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    Thread: something old and something new

    1. #1
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Default something old and something new

      Odds: A Million to One


      I just recently started talking to some relatives that I hadn’t seen in many years. That gave me new names that came to mind and new ideas for a story.

      So I decided that I’d go with the tried and true Japanese Anime idea of run away brides, worried Kings and soldiers in hot pursuit.It’s been done many times so original its not, but it might be fun.


      Chapter 1: Nothing to see Here, Move Along


      John Hanson was just your average college student. He walked, or rode his bicycle the mile or so to school and home everyday ,and lived alone in the house where he grew up. His parents got divorced a few years ago, and his dad got the house while his mom got...well...everything else, including his sister Kate.

      She lived in the next town over, to the East, and they saw each other only on special occasions, like Holidays, but John didn’t mind. He had friends and lots to do to get his Bachelors in Engineering with 2 years left to go until graduation.

      He was just coming in after a days studying at the library, and when he hit the button to open the garage door, he startled a young woman sitting there, eating a candy bar, and looking scared as the door went up. She jumped up to run as he waved his hands and said not to worry he wouldn’t hurt her, and she slowed down quite a bit.

      “Its fine...don’t worry..I wont hurt you. How did you get in here anyways? The doors were all locked.” he asked as she swallowed what she was chewing and pointed to her arm and a bracelet that had little buttons and lights on it.

      “Please...” She said with a sweat and shy voice,” I’m hiding from someone, can I stay here for a little while?” And after a second looking at those wide, frightened eyes, John agreed and they shut the door to the garage and he waved for her to follow. They went inside and he noticed, maybe for the first time her cloths, and the fact that they were odd looking at best. They looked more like some skin tight jump suit or something, but he just waved that thought away.

      “I’ll make some dinner for us, and you can tell me all about how you got here, and why you’re hiding out in my garage.” John said as she didn’t say for sure she would, but dinner certainly sounded better than this candy bar she had. “How long have you been hiding?”

      “Here? Three days,” She said softly as he looked surprised.

      “Then you probably need a shower, if you like I can show you where it is and you can wear some of my cloths until yours are cleaned.” he offered and she smiled for the first time and agreed. He walked her back the hall and showed her the bathroom and got her a T shirt and some jeans to wear. Then he went back out to make dinner, and she looked the little room all over and shut the door and hit a button on her bracelet again, as a small, floating, holographic creature appeared in the air beside her and she asked what a ‘shower’ was and how you used it, and her first lesson in Earth Hygiene started, as the little creature scanned the nearby equipment and told her all about it, and soon she was getting clean and seemed very happy the young man she met wasn’t mean or cruel to her when they first met, she’d hate to have to hurt him after the way he was treating her.

      She came walking out a few minutes later, her long bland hair laying slightly wet against her shoulders and John’s old T shirt wasn’t doing her body justice either, but he tried not to notice, and he waved her to sit at the table.

      Dinner was nothing special, but John saw right away she was worried about what it looked like, as he smiled and said it was safe, don’t worry.

      “Its just beef stew,” he said as he ate some, and after thinking about it for a minute she finally activated the bracelet again and John saw the little hologram for the first time, and choked on his food.

      “Filli, is this food safe to eat?” she asked as the little creature scanned the bowl and agreed telling her everything that was in it and she finally thanked it as she started to eat, and John now had more questions than before, and it seemed like now was a good time.

      “Who are you...REALLY??” He asked as she looked up silently and finally decided he needed to know, since he was being kind to her already. She laid her spoon down and sat up as straight and strong looking as she could, and after taking a deep breath she announced her real name, as John waited to hear.

      “Wanda Sloan, First Princess of the Sloan Dynasty.” She said seriously as John looked away laughing, and she asked what was the matter.

      “You’ve been playing to many video games, if you don’t want me to know just say so.” he said still chuckling as she demanded thats who she really was, and he waved it away like she was kidding.

      “I came to Earth to escape my Father the Emperor. He’s been trying to force me to marry for a while now and I totally refuse! I want to find someone on my own, that cares for me as a person, not my title or my fathers money.” She said loudly and went back to shoveling in her food angrily, as John had to consider her idiotic explanation might be true for the first time, as ridiculous as it sounded.

      “Listen, Wanda...” John started as she demanded he call her Princess Sloan... or better... and he gave her a dirty look that surprised her completely.”Listen WANDA...you’re in my house... eating my food...and this story about being some Princess doesn’t sound possible at all, so just finish your food and I’ll see about cleaning your...suit or whatever it is..then you can leave, and no hard feelings.” He said seriously as she looked shocked he had the nerve to talk to her like that, after knowing who she really was.

      “You are an idiot, you know that, right?” She said softly and went back to eating and even got seconds, and John washed her suit, since she said he couldn’t hurt it, and it was in the dryer when he saw some odd looking men looking in the living room window and he walked to the front door and opened it and they rushed in, knocking him to the side as they searched the house and John got up and called 911 and said he had a break in, and they said the cops were on their way.

      But the men didn’t steal anything, they just ran from room to room looking around, and after a minute came back, as one slammed him against the wall and demanded to know where the Princess was, as John’s mouth dropped open and he was speechless for the first time.

      “Her space suit is in some machine in the other room, where is she??” He demanded as a twinkling light was seen, and they dropped John and stepped back as a tall and muscular man in a bright red uniform appeared and walked over and looked down on John like he was a bug, and demanded that he give her back to them, and his eyes were not kind at all and John refused, as every man there looked shocked.

      “I don’t really know whats going on here...” John admitted,” But I wont hand some poor girl over to monsters like you without some evidence as to who you are, and why you want her!” he demanded, even though he had to look UP at the big man to say it, and he smiled and looked impressed and said John showed courage, but that wouldn’t be enough this time.

      “I am the Commander of the Cruiser Colossus, and Guardian of the First Princess. She has run away many times before, but we always took her safely back home, so please Human help us before REAL monsters find her before we do.” he said seriously as a second voice was heard, and they all looked that way.

      “You’re the monsters here!” Wanda screamed as John ran and stood in front of her, as she went on about chasing her halfway across the galaxy, and dragging her back screaming to see more old men and perverts, and as her screaming went on, John saw that just maybe he was protecting a runaway after all, just like the big man had said.

      “Wanda...” John started as she stopped screaming and the big man and everyone there went into shock hearing it.” Is this all just about you running away from home?” he asked as she looked sad but said it was true that her father was trying to marry her off to men she didn’t even like... as John sighed a deep sigh and looked up to see the men there looking scared and shocked.

      “What?” John asked as the big man cleared his throat and said that only a Royal Couple can call each other by their first names, as Wanda jumped on it, saying she ran all the way here to be with John and she ordered them to tell her father she was no longer fit to be married back home, because she had lost her virginity here, as John called her a liar right out loud, and the big man laughed, and she tried to get John to be quiet until they were gone.

      “Courage and honesty too...you do surprise me Human.” he said in his deep but soft voice, as Wanda looked away grumbling. “I will take your ship back to mine and orbit for a few days. Then I’ll call your father and tell him whats going on here. Try not to drag any more of these Humans into our business until I hear back, alright Princess?” he asked as he waved his hand and they all disappeared in an instant, but she was all smiles. She had won...or bought some time at least...and even if John had demanded they didn’t do anything, Colonel Saxton would have to wait and see what her father said about it all, and that gave her time to plan.

      Back on the ship, Saxton was talking to His Majesty about the troubles they were in and he demanded to know why he didn’t grab her and force her home...again.

      “She’s really serious about this, this time.” He said as her dad, the Emperor grumbled back at him.” Give her some time there, its not even close to being as modern as our world and she’ll get tired of being a house guest on some back water planet soon enough. If she comes home of her own accord, then maybe we wont have to do this again for a long time.” He offered as the Emperor agreed, finally, and Saxton had men watching the house and neighborhood for trouble, and he sat back smiling to himself.

      She did like to stir things up, this one...but something was different this time... not just letting a man call her by her first name, something he made sure he didn’t mention yet to her father, but her whole attitude about him and this world. Maybe this vacation would be good for her...in more ways than one.


      Chapter 2: Vacation in a Fishbowl


      For a few days, everywhere they went they saw men watching them, and at least once they had to run or beam away to keep from getting stopped by the police as ‘suspicious persons’ , their cloths weren’t even close to normal, so trying to fit in was almost impossible until they learned a little more about this place.

      But Wanda had John take her everywhere, and soon his friends started thinking he had a real girlfriend for the first time, and he told them not to make waves, since Wanda wasn’t going to be staying for long.

      “She’s a friend and shes here on vacation..” he said when asked and she agreed, so no one had any reason to think otherwise.

      She got to see what junk food was, and loved it. Her favorite walking trip in the evenings after he got back from school was to the park to see the birds and the fountain, and of course to get a pastry from her favorite shop right next door. Her first Eclair was a thrill for her, and she wanted one almost every day thereafter, as John laughed and said she’d get fat eating like that and she demanded her people never got fat, and John just shook his head and went on.

      But that stopped shortly after that when Saxton came back saying it was time to go...and again she refused.

      “I’ve decided...” She said with her nose up,” I’m going to stay here and go to school with John. His world is a little old fashioned, but I think in many ways we could learn something from them.” She said as he nearly slapped himself for thinking she’d give up so easily.

      “Your Majesty, please...I promised your father that, after a little break, you’d be fine going home with me again.” He hinted, as she turned from even looking at him and refused to even consider it.

      “You shouldn’t promise things you cant keep.” she said seriously and it looked like a standoff again for a second.

      “I am so sorry Your Majesty but its for your own good...” he said as two men grabbed her and she tried to fight them off, and John didn’t know what to do for a second but she screamed for help, and thats all it took, as he kicked one man in the groin, and hit another over the head with his fist and then he and Wanda ran from the Park back to the house to hide.

      “There...” She said gasping for breath as she tapped a few buttons on her wrist again.” there’s a shield around the house, we’ll be safe for now.”

      “I don’t know much about star ships and your technology,” John hinted, as she smiled and waited,” but that wrist band doesn’t seem strong enough to protect us if Colonel Saxton really wants to get in.”

      “He’s a good man...he wont force his way in until he feels he absolutely has too, and that order has to come from my Father.” She said angrily as John just smiled and looked away and she finally asked what was so funny.

      “If it all relies on your Father... then call and talk to him...he cant be THAT stubborn can he?” he asked as she rolled her eyes, but admitted that she really needed to do this, if she ever wanted to have a real life of her own.

      The signal was weak coming from the house on the surface, but Saxton smiled and boosted it and sent it on its way. It got answered a few minutes later, as Wanda grumped that he kept her waiting, and John cleared his throat in the back ground, and she stopped complaining for a minute to tell him she really wanted to stay a while longer.

      “You are ASKING permission for something? How odd... and wonderful.” The older man said all smiles while she bit her lip to keep from screaming again.” And you, young man, are you the reason she’s acting better than anytime lately?” he asked as John introduced himself, saying he found her hiding in his storage area and gave her food and a place to rest, as the man nodded and looked impressed.

      “So, first it was a vacation and now school...you do know you could teach there and we’d get in trouble with the Galactic Council for contaminating a primitive culture don’t you?” he asked as Wanda said she promised not to give away any secrets while she was there, and he actually had to sit back and consider this, since it was rare indeed for her to ask his permission before going off on her own.

      “The Cruiser stays to watch over you then...and Saxton is your guardian until you return home, is that clear?” he demanded as she smiled wider and agreed and he felt he really had won for once, and he nodded and the link went closed.

      “Yay! I can stay!” She yelled as John laughed out loud and after she settled down he asked...

      “Where will you live? I’ll see that you get signed up at school ...and you’ll need to decide on your classes...” he started as her face fell and she asked why she couldn’t stay with him, there was lots of room, and he looked surprised and said that a man and woman living under the same roof that weren’t married...might cause trouble...and she looked sad he thought that.

      “But...you like having me around though, right? I mean we get along pretty well. I invent things like my wrist-bands, and your studying to be an engineer too, right?” She asked, with those big sad eyes and shy look on her face, as he admitted it was all true.

      “But, treating you for a few days is one thing, but my income cant support two people full time, plus school.” he hinted as she just laughed and said...’oh...don’t you worry about that’ and walked away like it was all settled. And John saw he had a lot to learn about arguing with women.


      Chapter 3: Settling In


      “Yes, Colonel, Father says it’s alright, but I’ll need my allowance sent here and transfered into Earth money.” She was saying as Saxton agreed and she turned back, all smiles.” There fixed, we can split the bills and expenses if you like, will that help?” She asked as John nodded it would, actually with someone sharing things he’d be in better shape than before.

      “Then we’re all set, if you don’t mind I can use the room I’ve been in since I got here, its nice and comfortable.” She said as he agreed, it was his dads room when he was there, but had been empty for a while now.

      “You’ll need to get some cloths too, you can’t wear mine everywhere, so I’ll take you shopping when your money gets here.” John said and they both agreed. Now that he knew she would be around for a while they had to go shopping for food. His cabinets were getting empty, and he had two to feed from now on. So they made a trip to the store and while there he bumped into a few friends from school who ran over and asked when Wanda was going home, and she smiled and said she decided to stay and go to school here, as a few looked very surprised.

      “And John asked me to live with him, too.” She went on with a wink, as John declared loudly that he did NOT ask her to live there it was all her idea, and one girl he knew ran away laughing, and he knew this was going to get around town really fast.

      “You like making my life difficult don’t you?” he whispered as she giggled a little and they went on gathering enough food for a week, and Wanda guaranteed that her money would be there by then.

      “You should be honored,” She whispered as they walked home carrying their bags.”I don’t usually get along this well with everybody I meet.” She hinted and walked on ahead all smiles, as John just shook his head, not knowing if that was a good thing this time or not.

      But she was cute and lively, and despite himself he found her attractive...in an different way...but he knew he was just looking for excuses, because she was someone special, and he was just a kid from down the street, and when he really thought about it, he felt small and insignificant, and thats what really bothered him the most.

      By the time they got back Saxton was sitting there on the sofa waiting, and with his arms out and his massive size he took up half of it himself. He waved as they entered and Wanda asked why he was back soo soon.

      “We met with the President, and he agreed you can stay here as long as you like.” He started as John nearly fainted.

      “Wait...the President knows about you and the Empire?” he asked as both Wanda and Saxton nodded, like it was old news.

      “You ARE a member of the Empire after all..we’ve been in contact with you for ages now and all the leaders of the world know us well. We help keep things a little more peaceful here too..why do you think no one has ever started a nuclear war since you invented them? They wouldn’t dare...and we’d have to step in and stop it.” Saxton added all smiles as Wanda agreed, saying thats how she knew where the Earth was...its was WAY out on the rim from her home system and she felt she’d be safe here...fat chance with Saxton and his men chasing her..as they both laughed as John looked lost.

      “Oh and after our meeting, the President said that this should be sufficient for your monthly allowance so here..” Saxton added as he dropped a wad of bills on the coffee table and Wanda complained there was ‘only one stack’ as John picked it up to see the name of the United Bank on the paper cover and the number 10,000 dollars on it as he nearly fainted.

      “This is 4 times what my dad sends me to live on..” he announced as Wanda looked curious and asked if it was enough for them to get by on each month, and John gave her a serious look as she smiled for him.”easily...” was all he said, as Wanda cheered and Saxton said his business was done then, and he beamed away.

      “So now I can get some new cloths!” She said waving it around as John mentioned she shouldn’t say anything about having so much cash laying around the house, and she asked why.

      “People can be greedy sometimes, so knowing we have that laying around might cause trouble. I’ll help you set up a bank account so you’ll have a card to use instead, then no one can tell what money you really have.” He offered as she agreed saying that a card was more modern than cash, and cash was ‘so bulky to carry’ as John rolled his eyes and went to put the groceries away.

      By night fall Wanda had a bank account and debit card, now tomorrow she could buy cloths, and she wanted John along to see what he thought she looked good in, and he reminded her he wasn’t that well informed about fashions and she laughed at him for it.

      “If I want to study fashion I’ll buy a magazine...” She hinted as they sat there drinking their after dinner drinks.” I just thought you’d know what the local girls wear thats all.” She said as he nodded he understood and she smiled that she’d get to see what he liked too.

      The next day she ran from one shop to another, as John started getting tired just walking along and carrying her bags. She had some odd ideas what Human women wore, but John put a stop to that pretty fast. He tried to make sure she’d look good without being too loud or daring, something she seemed to like.

      But she was breaking him in fast too, standing in a shop of women’s underwear and calling out for him to come in from the hallway and help her choose, as he firmly refused, to the entertainment of all nearby.

      “At least help me to choose colors...” She grumped as some older ladies walking by smiled and whispered ‘newly weds’ as John looked like he’d scream in embarrassment.

      “Just buy whatever you like, and please hurry.” John begged as she grumped and screamed out that she was a Princess after all, so purple was the Royal color here wasn’t it? And John rushed in begging her not to say that too loud, as many looked shocked.

      “You promised that while you’re here you’d not keep saying that, and just live like a normal woman...” John hinted, as she gave him an odd look but finally agreed, but even now the word was getting around, and Wanda was weak to the one type of questioning that never failed to get a response...an honest question...and even her first week at school everyone knew, and John was both scared for her and embarrassed to death by the multitude of questions about having a ‘live in Princess’ all to himself.

