Shock, like a physical force, rolled through the room. Mykal felt it slam through his body as his mind tried to make sense of what the king had just said, yet he was still able to take in every detail in the room.
From his subconscious came another burst of information. [Don't let any of them leave.] As he 'heard' this, what he saw was enough to make him move. A number of people had jumped to their feet to decry what the king had said, but only one made a move for the side door to the room. Barking orders to the security force in the room to secure the doors, he dashed around the nearer side of the table to the door and cut off the man who was obviously trying to make an escape.
"Going somewhere Trenton?" he said to the Colonel, contempt dripping from his words like an acid.
"Get out of my way Captain; I have things that need to be done." The man tried to bluster, but came off sounding weak.
"Your king is not done with you Trenton. Go sit back down or I will make you go sit down."
"You have no right to call me by my given name you lap dog, now make way for your betters!" the flustered man yelled at Mykal, not realizing that the rest of the room was now watching him quietly.
"Did you not hear your king give an order? My words are his words. My words are telling you that you will go sit down now." Mykal said quietly as he took a menacing step forward, his grey eyes boring into the man in front of him. Dropping his voice to a whisper that only the two of them could possibly hear, he continued, "What's the matter Trenton? Afraid I am going to maim you even worse this time? Going to try and get daddy to get you out of trouble again? He can't help you out of this one Trenton, not like the slander you slithered out of before. This is so much worse isn't is Trenton? You couldn't help yourself. What did he offer you Trenton? What lies did he promise? More titles, more power? Did you settle for any less than a star system?" Mykal's eyes held his as he slowly herded him back towards the conference table, keeping him in a near hypnotized state of fear.
"What, no words this time? No bluster or bragging? I'm disappointed in you. He probably just threatened you like the little boy you are and you fell into place. You must have been neutered at some point; no real man would let someone walk all over him like you do. Not that you would know what to do with anything he could have given you." Mykal was reading his eyes, seeing that the poking and prodding was getting to the man in front of him. "He probably offered you women, not that you are equipped to do anything with them, are you?"
The crack of the open handed slap Mykal allowed Trenton to land sounded through the room. "You have no idea you little nothing. When Marcus wrests the crown from his joke of a father you and every one like you will be fed to the dogs. I'll rule next to him, as a prince; once he gives me that redheaded whore of a sister, maybe he'll even let me have his whore moth...."
His tirade was cut short as Mykal's hand clamped on his throat like an iron vice. Lifting him by his throat, Mykal pulled him very close and said out loud so the whole room could hear, "Thank you for making it easy." and flung him to the floor in front of the king, who had risen during the tirade. "What would you like me to do with the traitor, your majesty?"
In a disturbingly calm and quiet voice, the king motioned to the man cowering on the floor in front of him. "Take this piece of refuse to the brig. Make sure that he is watched at all times by at least two guards, no make that three. We are going to make sure that he gives us every bit of information in that simple head of his, and then he will be tried and executed for treason."
As the guards moved forward to grab Barovos, the beaten man came up with some scrap of courage or stupidity and reached into his jacket, pulled out a small hand laser and raised it towards the king. "Die, you old fool!"
Before anyone could react to protect the king from a shot that would be impossible to miss, a metallic ringing sound followed by a high pitched whistle rang out, and ending in a meaty 'thunk'. A heartbeat later, the hand holding the laser fell to the ground with a clatter. Looking down at the now profusely bleeding arm that ended just above where his wrist used to be, he fell to his knees. Clutching his stump to his chest, Barovos collapsed on the floor.
Mykal flicked his wrist as he brought his saber down from the defensive stance he had taken after he had struck, spattering two drops of blood to the floor. Moving to stand between Barovos and the king, he pressed the communicator button on his belt. "Computer, we need an emergency medical team in the main conference room."
As the guards reached Barovos, Mykal turned and looked to the king. "Are you harmed, Majesty?" looking over his ruler, he saw that there were some spatters of blood on the front of his uniform. Looking into the king's wide eyes, saw the bewilderment and confusion that indicated that he was on his way to going into shock. "Let's get back to your suite your majesties."
