I was the third son and the fourth child. My parents barely had time for me or any of us really. My father was Emperor Edward Thomas Christian Saint. I was always surrounded by guards and people who wanted something. I was taught by tutors in the palace with little freedom. I had grown to loath and hate politics and the people that tried to use them.
From the time I could walk and talk I had been schooled and taught. My obsession was the military but there was no way I would ever be allowed to serve. My older brothers had been married when they reached sixteen and so had my sister and that was just two years ago. I should have expected it as I walked into the huge ballroom.
This was my sixteenth birthday ball and the whole room was full of the people from my father's court. I was dressed in a light suit and blended in with the others as I moved through the room. I smiled when I saw Emily Bright, she had been taking martial arts classes with me for over a year.
I crossed to her and she turned before grinning, "hey birthday boy."
I nodded to the other girls with her, "I see you managed to get dragged here."
She sighed and nodded, "my parents were very ... firm."
Her parents were the duke and duchess of Candle Bright and loyal followers of my father. I looked around and frowned, "there seems to be a few more guards than there should."
She looked around, "I noticed that and you are late."
I snorted, "lady Becky used a electo shock stick to make me come."
Lady Becky was sixteen like me and to everyone else it was strange to have a girl as my body servant but there was a reason. Emily laughed and turned as a girl stopped next to her. I sighed and thought to get things over with and headed towards my father. He and mother were talking with duke and duchess of Macon.
My older brothers Jeremy and Henry were with them, Elizabeth was across the city with her baby who was sick. I stepped out into the clear space around my family and stopped as my senses screamed. Six guards turned and pulled weapons and I reacted. I pulled the slim ten millimeter plasma pistol from the shoulder holster.
I fired as the guards turned towards my father. There were screams and panic as several more shots joined mine while I continued to shoot until all the guards were down. My parents and family had been rushed back and into a side room. I reloaded as I looked around and slapped the two guards that appeared to pull me away.
I straightened and holstered my pistol, "where is the guard commander?"
My guards growled and I looked at them, "I want these men checked and I want it done now."
A tall tailored guard stepped out, "you do not command the guards."
I looked at him closely, "let me explain something to you commander. If I do not have the report in one hour I will come and shot you myself."
He smiled, "that will not be as easy as you think."
My pistol swept up and pointed straight between his eyes, "think again."
He looked around, "you would not..."
I stepped closer and put the warm barrel against his head, "I could shoot you right now for incompetence."
He licked his lips and I stepped back, "you have less than an hour."
I spun and walked towards the side door with my two guards following. When I entered the room it was to see my father speaking angrily with several councilors. I started across the room and frowned when I saw Emily with my other two guards. My mother turned, "James what have I told you about wearing that weapon?"
I smiled, "actually it is new so nothing."
My father looked at me, "what did you think you were doing?"
I ignored my brothers, "stopping an attempted assassination."
He looked at me for a minute before looking at my guards, "who was responsible for my son?"
I shifted, "me."
He snorted and my mother touched his arm, "enough ... tell him."
I looked at her and then at father, "tell me what?"
He looked across the room at Emily who was nudged towards us, "the nobles councils have chosen and approved your marriage to Lady Bright."
I turned to look at Emily, "did you know?"
Her face was white as she shook her head. My father cleared his throat, "her parents have approved the union and the Banns have been posted."
I glared at him, "you did not ask."
He straightened, "I am your father and do not need to ask."
I kept looking at him as years of anger and resentment filled me. I turned to Emily, "this is your choice."
She walked towards me but kept her eyes on mine, "we do not..."
I waved to cut her off, "yes or no."
I felt everyone shifting as she shrugged, "you are cute even if you are stubborn."
I smiled slightly and she nodded, "yes."
I looked at my father, "that was the last thing you will ever order me to do."
I looked around and smiled at my mother's court cleric, "with the power that is mine as the Empress's knight and protector. With the approval of both senior nobles to marry I seal our marriage now in front of the emperor and his court."
Talk broke out as my father's face went red, "QUIET!"
I returned his look, "I will be at Giland. I do not want to hear from you again. You are dead to me."
I spun and started for the door as the room broke out in talk again. Emily ran to catch up, "wasn't that a bit rash?"
I glanced at her, "he wanted us married. Now we are married."
She grinned, "but I wanted to wear a suit, not a stupid dress."
I snorted as my mind went over everything I had to do. I used my private comm, "Becky?"
I smiled, "make sure everything gets packed. We are moving to Giland."
Emily was shaking her head and I glanced around, "yes now. Contact lady Bright's maid and have her things packed too."
I turned to head towards a side door through the servants corridors. When I glanced back I stopped, "where did the guards go?"
Emily turned and frowned, "I do not think they left with us..."
A shattering explosion rocked the building and I growled as I realized what had happened. I opened my private comm, "Elizabeth."
It was several moments before she answered, "James what is going on? They said someone tried to kill..."
I cut her off, "the guards are sour. I am calling Phoenix. There was just an explosion and I think ... I think dad is dead. Get Thomas to take you up to the hospital roof and do it without your guards."