      “Shes really pretty...you sly dog you...” One of his friends kept saying while all the time John swore nothing was going on...absolutely nothing...but even his friends and the girls that talked to Wanda weren’t buying it, and soon he had a reputation for being a Gold digger...a man just looking for an easy conquest who just happened to have money...and he refused loudly saying he didn’t ask for anything from her, and many just smiled and walked away.

      So after their first month, the verdict was equally split. Either he was a person looking to retire early...and many wouldn’t blame him after meeting Wanda...or he was a fool, plain and simple, wanting nothing and asking for nothing as even Wanda refused to say if it were possible or not...in the future.

      “You shouldn’t pick on him so much,” She hinted to her friends one day as they walked along the halls between classes,” he’s way too serious for his age,to take a decent amount of kidding. He’s very uptight you know.” She said as many more fell for her for standing up for the idiot that she was living with.

      And John’s best friend, Frank finally cornered him when no on else was around and asked, quietly if he was really happy like this...he usually liked his quiet and peaceful life before...and John just smiled and admitted his new life was far more interesting than before, and refused to say anything else, as Frank got a huge grin that the man wasn’t as much of an idiot as many thought.

      Last edited by NovaCatt; 04-04-2015 at 05:34 AM. Reason: minor typo correction.. NC

    2. #2
      TXU Sr. Member kevin398's Avatar
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      Chapter 4: Oversight, from Afar




      Saxton was making his weekly report, as the Emperor looked a little grumpy today, and he asked if he was alright.

      “The Royal Suiters are getting restless...” he admitted as Saxton smiled wider than before. Many young men from Royal or Prestigious families were chasing after Wanda to make her...and their spot as the Prince of the Empire...their own. Men from all worlds and all ages, some nice and easy going...some absolutely neither of those things...and the Emperor was taking the heat since he was the one who started it all, and it quickly became a competition... and no one likes to lose.

      “Why don’t you just say that the Princess is spoken for, and let it settle down for a while?” Saxton asked as the Emperor nodded that he might just do that.

      “I wish I could. If she likes that place and young man so much I just wish she’d say something...she hasn’t called or reported whats going on for weeks now, and I’m running out of excuses.” he admitted as Saxton looked a little amused by it all, but tried not to smile too widely.

      “If she wont call and tell me anything, see what you can find out, if they are happy and having a normal relationship, then fine. But at least tell me SOMETHING.” he demanded as the link went down and Saxton saw yet another trip to the surface coming, and he went to check Wanda’s schedule to see when she’d be home.

      “Your father is rightfully concerned.” Saxton pleaded, as Wanda looked a little tired hearing it. She came here to escape that all, and had been doing pretty well actually, but a real relationship? That was not really what was happening, but she couldn’t say that out loud.

      “John has been the perfect gentleman all this time..” Wanda said loudly and then ‘the idiot’ behind Saxton’s back as he smiled wider still. “tell Father I’m happy here, and he has nothing to worry about.”

      “I don’t think he’s that worried about it, if you know what I mean,” The Colonel whispered with a wink, as Wanda looked a little embarrassed by that, but happy too that her father might approve.

      “He still has 12 other daughters to give away, so tell him not to worry about me, I’m fine here.” Wanda mentioned again, and walked away as Saxton smiled and nodded. It obviously wasn’t going as well as she had hoped, but then that just meant John wasn’t after her money or position, and that was a good thing to know. Now if the stubborn little Princess could become the stubborn young woman that John needed...well... that would settle lots of things.

      “HONESTLY!” The Emperor declared as Saxton nodded he completely understood.” Well I’m not fighting this alone anymore. I’m telling every one of them where shes hiding, and let them settle it themselves.” he added as Saxton’s eyes popped open and he asked if that was wise.

      “Earth is a tiny world with little security, and sending a dozen members of Royalty from advanced worlds out here on a treasure hunt... might not be a good thing.” he hinted as his boss smiled wide and said HE was the security there, and Saxton nodded he understood, as the link went down and he called Wanda to warn her what was coming, and she in return told John, and he looked surprised that things had turned out like this.

      “So they’re all going to come here and fight over you?” John asked, shocked, as Wanda just laughed and said she had the final say... and she didn’t feel like leaving... as both she and John got a smile from that.

      “But some might get testy about things, there’s a lot of egos at stake...” she hinted as John nodded looking sad,” so before things get too crazy I want you to have this...” She said and snapped a silver bracelet on his left wrist and he asked what it was. “its a power suit, similar to the one I was wearing when I first came here.” She answered as he looked oddly at it. It wasn’t a bad looking piece of equipment but he wondered if he needed one when everyone was coming here to see Wanda.

      “ Try it out, hit the green button and watch what happens.” she said as he did, and instantly his hand and arm were covered in a red material, like a stretchy skin tight jump suit, only bright red with some white trim.And as he looked down his entire body was covered and he laughed saying it looked like some odd superman suit or something, as Wanda laughed too, saying that those comics were drawings of real suits made for people in the past.

      “When this is activated, nothing will harm you, not blaster fire, not guns, or fire, nothing short of nuclear fusion can hurt this material.” She said as she stepped back to admire her handiwork, and John just shook his head and sometimes wished he hadn’t fallen into this trap, where everything he thought he knew was all false, and someone from outside their world was really in charge.”You look good in it, just remember, most warriors wear something like this...but they don’t have their own personal engineer designing it for them! This is absolutely next gen stuff.” she said feeling the sleeve as John asked why she’d do so much to protect him, when she was the one that they were after.

      “I stayed here to live with you and go to school here, and Father told everyone that.” She said sadly, as John felt a little used right now. Obviously the Emperor was tired fighting with all the suiters that he himself started on this odd quest, and so now even he was in danger, if the right man, or creature, came looking to settle things once and for all.

      “In that case...” John said smiling and looking the suit over again,” tell me all about this. If some fool comes here thinking he’ll just force himself on you, then I need to know what I can do about it.” he said seriously as Wanda got a huge grin and looked to be nearly in tears, as she told him how the suit would not only protect him, but amplify his own strength a dozen times. The special material was formed by atomically fusing to his skin and taking its cues from every move he made. With a little practice, he really could do moves that were only seen on old martial arts movies from the past, and he laughed, saying that it certainly would help, but even now he would never be a superman, like the suit showed.

      “You’ll do fine...” Wanda said and hit the red button this time, and after a second the suit was gone again and John was standing there...stark naked... as he looked down and Wanda screamed and looked away, laughing.”I think the fusion matrix is still off a bit, that’ll need fixed.” She said and took the bracelet and ran into the other room, laughing to herself, while John shook his head sadly and went to get some new cloths on.


      Chapter 5: Visitors Arrive


      Saxton called at lunch time the next day, and said the first ‘meeting’ would be in the park, and John asked how it was possible to have alien visitors in the park in broad daylight, as Saxton smiled and winked and said ‘the park is closed today’ and the link went black.

      At noon they walked in and down a long set of stairs, to see a huge reptilian creature 7 feet tall standing there wearing a blue uniform and waiting by the fountain.

      “Hello, Claude...” Wanda called as they approached and he looked right past her to John who was standing there holding Wanda’s hand.

      “Your father said whoever can come here and take you, can keep you, and gain the title of Prince of the Sloan Empire.” he announced as Wanda grumbled that no one told her that, and John looked even more upset than before.

      “My Father is an old fool...nobody does things this way anymore.” Wanda said seriously as the big man just shrugged and smiled a toothy smile, as he sized John up for a body bag.

      “Is this the insect that caught your eye? Not much to look at is he?” he asked as John stepped forward to be smashed with a backhand that threw him 20 feet in a roll that ended clear back by the steps.” Bug squashed.” he whispered as they both heard a laugh, as John got back to his feet, now wearing the red suit, as he dusted himself off.

      “That button works fast, thanks.” he said as he walked back over and the big man looked a little dubious about why he was still standing.

      “Is this one of YOURS?” he asked as Wanda agreed, all smiles, and the man knew right away that he couldn’t tell its abilities just by looks alone. “Hmm, I take it the color means nothing? On corporate suits, red is a 2x multiplier for dock workers and such.” he whispered , stroking his chin while John just smiled and asked if he wanted to try again.

      The big lizard now pulled a sign post right out of the ground and swung it with full force, and when it hit John’s body it rang in a loud, low pitched ring that made the mans hands hurt from the vibrations, and he looked shocked.

      Now John reached out and took hold of the sign itself,and bent it into a spear shaped point and asked if that would help him next time... or not... and the big man stepped back and dropped it and started to grin.

      “I think I’ll have to reconsider my proposal...” he said, and a second later he was gone, as Wanda cheered, and Saxton smiled wider than anytime before, watching them safely from orbit. That was one down and only a dozen or so to go, if they even came after the word got out that the Princess wasn’t going to be free, and he sent back his report and a video to the Emperor and asked why he told them that the winner would marry Wanda after all?

      “A man can only work so many years without a long, well deserved rest.” The Emperor said smiling, as Saxton looked shocked.” There are a lot of good prospects out there that could replace me someday, and my other daughters will get a chance to find one too. If she thinks this one is so special, then let her prove it to me...” he said as the link went down and Saxton saw that it wasn’t just Wanda’s hand in marriage that was at stake here..but the leadership of the entire Empire.

      John and Wanda started back towards the house and as they did he shut off the bracelet again...and again was totally naked...as he nearly screamed... and she looked away, smiling.

      “I thought you fixed that!” He screamed as he ran towards the house, now 3 blocks away, as she ran after him, laughing all the while.

      “I needed new parts and they haven’t come yet...” She explained as he growled at her and several people they knew saw them running by, and John got another rumor going...that he was seen streaking through the neighborhood at noon...and many thought that terrible, and others thought it was fantastic...if not a little out of date...and John just felt embarrassed all over again by another of Wanda’s inventions gone wrong, and she offered to tell everyone it was her fault, and this time he agreed.

      “Your inventions get out of control too often,” John called from the bedroom as he got dressed again.

      “That one saved your butt today though didnt it?” She asked and he had to admit he would be hurting badly by now without it.”I’ll get it fixed so you can get in and out of it when you want, just as soon as the parts come in... I have a technology courier coming any time now.” She announced while john just nodded agreement and hoped she didn’t want to try out anything else on him for a while.

      They got a bite to eat and were just settling in for a nice rest when the doorbell rang and John went to see who it was, and a younger version of Wanda with shorter hair was standing there, nose in the air and asking if the First Princess was here...and Wanda ran out to hug Audrey, her younger sister, who waved to her bags and told John to carry them to her room, as his mouth dropped open to hear that yet another Princess had dropped by.

      “Why are you here??” Wanda asked as they went to sit on the sofa while John took her bags to his sisters old room.

      “Father decided that he couldn’t rush you into a marriage so now he’s after me and Gale...” She said as Wanda rolled her eyes and smiled. Her father was nothing if not persistent. “So if hiding here saved you, then we’ll hide here too.”

      “I’m not exactly hiding...” Wanda admitted as Audrey looked away to make sure John wasn’t listening.

      “He beat a Zorn, thats hard to believe.” She whispered as Wanda smiled wide and admitted he did.” There must be more to him than meets the eye.” She admitted then and Wanda just smiled and said nothing for a second.

      “You and Gale are twins and go everywhere together...so you ran off and left her at home? How odd is that?” Wanda asked as Audrey looked away smiling, and Wanda saw why.”What did you do this time?” She asked as she said Gale should pay closer attention to directions, and Wanda growled at her for her silly tricks she liked to play.

      “This isn’t the Capitol. this is Earth....” Wanda exclaimed as Audrey refused to blink at that,” where is Gale now, or where was she when you snuck away and left her?” She asked, shaking Audrey’s shoulders until she admitted they beamed down into the park and she was the only one with directions to the house, and Gale should have paid closer attention so they didn’t get split up, as Wanda gave her a really dirty look.

      “John...we have a problem..” Wanda called as John walked in and got the news, and he looked sad for the other girl and went to see if she was alright and bring yet another person to his house for a visit.


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      this type of story always rests on the relationship as kids, never later on. Mine will go far past that, to a time after they are married and he gets trained to rule the galaxy, or part of it. That means this can go on for a bit, so don't expect a short story.


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      Chapter 6: Getting Along


      John walked down to the park and was looking around when he heard a commotion nearby and saw three punks trying to drag a blond headed girl screaming into the bushes, and he ran in and screamed for them to stop, and the biggest man turned on him and took a swing, and John saw that three against one wasn’t going to cut it, so he activated the suit and even the three young men looked surprised, at first,then started to laugh.

      “He thinks he’s Superman...” one said as the big man stepped up and John didn’t back away at all,and he hit him solidly on the side of the head...full force...and his hand cracked loudly and he screamed,as the others stopped what they were doing to look shocked again.

      “You’re messing with my guest...” John said as he picked the big man up with one hand and tossed him like he weighed nothing, and the others turned and ran, as Gale got to her feet... crying... and ran to hug John and thank him for coming for her. “We’ll have a nice long talk with your twin sister when we get back.” John offered as Gale agreed and he got her bags too and escorted her back to the house, and Audrey apologized for leaving her behind, saying she had no idea that Earth was so barbaric, and John said that most were good people here but there are always a few, like those punks from before, and she agreed she took too much for granted, and that they all would be on their guard from now on.

      But they all got a good chuckle later that night, when the TV News showed some security camera footage from the park, saying that it caught an attempted rape in progress, and that the Police were on their way, but they didn’t need to bother. It showed John running in, the suit coming on and him throwing the big man away like so much trash, as Audrey looked shocked and Gale thanked him again, as Wanda got a good laugh at the report.

      “Who is this mystery man with such great powers...and will we see him in action again, protecting our town?” The news woman asked as they zoomed in to see John getting a hug from Gale and Audrey got a ‘ho,ho’, in there as Gale’s face grew red.

      “That was enough crime fighting for the week I think.” John whispered as everyone agreed, but for anyone that knew him, that video was going to be proof that John was no lightweight after all, and Wanda could see them getting asked a lot of questions on Monday at school.

      And, as advertised, the whole school had seen the video and knew exactly who it was. John got harassed by a dozen girls, saying he was soo cool helping that girl, and asked where he got the ‘red undies’ and then laughed.

      The Dean got in on the act by having John come into his office to get an award for citizenship, and he had to tell the whole story again, even though he hated every second of it.


      “So...Princess Wanda Sloan gave you that suit for your protection during her marriage trials then? How utterly fantastic for you! She must like you a lot to offer you such power.” he was told as he tried to smile and work his way towards the door, until he finally escaped...right into the arms of Wanda... her sisters... and the local news.

      “So...you’re the young lady he saved then... correct?” The lady asked as Gale admitted it was true.” and that suit gives you superpowers just like it looks like it does?” She asked John who was, by now, ready to scream and run out and hide at home, but Wanda saved him by saying she made the suit because he was her bodyguard while she was staying here...and he used it to protect your sister... as was only right under the circumstances.

      “How does it feel to have a real live Princess... or three... living with you then John?” He was asked and everyone looked his way and he felt like he had to say something.

      “Tiring...” he announced and after a second of shock the hall exploded into laughter, and he smiled and made it look like a joke, but in his mind this was the most tiring day he had ever had.

      “I’ll bet it is...” The lady whispered with a wink, as John’s face grew red and he declared it wasn’t like that, but she ignored him and closed the interview with her comment that the city was being watched over by their very own superman, and even as John tried to say it wasn’t true, she rolled up their equipment and left to get it all edited and ready to show.

      “Damn it!” John whispered as silently as he could while Wanda asked why he was getting soo upset. “Now every gang and thug in the city will be looking for me... and us..to force you to make a suit for them.” he explained as everyone there got an odd ‘oops’ look as John herded them all back home as quickly as he could.

      But even now Colonel Saxton was watching and stepping in from time to time. He saw all the attention too and knew John hated it, and he also knew John was absolutely right, as men from all over the country started showing up in their city, and one by one they got dropped off at some police station, or hauled away by the FBI, in various conditions that defied explanation.

      But everyone knew what was going on, and silently, John got spoken of quite highly by some agents that Saxton dealt with a lot. Some of these men and women were wanted, and had been for years. Getting a suit like his would mean they didn’t even need to hide anymore...and security wasn’t about to let that happen...as Saxton reminded Wanda that he had warned her before about sharing technology, and she agreed he had, but she refused to take the suit back now saying it was too late for that, and for once, Colonel Saxton agreed.

      But when the word got out that the city was nearly invincible now and many real professionals disappeared into federal custody, things started slowing back down to normal, and John swore that he’d never use the suit in public again... and the girls all smiled and knew he would...if things got bad enough.

      Weeks went by and another suitor came to see how well he’d fare against Wanda and her bodyguard. And as John got back to his feet for the third time, even the red headed young man standing there with a weapon in his hand looked impressed.

      “Thats quite well made...” he mentioned as Wanda took a short bow. I suppose if he wasn’t such a peaceful person I might be in trouble by now.” He added with a sly grin that showed he thought he had it figured out.

      “It might be mentioned here that if anything happens to John, equally terrible things will happen in return.” She said as he laughed and turned to say something more but saw Wanda standing there in a new suit...deep, dark blue with gold trim...and even from here he could feel the power it put off.

      “Thats... not a regular suit is it?” he whispered as she leaned over, picked up a pebble and laid it on her thumb, then flicked it right past his head and he could hear it sizzling going by, and as he turned to look a 3 inch limb on a tree beside him crashed to the ground, neatly shaved off, and he swallowed hard and gave her another big grin...and with a deep bow...transported away.