The king nodded, turned and walked towards the door, holding out his hand to his wife, who rushed to his side and clutched his arm to her. Following the royal pair a few paces behind, Mykal's head began to decompress and he started to realize what he had done. He had deliberately goaded a man into declaring himself a traitor, and when that man had moved to attack his king, he had taken his hand off. With a sword. He thought that he should somehow feel bad about this, feel there was something wrong with him for not feeling remorse for what he did. Try as he might though, he couldn't bring up a single bad feeling for what he had done.
As they entered the royal suite, Mykal looked to the two guards at the doors. "No one but family comes in tonight. Personal assistants and guards excluded of course." The guards nodded as he walked through the doors. Heading down the hall towards the study, as that was the only room he knew, he saw the Ensign from earlier rushing in his direction. "Captain, the king is in the study; he was asking after you."
Mykal nodded slightly, the physical and emotional strain starting to catch up with him. Following her back towards the study, he caught her name tag. "Ensign Jeffries, You are the king's aide or the queen's?"
"I'm the king's, Captain." He nodded to her as she opened the door to the study for him. As he entered, the door closed behind him and he saw that the king was sitting behind his desk; a tumbler of some amber liquid in his hand, his wife curled up on his lap clutching him. His other arm was wrapped around her waist, holding her close as she shook; obviously crying. The king nodded towards one of the couches off to the side of the desk. Mykal nodded once and made his way slowly and quietly, feeling more drained that he had expected. Sinking down into the soft cushions, he stared at the opposite wall; not really seeing anything as the accusations and attack played over and over in his mind. The only sound in the room was Elaine's soft crying.
Eventually, Mykal realized she had stopped crying and she was sitting up, wiping her eyes clear of tears. "My, I must look absolutely horrific, don't I?"
Hans smiled a little. "Moderately horrible yes, though understandable under the circumstances."
She laughed a little and lightly smacked her husband's shoulder. "Behave." She looked over at Mykal with a stern gaze. "And what am I going to do with you young man?" The shock on Mykal's face must have been readily apparent, as she started chuckling almost immediately, as she stood and walked around the desk to sit next to him on the couch. Wrapping both arms around him and hugging him tight, she completely caught him by surprised and he tensed; not knowing what was going on. "You just can't help saving my family, can you? Every time we come close to paying you back, you do something heroic to make it uneven again. Stop it."
Relaxing slightly at her words, "I have no intention of ever following that order, your Majesty." he said softly.
Looking up at her husband, she smiled, "Can we keep him?" Mykal nearly choked when he heard her, and Hans burst out laughing. "I'll see what I can do my love."
"So I see that the rumors are exaggerated at the least." said a smooth as honey voice from the main door. Mykal flowed to his feet, putting himself between the door and the two royals, his hand resting on the hilt of his saber out of habit. What he saw stunned him for a moment. Standing just inside the door was easily the most physically beautiful woman he had ever seen in person. Just a few centimeters shorter than he was, she had long glowing blonde hair and the same ice blue eyes as Hans.
She was obviously looking him over as much as he was her. Her eyes narrowed just slightly, as she realized how openly he was looking her over.
Elaine stood and put a hand on his wrist, indicating that he need not draw his saber. "You just can't help it, can you?" she whispered. His head shook very slightly in response. "Mykal, may I introduce our eldest daughter, Vivian Elizabeth. Vivian, this is Captain Mykal McDaniel, the pilot responsible for our escape from Orphus III, among a few other services rendered."
She raised an eyebrow. "My, what a splendid specimen," she replied, her tone indicating he ranked about as high as an insect to study in her eyes. "Trying to replace him already Father?" Mykal's eyebrows raised slightly, his attention never wavering from the princess. Mykal felt the indication of data downloading into his head. [She thinks we have you around to replace the hole left by her brother, Marcus. Don't ever for a minute think that is the case.]
"We have no desire to replace your brother Vivian. Mykal is filling a void that was emptied by losses suffered on Orphus III." he father replied, his tone even and cool. "I trust you remember what transpired there."
