
Derek chuckled for a minute then regarded his wife, his expression serious. “Before I met you I honestly thought I would always be alone. I had accepted that as my lot in life, it was just easier that way. If I didn’t let anyone get close I would never again have to face the pain of losing someone I loved. The day we got married that was no longer the case.” Studying the ring on his hand he continued, “I never take it off because it is a constant reminder to me that even when we are apart I am not alone. I have a home and a family waiting for me to return.”
His simple explanation warmed her heart and made her sad at the same time. That the wonderful loving man in front of her believed he would never have anyone in his life made her heart ache for him.
Wiping away the tear that slid down his cheek he said, “I had no choice but to take it off last night. It was coated with blood; yours and Alexander’s.”
Knowing there was nothing she could say to erase that memory she changed the subject, “So did you like it?”
The tender expression on his face told her she had gotten it right. “I can’t believe I was your wish.”
“From the moment I first met you I found myself drawn to you. You alternated between being angry and being sad when you thought no one was looking. I kept thinking you needed a friend to be there for you and that’s what I started out to be. I knew I loved you the day we spoke to our families for the final time on the journey to Iscandar. I remember my mother spent our allotted time showing me pictures of potential husbands. It was then I realized how much I had come to care about you and that I wanted to be more than just your friend.”
Derek gave her a rueful smile, “It’s lucky for me that you decided for yourself I was the one you wanted because I would never have had a chance with your mother. She hates me.”
Nova’s eyes widened at the mention of her mother. “My parents, I forgot about them. We need to let them know what’s happened.”
“They already know,” Derek informed her. “They were here earlier.”
From the tone of his voice Nova could tell things did not go well. “I’m almost afraid to ask, but what happened?”
Derek reluctantly filled her in on the scene with her parents. “Like I said a minute ago, she really hates me.”
Nova was shocked. “I can’t believe she said all those things to you and I really can’t believe she would actually bring Scott Foley here.”
“According to your mother she was sure he was going to be a part of your family,” Derek stated shaking his head. “That fool even went so far as to tell me that you two were more than just friends, in front of your parents no less. That man has no honour.”
Nova couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “What did you say to him?”
“You mean did I tell him I knew he was lying?”
Derek shook his head, “No I didn’t. The fact that the first time we made love was on our wedding night and that it was your first time was none of his business. You are my wife and I love you. I would never dishonour you like that.”
“You didn’t hit him did you?” she asked. Derek was a man of honour but he was also a man with a fiery temper.
“No but I really wanted to. I figured hitting a superior officer was my quota for the day.”
As much as he hated to Derek knew he had to leave. With a heavy sigh he said, "There is nothing I want more than to stay here with you but I have leave for at least a couple of hours.” I need to check in with Headquarters to find out if I still have a career. Before that I have to go home, take a shower and change into my uniform." He gave her a sheepish grin, "It's bad enough I punched out General Stone, turning up to my potential Court Marshall in bloody hospital scrubs is just bad manners."
His self-deprecating comment had the desired effect, Nova giggled.
"I love that sound," he said taking her hand. In spite of her smile Derek could sense her deep grief, it matched his own. For several minutes as he tried to decide what to say. "I know this is probably not the right place or time to talk about this but when all this is over and we have our family back together when you’re ready, if you want too, we can try to have another baby.”
Not trusting her voice Nova could only nod.
The look she gave him told Derek she did not want him to go but he knew he had no choice. “If you promise to rest while I’m gone I’ll try to get Astrena to come back with me maybe she will be able to help you heal enough to get you out of here.”
Lying back against the pillows she allowed Derek to tuck her in. “I’ll behave… I’ll rest… I promise.”
Kissing her one last time he headed out of the room. Leaving her when she was obviously upset was emotionally wrenching. Reaching out with his mind he sent, “I love you.”
A moment later he received, “I know, I love you too. Go do what you have to do.”
Stepping into the elevator Derek headed back to the Emergency Department.
**To be continued in part 4**