Chapter 1

His Majesty, Emperor Richard Newcastle The First, founder of the Newcastle Empire, sat in a comfortable chair waiting for the nod to go out on stage. He was speaking for only the third time to a graduating class at the Imperial Naval academy. It was a short wait. No one in their right mind kept the emperor waiting.

Getting to his feet, he followed his guide, a naval commander out the door and through a small hallway. His bodyguards following close behind, until he reached a door marked stage. Taking a breath he exhaled slowly. The commander went in and called the theater to attention.

"Ladies and Gentleman, officers and dignitaries, it is my pleasure to announce his Majesty, Emperor Richard Newcastle, Founder and ruler of the Newcastle Empire."

The Emperor slowly made his way to the center of the stage. He paused and looked out at the theater. It was filled to capacity and then some. The entire front row was taken by senior officers. Everyone was standing at rigid attention.

"Be seated." He said quietly. The acoustic mike picked up his order and magnified it throughout the theater. Everyone sat and watched the Emperor intently. He looked around again and said, "Someone get me a chair." Someone quickly had a chair brought out and the Emperor sat in it.

"Next year we celebrate out tri-centennial, and I am a little tired." Joked the Emperor. Laughter echoed in the hall. Looking around again, the Emperor took a drink from the water glass that had been placed on a small table that had been brought out with the chair.

"Almost three hundred years ago, I had the honor of creating this Empire. For three hundred years, officers such as yourselves have gone through this academy and have become the leaders of the navy. Some have made the navy a career, others have served their mandatory time, and went on to other things.

"I am proud to say that I have standardized ship types in the empire. It was a difficult time back then. We were part of the old Terran Federation, which was splintering and tearing itself apart. I was in position to hold together a core of worlds which was the beginning of the Empire.

"Even then, ships and ship types were out of control. You can see from all the other little kingdoms, federations, confederacies, and compacts that our standardizing was the way to go. It was very expensive at first. We had to totally re engineer our shipyards. What we have today is the result of my idea. Other star fairing peoples still have no standards like ours. Oh, they have standardized to some extent, but we still have the best ships and the best men and woman crewing them!" Exclaimed the Emperor jumping to his feet.

Cheering and clapping erupted as he said this. He waited a moment for it to die down. Again he looked out over the sea of faces.

"Our Empire has gone through some serious trials in the past. We will undoubtedly face more to come in the future. We finished a protracted war just twenty years ago. Our navy held steadfast and our ships design was what won for us. That and the men and woman of the navy. Our destroyers are a standard 1000 meters in length. Most of the known galaxy have much smaller ships as destroyers. Our destroyers are the equivalent of a light cruiser or cruiser in other navies. Our cruisers are 2000 meters in length. This equates to Heavy Cruisers or battleships in other navies.

"Our Battleships are 4000 meters in length and are equal to any dreadnought in anyones navy... except ours. Finally, our Dreadnoughts are a total of 6,250 meters in length, and there is absolutely nothing that can be compared to them.

"While it is true that the rest of the known galaxy is catching up to us size wise, it will still take even more time before they can equal our technology. Only the core planets of the old Terran Federation come anywhere close to us in technology."

For another 15 minutes, the Emperor talked of the history of the navy within the empire. He told of the traditions which were centuries old, and some even older. Some dated clear back to old Earth and the wet navies. One example was the term 'Broadside'. Even in this day and age of high technology, the navies of all space going nations everywhere used the sides of their ships to fire broadsides of missiles.

Finally, the emperor came to the end of his speech. Thunderous applause erupted and he made his way off the stage and was quickly whisked to the space port. Shortly he was back in his ship, the Dreadnought, HMS Richard The First. They broke orbit as soon as he was on board, and they were soon on their way to the special yards the emperor kept at Lorndrin.

NOTE: The emperor will be talking with an internal symbiotic being. When the emperor talks he will use < > to represent his talking. The being that responds will have [ ] brackets.

[You have been neglecting your training again. You did not feel the electronic probes that were aimed at you while you were at the academy.]

<Probes? Who the hell authorized anyone to probe me?> The emperor silently demanded.

[I neutralized them. I was unable to backtrack as they stopped probing when they discovered that they were being stopped.]

<Why didn't you tell me earlier about this? I could have done something about it!> Responded the emperor.

[I have tried to get you to take your training seriously for the past two hundred years. It is like any other ability, if you don't train it, it atrophies. While you have grown in some areas, you have neglected others. It is up to you to hone your abilities. I can and will do only so much.]

<Damn free loader.> Grumped the emperor.

[Not at all. Since I first joined with you, I have been actively increasing your natural abilities, and activating other abilities you and your race have ignored. Your stronger, faster, have better memory, and I have enhanced your brain to the point you don't really need that implant any longer. You can communicate with any computer without any implants now if you so desire, just by thinking about it.

[I have also given you technical knowledge as you need it that is within the grasp of your own race. The result is that the new rejuvenation treatment you leaked to that small pharmacy company has enriched the coffers of that company, and lengthened the life spans of your people. Also technical kowledge was given you.

