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Jim turned his attention away from the invading fleet to give the fleet commander time to consider the facts. All the rockets had given up their boosters and were now on an un-powered course. Minute course changes could be inserted without giving telltale energy trails. The fleet would be waiting for some word from Isis before being forced to surrender to Jim's terms. 


Helen demanded Jim's private attention for a brief period. She wanted to know more of what the future had in store, and Jim told her that he was going to have to return to Artemis for an indefinite time. 


"How about Earth?" She asked. "If I am to stay here, does that mean I won't see you anymore, and how about your children?"


"I promised Isis that I'd be there waiting for the children with the Pegasus as a condition for our departure from the past."




"We will remain in contact, and after I've repaired the Box, it doesn't take long for me to visit you. Remember I visited her for several years, and it was but a blink of the eye for you."


"Jim, I love you."


'I am glad it was Morgana that stole my belt and not you."




"Your double. The woman who tricked me."


"Whatever became of her?"


"I suppose we'll never find out."


"Jim promise that you'll return to me, frequently, while you rule on Artemis. Earth will have her freedom from her, and I would like to express to you Earth's gratitude. If Antiope is to be your ambassador, what role do you have for me?"


Jim promised. He apologized to Helen for his upcoming sudden departure which Idiot was red flagging for. It seemed that some of the Box's circuits were redlining and a time jump had to be made. It was essential for Jim to make the jump back to the Pegasus.


"I'll come back to you," he promised.


Jim made the space-time jump and noticed that the Pegasus clock had not changed since his departure. The Pegasus was on the "present side" of the Black Hole, but was also oscillating on either side of the event horizon. Idiot managed to successfully pull the Pegasus out of the time loop as it was finally relieved of the overload. Idiot also managed to keep all circuits in tact, but made the comment that the fresh circuits provided from Antiope Industries certainly helped.


When the Pegasus had stabilized back into real time, Idiot continued the ship on the course that Isis had originally plotted. The ship rematerialized on the far side of the moon just two days prior to the scheduled fleet arrival. Jim had just recently warned the Venetian fleet. Jim chuckled as he intercepted his own transmission. He also knew the Amazons were expecting the arrival of the Pegasus. He was not going to disappoint them.


Idiot had made the jump flawlessly. Jim shifted control of Earth missile command to the Pegasus as he waited for the fleet. He linked with Antiope and Helen. They both told him that the people were panicking, and General Armstrong was in trouble with the President again. Jim resolved to shoot lightning at the White House to get the President's attention. Jim secretly wished that the voters would throw the spineless waffle out of office. More Amazons were being spotted. Jim had only been gone a few days and they were once again ready to surrender to Isis. Jim was totally disgusted with Earth leadership.


At the appropriate time, the Pegasus emerged out of hiding as Earth observatories immediately spotted the ominous new craft. Jim shot a limited charge at the White House as promised. It was weak enough not to hurt anyone within or touching the monument, but all noticed the apparent change in color of the building as the it appeared to glow for several hours after the attention getter. General Armstrong had always heard about the Pegasus but had never seen it. Jim immediately posted the Pegasus between Earth and the Venetian fleet. The fleet believing that Isis was in command of the Pegasus started to direct their ships towards the Pegasus and hailed her.


Instead the Pegasus opened fire as star cruisers were disabled in droves. Another hundred were immediately destroyed as the missile mines started to take their toll on the routing ships. The amazing speed of the Pegasus combined with Idiot's enhanced maneuvering ability made the star cruisers sitting ducks. The Amazons on board the Pegasus dared not to interfere. They were only too aware of their own vain attempt to affect the outcome of this battle. They were also aware of Jim's intent to send all the Amazons home to Artemis immediately.


The two sides called a truce and Jim sent the occupants of the doomed ships back to Artemis. The fleet admiral reconsidered Jim's offer and accepted it. The great invasion had ended with a great battle that took only minutes. Only seventy-five star cruisers remained space worthy to return to the domain of the Venetian Empire.


The crews chose to abandon the cruisers and return to Artemis via the portal onboard the Flying Dutchman. Jim signaled to Helen that he would need the Flying Dutchman in Pearl Harbor to return prisoners. Helen complained that she was in the Atlantic and not the Pacific. Idiot rematerialized the Flying Dutchman to the spot in Pearl Harbor that the Navy had reserved for such occasions. The guards immediately woke up, and the reserve unit was called to alert status as the guard was posted. Within the hour Antiope and Helen were coordinating the return of the Amazons. 


Amazons on Earth began to surrender as well. Airports worldwide were clogged with Amazons requesting the free flight to Honolulu which Jim promised. Even Antiope's double took up the offer. Many thought she was Antiope as she made her way to Honolulu, but the double had no heart to continue the fight either. 


Within forty-eight hours, no Amazon other than Antiope, Helen and Jim was on the planet. Idiot reminded Jim that it was time to go. Jim was showered with gratitude as it now became quite apparent that he had effectively dealt with the threat. Jim had given Earth new hope for a place in the civilized universe. The Earth authorities clearly recognized now that they were not alone, and that Jim as sovereign of the Venetian empire was giving Earth a chance to grow up under its own power; free from being slaves forced to worship the directives of Isis. Perhaps they never would realize why he had offered them help, even when they clearly did not want the help.


Earth's population became thrilled with the promise of being able to step beyond their own planet. Even though it would be years before Earth had the capability to send a man to the nearest star, all knew that such was indeed possible. Jim by encouraging the Earth people to take the necessary steps to explore the stars would give them the dreams by which they would shape their destiny. They were also very reassured when they finally realized that Jim fully intended to protect Earth against any alien intervention.


Earth now wanted Jim for all sorts of speaking engagements. Suddenly he became very popular, but he had to go. Idiot reminded Jim that he had to take the Pegasus to Artemis. 




Chapter Forty-Eight

Pegasus Strikes

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