      “Thats three...” She said softly, as John hit the button and they both got back into regular cloths again.

      “Congratulations!” Audrey called as her and Gale walked out from their hiding spot, cheering for their big sister.” He wont be back anytime soon.”

      “What was that he was using just now?” John asked rubbing his chest,” The heat got through the suit this time, it worried me for a minute there.”

      “Light Fission beam...” Wanda said, growling,” to think he’d use such a thing here...he was a fool and a coward, but then it might have caused real damage if he continued to use it. So I was forced to step in and cover your butt...this time...” She hinted as John smiled and thanked her for that.

      “And since we’re in the park again...pastries for everyone!” She screamed as the girls cheered and John just laughed at their easy going ways.”It’ll be a while before anyone else comes to bother us, I’ll wager, so lets enjoy this time off.” And she led the way to her favorite pastries shop and John walked along, watching in all directions at once. He wasn’t too sure that statement was true,and he wouldn’t be caught off guard, no matter what.

      “Another suitor is out of the race now,” Colonel Saxton announced as the Emperor smiled wider than ever before.” But the Princess did step in this time, after quite a few attempts to make John withdraw...but he never did...she was just worried for him it seems.” he announced as the older man smiled and nodded he understood.

      “If he really does become the next Emperor, then he needs to know what will be expected of him...see to that will you Carl?” the Emperor asked as Saxton looked shocked.

      “Its hardly my place your Majesty...” He started as the older man laughed out loud.

      “You’re one of my most trusted men, and you’ve known me since before this all happened, so yes, I believe you qualify to say something about this. John seems like he truly does care for her ...and thats good...and he asks for nothing but her attentions. So he’s not a power hunter or gold digger at all, and I’m glad of that. So take him to the side for a minute and at least let him know he’s being considered for the job. It might be a real shock if it comes out suddenly.” he said as the link went down and Saxton sat back looking tired that... yet again...another task had been handed down to him,and his plate was pretty full as it was. But thats the fate of a military man, and he took a deep breath and made the call, and after a minute John found himself standing on the empty bridge of the cruiser for the first time, looking down on Earth.

      “Thats quite a view don’t you think?” He asked waving towards the windows facing forward and John nodded as he looked out and down on Earth below.”I called you here today to tell you something special, at the request of the Emperor himself.” he said as John waited to hear and he looked less than thrilled about it.”You’re being considered for not only Princess Wanda’s future husband, but the next Emperor too. Our Leader sees you as the right person for the job, since money and power don’t seem to bother you at all. Its a true honor to even be mentioned in such high company, don’t you think?” He asked as John looked shocked, then serious, then sad after a minute. He hadn’t planned for any of this, and just thinking about it gave him a headache.

      “I’ll Pass...” John whispered as Saxton looked like he’d faint any second,” except maybe that husband thing...I have no aspirations towards anything else.” he said seriously as even the Colonel had to clear his throat and start again.

      “But...but...you’d be the caretaker and master over 5,000 planets and civilizations...its a huge honor!” he demanded as John waved him away with a grin.

      “Too much responsibility for me..for any normal person.” he added as even Saxton had to consider.” If that were dropped on me suddenly, I’d give them back their independence and sit back and live happily with my Family at home. Conquering other worlds isn’t my style.” he added as Carl look thoughtful about that.” Now if there’s nothing else..its almost dinner time.” he said and pointed out the windows, and was back home a minute later.

      “I’m sorry my Lord, but he refused, saying it was too much responsibility for anyone. He obviously isn’t capable of running an Empire, sir.” Saxton reported as the Emperor sat there and slowly smiled.

      “Give them back their independence and let them rule themselves huh?” he whispered as the Colonel waited to hear more,” I like him! Even in his refusal he’s got the right idea. There are many levels of autonomy after all, and we can own them, without forcing them at all. It would remove a lot of extra work and let me get more time with MY Family.” he added as Saxton saw what he was saying.”My opinion stands...he WILL be the next Emperor...wither he likes it or not. I think he has the perfect mental abilities to do the job,and maybe better than I did. Now if you’ll excuse me...I think I have a meeting to set up.” he said with a wink, and was gone.

      Colonel Saxton sat back with a thump...John refused the leadership of the Empire while instantly coming up with an improved means for a transfer of power... so much so the Emperor right this minute was considering it himself. That spoke volumes, John wasnt a military man but he saw the big picture easily, and he decided that talking to John about it again now would be a waste of time... but later...who knows.


      Chapter 7: Softly Kept Secrets


      For a few weeks things went pretty well. John was getting ready to end his second year of school and Wanda, and now her sisters, followed him around everywhere and she made sure that just the right people knew she and John were a couple...no matter what he said.

      Colonel Saxton got some time off too, and he was grateful for that, after some of the fiascos that had happened lately, and even the Royal Suiters were mysteriously absent after John and Wanda made it clear she wasn’t leaving. So it was a surprise when a small ship jumped in and after a second, called the cruiser and asked permission to enter Earths atmosphere, and Saxton gave the young man a serious look and asked if he was here for Wanda...and the man laughed out loud until Carl got a smile himself.

      “Audrey actually...” he said as the Colonel looked surprised and nodded he was allowed through. The man dropped into low Earth orbit and beamed down and Carl sat back smiling, and wondering what John and Wanda would do now.

      There was a knock on the house door a minute later and when John opened it, a younger man stood there, well dressed and with immaculately combed brown hair... all smiles...and asked if Princess Audrey was living here now...and John agreed without thinking.

      “Francis! I told you not to follow me here!” John heard as he stepped back and the young man ran in and gave Audrey a nice hug and said he missed her...as everyone else stood by watching on, and her face went beet red.

      “I finally went to your father and told him about us..and he gave his approval.” he said as even Wanda looked impressed.

      “Lets not talk here...come with me...” She insisted and dragged him down the hall and into her room, as Wanda and John gave Gale a serious look and she smiled and waved them into the living room area to sit.

      “They’re childhood friends, and more recently..lovers...that father never found out about.” She hinted as Wanda looked thrilled for her.”Francis Von Drake, a high noble and son of the ruling Governor of Albion. Father was pushing us to find someone and Audrey refused, knowing full well she was already in love...but she couldn’t bring herself to say so to Father.” She added as Wanda admitted her dad could be quite the person to try and talk to.

      “So after we had moved here for a while, Francis finally got the nerve up to tell Father the truth, and now he and Audrey can be together, right out in the open.” She added as John smiled and saw a plan happening... but he didn’t say anything for now.


      “Thats great!” Wanda exclaimed as John just smiled and agreed, “ Now Father will back off a bit since his work is starting to show results.”

      “Do you REALYY believe that?” Gale asked sadly, as Wanda laughed right out loud.

      “No...but it sounded good didn’t it?” She asked as even Gale left a chuckle out after that.

      They waited for a while, and Wanda and Gale even went and made coffee and tea and got some pastries... all before those two came back out... but when they did Audrey and Francis were both smiling very wide, and had an announcement to make...officially.

      “We’re engaged...” Audrey said softly, as everyone cheered and Francis got a solid handshake from John too, and he congratulated him for having such good taste, as even Audrey heard and smiled wider after that.

      “Now you can become the new Emperor...and they can leave me... the Hell... alone.” John whispered and laughed, as Francis looked surprised and leaned in and whispered back.

      “That jobs been taken, I’ll become a Royal Advisor to whoever gets it. But the Emperor said it had already been settled.” he mentioned as John looked shocked, and he could only hope this meant that they found someone else...but he had this sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach...that he refused to accept.

      “Hey...no whispering over there...and Francis..John’s mine so no sneaking around on me OK?” Wanda asked, laughing, as John got his nose up and asked when he ‘became hers’ as she laughed some more. But now everyone could see it was a done deal...as John always gravitated towards her during talks and even watching TV in the evenings. And she seemed very happy with that too, and she wisely didn’t push it...for now.

      And with that the word got back to everyone, when Francis went back home for a while. John and Wanda were a couple and he and Audrey were engaged, and for the first time in a while the Emperor saw that he was gaining something...and he smiled a little more often.

      So...no time like the present...he got the Royal Chambers ready for a massive banquet and the Leader of the States religion was thrilled to do the service himself. Everyone was invited..hell...they were ordered to be there, and Wanda, John and Gale sat in the front row while Audrey, in the worlds best gown, stood up front with her new man.

      Her father wasn’t taking any chances, he said, and people laughed at him for his comments, and he got a few chuckles in there too while waiting for the ceremony to start.But he was also a bit distracted...during the planning stages he got a call from an old advisor, asking to be there and of course he agreed. Master Johanson was well known for his great wisdom and intellect. When he spoke the very best and brightest stopped to listen, and he had saved the Empire from disaster more than once in the past. But now he was an old man of 120...getting around in a hover chair with a nurse at his side constantly, and he seldom left his estate, much less his planet to go out, but he demanded to be here, and that meant something important was going to happen...and soon.

      The ceremony went well and was soon over, and all the members of the Royal Family got pictures and videos made for the news. John tried his best to stay hidden, and Wanda tried her best to help him. All this flash and brightness wasn’t his style, and she knew it, but he did make an appearance during the Bridal Dance to dance one with Wanda, who also was dressed to the nines.

      “Do you think we’ll make it back here someday too?” She asked quietly as John smiled very wide and admitted they would...as she looked like she’d scream in joy...

      “There’s Gale and a lot of other sisters to get married off yet.” he whispered and tried not to laugh out loud, while she gave him the dirtiest looks imaginable. They finished their dance and as they left the floor a humming sound caught Johns ear, and he turned to see an old man in a floating chair coming up behind them.

      “So...you’re the Human from Earth...” He said as John smiled and nodded he was. “The next Emperor I hear...” he whispered and watched closely for John’s reaction, and it didn’t take a second to see it either.

      “That was a misunderstanding, I’m sure,” John said and couldn’t even force a smile now, as the old man looked him up and down and Wanda looked surprised to see her Father was running their way, right in the middle of the party, ignoring Audrey completely for now. That was quite the sight, a 6 foot tall man wearing the robes of the Emperor actually running through the crowd, and she knew this wasn’t like him at all.

      “Interesting... as I’ve already heard.” The old man whispered and smiled until he looked like he’d burst, and the Emperor stopped right beside him and gave him a respectful bow and asked if there was anything the matter. “Just visiting for a second with the Royal Family, thats all.” Master Johanson said and he floated away, turning his back on the Emperor like he was nothing, and John looked impressed and maybe a little worried too.

      “Did he say anything special, mention anything important?” He asked Wanda right away and she shook her head no.

      “He just wanted to meet John, I guess.” She added as her Fathers face grew tight, and he looked John over really well for the first time. “John...this is my father...the Emperor, Harold James Sloan the First, ruler of this corner of the Galaxy.” She said very officially and Harold smiled and shook John’s hand, still staring at him like there was something wrong.

      “Is there a problem, sir?” John asked as the Emperor smiled and said no everything was alright, and he gave them a bow and went back to the party and John shrugged it off and ignored it after that. But Wanda had seen that look on her father before, and a war happened very suddenly and lasted for a few years directly after. Now he had it again, and this time while watching John for the rest of the night, and right after their talk, Master Johanson left the party without saying a word to anyone, and that frightened the Emperor more than anything that could have been said.


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      WEEKEND EDITION:

      Chapter 8: The Kiss of Death


      But a few lightyears away at a bar better suited for mercenaries than Royalty, a dark robed person walked in and up to a table full of loud boisterous men, and the leader looked up to see a young woman standing there, jet black hair,and wearing a black hooded leather coat, and she had the hood up even in this heat.

      “I wondered if you’d come,” He whispered as a man got up to give her a seat.

      “A million credits is a million credits, and ships need things just like people do...” She said, hardly loud enough for the people at the table to hear.” so wheres the target?”

      “Outer Galactic arm..here...a planet called Earth. All the necessary info is in this...” he said sliding a envelope to her as she slid it under her coat and nodded.”half up front... the rest when we get confirmation.” he added as she nodded silently and walked out and only then did anyone take that chair back, and the big man looked glad she was gone.

      “She gives me the creeps...” One man said as a few others nodded silently.

      “ Eternal Darkness...” he said as everyone nodded they had heard the name before,” no one gets past her...no one...even Kings and Emperors have fallen to that little witch...” he whispered and looked around to see if anyone might have heard that that would repeat it.

      “Princess Wanda better get a good nights kiss from her man tonight, because tomorrow will be his last...that Zorn didn’t take it well to get laughed at by someone half his size.”

      “They can be bad losers thats for sure...” Another man mentioned as many agreed, but this time it was personal, and he had the cash to spend on the best...and thats what she was.

      “Better him than me...” Was the last thing said, as a little scout ship ran full force towards Earth.

      A few hours later a stealth ship drifted slowly past the Royal Security Forces led by Colonel Saxton’s cruiser. It made its way silently to the other side of the planet and dropped into transporter range.

      A minute later a lone figure was sneaking around in the park, wearing that signature black leather coat and looking anything but non-threatening. She had plans to be in and out in minutes...but this was as close to her target as the info would get her... so now it became a sort of hide and seek, and it was a hot day here dressed like this, but it was her signature look, and she’d survive it...like many days on many worlds before this. All she needed was a single shot, a chance from afar or someone mentioning they knew him while she was here, and she would be gone again, silently and well paid.

      But John and the Princesses were no where to be found, and after sweating herself into losing a few pounds she thought maybe she’d change her attire to fit in, and then question a few people. This waiting and watching wasn’t getting it done so she gave that a try, and after seeing many young women walking around in street cloths, she copied them and fit in more easily, and was ignored a lot more. Now to see who knew this man, and she politely said she was looking for a friend, and showed his picture around and a few knew him and soon she was on her way to his house.

      She watched it from nearby, and when they all came out to go to school she was ready. She lined up her shot to avoid hitting any of the Royal Family...doing that would put the entire Navy on her back and she didn’t need that. She seemed lucky that he was a soft spoken and unwary type....easy prey...and she fired a deadly projectile from across the street behind a garbage container...and it bounded off him harmlessly, as everyone there turned and smiled like it was just another day...and she disappeared around a corner and out of sight.

      “I’ll be back..” John said handing his book bag to Wanda and turning and running that way as Wanda called not to be late for class, and he laughed as he saw the woman just a few yards away, checking her equipment and hiding as well as she could behind some bushes near the edge of the park once again. “You need a better cloak..” he said softly as she jumped up and fired, and it, like the one before bounced off his chest like water of a ducks back.

      “Impossible!” She screamed and threw down her gun and pulled out a poisoned dagger, and jumped in and her speed and agility told John she too was wearing a suit under her cloths, but certainly not like his, as he danced away and she pursued him all around until he got tired of playing with her, and he stopped as she dove in and slashed him, all smiles...and all she got for her troubles was a bit of bright red showing under his shirt, and she jumped back looking lost for a minute.

      “Thats a 2x multiplier suit...there’s no way you’re this strong wearing that!” She screamed and tried hand to hand, punching and kicking as John finally caught her leg and tossed her like she weighed nothing, but she flipped in midair and dropped again to her feet, looking more upset by the minute. “Who the Hell are you anyways?? Not some nobody from a backwater planet thats for sure!” She declared as John got a little cocky and put his nose in the air, striking a pose that would have made Napoleon proud.

      “John Hanson...” he said as she looked shocked,” fiance to the First Princess of Sloan, and future Emperor of the Sloan Dynasty!” he said seriously, as she looked like she had been made a fool of somewhere down the line.”And you are? I must admit you’ve given me a better fight than any sent so far.”

      “So far?” She asked jockeying for a better position as John just laughed.

      “You’re the forth one so far..you’re a part of the Royal Suiters list aren’t you? I must admit that surprises me, you’re a pretty girl and I’d never guess you had intentions towards Princess Wanda...not that there’s anything wrong with that you understand..” he apologized hoping not to hurt feelings too bad but the young woman looked even more angry now and declared she was not like that...and dove on him with full force.

      The fight went on for a few more minutes and in the end she lay there panting and looking up as John checked his watch and started away.

      “Come by the house later on, after school if you’re not satisfied yet, and we’ll play some more. But I need to go now or I’ll be late.” And with that he disappeared down the path and out of sight, in about half a second, and she got to her feet and beamed away, knowing full well she had been set up.

      “Is it done?” the big man asked as she gave him a sour look, and even he looked surprised.

      “You set me up didn’t you? He’s going to be the next Emperor and you sent me to my death!” She screamed as he looked surprised himself and asked what she meant by that. “John Hanson, fiance to the First Princess and future Emperor..he told me that himself...after beating me to a pulp and letting me there exhausted. He’s a Monster...and this little contract is impossible by most standards.” She admitted as he man looked scared too and asked if she was giving up then.

      “I have never lost a contract and this wont be the first, but it’ll take time to see his weakness...if he has any...I’ll be here until the job is done, no matter how long it takes.” She declared as he nodded he understood and as the link went blank he made a call too, and told the Zorn never to ask for favors from him again. If Eternal Darkness couldn’t take this man in short order , then no one he knew could do it..and that was not a short list... and the big reptile nodded seriously that he understood and went away knowing that even this time he had failed.