The comm screamed and I shut it off before looking around and pulling Emily to the side and touching an imperial seal that was spaced along the wall. The panel slid aside and I pulled her in before hitting the close button. I gestured to the other side of the room, "strip and let the laser scan you to fit you for a combat uniform."
She grinned, "now that is one of the best things you have said all night."
I turned to an intercom and hit the button, "Sarah."
It was silent and I sighed, "I know you monitor the room. You saw me accept and bind myself to Emily."
"That is not the point. Your father or mother were the only ones to authorize me to speak in front of someone not in the family."
I sagged slightly, "so they are dead."
"Affirmative. A shrapnel bomb disabled and killed many and then several guards entered and killed the rest."
I started undressing, "my brothers children?"
"Several guards have invaded the royal quarters and killed them."
I cursed and moved to open a cabinet, "is Becky still in my quarters?"
I was afraid of the answer but Sarah chuckled, "she slipped out with your weapons bag."
I grinned, "are you tracking her?"
"She is heading towards you but there is a guard check point."
I pulled the combat uniform on and then the shoulder holster and then a vest with empty magazine pockets. I opened another cabinet and tossed an older service plasma pistol in a combat thigh holster to Emily. I pulled my pistol and checked the magazine as I waited for her to put the holster on, "Sarah initiate Phoenix. Elizabeth is your primary, her son Michael is the secondary."
"Understood. Moving home fleet back into the system now and activating the system reserves."
I smiled as Emily strutted to me and opened the panel, "constant track Sarah but do not respond unless we are alone."
I started down the hall before turning a corner and walking towards the two guards blocking the hall. They looked at us but did not react until I pulled my weapon and shot each in the head, "Becky!"
She peeked around another corner before starting for me as she dragged the heavy bag, "what did you do with my suit?"
I smiled, "I am glad to see you too."
I looked at Emily, "do you know how to get up to the ready Vipers using the old service stairs?"
She nodded and I looked at Becky, "take my bag up and wait for me."
Emily touched my arm, "what are you going to do?"
I turned to walk away, "kill a rat and seal the throne."
I walked quickly but stayed in the back service ways. When I walked out across from the huge ornate throne room doors six guards were struggling to force it open. I did not slow as I pulled my weapon and started shooting. The only one left alive was the guard commander who had backed against the door with his hands up.
I put the hot muzzle of my pistol against his head, "give me the key."
He licked his lip, "what key?"
I shifted and slugged him before stepping back, "the relic vault key."
He touched his split lips and looked at me as he reached into a pocket. As he was pulling his hand out I shot him between the eyes. I bent to take the small pistol before starting to search him. I found the key around his neck and left. When I climbed out of the reaction platoon stairwell two guards turned, "this area is off lim..."
I shot both and started for one of the Vipers, "Emily?"
She and Becky came out of the narrow service stairs and moved towards me as I started removing grav chocks, "Emily in the weaponeer seat, Becky take the engineer's seat."
I grabbed the weapons bag and hit a panel to open it before shoving the heavy bag in. I moved to climb into the pilot seat and hit the canopy switch. I brought everything alive and started the engines. I lifted and turned before shoving the throttle back. The Viper shot away and just seemed to kept accelerating as I flipped out chaff, flares and decoys.
Explosions behind me told me I had been right. I dropped below the palace building to flash down a wide boulevard. I lifted above them and rolled as I banked. I knew I was shattering every window in the area but continued towards the nobles hospital. I shoved the throttle forward as I pushed on the anti grav brakes with both feet.
I spun the Viper and dropped it as I released the legs. I opened the canopy and looked at my sister running from a door carrying her baby. I looked past her, "where is Thomas?"
She reached up as I bent to take my nephew, "dead."
I turned and handed the baby to Becky and Elizabeth climbed in. Emily helped her move all the way into the back and the countermeasures seat. I lifted and closed the canopy at the same time, "Sarah I hope you got the warning to Giland and my security."
I heard Elizabeth growl as I accelerated away, "my security Liz. Now put up some ghosts before we attract attention."
I stayed low as I headed away from the city, "Sarah, open the strike umbrella and contact Manticore command. I want the palace sealed and everyone in chains until they are cleared. Tell Manticore to strip every noble of guards."
Two hours later I banked over a river and slowed as I approached the manor that remained dark, "shut down the countermeasures."
I set down as thirty combat soldiers moved towards the Viper while it slowly shut down and I opened the canopy. I turned and climbed down and looked at the six men pointing weapons at me, "is Sphinx set up?"
They lowered weapons and one stepped forward, "every news channel is running the story that the entire family was killed."
I nodded, "start Sphinx."
I turned and reached up for my nephew and moved back as Becky climbed down and I handed her my nephew. Emily and finally Elizabeth climbed down and I touched her shoulder, "captain Mcpherson?"
A tall older man stepped forward, "Sir?"
I looked into his eyes, "my sister's life is in your hands. If anything happens to her..."
He nodded, "I will already be dead."
I nodded and he bowed before gesturing, "your majesty?"
She hesitated before nodding and walking away with a dozen guards around her. Becky looked at me and followed her with young Michael in her arms. I turned and opened the panel to pull out the weapon bag, "lieutenant?"