"Yes, well, that's still up for debate as far as I'm concerned. Now send you new pet away so we can talk about what happened today and why Trenton was assaulted." Mykal looked down at Elaine with a raised eyebrow, and saw her eyes widen in shock.
The thunderous crack, made by the king's hand as he slapped the desk, made both women jump. "As you can obviously tell, daughter mine, I was not actually killed on Orphus III and that means that I am still your king as well as your father. You do not, and will never give me or your mother orders. Do you understand?"
Eyes wide as saucers, she nodded slightly. "Yes, father." was the meek reply.
"Now, I know that you want to believe that you brother did not betray us and try to have us all killed, but we have a man that without being even asked, admitted to having helped my son attempt to murder his entire family; including you, his twin sister." the king said softly as he walked around the desk and walked up to his eldest daughter. Taking her in his arms, he hugged her to his chest. "I know this is hard. It is hard for all of us."
Mykal shifted uncomfortably as he heard a soft sob come from the short blonde. "Why would he do that daddy? It just doesn't make sense. We are closer than any two people can be; why did he try to kill me?"
As he held his daughter, he whispered into her hair, "I don't know baby girl, I really don't know. " He pulled back from her, his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes. "We'll figure it out though. Now, apologize to Mykal, and give your mother a hug." He whispered low enough that the other two in the room couldn't hear. "Give him a chance Vivian, he's a good man and cares about this family as much as if it was his own."
Vivian smiled tightly to her father and walked over to stand in front of Mykal. "Captain, I apologize for my poor behavior; you have done nothing to deserve such treatment. I hope you can forgive my emotional outburst. "
Mykal nodded to her, looking into her eyes. The glint he saw in them worried him. "Of course I do Princess. It has been a trying time, and a stressful day; I understand completely." She gave him a smile that never touched her eyes and took the extra step to give her mother a light hug. "I'm sorry, mother."
"I'm fine dear; it's hard on all of us. Go and head back to your rooms; you could use the rest, and you look a bit tired." Nodding to her mother, she turned and left the room without a look back.
"Wow." was all that Mykal could come up with. Turning to the king and queen, he bowed his head. "I'm sorry, your majesties, for reacting like I did and putting your daughter's back up; it was not my place."
The stinging smack the queen landed was not wholly unexpected, though still a bit surprising. "You do that again and I will give you worse." she said, her eyes hard. "How many times do I have to tell you not to call us 'majesties' when in private?" Mykal's eyes shot up and saw that a small smile played on the corner of her lips. The king looked like he was going to have a stress induced apoplexy.
"Don't either of you do that to me again. My heart can't take all this stress."
Mykal smiled slightly, suddenly feeling even more drained, now that the second dose of adrenaline had started to work its way out of his system. He made his way back to the couch and sat down, his legs feeling unstable and his hands shaking slightly. Elaine gave her husband a worried look. "Mykal, you are still recovering; you can't push your system this hard." Mykal waved a hand in dismissal, an obvious sign to the two royals that he was fading fast. "I just need some sleep and I'll be fine. I can catch up tomorrow; I don't think I have any extra duties." Leaning his head back, he closed his eyes telling himself, I'm just going to rest my eyes for a moment and then I'll go back to my quarters. Only a few seconds later, he was in the clutches of deep sleep.
Hans looked down at the young man laid out on the couch in his office. His wife was tucking a blanket over him; having removed his belt, uniform coat and dress boots. When she had tried to disconnect the saber from his belt, his hand had instinctively latched on to hers to stop her. She had leaned forward and started to whisper in his ear, and he had eventually released her hand and allowed her to remove the weapon now sitting on the king's desk. Lying there sleeping, he still seemed ready for anything; a spring wound tight and ready to launch into action at a moment's notice.
"Who could have ever given up such a wonderful soul Hans? He deserved to grow up with a family."
Hans pulled his wife up from where she was kneeling next to the couch and wrapped his arms around her. "Perhaps his family died and there was no other family available to raise him." though even that seemed unlikely in this day and age.