[If you would just practice more, your other mental abilities, or psi abilities would increase at a better rate. While I can do a lot for you, it would be helpful to you if you trained your abilities and didn't rely on me so much... ]

<Enough! I have heard the litany before. I know. You have given us an edge over the rest of the human galaxy and the three alien races we know of to boot. It's a good thing I had a technical background, before I went command, when I was younger. That's why I am taken seriously when I tell my R&D people to do something that flies in the face of conventional training.> The emperor chuckled silently.

<Tell you what. It will take us 16 days to get to the yards we are going to. You can train me during that time.>

[Excellent! We will begin with enhanced awareness, then move to telekinesis. Both of these will increase your mind abilities and will help you in serious situations. Let us begin]

So Emperor Richard Newcastle, Emperor of 137 planets and one of the most powerful single beings in the known galaxy, sank back in his easy chair, closed his eyes, and started to extend his awareness from his body. It was a disconcerting feeling really.

[Focus. Send your consciousness in a particular direction. If you don't have an idea of what you want to do already formed, you will just receive impressions from all directions. Expand your awareness towards one of your escort ships.]

And so it went. For 16 days Richard trained his abilities that his symbiot had given him. As usual, at the end of the time he spent training, he had a raging headache. By the time they reached their destination, Richard had a better grasp of his talent. He was still way behind the point his symbiot wanted him to be, but the training he did satisfied it for the time being. Breakout from hyper space was uneventful.

The dreadnought and its four battleship escort approached Lorndrin control only after satisfying the most rigorous challenges. The emperor was on the command deck of the dreadnought to watch the approach. They were passed on to the yard approach control after several hours of traveling at a greatly reduced speed. Huge battle forts guarded the space around the yard proper. Thousands of missile pods with ten missiles each were in place giving the yard the ability to stand off an entire fleet if it had too. This was the most guarded shipyard in the empire.

"It never ceases to amaze me, your majesty." Admiral Elias Sethton said.

"What's that Elias?" Asked the emperor.

"This area that you had constructed. It's about as well defended as the capital world. I still don't know what you have here that would cause you to defend this area so well." Replied the admiral.

"Well, your in luck. Shortly, you will see the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and research. It's taken ten years to get this new ship built, and when you see it and understand what it can do, I think you will be impressed."

Finally, they arrived at the main docking facility. Huge Galaxy Master cargo ships where everywhere. They were the largest cargo ships ever created, at 5 kilometers in diameter weighing an incredible 11 million tons. That was without cargo. Tugs, work barges, and crew modules moved in a dance of complexity that only the controllers understood.

Here the emperor and admiral transshipped to a shuttle and were soon on their way to their final destination. Although he asked several times, the emperor just smiled and told him to wait and see. Deeper and deeper into the shipyard the shuttle went.

After about 30 minutes, the cabin monitor showed a tiny point of light, which then grew to a very small ship. However as time went by, the ship grew larger and larger. The emperor watched the admiral as the ship kept growing. Soon it took up all the screen.

"This is impossible! How large is that thing!" Gasped the admiral.

"Elias, your seeing the largest ship ever built. It is 25 kilometers in diameter. It has a crew of 20,000 sailors. It has a compliment of 250 strike fighters aboard. That's the equivalent of two carriers. It has a brigade of marines with all its equipment. This ship is now the headquarters of the 4th Marine expeditionary force.

"Elias, this ship can sustain and operate by itself for prolong periods of time. It is a new concept I have been working on for some time now. The hull has one thousand missile pods attached to it for attack and defense. That's ten thousand missiles if fired in one salvo. It has a new type of anti missile defense. We had to work that out since the hull curves and we don't have straight sides like with our more conventional ships.

"Elias, I firmly believe this ship is the first of a new line that will serve us long and proudly. If everything has gone according to plan, we already have most of our supplies and crew on board. It is a vice admiral's command Elias, and you're the admiral I want in charge of it. What do you say?" The emperor asked grinning.

Admiral Elias Sethton was still stunned from the sheer size of it. More and more features were becoming visible as they got closer to the gargantuan ship. Huge cargo doors were now gaping maws with shuttles entering and leaving the behemoth. Weapons hatches, missile tubes he recognized. Anti missile laser clusters were everywhere. It was too much to take in at once.

"Elias? What do you say? This ship is the equal in firepower of an Imperial task force. One ship Elias! Think of it. With this one ship, you are the equal of a normal 50 ship task force. Everything is contained within this ship." A grinning emperor said.

"Why haven't I heard about this before?" Elias asked softly.

"It incorporates new technologies for one. There was testing to be done, problems to be ironed out. Then I funded this mostly with my own money. As for why you didn't know, well, with the exception of this yard here, and a few others, no one knew." The emperor stated matter of factly.

"Tell you what, let's go in an take a tour. Don't give me your answer yet, but I really want you as my first Battlesphere commander." The emperor said.

"Battlesphere. Is that what you call this thing?" Asked Admiral Sethton.

"Can't think of a better name, can you?" Responded the emperor with pride.

"No. Come to think of it, Battlesphere is a perfect name for this ship. Alright, let's do this tour. Obviously, your wanting to show off your new toy." The admiral said with a grin.

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