      Chapter 9: Stalking the Prey



      A new girl showed up in class the next day and sat way over on the far side from John and Wanda, but he saw her right away, and mentioned it, as Wanda turned and took a picture with her wrist band and sent it to the security forces to see who it was. It was obvious to her she was not Charlotte Jones...like she pretended to be... and after a little while she got her answer...as a several security men beamed in and rushed Wanda to safety, while Saxton stood by John looking as impressive as always, and the young woman beamed away without notice and Carl told John all about her, and apologized for letting her through.

      “Professional assassin?” John asked as they left the auditorium and walked down the hall.

      “Yes, very good and very expensive...someone went to a lot of trouble to get you out of the way. Good thing you adjusted to the suit better than we had hoped. You’ve really made it your own after this time, thats impressive. Some soldiers take months and even years to find one that suits them so well.” he admitted as John just shrugged and asked what would happen to her now.

      “She’s quite skilled, and we’re having trouble finding her, but thats to be expected.” Carl said as John agreed.” If she was after any of the Princesses here we’d force them on board the ship for protection, but since she’s obviously after you, I thought we’d let you handle your own protection for now. Its obvious she was caught off guard by your suit but don’t let the technology fool you, if you have it, she can get it.” he said as John nodded agreement.”Needless to say, if she kills you then she’ll never live to see another job. The Empire takes attacks on Royalty very seriously.” he added as John said he was already attacked once, as Carl gave him a huge grin, and John could see it coming.

      “AH...But..except for this assassin...you’ve never admitted to being a member of Royalty to anyone yet have you? So until the Emperor and at least Princess Wanda knows your true intentions, then we cant do anything about it.” he said, and laughed and beamed away.

      “If you’re not going to help then quit listening in on my conversations...” John said to himself as he walked towards the front door, and he knew for a fact Saxton had heard him.

      Nothing happened for a few days after that and she wasn’t seen again at school either. The Emperor made an appointment and went to see the old Master and was led in and given a seat, while the old man sat there in a white robe and nothing but his underwear as Harold tried not to notice.

      “To what do I owe this great honor? Its not every day the Emperor makes house calls.” Mr. Johanson asked as Harold just nodded and smiled widely.

      “You came to the wedding and left without saying a word, I felt that was odd so I stopped by on my way home from a meeting.” He said as the old man smiled and tried not to call him a liar right out loud.

      “I spoke to people there, just not you, Harry, so don’t feel slighted.” The old man said as they both chuckled for a second.

      “You came to see my other, future, son in law... and not the one getting married...thats a little strange don’t you think?” Harry asked as the old man stopped to think and finally got a huge grin and Harold waited as the old man poured a fresh cup of tea.

      “Let me tell you a story...” he started as Harold rolled his eyes as the old man went into ‘full Master Storyteller mode’. “Around a hundred years ago I sat every waking hour in a large library studying, anything and everything...because I wanted absolute power and knowledge.” he started as Harold looked surprised that his wisdom came from just books and not some spiritual thing.

      “For years...as I studied for my diploma... I spent every waking moment in there reading and listening to videos and watching famous speeches, all to better myself. Then one day an old man walked over and sat down beside me and told me HIS story...and it was very much like mine. He too wanted to know EVERYTHING and worked in that direction. Then when he got older he realized that no one...ever...can know everything, but he refused to stop trying. That too is my story, and as we talked he said the only thing in his lifetime that really pissed him off was one young woman he met...and when I smiled wide at that he waved that idea away like a bad dream.

      She was a student right along with him at a famous University and while he fought every day to get better grades, to learn more, to see the universe itself as it truly is... she sat there and read comics and watched satires... and her lack of seriousness made him so angry he screamed at her one day when they were alone. She stopped the recording she was watching to ask why he was so upset, it was only satire...but he demanded that she was wasting her life and needed to study more... just like him... but when she told him her name he stepped back in shock. She was the Student Council President, and an Honor Student from the first day she entered the school. Her grades were in the top 5 every testing session and she never...ever...studied, and he went into shock.

      ‘How??’ he asked her’ how do you do it? How do you get great grades without even trying?’ and she smiled and said ‘ I already know all that stuff...’ and he walked away, beaten.

      ‘You see...’ he told me back then,’ there are people who do know almost everything, about certain things at least, but the Gods have a strong sense of humor too. These people don’t CARE, they don’t care what the universe does, or what war might be coming, because people have survived all those things before,and they see that as just another day at the office, while WE worry ourselves sick about things they already can see, and don’t worry about at all.” he said as Harold looked surprised and a little shocked those people really existed

      “After he told me that, I watched my whole life and have been fortunate to meet 4 such people. One is the current leader of the Church, Grand Master Collins...and she is and always was the laziest woman alive...believe me. She didn’t get the job from hard work...she got it by realizing she had a gift, and she told everyone when she joined the Church... that she spoke to GOD...” he said with a wink as Harold nearly passed out at the thought of it.”Oh course she does do a lot of good things...because she knows what to do to fix things that have been wrong forever in the Church...and through those works has earned a reputation as a great leader, and she never worked a day in her life to get there.” He said softly as Harold looked a bit faint.

      “Another was a great General from decades past...he’s gone now...at his own hand. It seems people that get used to doing the impossible cant take it when they fail..something to think about I guess. And now there are two others I have met just recently. One is Princess Wanda herself...she builds things for fun...things that no one else could build, and even her teachers and tutors here on her Home World will admit that they have no clue how she knows this stuff, but she does. Then now...her new man...John Hanson of Earth...and that answered a question that has bothered me for decades...is it just us? Or are there others? Now...I know...and I owe him greatly for that.” He said and sat back drinking his tea while Harold let it all set in.

      “Special people...from across the Galaxy....” he finally whispered as the old man nodded with a huge grin,” what happens if two such people marry and have children then?” he asked as the old mans eyes lit up like a thousand candles went off at once, and he laughed out loud for the first time.

      “I don’t know!! Isn’t that GREAT??” He said waving his hands in the air as tea flew everywhere at once,and laughing loudly, he said,” BUT...I cant wait to find out... how about you?” he asked leaning towards the Emperor who too smiled very wide and nodded, and they shook on it and Harold went back to work feeling that something special was happening and that he would be privileged to see it. While the old man waited to see what other skills John might have they didn’t see yet.



      Chapter 10: Kindness...in the face of Death


      With all that was going on, John decided he needed to get into better shape. So now he jogged every day before breakfast and then had a good nutritious meal before going to school. He was just rounding the corner in the park when something caught his eye, and he stopped to see his old enemy, Eternal Darkness...sitting under a tree off the side... asleep... and he wondered what was up with that? It was a sure thing she had a ship so why sleep here? Unless she was waiting for him to come by and dozed off, and he checked to make sure he had the wrist band on and finally decided that he’d not know unless he asked, and he walked over and she never looked up.

      “Miss Darkness?? hello...Charlotte??” he asked but she still didn’t move, and he couldn’t believe that some gang had beaten her up after the way they had fought before.

      So John walked over and checked and yes, she was breathing, just barely, but he saw she was ill from something, and that she hadn’t been prepared for this, or she would have been in a hospital by now. He tried to wake her but it didnt work and now he felt bad for her, and picked her up and ran back to the house with her in his arms. He opened the front door and Wanda stuck her head around the corner saying breakfast was almost ready, and even her eyes popped out to see her like this.

      “What are you doing??” She asked as John said he just found her like this and couldn’t leave her there to die...as Wanda and her sisters ran in to see.

      “Wow , did you beat her up again?” Gale asked as John said he did not, he found her this way, and Gale grabbed a scanner and checked her to find out something no one would have ever guessed.

      “Malnutrition?? In a park full of shops?” John asked as they all agreed.

      “She has no money on her...its possible she thought she’d be done quickly and never got any cash converted over to Earth money.” Gale said...as John got a good chuckle and shook his head at that.

      “Well...its not like she can ask Security for a conversion account either,” Wanda admitted as John went into the kitchen and came back with a glass of tea and lots of sugar, and a straw, and he slipped the straw into her mouth and she sucked on it instinctively, and got a mouthful of sweet tea, and grabbed the glass and drank it down without stopping for a breath, as John stepped back and the Princesses made sure she had lots of room for when she saw where she was.

      It only took a minute and as she lowered the glass John asked if she felt better now, and she looked like she’d throw up seeing where she was.

      “Why?” She asked right away as John just shrugged and smiled,” I have a contract to kill you...why help me...why not finish me off there in the park?” She demanded as Gale whispered ‘that was a good question’ as John just said that killing her like that was the act of a coward, and besides... he had fun fighting with her the other day... and she looked so sad hearing that her skills were ‘fun’ that she felt like crying.

      “We’re just sitting down for breakfast...join us...it’ll keep you alive for a few days then at least.” John said as everyone there looked shocked he’d say that.

      “I DO intend to kill you, you know that right?” She asked weakly as John just smiled and agreed, as he helped her up and to the table for breakfast. She ate like an animal, then caught herself and slowed down as John helped make more eggs and bacon and finally sat there eating himself as she sat there looking embarrassed, and maybe sad that things had turned out like this.

      “So...Charlotte...who hired you anyways?” Wanda asked as the young woman looked shocked she’d ask at all, confidentiality and all that...but it was clear she owed them a favor...so she said it was a Zorn, thats all she would say, and Wanda looked ready to scream.

      “This is just getting crazy now,” Gale mentioned as Wanda agreed and stepped outside to make a call and when she came back in the contract was canceled, and Charlotte looked shocked it happened so fast.

      “And you can keep the first half for trying so hard, if he doesn’t like it, he can deal with me personally!” Wanda screamed as Charlotte looked lost for what to say.

      “Now I feel even worse than before!” Charlotte screamed, as everyone looked shocked and Gale asked why.” I never failed a mission...ever...and while I was trying to figure this one out all this happened...so now I’ll never get to finish it.” She whined as Wanda reminded her the contract was canceled on HIS end so technically she had been in his employ the whole time, stalking and waiting, and even attempted to fill the contract once at least, as she nodded it was true. “ So technically your record stills stands.” She added while a security team beamed in to take her away, but in less than a second she escaped using her own transporter, and the men looked worried they had failed their mission too.

      “She knows the mission is over,” John said, as everyone agreed,” right now shes in her ship running back the way she came, and good luck to her, it was fun while it lasted.” he said as Wanda gave him a really dirty look and Gale said maybe she had a little competition after all, as the security team beamed away to report that, once again, Eternal Darkness was roaming the universe.

      But the Eternal Darkness that left Earth was not the one that first came. Now she felt a sense of honor and duty, something that usually you’d expect from military people and not assassins. But little things she did in the past bothered her now. Like...she had taken her ship for a ride to ‘test drive it’ from a small unimpressive used ship lot on a world not far away. It was a simple heist, plain and simple, and she even bragged she put 5mil down on it and they’d get the rest ‘when they catch me’ and many others got a good laugh from that.

      But she was fairly well off, from one thing or another, and she finally decided that , as a true professional that was beneath her, and she went right back and docked, and as security ran to see, she dropped a credit chip on them to pay for the total cost of the ship, saying that ‘her test drive was over, I’ll take it’ and even the manager waved security away and they sat and did the paperwork, officially this time.

      The funny thing was...that was the only thing they truly could blame her for. Of course there were many charges, some true and others just blamed on her, but none could be proven, so that charge of Grand Theft Spaceship was dropped, and even to her surprise she was openly allowed access to many ports and stations that shunned her before. Rumors are just rumors everyone said, and without proof even Empirical Security could do nothing, and she finally smiled to think that she had been foolish and a little greedy for a long time, but she’d act differently from now on.

      And as Security reported all this...Colonel Saxton sat back smiling very wide indeed. John was a puzzle for sure, and he had shone kindness and compassion to someone that would surely have killed him without a second thought, and in that instant, her world changed, maybe no one had ever done anything nice for her before. Maybe it was just John’s gift of making friends, but whatever it was, she acted more professional since then, wither that was good, overall or not, only time would tell. But without evidence to prove it, she was as honest a professional as any he had met.If she stayed that way was yet to be seen, but he was willing to take bets that something was different about her and that John had caused it.

      “A raw...greedy assassin... turned pure professional in less than 3 months...” Master Johanson said, looking at his report,” and straightening out her life in the process, this is quite interesting indeed.” he said as he sat back all smiles and wondered what else John might do in the future, and he felt like he was seeing the reason he had held on for so long happening right before his eyes, and it was a great thing to see.

      Back at the house Wanda walked in to see Gale and Audrey sitting in their room talking and she asked what was going on.

      “John helped that woman even after she tried to kill him once...” Gale mentioned as Wanda held up 2 fingers and she apologized and repeated that.."twice then, why would he do that? Does he think she’ll never return or that someone else will never try again? She was supposed to be one of the best, so surely he’ll see her again someday if he becomes Emperor.” She mentioned as Wanda smiled and agreed.

      “Surely he doesn’t think she’s changed after one small breakfast..” Audrey mentioned as Wanda just laughed as silently as she could. “Is it some secret plan we don’t know about? Or some idea that John planted in her mind...or...” She started rambling as Wanda stopped her dead.

      “You know John pretty well by now...” She mentioned as they all nodded,” in MY opinion he’s letting the suit go to his head, nothing more...he thinks she’s not a threat to him...and maybe he’s right, but only time will tell.” And with that she walked out as Audrey and Gale agreed on one last thing...John was an idiot...and they too went looking for something better to do.


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      Chapter 11: Things Change



      Wanda started acting oddly a few days later, flirting and smiling at John a lot, and the other two girls started wondering why.So at dinner that night, they asked, right out in the open, and Wanda informed them that John had finally accepted her as his fiance...and his place as the next Emperor, as Gale cheered and Audrey laughed out loud, and John....looked really pale.

      “Colonel Saxton couldn’t wait to show me the video...” Wanda went on and John looked like he was ready to scream. “But there it was...John declaring to Charlotte that he was my fiance, and the next Emperor...and she was in shock hearing it!” She added as the others looked thrilled, and John still looked a little sick. “No wonder Charlotte had to rethink her career, if the next Emperor was on your side, you’d better!”

      “I’ll get you...” John whispered, and he swore he could hear someone chuckling in his ear.

      “It was so wonderful...he looked so serious and heroic...” Wanda said, while gushing all over everyone as John decided that Saxton and he needed to have a little talk about this. But he also knew that it would have come out eventually, he just wasn’t ready yet to admit it to everyone.

      “It just came out...I didn’t plan it that way.” John tried to hide behind those words but it wasn’t going to fly, the word was out now, and after waiting for him to speak for months now, Wanda was not stepping back from this.

      “I love you too John, but you knew that all along didn’t you?” She asked giving him a big smooch on the cheek while Gale cheered and called ‘more,more’more!’ and John gave her dirty looks for it.

      “Not here, Wanda...for heavens sake...” John whispered as she looked a little embarrassed by now, and said she loved how shy he was, and left it go for now while they ate, and Audrey asked if her Father had been told yet.

      “I wouldn’t be surprised...” John whispered as someone ask what he said, and he just smiled and said ' it was nothing’. But in his ear he heard a voice whispering that that was HIS job, and he knew they were right.They went into the living room after dinner and John and Wanda curled up on the sofa while the news was on and the other two girls fought over what they wanted to watch next. But the news had a special report on tonight, as John hushed everyone to see a speech going on as a Senator went on and on about a possible new war...and just then another man rushed the stage and fired several shots at him but a person in a black coat jumped in front of him and took the hits...which didn’t get through her suit underneath, and the news crews showed the man being dragged away screaming as the woman helped the Senator back to his feet, and he thanked her over and over, and started screaming into the microphone again about treason and treachery, and the black coat all but disappeared into the shadows again.

      “Did you see that?” He asked as Gale screamed she couldn’t believe it, and John agreed, but at the end of the show the news crews thanked the Senator’s Bodyguard for being there tonight, and even though they couldn’t get an interview, that coat was unmistakable as she followed closely behind him as he went back to his vehicle and was whisked away.

      “A bodyguard for a Senator...who would have thought?” Gale asked as even Wanda looked impressed.” I guess she really has changed.”

      “Good...” John said as everyone agreed,” maybe now she can live a better life. Running and hiding couldn’t have been easy for her, or anyone.” He added and it was a unanimous decision that she had finally done the right thing.

      That seemed to make John’s day and since Wanda was in the best mood ever, she thought it might be a good time to move their relationship along a bit. So when she went missing for a while that evening and John asked about her, Gale just smiled and said maybe he should go and check, and without thinking he did, and the door went shut behind him and Wanda gave him a huge kiss, to his immediate surprise.

      “I waited a long time for this night,” She whispered as John looked flabbergasted and tried to say he wasn’t ready yet, as she laughed and pushed him down on her bad, and cuddled up along side him, hugging and kissing until he gave up and hugged her back. “am I not attractive enough?” she asked as he smiled and said that was never going to be a problem with them, and she smiled wider still and just laid there, holding him softly and happily.

      “I don’t even know what your people are called, you look human enough for me but I know you’re from another solar system so you don’t call yourselves humans do you?” he whispered as she chuckled and agreed and she raised her head and smiled for him and said they were called Centaurs...as he laughed out loud and she looked surprised and maybe a little upset he thought it was soo funny.

      “You’re not a Centaur...” He said, laughing still, as she got a little upset and demanded they were, as John slid off the bed and went to her computer and did a search and a picture came up and he pointed as she started to chuckle and looked away and he said THAT was a Centaur... at least here...and she shook her head no and he looked shocked.