He felt her shake her head against his chest. "I went into his files from the orphanage. There isn't much there, but even that tells a kind of story. It specifically says that he was given up by his parents, but their name is not there, nor is his name really McDaniel. They gave him the name of the orphanage's founder, like they do for children that they know nothing of. So much missing, and not just because it was unknown; it is like his past was erased for some reason." She looked up into her husband's eyes. "Why would someone do that?" He could see the tears start to form in her eyes.
"Once we get home, you can track it all down if you really feel the need. He's not going anywhere for the time being. Today showed that we have so few people that we can truly trust, and I firmly believe that this young man is one." He lightly kissed her forehead and began leading her to one of the seats across the room.
"Where did we go wrong with Marcus? Didn't we give him enough love? He knew he was next in line for the crown, you had told him as much, and about your abdication plans." Elaine asked her husband quietly.
"I don't know my love. We know it was him, but we don't know his motivation. That is why I want to be careful about how we try and track him down. I don't want the military types to start demonizing and inadvertently killing him before we get the answers we need." he answered softly.
Just as they sat down, the door slid open and a whirlwind flew into the room and grabbed her father in a crushing hug. The red-haired tempest was followed more sedately by her younger brother, who was dressed in his duty uniform; some small spots of grease and other chemicals staining the pants where he had wiped his hands.
"Are you okay? I was so worried! I came as soon as I heard what happened; why didn't you call me...?" The petite redhead babbled into her father's chest as she clung to him as if he was about to disappear.
"Brigit, calm down sweetie; I'm fine. We didn't call you because we haven't had the chance, and there was nothing wrong. To be honest, I'm surprised that you heard about it so soon."
"So soon? Daddy, it happened two hours ago, and I was in the medical bay when that bastard was brought in to be treated." she said ignoring her mother's irritated tsking.
"Brigit Elenor, watch your language. Even if you are a doctor, you are still a princess and you will behave accordingly." her mother said with a stern look. Elaine stood and motioned to her youngest, which was just standing by the door, smiling at the scene playing out in front of him. "Come give us a hug."
Tobias did as he was told and picked up his mother in a giant bear-hug. Setting her down, he smiled. "Glad he's on our side, huh?"
Elaine's face sobered slightly. "If not for him, your father may not be here. That son of a bitch was at point blank range; there was no missing. I was sure I was going to lose my husband one moment, the next moment the bastard attacking him was missing a hand. Gods but Mykal is fast."
Brigit sat up and climbed off her father's lap. "Why are you guys still all dressed up; didn't you change? Daddy, you still have your coat on with blood spatters on it." she said wrinkling her nose. If one didn't know better you would never guess she was a medical doctor. Her eyes suddenly got large, "Where is he? Is he okay? Did he get..." she rapidly fired off, being pulled up short by her father raising a hand for quiet; which, he then used to point at the young man deep in sleep on the couch.
She immediately ran over to the couch, went to her knees next to Mykal and began checking him over and testing his vitals. "Why is he out so deeply? What happened?"
Her father frowned slightly as he moved to sit behind his desk, removing his jacket as he walked; now wanting the dirtied piece of clothing nowhere near him. "Other than the stress he dealt with at the meeting and having to face down the military council here on board the ship, he also verbally confronted Barovos when the coward tried to flee the room. There is some very bad blood between the two of them, so it was very emotionally charged." Hans sighed and took a sip from the glass of liquor, which had been sitting on his desk un-touched. "After Barovos snapped and slapped Mykal, he confessed to helping the traitor in the attack on Orphus III. He then made some very disparaging comments about you and your mother." the king chuckled slightly. "After picking up the scum by the throat, Mykal thanked him for making it easy, and threw him to the ground in front of me to receive my decree." Taking another sip, he leaned back in his chair. "None of us expected that gutless pig to be the type to martyr himself, but he proceeded to pull out a pocket blaster and moved to kill me. It happened so fast that it could only have been a few seconds, but in my mind's eye, it seemed almost like time stopped flowing. One second, I had a blaster only a few meters away; looking down its barrel, knowing I was a dead man. In the time it takes to blink, the man's hand was severed at the wrist. To top it all off, your sister showed up not too long ago and began to berate and belittle him for hurting her 'poor Trenton' and accused us of trying to replace Marcus with Mykal. Needless to say, it was emotionally draining."