Chapter 11 - Rescue

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Haden recieved the command codes directly from One's voice modulator. Instantly, communication was initiated between him and the Guardians aboard. There was a collective sense of shock at the sheer savagery of the pilot's attack. Haden moved through the minds of the AI Terris had obliterated. Already, a directive was issued to rebuild the individual bodies the young man had destroyed.

"Confirmed, Terris. These are the Guardian AI and there is no deception. This is a rescue operation. Everyone in our room was to be rendered unconscious until such time as the situation was explained." Haden paused. "The soldiers you took out were the extraction team. Your counterattack took them off gaurd."

"Off gaurd?" Interjected One, his youthful face twisted to indicate a vast understatement. "You decimated the very team designated to save your life!"

"In my defense, they weren't well trained." Terris stated sheepishly.

"In their defense, they weren't expecting the hostages to defend their captors!"

In truth, Terris had no retort, other than that they were attacked by unknown hostiles. He responded as he thought was appropriate to protect the people with him. But the boy's voice and arrogance irritated him.

"They aren't kidnapping us. I have been treated fairly and given liberty to move about freely."

"We weren't here for you, Terris!" The boy snapped. "I only know your name because of your communication with the Commander after you entered this system. Beyond the fact that you accompany our AI, you are nothing to us. We are here for the AI and his pilot."

"This is my pilot, Sir." Haden stated bluntly, his posture straightening in challenge. Terris cast the android a long look. Sir?

"Good, then the mission wasn't a total failure. Bring her, we have a ship waiting to take us to the Shield."

"No, sir. Not her. Him." Haden lifted a finger to point at Terris.

One was already walking away, but stopped in mid stride. He wheeled about slowly, a dangerous look on his face. "On whose authority?" His voice was ice.

"Mine." Haden didn't blink.

"What makes you think," The boy took a step towards the group, but Haden cut him off.

"I have reached the fourth tier." While the statement was delivered in a neutral tone, the reaction in One was immediate. His eyes went round. Terris could see white around the entire pupil. His head drew back and his entire body seemed to sag. "Look into my mind, One. See the truth of it."

Even from the distance, Terris saw the young man's eyes dilate. Seconds passed before he refocused on the group.

"Haden." The boy spoke in a whisper that sounded almost reverent. "He is indeed your pilot." Then to Terris: "Welcome to our ranks, young pilot. Command of the Guardian fleet is yours."

-

Haden felt the command structure change in the span of a thought. One had truly transfered authority of the entire Guardian fleet to Terris. As per design, the Shield was to be crewed by both AI and humans. While One would retain command of the Guardian AI, Terris would assume command of the carrier. The two factions would work together to operate the fleet. For any bystander, placing a simple salvage operator in such a position of authority would be a dangerous choice. Haden was no mere bystander. He had revealed himself to be evolved, so he was no longer a part of the AI command structure, but he was still bound to Terris.

"What." Terris stood there, eyes flicking back and forth between the androids, his breathing still heavy from his suicidal charge.

"Dawn is suspended from duty for three days following her reanimation. That makes you the only active duty human officer in the Guardian fleet. You have command, Terris."

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