      “Those are called Cantaurs, not Centaurs, they are soldiers and have been for many ages. They can go long distances fast as you can see, and carry even heavy weapons for battles. I can see why you thought they were Centaurs, we used them and still do, but maybe the translation from some old text got messed up, because when we first conquered this world ages ago they were here...long with us...so it must have been a mistake somewhere no one ever fixed.” She announced as John looked tired once again, another legend gone right in front of his eyes.

      “But you are human though right? You sure look like it and I got some pretty good looks with you running around the house after a shower wrapped in a towel...” he said softly as she gave him a huge hug and said she was glad he noticed...like he had a choice.

      “DNA for most sentient beings are 98 percent the same. Its an Evolutionary thing I was taught. But that other 2% makes a difference. Between Humans and Centaurs there’s less than 1% so we are very nearly the same.” She offered as John asked what was different, and she looked a little embarrassed but said she’d explain it all, since they would be married he should know, and he looked a bit queazy for a second, as she took his hand and ran his fingers through her hair until they bumped something, and he looked odd as she lowered her head and he found...horns...only about half an inch high but they were there as he asked why her father didn’t have huge ones, because of his age.

      “They never really get big, its some odd leftover from a time past, I guess, but there are throw backs to that age where they get large, and are trimmed off like you do fingernails. But most of us never really get any bigger than maybe 1 inch long.” She explained as he nodded and tried not to looked elsewhere as she saw and smiled very wide indeed.”Everything else is the same...” She whispered as John’s face burst into fire red and she chuckled softly as he looked away.

      “So...does knowing the truth bother you? Knowing that we’re not exactly the same as Humans?” She asked and waited as John cleared his throat and admitted he could live with that, as she jumped on him and he had to pick her up to keep from falling over backwards and after a second they kissed again, and John carried her back to the bed, and he said softly that he still had school yet, and maybe he wouldn’t be good enough for being the next Emperor, and she agreed to everything...tonight...and the twins tried hard not to make any noise while they gathered by the door listening, and chuckling to themselves that their sister had finally won.


      Chapter 12: The Word gets Around


      From that moment onwards everyone knew they were an official couple. Because if Wanda didn’t say something, her sisters did.

      “Just eliminating any competition...” Gale whispered as Wanda got a little laugh about that, and they went on about their school days as friends wished them well, and some whispered that after graduation many of them would be looking for work... as John just laughed and said he wasn’t a King or Emperor yet...and they all laughed along with him.

      But he had agreed to it now, and even Colonel Saxton mentioned to the Emperor that John and Wanda had officially announced their engagement...on Earth...but he demanded that it would not be official until John told him personally, and Carl smiled and agreed. So now it all became getting John ready to admit things to the outer galaxy, and her Family too, and Carl saw that might take a little time. John went on about finishing school first, a decision that was left up to him, since training to rule would follow closely on the heals on his Earthly graduation.

      And, finally after weeks of hinting and arguing, John and Wanda stood before the Emperor once again, as he smiled wide and John looked worried to be there.

      “We are an official couple now, Father...” Wanda announced as her father stopped her dead right there.

      “I want to hear it from John,” he insisted as John gave him a dirty look, and both men struck that big fake smile that politicians use repeatedly.

      “We are a couple now...I care for Wanda more every day.” John said, softly as she looked thrilled and her dad looked a little better... for the moment.

      “And this Graduation that you seemed worried about more than anything else is just a couple weeks away. So...are you ready to move here and take classes in leadership and economy? They are very important for someone that will rule many worlds.” Harold mentioned as John looked tired already.

      “If I must, I will...” John said as even Wanda looked shocked,” but I will rule MY way...so don’t be too surprised if things change a lot.” He added as even Colonel Saxton looked surprised he could say that in front of the Emperor. Harold waved them to sit and he went back behind his massive desk and sat there swapping stares with John for a minute and then asked what big changes he thought were necessary.

      “On many smaller..less important worlds... I believe the working class are being abused. Its fine for businesses to make a profit, no problem there...but who do they think they are selling to? If they abuse their power and keep their people in the dark about things and under paid by the galactic average, then they have less to spend, and the companies make less for the same number of hours of work being done.” John explained as Harold shrugged and left him go on.

      “If the Empire makes its money from taxes and agreements with the World Leaders...then wont we make more if they have a better, more booming economy?” John asked as Harold nodded it might be true.” Then we demand equal rights for all peoples on all our worlds, not equal to the point of everyone having exactly the same income and property...thats excessive... but equal in terms of bare necessities..something the wealthy don’t need to worry about. But working parents, kids and even the elderly, all need basic essentials, and we will be in the best position to change whatever politics exist on those worlds, changing them for the better.”

      “There will be many people that don’t agree.” Harold hinted as John nodded as serious as anyone had ever seen him before. “Will you use the threat of military intervention if they don’t comply?” He asked as his eyes opened wider and John didn’t pause for a second.

      “Only in extreme emergencies.” John added as even Harold sat back in shock.”If we rule there, then refusing a direct order would be treasonous wouldn’t it? But even then we negotiate, and try everything possible to get them to comply. If they start violence then we have no other choice.”

      “That is why training is important...” Harold got in there right away, as John looked away.” To know WHEN its treasonous and when its just posturing, sometimes there’s a very thin line, and nothing is ever Black and White.” he hinted as John nodded he agreed to that too.

      “But I believe that many times things SHOULD be more Black and white...people tend to hide things in that large, wide gray area.” John hinted back and a second later Harold burst into laughter and John joined him as everyone else looked surprised.

      “Unfortunately...you may be right...” Harold offered as everyone smiled now and he got up and shook John’s hand.”Welcome to our Family, son, and I hope we can have more of these...enlightening talks in the future.” And John nodded, all smiles and they walked away under Colonel Saxton’s care once more, as Harold waited and opened the link the rest of the way as a screen lit up and Master Johanson sat there smiling wider still.

      “Your new son in law seems to be an advocate for the lower classes...” He said smiling, as Harold asked if that was a good thing or not for a future Emperor.” They DO make up 85% of the population of the galaxy.” he added as Harold did have to agree to that.” If what he says is true, then his rule might well become the most prosperous time the galaxy has ever seen.” he added as Harold looked shocked and the old man waved and the link went black again.

      John had grown up as a normal kid and young man, he held part time jobs to get things he wanted and even worked to send himself through school until he got a scholarship from the local college, so it might be his past coming to the surface too, but Harold knew that even though the economics of his ideas were sound...many would rather die than gave their people one more credit...and that would be a huge challenge for John’s ideals, and so he decided to see how he would handle that, and his first test was ordered sent, even before John got all the way home.

      “Prove it works here??” John asked as Carl nodded it was true,” But I have no authority here I’m not even an official member of the Royal Family yet.” he added as he got new credentials handed to him...Ambassador to Earth, from the Sloan Dynesty...and he would be introduced as the future Emperor,and he and Wanda would start going to fundraisers and parties and get seen all around.

      “NOW you have the authority of the Crown behind you, anything you say will have an effect...anything...so be very careful, Your Majesty.” Carl said with a short bow, and beamed away leaving John holding his future in his hand, and the official Testing of John and his ideas began.


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      WEEKEND EDITION

      Chapter 13: New King in Town


      “Wow, a new debit card...I wonder what the limit is?” Wanda gushed,as John gave her a little growl, as she looked away laughing.

      “Ambassador to Earth...” John read on his ID card and he had documents that stated he spoke directly for the Family, and Wanda looked impressed.

      “I know this is moving pretty fast for you right now.” She hinted as John wholeheartedly agreed,” I had years of Royalty Training, so when its needed I’ll help you.” She added as John thanked her, saying a tutor would certainly be helpful, and their new life started with a bang, as the Dean of the school called just minutes later asking John to come over right away. He was having a media event around one of his students becoming a member of Royalty...and John saw the Carnival had just hit town.

      And his thought wasn’t far from the truth. The school wanted a chance to say he attended there, and the State made sure everyone knew he got a scholarship from them too. John was asked a lot of questions and he answered many of them quickly and surely, even to the surprise of some of the media there.

      “So...you’re not only the Prince of Sloan...you’re the acting Ambassador to Earth now?” One older man asked as John agreed and Wanda made sure everyone knew that when John spoke...it was with her Fathers voice...and people looked shocked.

      “I intend to have some meetings soon,” John announced, right there on camera as many looked thrilled they got in on the ground floor of his new job. “I believe that the government doesnt do enough to keep the peace and lets corporations subjugate their workers and through them, every person on the planet. This needs...lets say...adjusted. The Sloan Empire will NOT allow discrimination over 85% of the population but a few, greedy individuals. They are rich enough to live happily for generations, and more power to them, but to gain wealth at the expense of others is wrong, and will be curtailed a little more now that I have something to say about it.” John added seriously as many there looked shocked that he was technically calling the government and the corporations of the world crooks.

      It hit the news like a sledgehammer through plate glass...and John couldn’t go anywhere without guards to stop the constant flow of questions and even some kooks that thought he was trying to conquer the world right in front of them. But the main problem was that he demanded change from the most deep seated groups that thought they owned the planet, and they were not happy about it either.

      When the word got out, then a meeting was called via video conferencing, and many of the most powerful people in existence were there waiting to hear for themselves.

      “If he gets his way then everyone, regardless of race, class or religion will have the chance to go the schools that only the best Families have attended for generations.” One older woman screamed as many there nodded sadly.

      “I don’t contribute 2 million dollars a year to see every Tom, Dick and Harriet getting into MY alma mater!” Another screamed as everyone there agreed.

      “Lets not panic yet...” The chairman said as many got quiet.” he’s new and young...he hasn’t had to deal with Reality here yet. Lets just go easy and see what he does next. We control the media, we control the government, and we’ll control him too before this is over, rest assured.” he said as many there smiled wider and he sat back smiling too. Not only would they gain control over this ambitious young man, but through him, the Sloan Dynasty, and all the high technology they refused to give them up until now. That alone was worth Trillions, and as the worlds business leaders, they deserved it all , or the planet would never get it, because every business that made or researched these things they owned, and would forever.

      A few weeks went by and John graduated along with Wanda and her sisters. They were of course only there for him, and could have walked out of there with a diploma the first day. But they stayed and got to see what Earth life was like, and as they settled in back home after a day or two, John asked when Francis was coming back to see her, and Audrey looked sad, but tried to smile.

      “He’s being stubborn,” Wanda demanded as John looked surprised at the thought they might be having a fight so soon after getting married.” He has a great place, but demands they have a new estate just for themselves. Audrey told him she would be happy in his old place, but he refuses, and has been working and going on his days off to watch over the new construction. I hear its going to be fantastic once its done, but I think Audrey misses him too much to be objective right now.”

      “He’s being crazy...” Audrey hinted as John gave her a big smile as she look oddly at him for it.

      “He crazy alright...for you...and he wants to show it to the entire Universe.” John said as even Audrey had to smile at that.

      And about that time there came a knock on the door and Wanda opened it to see a man with two assistants standing there smiling wide, and she asked if she could help them and they went off on some real estate thing, saying that the Prince of Sloan and his Family shouldn’t be seen living in a 4 bedroom house in the suburbs, that they deserved something better, and in a better ‘part of town’ as John’s face grew tight and Wanda took their card and told them they’d think about it as the door went shut in their face.

      “What’s wrong with this part of town?” John asked to no one in particular, and even Gale got a chuckle at that as he turned and asked why.

      “We never told you, but our servants have a bigger place than this back home.” Gale mentioned as Wanda tried hushing her before it got out, but it was too late now.

      “You all stayed here and we had good times here, right? So why does size mean anything?” John
      asked as all three women looked sad for him and they took him to the side and they sat and he got a free lesson in Royalty, celebrity, and dealing with the leaders of other worlds,and their subcontractors, the corporations on planets.

      “You have to admit, you wouldn’t bring big government leaders here for a meeting would you?” Wanda asked as John said no..he’d rent a place for that..as they all looked away and he finally started to get it.

      “OK, ok I see that dealing with high level fools and weirdos you need to dress to impress, so to speak.” John finally added as they all agreed.

      “I wouldnt call them that in person though John.” Gale hinted as everyone got a quick laugh.

      “Speaking of dressing...” Wanda brought in as the others got a quick chuckle.” if you’re going to see high ranking government leaders and corporate executives then a better wardrobe will be needed too.” She added as John rolled his eyes but agreed, and later that afternoon a man and some workers came to the door and Wanda left them in and John recognized the name from some ads he saw and asked if he could afford this...as Wanda just winked and said not to worry.

      “We want an entire wardrobe and all the best accessories...” Wanda declared as everyone oh’d and ah’d and John was run from the living room into a bedroom for a fitting...a very,very close fitting... and measurements were sent immediately by phone and people started cutting and sewing, even before they were completely done.

      “Black satin for the lining...” the older man screamed as many orders came and went as John looked completely lost. But an hour later a car pulled up out front and someone ran in with one set of cloths and John got into them and when he walked out into the living room everyone there applauded him, and he smiled pretty wide too. “6 more just like that.” the older man screamed,” in the colors that I already sent.” And the driver was gone as John thanked him for doing this on such short notice, and the man smiled very wide indeed.

      “Making all the cloths for the future Emperor...its a dream come true for an old man ready to retire.” he whispered as John thanked him again anyways.”All the rest will be ready in a week and we’ll need that set back too...” he said smiling,” I didnt give them much time so I’m sure there are inches of stitches missing.” he said as John nodded and went and took it off and got into some regular cloths again and as he handed the suit back to one of the mens assistants he looked at John’s normal cloths and looked away like he might throw up, as Wanda chuckled with her back turned and Gale and Audrey left the room.

      “What??” John asked right out loud as the man laid a hand on his shoulder and looked into John’s eyes.

      “Don’t worry Sire, I can save you...” he said as everyone grabbed their things and ran out, and like some whirlwind of fabric and talk it was over, and John looked lost once again.

      “Save?” John whispered to himself, and wondered how worried people could ever really be about cloths.



      Chapter 14: First Contact


      By now all the appropriate agencies and offices were informed that John had graduated and was now, officially, the Ambassador to Earth. Of course they knew he grew up there and through Wanda became Royalty on another world. The big thing was that Earth belonged to the Empire and had for many, many years, and they got help on some things from them, and they were part of the reason they were doing as well as they were right now.

      Earth was still a century behind them or more, but they were slowly being allowed to catch up, and when they asked for more help they were graciously refused. The Emperor had made it plain that Earth was a barbaric place, and that until it got straightened out, he could not in good conscience give them more help.

      Of course that didn’t go over too well in some circles, and they looked towards John now to see what they could milk him for, and Wanda and even Colonel Saxton tutored him daily now in what was allowed and what was not.

      The Elections were coming up and because of that dinners and speeches and parties of all kinds. John refused a few invitations but Wanda agreed to one or two, saying they needed to get out and be seen or have a chance that the world would see them as hostile and recluses, and that would hurt the image the Empire had cultivated all this time.

      During one such night, John, Wanda and her sisters walked into a fancy ball, dressed to the hilt as the room got very still and John nearly turned to run himself.

      “Breath, relax and smile...always smile...” Wanda was saying as John smiled his big political smile and walked down the stairs into the hall with his escort of Princesses at his side.

      “Your Majesty, welcome! We didn’t know if you’d be coming this evening or not.” one older man said running up and shaking John’s hand.

      “I wouldn’t miss it,” John announced as many there smiled and applauded, and Wanda kept a tight hold on his arm and refused to let him out of her sight.

      “This is the first time since you announced your appointment that you went out in public, is there a problem we might be able to help with?” one older lady asked, as Wanda thanked her for asking, saying John was just shy, and many there thought that he was just so sweet like that, as she agreed.

      She did mange to keep a hold of him for a long time, but walking around and wine and drink have a way of getting to you, and Wanda and the girls went for a bathroom break while John stayed put right where she left him, and Colonel Saxton watched from across the room.

      At that exact moment three older men walked up and asked to have a word, and John agreed and they smiled wide and asked his opinion of nuclear power, and he thought and said that it was better than some more polluting power sources he could name, as one man looked less than happy with that.

      “But with new clean technology even the worst coal or lowest grade of oil can be used for another century yet.” one man mentioned looking hopeful, as John just chuckled and they all looked upset he thought that was funny.

      “I just graduated from Engineering College,” John said seriously,” I know all about the ‘new clean energy’ case that coal producers and oil companies make, and I know how much of that talk is just that...all talk.” John said as the men looked sorry they asked, and left him there while some others decided to give their ideas a try.

      “May I asked...what do you think of Cancer research, Your Majesty?” One man asked as many there seemed to want to know as John looked very serious, and said he was all for it...and many cheered...

      “If... the Government regulates it and has access to every single file... so those pesky rumors of cures that never see the light of day cant gain any ground.” John hinted as more than one person looked seriously upset at that, as Wanda came back in and he waved and walked away.

      “He has quite the attitude,” One man said as many agreed,” we’ll have to be careful about that.” And many more stayed well away for the rest of the night, and that suited John just fine.

      When they went back home John couldn’t wait to get out of that new suit and Wanda laughed at him for saying that going to one little party exhausted him completely.

      “It was your Grand Entrance to high society and business,” Wanda mentioned as John agreed it was. “They obviously asked you a few things that you were serious about, and you gave them honest answers, right?” She asked as John agreed. “Now they know where you stand, and they’ll try and get you to change your mind on things they need help with. Now matter how good they make it sound you can not give in to them, one slip and they will think they own you, and thats a hard spot to recover from.” She instructed and John nodded he understood as the lights went out and the Colonel finally got to sleep too.