The man that stepped forward was even older with a long thick moustache, "sir?"
I tossed the bag, "Miss Bright is my wife. Sealed to me in the emperor's presence and witnessed by his council, the Empress and her Cleric."
He grinned, "congratulation."
I snorted, "Emily is trained in unarmed combat. Check with anyone we have in the city and see if her maid got out."
He nodded and gestured and I sighed, "yes I will go but..."
He cleared his throat, "you have live comm links waiting ... sir."
I shook my head and looked at Emily, "lieutenant Golden is ... will be our security commander."
She smiled and linked an arm in mine, "so after this settles down is he going to watch us train or..."
I grinned as I started walking, "Albert was a Scout. If we train with him we wear padding."
He chuckled as he followed with the rest of the men moving with us. I went through the side door and started down the hall and turned at a closet. I opened it and gestured Emily into the lift. When we walked out it was two hundred meters below the manor. I crossed the wide hall and entered a large command center with a huge horse shoe around a chair.
I let Emily go, "Albert would you please take her to the armory to be fitted and armed properly?"
He gestured and bowed before Emily walked out with him. I sat in the chair and touched a button to bring up the holographs that showed several admirals and a few generals. I glanced down, "Sarah replay your room surveillance of my family's death."
A holograph sprang up right in front of the chair and began replaying. I watched the faces as their emperor and empress were killed with their children and then each of the grandchildren. It shut off and I looked around, "I got Elizabeth away."
One cleared his throat, "how do we know you did not have something to do with this?"
I smiled, "because I will not rule."
He frowned as the others shifted, "so what are you doing?"
I leaned forward, "killing the bastards that killed my family and making sure my sister sits on that throne and rules without someone telling her what to say."
I looked at each of them, "you swore an oath to my father and the throne. Will you answer my call or will it be civil war?"
They looked at each other and a general smiled, "we report to you?"
I smiled, "you want my sister? She just lost her husband to these people and while I do not mind blood shed I would like to only take the ones responsible."
He nodded, "I am in."
I looked at each of the others as they nodded and sat back, "I have activated Phoenix and sent Manticore in to seal and take the palace as well as the nobles guards. I would like all traffic off planet frozen and the system closed. I want the capital closed and sealed."
An admiral turned, "they are reporting you dead and the dukes council is convening in the morning."
I smiled, "they are going to have trouble getting into the palace."
He shrugged, "they say it is being held at Noble Hall."
I pursed my lips before glancing at the door. I stood and moved aside, "how is Michael?"
Elizabeth sat in my chair, "Becky and your doctor are with him. He still has a fever but the doctors said it will go down."
She looked at the admirals and generals, "my brother told you Phoenix has been activated?"
They nodded and she frowned, "I want all the major systems occupied with constant patrols through the colonies."
She looked at me and smiled, "you will report to James while I get control of the government."
They bowed and she nodded before lifting an eyebrow. I cleared my throat, "that is all for now. Do not respond or reply to any of the nobles."
They nodded again and the holograph links closed. I looked at a man directing several others in a corner, "general Dagger?"
The white haired man turned and nodded before holding up a finger. I looked at Elizabeth, "you know about Phoenix and maintaining military control. Well general Dagger is the Manticore commander. All those retired veterans I have given jobs to through my duchy are the core. They are trained soldiers and my combat force here. Right now they should be seizing the palace in cooperation with the city and planetary police."
I watched general Dagger cross the room, "there is another operation going too. It is called Sphinx, it is a dual operation designed to gather information and insert questions about us being alive."
She nodded and looked at the general as he bowed. I looked at him, "how does it look?"
He smiled, "they are fighting dumb. We control all exits and are clearing the palace governing wing now."
I glanced at the door to see Emily and Elizabeth touched my arm, "you need to consummate the union, take her to bed. We can watch things."
I grinned, "call me if you need me."
I headed for the door and Emily grinned as she turned and slipped an arm through mine, "your sister sent me a text to remind me we needed to consummate our union."
I grinned, "I have fantasized about doing that."
She bumped me, "I bet you have."
We did not go up, that was mostly for show now. We stopped down the hall at a set of doors that needed my palm print. Another set of doors was beside it, well several sets but they would remain empty now that my family was dead. I opened the door and grinned before sweeping Emily off the floor and carrying her into the suite.
I turned to kick the door closed and then carried her towards the large bed. I set her down and looked into her eyes nervously and she grinned before stepping back, "strip."
I started undressing as Emily set weapons aside and let the uniform drop to the floor while she backed onto the bed. I started following when the door opened and Becky walked in. She stopped and Emily blushed as she looked at her. I turned and smiled, "Michael?"
She crossed the room and started undressing, "sleeping with a guard and the doctor watching."
I turned back to Emily as she frowned and cupped her breasts, "I wanted to tell you about Becky but we agreed this would be the best way."
She looked at me as her eyes narrowed, "tell me?"
Becky moved up beside me and reached out to caress Emily's inner thigh, "we are virgins."
Her eyes widened as she looked at Becky's hard cock, "you are not a girl."