      But she really knew what she was talking about, because several people got together and made separate attempts to get John alone for a while, but he never allowed it and she smiled wide and thanked them for stopping by, or stopping them while they were out doing something else.

      “Your Majesty please...I have a deal that you cant possibly pass up!” one man said as he pulled up beside them in his limo while they were out taking their morning walk.” I know you’ve been looking for a bigger place and I just so happen to own a nice little estate on the outskirts of Washington that I haven’t used in ages. It just sits around empty, and I’d gladly sell it to you for what I owe in taxes, and thats not much.” he said with a wink as Wanda waited to see what John would say and he gave them his patented smile just like she taught him, and said that he really didn’t need to live that close to Washington, because he could be there in a minute...from anywhere in the world...as the man looked shocked but agreed.

      “Thanks for the offer though,” John said as they walked away and the man sat back with a thump and ordered his driver away, as Wanda tried hard not to laugh out loud.

      “You’ve learned well,” She said taking his arm as they walked along smiling, and yet another plan to ingratiate themselves on the new Ambassador went out the window.

      “I have never seen one man say NO so many times before this!” Was heard at the next meeting as some looked angry and a few got a good laugh at the sound of it. “I thought you said he was an engineering student? He has all the makings of a first class politician!”

      “If he wasn’t that skilled, do you think the current Emperor would put him in charge of Earth?” They all heard, as the Chairman came back online.” He has tutors too, I’ll wager, this is not going to be a simple task. Even his fiance was heard saying they will get a nice place...eventually...but he’ll only do it when he feels its right or the place is just perfect. And no one knows for sure what his tastes even are, so there’s now way to rush into this.”

      “And some of his comments were published before we caught them,” one woman said as the Chairman looked her way,” that has emboldened some Guilds and Unions to demand more from us, and a few small strikes might be in the works.” she grumbled as even the Chairman saw some trouble brewing.

      “Keep a tight hold on things, this can only get worse,” he added softly as many agreed,” but be aware that this is just the beginning, and we will not back down from some snot nosed young man with ridiculous ideas.” he exclaimed as everyone agreed and the meeting was closed for the month.



      Chapter 15: Testing, Testing....One, Two ,Three...



      John knew the world was watching him and he spent a week just talking to people and staying online studying things he needed to know, because not just this world was watching, and John knew it. His position here was meant as a test to see if he could actually make a difference using his ideals and his wits to make the planet a better place. It was going to be a hard job and he knew that too, but he had some ideas about that that others might not have thought of yet.

      One day just at lunch time, John and the girls beamed up to the cruiser and Carl welcomed them on board. John explained what he wanted to do, as the Colonel looked a little worried about this too, but decided that it was all on John, and he agreed.

      The transporter beam caught onto its target, and a second later a middle aged Spanish man, was standing there, bent over like he was screaming at someone, or something, and he stopped dead as he looked around to see several security men wearing weapons and uniforms he had never seen before, and a few young people, all very well dressed and surrounding a young man sitting behind the desk in front of him.

      “General Formosa, welcome, glad you could make it.” John said with a sly grin, as the big man stood up straight and asked who he was addressing, and John was introduced by Colonel Saxton as ‘the First Ambassador to Earth from the Sloan Dynasty, and future Emperor, John Hanson.’ as the older mans face fell and went white instantly.”Please sit..” John said and waved towards a chair and the man did, rather slowly, and asked why he was here.

      “You’ve been having little skirmish wars with three of your neighbors for 5 years now, and it seems the United Nations hasn’t done anything about it. But I assure you sir, it hasn’t gone unnoticed.” John said seriously as the man cleared his throat and said it was none of their business what he did, as John laughed and several others went along too, and the big man looked angry they could do that to his face.

      “You never try and take over their countries,and when they attack you, they don’t either...its a deal isnt it General? To help keep your failing economy going you have a slow, steady war going that supports all three countries, at least to a minimum level.” John added as the man swore it wasn’t true as John just waved his objections away like they meant nothing.”So tell me honestly...and believe me I’ll know...” John started as the man looked angry still.” what would you rather be...a failed General who risks the lives of many of his people for little gain...or a businessman that brings his country out of poverty and into the modern era?” John asked as the man looked crushed for him even asking.

      “No Leader wants to see his people die...” he said softly as John nodded agreement and Gale stepped forward with a plate with fruit on it and John told him to try one, and as odd as that sounded, he did, just because he was ordered to, and it tasted like a cross between an apple and a pear, and it was really good.”How unusual...” he whispered as John left him know that was a Patelon...and the man looked lost.

      “ A fruit grown on the Home World of the Sloan Dynasty...Gale here is not only a Princess but quite the little botanist too. She has many plants sitting around my place but they need constant care. Do you have any idea what 1 years worth of banana sales is worldwide?” John asked as the man just shrugged. “It would set up your country to make a huge change, and since this new fruit has no place on Earth that grows it...that would be a specialty item...wouldn’t it?” John asked as the man’s face lit up and he agreed, as again Gale stepped in and handed him a map of his country and the countries surrounding it.

      “I have marked the areas best suited for growing these, all near the river, where a lot of pollution comes down from the bigger countries around you. But quite by accident, those same pollutants are what this fruit needs, so they are giving you free fertilizer.” She hinted as she handed him the map and stepped back.

      “So, Mr. President...” John started, purposely changing him from a General to a Business man instantly.” what will it be? More little wars until we get tired seeing it and intervene, or a profitable business? Gale here says these plants grow fast up to 3 feet a year, and at 6 feet they get fruit, so in 3 years you can have a new food to sell and trade, and a unique one at that.” John hinted as he waved a small box of seeds in his right hand as the older man looked the map over for a minute and then smiled.

      “Its better than the alternative, I’m sure.” He said as John handed him the seeds and Gale said they should start them as seedlings then put them out after they get 4 inches tall and the man agreed to everything.

      “And here...” John added and handed him a check and he looked at it oddly as John just smiled.” you’ll need less military hardware and more farming equipment, this will help with that, but no more wars after this...we’ll be watching.” he said as the man smiled very wide and agreed and John stood and shook his hand, and the feed of the negotiations was sent to the Emperor who edited it a bit and sent it to the news media saying it was John’s first official job as the new Ambassador...stopping unnecessary wars and promoting peace and a better economy... and many cheered for him even in the United Nations, where President Formosa stood before them all in a fine new suit and said the war was over, and he invited his friends to join him in making their countries better places to live and helping to set them up as food producers too.

      By the time that hit the news, John and the girls were back home and he was busy once again. He knew not every country that had troubles were going to be that easy to fix, but he also knew many thought they were untouchable, and up to a point, he had decided that they would learn they weren’t, and he was making sure that it was done in a way that hurt no one, and still made the necessary statement of power.

      John had several more people up to the cruiser for talks, and all but one went home happier than when they came. But that one demanded that no one...from the Earth or outside...had any right telling him what to do.

      “I will defend my people at all costs...forever!” he demanded ( even though he had been the aggressor off and on for 20 years) as John waved for him to leave and at that last second John gave him a very serious look and said that they WOULD talk again...and the mans face looked shocked, just as the beam caught him and threw him home.

      “You cant win them all,” Wanda said holding John’s hand as he smiled and agreed.

      “But he’ll come around. All that fighting has been a huge burden on his economy, but he feels its his right to try and expand his boarders every time he gets the chance. the United Nations has stepped in twice and stopped him from taking small countries around his, so he knows he isn’t going to go any further, now its just pride and ego. He’s a bully who likes being a bully...and the only way to stop a bully is be a bigger one. He will only accept defeat from a superior, never from a friend.” John added as Colonel Saxton actually agreed this time, as they went back home for some rest for a while.


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      Chapter 16: Slow Progress


      President Formosa was getting some good publicity from his attempt to move from a war based economy to a farming based one. He now had a small group of 4 countries that met to discuss what to do next, and some of their military budgets were moved to more peaceful and profitable endeavors. But that wasn’t going unnoticed by the big 3...the nations that made a good deal of their national income from selling weapons and equipment to countries that...many times, couldn’t afford them...so deals were made and even land and entire parts of the economy were put on the line to pay for them. It was a sneaky kind of Colonization, slowly taking over countries through debt, instead of war.

      But now he had some extra cash and his payments were on time, and he refused offers to sell him things he plainly said he didn’t need anymore, and they started to see their hold on him and his country getting a bit weaker.

      “He’s got a grant from the new Ambassador to Earth, and he’s used it to repair roads and set up 4 corporate farms along the river basin there. If those become profitable, then he wont need to keep skirmishing to support his economy, and he’s already planting more food for his people, and getting ready to start exporting to the countries nearest to him. If all that happens, not only will we lose our hold on his economy, but our food programs in that region will be at risk of becoming unprofitable.” One man said as many others mumbled among themselves.

      “Its a fundamental shift of power in the region.” They all heard and they agreed as a picture of John and Wanda came up on the screen before them.”This young man grew up here, he’s not from the Empire or any of its planets. He thinks he knows whats going on, and is throwing a wrench into the machine to fix things. He’ll need ‘educated’ about how things work here, but we need to go gently, the Empire has given us a lot of help. Our research facilities are full of their technology, and our military is making great strides in copying their basic designs. If we upset them too badly then all bets are off, and lets not forget the Ambassador has a small fleet in orbit, so we dont know for sure what he might do.” One older man explained as many scoffed to hear it.

      “He wouldn’t dare!” They heard as many smiled wide and agreed,” We might be a member of the Empire...in name only....but they have no right telling us what to do and how to run our world. We only joined all those years ago because the leaders at the time were afraid of them, but we’ve learned a lot, and gained even more since then, we don’t need to cower in fear any longer, and we need to let them know that!” he screamed as a few agreed and one old man a few seats away laughed right in his face, as the room grew quiet.

      “One more speech like that, and I’ll remove myself from this council.” he said seriously as he sat up straight and gave his own little speech.” Dont be foolish,The Empire is hundreds of years ahead of us...hundreds...they give us scraps of technology that they haven’t used in centuries. Their ships have weapons that could lay waste to this world and any other in hours...leaving nothing alive. If you think for a second anything they gave us was important to them, then I’m sitting in a room full of fools!” he exclaimed...and many got very quiet for the first time.

      “The new Ambassador is all about Peace and prosperity...whats so bad about that? Its money, cash, moola...the thing we like the most. Just because we have members that feel they cant live without a good rousing war going on, thats THEIR problem not mine. I’ll sit back and watch for a while, but if he shows this kind of skill in getting a better economy going elsewhere, then I’m in, so dont expect me to listen to your hogwash and military rhetoric any longer. The Empire can crush us in a day...any day...and only his good nature stops him from doing it, so move with EXTREME caution...” he said seriously as the room sat there listening,” he’s one of US after all...so he has a temper too, and I for one don’t want to see it focused on me or my country...do you?” And with that comment the room got very quiet and after a while they decided they’d give John a chance to come around, and they thought they knew how to do it, peacefully.

      Later that day a knock came on the door and John answered it to see a pretty young woman standing there, all smiles. Medium built with short red hair she was every bit the young model in a business suit, and John asked if there was anything he could help her with, as she put out her hand.

      “ Christine Caldwell from the United Nations...” She said as John shook it and asked for her to come in. She stepped inside as Wanda and the girls looked around and John offered her a seat with them, and she joined them gratefully.” I’ve come to become your personal attache to the U.N....its become clear that you’ve started moving to settle some grievances in third world countries. While there’s nothing wrong with that, we do need to be kept informed, so these things don’t look like some sort of ‘cowboy diplomacy’ on your part, as I’m sure you’re aware.” She said smiling even wider as John sat back, throwing her his best smile too, and Wanda wondered when John asked for an attache, anyways.

      “Well... please thank the U.N. for me for being so considerate.” John said as everyone there knew he hadnt asked for any help at all.” But since they haven’t been able...or were unwilling...to help people make a difference, I don’t think they have any room to complain that I’m lowering their workload.” John mentioned as she all but lost her fake smile hearing it, and instead smiled all the wider...as John matched it.

      “BUT...” She went on,” you need to understand that this is our problem, and that we had some solutions in place to help as well.” she said and waited for him to agree.

      “Alright then...” John said as she smiled wider still,” show me.” And her face dropped into shock.

      ” Wh..what?” She asked as he sat there smiling.”I.. don’t think I have those files with me at the moment.” She stammered, as John just sat there with that big grin.’I see’...he whispered and got back up from his seat.

      Hearing that, John walked back to the door and opened it, and she looked surprised and shocked as he waved her out, and she stopped there, looking sad about it all.

      “Tell your friends at the U.N. that I intend to make a difference here. Its my home too...and not in a century when all your deals and favors runs out... but in the next decade or so, and remember that this is an Empire planet, and has been for a long time. As the next Ruler here...I don’t need your permission to make changes. But if they help ME, then they will play an important role in the future of Earth, if not, then some other organization will. Is that clear?” John asked as she looked a little upset.

      “Is that a threat, Your Majesty?” She asked not at all as friendly as before, as John gave her his big patented smile and she refused to even try.

      “Its a promise...” he whispered and shut the door behind her, as she stood there, lost for a second as her driver shrugged and asked what happened when she got back in.

      “Its not going as planned...” She stated, as the car pulled out and John watched from inside the front door.

      “The U.N. is feeling the heat of not doing enough to help their members.” John said as he went back to drink his coffee, “ She’ll be back, they need a spy here to let them know what I plan on doing next.” John mentioned as Wanda asked what was he doing next, as John just smiled and looked away, and even she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.


      Chapter 17: The Heavy Hand of Justice


      John decided that he had given a few stubborn people enough time to make up their minds about a few things, so he called and asked Colonel Saxton a question that even he had never heard asked before.

      “Whats the biggest thing you can teleport?” He asked as Carl had to admit even he wasn’t sure, so John asked him to find out, and he agreed.

      “I see that look in your eyes again...” Wanda teased as John looked shocked she mentioned it, but after a while Carl called back and said that their teleporter had many limiters on it, but if they were removed it could move almost anything, as John got a big smile.

      “I’d like to come up for a while, is that alright?” John asked as the Colonel agreed, and Wanda went along to see what he had in mind. Once there, he talked to a technician who nodded seriously and went away for a while, and John laid out his plans for one man that thought he had the world by the tail and no one could touch him.

      “Jonathan Cooks...” John said pointing to the screen before them,” a businessman that made billions in oil, but that wasn’t enough for him, so now besides those contracts, he has a secret little business going on messing up other peoples countries, right Colonel?” John asked as Carl nodded seriously.

      “He’s using his money to buy weapons in great quantities in places a man of his caliber should never be doing business.” Carl mentioned as a map came up.” He then sells them all over the world, mostly to third world countries for huge profits and to areas in perpetual strife, like the Middle East. He alone supplies more weapons, both normal and Weapons of Mass Destruction, than nearly anyone else on the planet. Even the Federal Government has tried to stop him, but he always hides behind walls and walls of security and false companies and subsidiaries” He added as John chipped in..

      “Thats Earthly Security remember...” John hinted as even Wanda got a chuckle at that. “The Colonel here got all the files on him and we sent it to the U.N. a week ago, and...nothing...no movement at all.”John said sourly as Carl agreed it was disappointing that they did nothing after having the case handed to them on a silver platter.

      “Since then he has changed everything, almost to the day after we sent the information in for them. Its clear that someone at the U.N. is feeding him information, so we cant relay on them for help on this.” He went on, as Wanda agreed. “The FBI has been watching him for years but cant get enough on him to prosecute, but now that will change, wont it, Sire?” He asked as John got a huge grin and agreed.

      “He sends out ships full of illegal weapons every 3 weeks, some going to Africa and some to the Middle East. If even one shipment fails to get there, then many very strict and angry people will think he stole their money and didn’t fulfill his contract, so we have a plan to get him to surrender to the proper authorities.” John said as everyone waited to see. “First we do this...” He said as a call went out and a grumpy man on the other end answered it in the middle of the night, as John informed him he had 24 hours to surrender to the proper authorities or he wouldn’t be responsible for his safety, as the man said he’d been punked by some of the best, and he wasn’t falling for a old trick like this...and he hung up... as John laughed for a second, and Wanda asked why.

      “How did I know he’d say that?” he asked to no one in particular, as everyone smiled wide. “OK the invitation was sent, Colonel...if you please...” John said as Carl turned to his technician and nodded and after a few adjustments the beam went out and a few minutes later, a 75 foot freighter loaded with illegal weapons was sitting in the parking lot at the United Nations, and as it sat there it slowly fell onto its side, as even Carl gritted his teeth waiting for an explosion that never happened.

      “Three in the morning, perfect timing.Good job Colonel, is security on the scene yet?” John asked as Carl said about 6 security men were running out to see, and John nodded and said ..’second step please’ and all the information about the weapons, where they were bought, and where they were headed, all appeared in the captains quarters, well before the security men got there to check. The crew was looking too shocked to speak, as they got arrested, and one by one cars and vans from the FBI and local police showed up to set up roadblocks and to stop looting.

      “Lets see him get out of that one...” John said as Wanda got a good laugh and even Colonel Saxton got a big grin, knowing full well they’d get asked to put this in the harbor instead of the parking lot and John agreed, saying they would...after the investigation got officially started...and Carl nodded he understood and a few weeks later, another leach disappeared from the face of Humanity...for about 20 years.

      “He cant do that!” One man screamed on an emergency video call, as a few got a quick chuckle at that comment since it was clear that he certainly could.” Jonathan was our best salesman and supplier, with him out of the way our weapons business will fall off by 30-40%.” He screamed as everyone agreed that it would hurt them badly.

      “We underestimated the new Ambassador it seems...” The Chairman said seriously as many agreed.” if they can teleport entire ships, then there’s no place to hide from them, and the files the FBI got are so complete, its like Jonathan wrote them himself, and we know thats not likely.” he said as everyone got quiet.

      “What do we do now?” Was asked as even the leader had to think for a moment.

      “He’s gone too far this time!” The nasty man from before screamed, and a few more agreed.” I’ll take care of it, you all make up good excuses for being away for the next week or so.” he said and before anyone could say anything he was gone.

      “That idiot! If he tries anything rash and the Ambassador dies...we may be looking at an out right invasion from space! The Empire will never tolerate something like assassinating a Planetary Leader on Terran soil.” He screamed as one man said that he had an idea, let it up to him, and they did, and a call went out to get John some help before someone stupid caused a war that the Earth would not survive, and an hour later, a dark dressed shadow was at John’s house, and settled in across the street for a long night.

      Colonel Saxton saw it too, and after a quick scan recognized the person as Eternal Darkness, and he wondered why she came back after all this time. He called right away, and she answered, something she never would have done if she was there for any bad reasons, and she told him all about the plan and what was coming.

      “There’s always one like this...” he mentioned, shaking his head, as she got a chuckle and agreed, and they both went on high alert, and by 7 am the next day a car full of ‘terrorists’ was stopped and arrested not 3 blocks from John’s house. They were pretty well armed too, but that didn’t make much difference to the guards that stopped them, and soon the FBI had more people to talk to, and another of the super rich went on vacation out of the country for a while.

      And when John came out for his morning walk, they were both there, Saxton and Charlotte and he waved and said he hadn’t seen her in a while, as she agreed with a grin.

      “More body guard work then?” he asked as she nodded and he said he was proud of her, for giving up the old life and starting over.

      “The ALLEDGED old life..” She hinted as even Carl looked away laughing.”But thanks for saying so..I’m doing pretty well for myself now... and I don’t miss breakfast anymore now either.” She said and waved and was gone a second later.

      “Good for her,” John whispered as even Carl agreed,” so..they’re getting desperate don’t you think?” John asked as Carl told him that this was just one man, and they were hot on his tail. Charlotte had been hired by a man they knew was part of the same organization...so they all weren’t that desperate yet.”Well I’m not worried, I have you watching over me and my Family here and in space, and my reports say that things are turning around. There’s a lot more interest in making new jobs and starting new businesses all around the world. All they needed was someone to stand up for them and protect them a little.” he said as Carl reminded him he had a long way to go to prove his theories yet, and John just smiled and said he’d get there, sooner rather than later.
      And he went on his morning jog like nothing had even happened.


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      WEEKEND EDITION

      Chapter 18: Revolution...of Ideas


      “And no one was hurt or killed?” Harold asked as Colonel Saxton shook his head no.”Teleporting an entire freighter right to the U.N.....I like to show off a bit sometimes... but I think my son in law has me beat.” he said as even Carl nodded and laughed.

      “We tried getting the necessary files for them but they ignored it, this way, John said, the entire world saw what happened and everyone wanted to know why. They couldn’t lie or hide behind their friends this time, and it seemed to work.” he said as Harold just shook his head and laughed.

      “I left them to their own devices for a long time, hoping they’d get better,but they never seemed to improve at organizing or moving ahead with their politics. I cant say I didn’t think about doing something to get them to straighten up a bit, but nothing like this. Did it seem to help at all?” Harold asked as Carl left him know that one man went to prison for 20 years, another former General was now a firm advocate for a peaceful economy, and a multimillionaire was on the run for trying to kill John and maybe his family, as Harold just smiled for a second, and then got a huge sly grin after a while.

      “Sounds like progress...they are worried that he’ll change things that they put in place for the long haul...thats the worst thing to do to a criminal or corrupt government... change it from inside. It looks like John may have what it takes after all.” Harold said as the link went down and Carl sat back to think about it some more. John had a lot of power at his disposal and he chose tricks to get results. He couldn’t say that he’d have done the same thing...or been as gentle when the time came...but it wasn’t his job to change things here, he only helped when asked, and he was glad of that because, in his opinion, this little world need a lot more help than a few tricks would give.

      Now John was becoming a household name. Charities called and talked to him daily, and world leaders often called for his advice, since it became clear he was going to play a major role on this world for a long time to come.

      Today he and Wanda were in Russia, visiting the Czar there. They had a nice dinner and while sitting there talking the Czar asked what John thought of his country, a discussion starter every time.

      “Its a nice place, large and very heavily populated, but the working class seems a little too poor to help with the economy.” John said as Wanda smiled wider at the leaders facial expressions when he heard that straight out, and his wife looked away with her nose in the air.” Who do you think buys your products? Sure, you can export things... but please sir... lets not pretend that most things sold in other countries are marked, ‘made in Russia’.” John mentioned as the Czar agreed for a second at least, that exports could be better.

      “We are trying harder to add new agriculture to our country, but our northern boarders are too cold to farm well.” Was the first excuse, as John nodded that it might be true.

      “But you have taken thousands of acres of prime farm land to build military bases there...surely with a little better planning those bases could have been build in less needed land.” John added back, as his host looked upset and looked away for a minute to compose himself.”Don’t get me wrong, every country needs defenses, but you did make a mistake putting them on land you desperately needed for farming.” John added as the older man did agree to that.

      “You seem to like talking about farming quiet a bit...” The First Lady added a little dryly, as John just smiled,” were you a farmer at one time?” She hinted as her husband looked like she might start something with her attitude, but she waited for an answer anyways.

      “No, I graduated from Engineering College.” John mentioned as she nodded and looked less than impressed.” then married the most beautiful woman on Earth, and to be honest, I had to have this beauty brought in.” he added kissing Wanda’s hand, who looked embarrassed but smiled wider, as even the First Lady had to smile at that.

      “BUT...I do have a love of good food, and my sources tell me the world is on the way towards a global food crisis, so that has become my focus...for now.” He added as even the Czar looked surprised.

      “A crisis? I haven’t heard anything about that.” He added as John nodded and smiled wider still.

      “Many corporations are conspiring against the leaders of the world to cut their supplies short of food. We all eat regular meals, but some countries cant grow enough to feed their people. Enter an entire group of corporations ready to make a huge profit. Once they find some resource that the little country has, they offer to exploit it for them...and in exchange guarantee them food at discount prices. But even the US has been having problems with the global warmup these last few decades, and we lost 20% of our farming land to desertification...you lost about 30% didn’t you?” John asked as the Czar looked sad but admitted it was true.” We do next to nothing about population growth but then raise less crops for our own people while offering deals to others. Prices will skyrocket, and though you might not feel it personally, 80% of your people will...because their income cant keep up with prices, and soon the entire world will see food riots and death from starvation, and not very far into the future either.” John finished as even the First lady looked surprised.
      “But you think there’s time to avert this crisis?” The Czar asked as John looked sadder.

      “No, its already begun, a single loaf of bread has gone up in price by 50% in the last few years, and will continue to from now on. Bacon has doubled and will never go back down. All any of us can do is help fight it, grow more food , more animals and help reduce the impact, if we don’t then the riots may come even here, and the world will be watching to see how intelligent we are about this problem.” John added as both the Czar and his wife thought that sounded right, and their meeting ended with handshakes, and then beams dropping john and Wanda back home.

      “Think they’ll listen?” Wanda asked as John just smiled and shrugged.

      “All we can do is talk about it and see, if they’re half as smart as they think they are they’ll do something, anything will help.” John added as they got ready and went to bed.

      “Dateline News, Russia today: The leaders of the Communist Party, Czar Boris Yalta announced today a new imperative to grow more food for his people. A 100,000 acre farm is being built to raise pigs and all the feed for them on site. He announced that will add a minimum of 80,000 more animals to their food supply every year, and any excess animal feed will be exported to other countries,and helped keep prices down.

      In a further announcement they also mentioned that Russia will start negotiating for a National Minimum Wage for all workers next month, as a sign that prosperity has finally come to the Communist Nation.”

      And as the announcement was made world wide, Colonel Saxton sat back, all smiles, and sent a copy to the Emperor to see at his leisure, while Master Johanson smiled and sat back against his bedpost chuckling to himself.

      “A guaranteed wage...in the most populated Communist country on the planet... will wonders never cease?” He asked himself but he knew that wonders had nothing to do with it, John had just left there hours ago and today things changed, and he was sure things would change elsewhere too, and he wanted to sit back and see it.


      Chapter 19: Family Problems


      A couple more weeks go by and another monthly report, and Harold was starting to get pleased with himself for letting John train his skills on his home world.

      “ 3% increase in world production and 5% increase in the Gross Planetary Product index since John started watching over the place. Thats a nice improvement in only 2 years.” He said as Carl just smiled and agreed.” Now if he could learn to produce a little more himself, then the Family would be pretty happy I think.” he added as Carl smiled really wide and looked away from the screen. The Emperor was starting to wonder if this marriage was in name only, or if John wasn’t capable of ‘fulfilling his obligations’ as a member of the Family. They were quite happily married it seemed, but in 2 years no children had occurred yet, and the Emperor was getting worried about it. Princess Audrey moved into the new Estate with her husband Francis 6 months ago, and she was already pregnant, and he looked towards Wanda to see why things weren’t going better here.

      “From what I have heard,” Carl started as Harold just waved him away again. It was old news, ‘they were being careful for now’ had been the excuse for over a year and he was getting tired hearing it.”Perhaps Sire, you should ask yourself, as her Father it would only seem right.” Carl hinted trying to get out of yet another personal favor the Emperor was sure to ask for.

      “Well...” he started looking sad and a little worried. Wanda was a strong girl and if you upset her things got ugly fast, but this was different, and finally he decided that it needed done.”I will...its my responsibility after all to make sure my daughter is happy.” he said like it was a Royal Decree, and the link went down as Carl laughed and went for lunch, at least this time he wasn’t in the middle of it and he was happy with that.

      Wanda got the call a minute later and thanked her father for calling right out of the blue. But it was easy to see he had something on his mind...he was just having a hard time getting it into words.

      “Is there something wrong, Father?” She asked as finally he heaved a heavy sigh and smiled a weak little smile as she waited for what she knew by now was some really embarrassing
      question.

      “Does John...make you happy?” He finally whispered as she got a big grin and she said he did, she was very happy. “Then why is your sister having a child and you’re not?” he threw in there, as Wanda looked away with a huge grin.

      “I made a deal with John right after the wedding.” She announced as her dad waited to hear.”He has his work and I have mine, when we both feel we’ve done our best then we will sit back and relax, and have our family. We both are very young and healthy, and can have children any time we want, according to the doctors, so we decided to wait for a while thats all.” She said as he nodded and looked a little tired thinking it.

      “You’re the one who looks like he’s in a hurry.” She whispered as he looked away from the screen and cleared his throat and said he was just worried thats all, and she chuckled and said he had nothing to worry about, and he finally smiled.

      “You haven’t been home in ages...you or Gale...and I think your mother misses you.” he whispered as Wanda looked like she’d cry seeing him like this.

      “Maybe we are due for a vacation then...” She hinted as he immediately declared that he’d have a banquet for them and a dance to celebrate them coming home...for a while...

      “Let me know the second you’re ready to leave,and I’ll have the band practicing until then,” And with that he was gone, as Wanda laughed for a second and went to tell John that they were taking a vacation...and her father thought he wasn’t doing his ‘duty’ often enough.

      “Old busybody..” John was grumbling even as they beamed up and started towards the Home World.”not doing my job indeed,I’ll have him know...” He went on as Wanda took his hand and he finally settled down.

      “I’m the only one you need to satisfy, and I’m very happy.” She whispered as John said ‘tell him that’ and she laughed and said she already had.”You do need time off, you worry altogether too much about things that have been like that for ages.”

      “But with me gone for a while they’ll all fall right back into old habits, after all my work too.” he complained as she said if they were that bad then what would they do when he took on the job of Emperor, he’d have hundreds of worlds to watch over then, and he looked more tired than before.

      “You’re too much, you know that? We’re only going to be gone for 2 weeks...honestly John!” Wanda said as he finally smiled and agreed he worried too much.”So sit back and relax for a while, we’ll be there in a couple hours and then you can talk to Father all you want, and I can see the rest of my Family and all my sisters for the first time in over a year.”

      And John suddenly realized how he had been monopolizing Wanda for himself, and how she must have been lonely not seeing her Family more.

      “Sorry I’m so greedy with you,” He whispered as she got a big grin and gave him a nice hug.

      “I could come home any time I wanted...for a day or two...” She reminded him and he agreed, sadly.” Maybe once we get a real place of our own and give your dad back his house we’ll have room for visitors too.” She hinted as John just got a laugh at that...that again...and he had thought about it a lot more lately and had a short list of places he liked, but he hadnt said that out loud yet.

      “When we get home we’ll see.” he added as she nearly cheered and Gale smiled too, sitting there trying not to laugh at their antics.



      Chapter 20: Second Challenge


      They were there a week, and John was feeling better about taking a little time off. Harold made sure he knew that his plan was working better than they had hoped, and that projections showed that each year thereafter the economy would improve by several more percentages, and John felt vindicated for his plans, and Harold agreed,as the entire Family looked shocked that they got along so well.

      “So...ahem...while you’re in the neighborhood...” Harold hinted as John got a big grin,” there’s this planet not too far from here, Carl knows it well...Emporium...” he said as Carl rolled his eyes and looked away and John saw a setup coming.

      “OK...whats so bad about Emporium then?” John asked as Harold looked to Carl who was trying to stay out of it, but just couldn’t.

      “Its a Reptilian world for one, they are friendly enough, but they believe that strength is everything. Their King is chosen by a fighting contest every 10 years and their world is grossly overpopulated. They all live on one large continent,and fishing is the main occupation there. And they refuse almost all help saying things like trolling ships and large nets aren’t ‘manly enough’ so they fight every fish by hand and fishermen are a class of workers that are well respected for feeding the masses...even though they fail miserably because they cant harvest enough fish to feed everyone on a daily basis.” he added as John looked sad for them.

      “Thousands die every week and most from starvation,” Harold added as John looked sad for them.

      “And they refuse all help?” John asked as Carl admitted they did manage to get them better lines, but that was the last thing they allowed their workers to use to improve the workload. “Hmm stubborn cusses aren’t they?” John whispered as everyone looked his way and you could just see the wheels turning.

      “I want you to call them... tell their King that you’re sending a fishing expert to see their way of doing things and to give free advice.” John said as even Harold smiled and asked if he was a fishing expert, and John laughed saying he WAS compared to them, and the room toasted the idea, and the message was sent.

      The King got it minutes later and after some thought decided that free advice couldn’t hurt, since his reports every day were of millions sick and dieing from malnutritian. He said he’d allow it, and a fishing boat and crew were set up for him to see when he was there. But when John arrived, they looked at him oddly for being so small and not looking strong enough to be a fisherman at all, and John just laughed and said his people had brought in fish weighing up to 400 pounds on a line...and many there looked impressed.

      “My specialty is equipment and baits,” John announced as many there nodded they understood.”Lets go out and see the fish you’re after now .” He said as they led him to the front of a 30 foot wooden boat, all open except for the small cabin where the captain ran the engine, and it had a hole in the center dropping down into a small tank with water inside. John could easily see how this would work and as they moved out of port they turned to sea, and then ran full speed until one man called he saw a shoal, and John looked over the side to see the ocean teeming with fish, obviously chasing something much smaller. They dropped to slow speed and as they ran through the mass of fish they stopped, and each man there...all 6 of them...grabbed a pole with a short line on it and a single hook and put some bait on it..mostly cut fish... and threw it in. Now every few minutes one caught a fish and threw it into the tank and went back to fishing again. One man did nothing but kill a fish and cut bait and the captain asked what he thought, as John just smiled widely.

      “Its very much like my people did a hundred years ago.” John hinted as even some of the fisherman looked shocked and a bit sad he said that.”We use artificial baits now, giving more people work. One craftsman can make a dozen a day, and you can catch 10 or more fish without destroying one.” John said as the captain nodded happily.”The fish you’re catching are eating something out there what is it?” John asked as the captain waved and one man took a small net and threw it out and after a few tries brought in several 4 inch silvery looking fish, and John nodded and called them ‘minnows’ as the captain agreed.

      “Carl, get a few pictures of this please?” John asked as Carl did and then sent that back to the ship in orbit.” Tell them I want my rod and reel ready, and half a dozen baits just like that one.” John said as many there smiled thinking he was going to fish with them, as they went right back to it. But a few minutes later they beamed John down a two pice pole with a open faced reel and heavy line. It had a tiny metal swivel on it and a box with 6 of the fake fish with a large 3 barbed hook in the center. It was an odd sight for them seeing John put it together and snap a bait on it and he then just smiled and winked and threw the lure out into the mass of fish and it barely hit the water before something had it.

      John dragged that one in, reel screaming, and threw it into the tank as the captain screamed ‘dont let him make you look bad men!’ and they all went back to fishing, but John caught one every few minutes and alone brought in more than 2 other men, as the captain saw. He also saw that John could throw out further, and that just the one lure had caught every fish so far, and was still there, as many were waiting for bait to get cut, or for lines to get fixed.

      “Impressive...” The captain said as John waved him over sand showed him how the new pole worked and after a few tries he was throwing further than anyone, and even brought a nice fish in too and seemed to really enjoy himself doing it. “If we all had one like this and some practice with it, I believe we could double our take every day!” He exclaimed as every man there wanted to try and John let them, and soon their fishing trip became a free for all of men laughing and catching fish and talking about the big one they caught last and named fish John, of course, had never heard of before.

      “And whats this part called again?” One man asked as he pointed to the wheel on the side and John said it was the ‘Break’ because if it was too tight the line would snap, and many there got a good laugh at that one.

      “A reel with a break on it can let you drag in heavier fish without breaking the line as much. One man can throw out further without having to move the boat as much, and drag in fish that are bigger this way. And artists that work well with wood can make lures for sale and sell them to fisherman. There are also feathery lures with one large hook in them called ‘jigs’” John explained as everyone listened intendedly.

      “Fishing is an entire economy itself, not just here but many places, so new rods and reels new lures and you could fill the boat in half the time.” John added as many agreed.

      “That was a great trip and we learned a lot, thank you sir.” the captain said as he handed the rod back and John pushed it away and handed him the lure box too.

      “A gift,” he said as the entire crew cheered and the captain looked like he might cry.

      “The King will be pleased, I’m sure.” he said seriously as they went back into shore and a group of diplomats awaited them as they saw fish after fish getting unloaded and the captain showed the King the new rod and he looked at it seriously but just wasn’t too sure that was ‘manly’ enough for them, as John laughed in his face, and even Carl had to step back at that one.

      The King became King because he beat his opponents senseless and even though he wasn’t stupid, he was a bit of an egomaniac, it seemed. John said straight out that a good King worries for his people and does whatever it takes to protect them and John ‘wasn’t impressed’ with what he had seen, as many there gasped at his attitude. The King was 6 inches taller than John and had him by maybe 50 pounds, but John stepped in and got right in his face and challenged him, saying a ‘good King protects his people’ and John would do that better than he did, and the King roared and accepted, and they were rushed to an arena for their battle.

      The arena filled up instantly and their news crews came running in. No one had ever challenged the King before, especially not a simple fisherman, and John waited in his dressing room as Carl asked him if this was really the way to go.

      “Even showing him right out how well better equipment works, he wasn’t going to go for it, hundreds are dieing a day, and he knows we can help him...its all ego...” John said as Carl admitted to that.

      “But your going to take a beating out there, will Princess Wanda approve?” He asked as John just smiled and winked and Carl saw what was really going on, and looked away chuckling to himself.

      The call came, and John walked out there wearing the same old cloths that he wore when fishing. The King was in some exercise outfit and he demanded John apologize for insulting him in front of everyone, and John demanded that he stop being ‘too afraid to feed the people’ as everyone looked shocked and gasped to hear it. The King ran in and took a swing and John sidestepped it and jumped a fair distance away and people looked impressed, and the King ran in again and hit him in the chest and John flew backwards against the stands and the King waved to his people thinking it was over, as John sat there, laughing out loud...as even the King turned to see.

      “Well done your Majesty! If you worked this hard trying to feed your people many more wouldn’t need to die!” John said and jumped back up, to the thrill and shock of everyone there.

      “Impossible!” He screamed as John walked right back out there and the big reptile backed away slowly.

      “Nothing is impossible for me...” John said loudly as the room got quiet,” because...I AM A FISHERMAN!” John screamed as the room went wild and the King saw that even he wasn’t this popular.

      John was on him in a second and as he struggled to break free John tossed him lightly to the side and then jumped over there and picked him up by his belt and waved him in the air like so many feathers, as people all around cheered and chanted for him...’fisherman,fisherman...’ and John looked up at the big man and asked if he would help his people more from now on? And the big man screamed he would, and John just held him there shaking his guts out screaming that new equipment would be made available so more could be fed, and demanded the King allow it...and he agreed, loudly as the room cheered and John left him down and when his feet touched the ground...his legs gave way and he sat there in the middle of the arena, looking frightened and lost.

      “You have a good, strong King...” John said loudly as many cheered for him,” I believe he will do what is right to feed the people and rule them wisely from now on! This is my promise..if he does not...I will return!” he screamed and walked out as the room jumped to their feet and the King stood,and declared that he would do better...for everyone...and Carl and John beamed away and a day later an order for a hundred new fishing poles came in and a thousand lures,and Harold asked if that was enough, and John just smiled and said ‘it was a good start’ and the room laughed as John and Wanda beamed away to return home.


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      Chapter 21: House Hunting


      It was barely a day back home when Wanda and Gale started sucking up and John was reminded that he promised they’d look for a new place, just for themselves.


      “I did say that didn’t I?” He asked as Wanda agreed. “OK but remember, I’m hard to please, and I’m not into those high tech, metal and glass buildings. I like older structures, classic wood and engravings and marble floors...” John started as Wanda’s face grew into a big smile and she could tell he had already been looking without her, maybe as a surprise.

      “I also have seen the craziest of people come out of the woodwork since we got married so, I want a private place...well away from big cities and politics.” John added as Wanda nodded and waited for him to tell her what he really was planning.

      “OK Detective Watson...wheres this place at you’re describing?” Gale asked as John gave her a dirty look.

      “Not Watson, Holmes...I’m researching and investigating... not a follow around helper.” John insisted, as she looked away laughing.”By the way...Gale...aren’t you ever going home? Not that I mind, but you’ve been here since that first visit with Audrey.” he asked as Wanda smiled and said nothing, but she was glad Gale stayed it helped her have someone to talk to when John was busy, and Family are always the best to have around.

      “I see you finally noticed...” She hinted and got a chuckle at that as John motioned for her explanation, and she smiled wider at Wanda, then gave John a deep bow.
      “I am inexperienced, so please be gentle...my husband.” She said softly as John’s eyes popped and Wanda’s face fell into shock.

      “NO!” Wanda screamed as Gale looked up, all smiles..” Don’t even think it!”

      “John saved my life and I fell for him that first day, but he never asked me about it until today, and I’m patient if nothing else.” She added as Wanda still looked shocked and John cleared his throat and said that Wanda made him happy and he didn’t need another wife, as Wanda pointed to John and said ‘see!!’ and Gale just laughed at them both.

      “Too late...I have Fathers approval.” She said softly and Wanda saw she made an end run around her, and she wasn’t too happy with it.

      “Wait right here!” She screamed and went outside and even from here it wasn’t hard to hear a few words. “But...yes I know...Father!...Shes my sister for Gods sake!” And after a few minutes things got quiet, and Wanda walked back in looking tired and upset.

      “Told you, as a future King John can have as many women as he wants, just like Father did.” Gale reminded her as Wanda growled about it, but admitted thats exactly what he said.

      “I only met one wife at your estate though,” John added as they both got a big smile after a second.”Shes considered his First Wife, she controls the House and all the finances, basically. She’s not my mother, or our mother either.” Wanda hinted as John looked shocked.

      “How do you think we have 12 sisters? One woman didn’t do all that.” Gale mentioned as John just shrugged and said he never asked, because frankly, he didn’t care.

      “John saved me that day and I fell in love with him instantly, I told Mother that and she went off saying ‘oh! how terribly romantic!’ “ Gale mentioned as Wanda rolled her eyes and looked away. It sounded just like her too.

      “Lets talk about this later,” John hinted as Wanda demanded they settle it now, and he smiled and asked if she had won that fight with her father, and she got silent.”In the long run its up to us, so lets just wait and see. This is pretty sudden to have it dropped on us like this, so we need time to think about it and work it out.” John said as Wanda gave him a dirty look too but admitted she’d let it go for now.

      “Back to house hunting then,” Gale mentioned as John nodded, and after a second they were standing in front of an older mansion, with the classic iron gates and big yard and trees and hedges. The driveway had a curl to it that left cars come in and go out at the same time and it was 4 stories tall with all the best classical designs, including pillars holding up the entranceway and engraved wooden doors big enough to carry sofas through without a worry.

      Gale looked impressed and ran up to the front door and looked in through the window as Wanda nodded approvingly, and said it was big no doubt, and she could see that ‘Classical Design’ thing John seemed to like.

      “Made in the late 50‘s it still has many of those old fashioned ideas built in. Pillars, engravings, all very intricate and well done. The owners died together in a plane crash 2 years ago, and the rest of the Family thinks its an Albatross, and hates it.” John said chuckling as Carl and an older man beamed in and John asked to look inside and he agreed.

      The door opened and Gale ran in with Wanda right behind and the place smelled of dust but the floors and walls looked like a museum and John was seen checking out the engraved doorways and even some paintings hanging on one wall, and Wanda saw that, with a little work it could be very nice and she mentioned that ‘it needs fixed up a bit’ and John agreed,as the old man also agreed, but he had no idea what they were really talking about.

      “It doesn’t have a lot of the newer technologies installed, there are phone lines but no high speed Internet, there is a large kitchen gas powered, but its basically the same condition as the rest of the house. Maintenence has taken care of the place, there aren’t any roof leaks or anything like that.” The man said as John nodded and they walked around a bit and up a set of winding stairs to the next floor and there was even an elevator, at the end of the hall that went all the way to the roof, where it had a sort of patio on top, and Wanda smiled wide standing there leaning on a wooden handrail,looking out across the front yard and driveway and saw lights far off in the distance, as she turned and gave John a big wink and asked what city that was, and John looked sad but said... New York City...as Wanda laughed and said she loved it.

      “Lots of good shopping to be had there,” She hinted as John just laughed and he agreed, but said they needed a lot done before they could move in, and it would cost a pretty penny too, as she gave him a sly smile, knowing he was already negotiating with the old man who was standing nearby.

      “How much land goes with it?” John asked as Wanda stepped back and left the negotiations go on while she watched.

      “ 120 acres, thats three buildings, including a garage for 12 cars, storage buildings, a pool house for guests...” he started as Gale screamed ‘POOL?” as he smiled and said it was out back and she ran down to see while they finished talking.

      “The house itself has how many bedrooms?” John asked but even the old man knew he had called and asked weeks ago, so this was for the Mrs. he was sure.

      “ 38 rooms overall, 20 bedrooms and 10 baths, one in the master bedroom with a hot tub installed,” as Wanda smiled wider at that, and John cleared his throat and asked the price as the man looked at his notes and said, as John requested he negotiated with the Family who really wanted rid of it...so long as they could make a profit...and John nodded as the man smiled.

      “ 3.2 million, as is...” The old man said as John grumped, and Wanda jumped in and said ‘we’ll take it!’ as John’s whole negotiation went right out the window. “I have the papers with me right here, please sign here...and here...” he said all smiles as John gave Wanda a dirty look that the old man saw, and he knew he had done a good deed today. He got the owners a good price and made one young Princess pretty happy too.

      Just then a scream was heard saying ‘this pool is HUGE!’ and John and Wanda laughed as the old man said the papers would be finished by the end of the week, and he handed John the keys and left,as John stood there looking down, as the man drive away.

      “I could have gotten it cheaper...” John hinted as she took his arm and laughed.

      “You like it, I like it, hell even Gale likes it.” Wanda said all smiles. “Now all we need to do is get some people here to start repairs and upgrades.” She hinted as John got a chuckle at that. If she had her way it would be the most high tech home in the state, and he approved of that, and he gave her free rein to do whatever she wanted, and they reported to Colonel Saxton they bought the place, and she asked for some workers from home to fix it up, and he agreed and a small ship jumped in later that day,and Wanda went into over drive getting things done, as John did his best to stay out of her way.


      Chapter 22: Grand Opening


      In a miracle, and with a lot of help, the work was done in 4 months and the place took on a life of its own. Just as John was having interviews for cooks and all the household staff, 12 people walked in together and said they were from the head family and were here to help do the daily work around the new estate. John smiled and asked what all they did, and a good list of things was mentioned, all by the lady out front as everyone else nodded it was true.

      “And...” John started all smiles while looking down on them from the second floor balcony,” how many of you have security or military training?” he asked as everyone looked shocked and finally they all raised their hands as the lady in charge asked how he knew.

      “ 12 people all at once, and you are not that subtle about being in charge either.” John added as she looked sad they couldn’t fool him.” So did the Emperor send you, or Colonel Saxton?” he asked as she admitted they came straight from the Emperors Personal Guards, as John nodded that was good enough.”Hired... you will assign them duties when they aren’t...otherwise needed right?” John asked as the lady agreed and without thinking threw him a salute, that he returned and John had half his staff the first day.

      He had a young man parking cars, even when there were none, and a doorman, watching everywhere at once. The upstairs maid also was seen watching everyone that came and went, and the Captain in charge seemed to be everywhere, as Wanda smiled and said John was getting things organized pretty quickly, and he just laughed knowing she wasn’t surprised.

      “Your Fathers Personal Guards...” John whispered as she just smiled and nodded she knew.

      “I grew up around those people, and that training is hard to miss.” She admitted as they both smiled and went back to work.

      Everything was up and running smoothly and Wanda waved for John to come with her, as they walked into his personal study and he saw his desk for the first time. It was dark wood and engraved much like the rest of the house but when she sat him down behind it, and his hands touched the desktop, 5 screens came on, all holographic in nature and crystal clear. Just sitting here he could see all the news worldwide, watch shows, check the Internet,do business on and off the planet, and host conference calls from the entire galaxy, and he looked impressed and asked if it was going to blow up when he used it, and Wanda gave him a peck on the cheek and said ‘its been tested’ and then walked away laughing.

      John sat there looking it all over, knowing that it would take him days to figure it all out, but he loved his wife for it and sat there smiling for a minute before he spoke.

      “OK Carl, which one of these links to you?” He asked right out loud, as the center screen came on and the Colonel was sitting there smiling.

      “All of them at one time or another,” he answered as John just laughed.

      “About another week like this and we’ll be ready for our Grand Opening...” John said as Carl agreed,” I’d like the Emperor to be there if he’ll come.” John added as Carl smiled and said he was sure he would.”I’ll let you know the minute we’re ready.” John said as Carl just smiled and replied..

      “Oh, I’ll know...” And he went away as John just shook his head and went back to learning all the controls and jobs the new desk could do.

      But the entire world seemed to be waiting to get in for the Grand Opening. The first party held by the new Ambassador was going to be the biggest social event of the year, and people started asking for invitations even before John was ready to give any out. Celebrities, politicians, and generally con men and weirdos all wanted to come, and John started seeing that he had to be pretty careful who he let in, and Wanda agreed as she took his list and said she’d fix it, as he asked why she needed to when he had it well in hand.

      “You’ll only invite people you like, and we cant be seen acting partial to anyone. The Empire stands for equality and fairness...you said that a million times already.” She hinted as he grumbled at that, and she just laughed and took it with her.

      “Damn, now all the weirdos will get in,” John said walking away as security tried not to laugh in front of him for his comments.

      But when the night of the party came it looked like the who’s, who of the galaxy. Presidents,Kings an Emperor and even the Czar of Russia were there, and celebrities from all the big shows and even some business tycoons, all looking for free gifts or special deals.

      “Leeches all...” John was whispering as Wanda laughed and told him to keep smiling, and he did as his father in law walked over in full Emperor dress, and laughed at his sour looks.

      “Smile John, this is how the real work gets done. Any deals made here tonight will supersede all others, and we’re about ready to open earth to interplanetary trade, so listen for someone that might be interested.” He whispered as John agreed, wearing his politicians smile all night. And it didnt take forever for the chance to come as the Czar came by and dragged John to the side and asked if he might get a deal...he was building a new Spaceport in his Southern areas, right near a major city, and asked if there might be some trade deals available for it, and John smiled and said ...it might be possible...as the man gushed to think it.

      “In a YEAR...” he said smiling as John agreed, and the Czar walked away looking very pleased indeed.

      “A brand new Spaceport near a major city...he’s sure you’re his friend. Thats a Billion dollar deal right there.” Harold mentioned as John agreed and asked what they could trade for, and he said he’d send a short list to him later, and John thanked him.

      But the Czar was soo happy he couldnt keep it to himself, and soon representatives of China and the US were both demanding trade deals too, as John looked at them with a stern look he felt they deserved.

      “He’s building a brand new Spaceport for this deal...will you?” he asked as the US representative agreed without a second thought, and the Chinese Ambassador did too...even though he was looking a little queazy saying it.

      “Anyone who has proper facilities ready in one year will get a deal. The actual list of things for trade will be coming later. The Emperor himself is putting it together.” John announced as they all agreed and went away very happy, and calls were made instantly, and John could see new construction going on before the end of the week.

      “You’re making new friends,” Wanda mentioned, as John just laughed for a second.

      “So long as the money holds out.” he whispered as she got a chuckle at that.

      “Thats business,” she added and they walked around together, arm in arm, and everyone thought the new place was perfect for them, and John agreed even as Carl swooped up 4 men from setting explosives in the basement, and they all went for a very long ride.

      The party ended a while later and as the last guest left, John all but fell over from the strain of smiling all night for many people he hated.

      “You did this to me...” he whispered as Wanda got a good laugh out about that.

      “Then come with me...I’ll make it ALL better.” And she led him upstairs, as the staff got the house cleaned, from dirt, garbage and all the new bugs and traps that their ‘friends’ had brought with them.


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