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Introduction

"Enter."

Lassic sat back in his throne. Oh, how he hated this damn castle! True, it did serve it's purpose when he ruled, but since there is no Palm to rule it seems pretty much useless. It's taken him nearly ten years to put the castle back to the way it was, it still bothered him that he lost to a child A child! He underestimated them, just like he had underestimated Alys. He will not make that mistake again. He wish he could have his revenge on Dark Force for this damnation, but since Chaz and his rag-tag party had already taken care of that he could get on with business.

Juza, the once right-hand man to Zio stepped into the Air Castle Throne Room. He was defeated and left for dead just before Zio had killed Alys. He was young, had a huge scar on his face (thanks to Chaz), and would do anything, ANYTHING to get his revenge. This made him the perfect lacky for Lassic.

"Yes, Lord."

"Report."

"The old man is no longer a threat."

"Excellent, and the other problem?"

Juza had to raise an eyebrow. I mean, how can a stupid holy relic be such a worriesome problem.

"There is no sign of it, my lord."

"And why not?"

Lassic didn't show any signs of anger at the continuing failure to steal a simple little object, and that worried Juza.

"Well, the scouts..."

Lassic held up his boney half-rotten hand. "Don't bother with excuses. Find it OR ELSE!!!" Lassic stood up and with the full force of the black energy wave, he sent a shockwave that would have disintegrated him , had he not been protected by a dark barrier, but it still hurt like hell.

"Unless you want me to be angry."

"Yes, Lord."

"Now go!! And don't return without the Eclipse Torch!!"

"I shall not fail you, my lord."

"You had better not."

Lassic then activated his device and Juza was teleported back to his ship.

"It's amazing that such technology is considered ancient."

Lassic then laughed his evil laugh. A laugh that would have killed off even the strongest of wills, a laugh that was fear itself.

"Revenge will be mine!"

Chapter 1

Chaz was sitting in a bench in Piata looking at the rough sketch that Rika was able to obtain from his victim. Thinking about this bastard didn't help matters, but until he was able to find out just who this bastard was he was up the creek without a paddle. Then his comm unit buzzed.

"Chaz here."

"Any luck?"

It was Tom Steiner. Chaz and Rika's new assistant. Chaz had seen the potential that Tom had much the same as Alys had seen in him. And with each lesson that he gave Tom the pain of Alys' death hurt less and less.

"None. I think this rat crawled back under the rock that crawled out from under."

"Hey now, thems fightin' words."

"Yeah, well if I catch this guy..."

"I know. Rika had just contacted me, she says that either nobody knows anything..."

"...or nobody is talking."

Chaz and Tom always seemed to think the same way. Finishing each others thoughts, Rika called a freak of nature.

"Any luck on your end?"

"One Word--Beaurocrats"

"I know, believe me I know. Well, good luck getting anywhere with the administrator, you'll need it."

"Thanks Mr. Funny Man. Tom out."

Chaz laughed at that. "Out."

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Tom put his comm unit away and looked at the pile of papers the administrator had given him to fill out.

"Next time Chaz you are going to do the paperwork and I am going to snoop around."

"Oh, come on. It can't be that bad."

It was Hahn. Tom remembered him from Chaz's wedding.

"Be my guest." Tom said pushing the papers towards him.

Hahn laughed. "No thanks."

"I wasn't joking."

Hahn thought for a moment. "Maybe I can help you in another way."

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Rika was sick and tired of asking 'Do you know this man?' It was quite boring and she was getting nowhere. Then she saw a huge football player and she got an idea.

"Excuse me."

The jock gave a cocky smile that made her want to use him for target practice.

"Is there ANYTHING that I can do for you."

[How about jumping in front of a LandRover? Now, calm down Rika he's not worth criminal charges.]

"Really?...Twins?"

The hairs on the back of Rika's neck were standing on end.

"No." She showed him the sketch of their suspect. "This man got my sister pregnant and then disappeared, I came here to talk to him."

"I see. Why not hire a hunter?"

"Don't trust 'em."

"Of course, who does?"

The jock moved closer to Rika and put his arm around her and she wondered when was the last time he had a bath. She was also fighting the urge to vomit all over him, but the way this guy was acting, he would probably think of it as a come on.

"Do..you...know him?" Rika said through grit teeth.

"Well not really."

Rika immediately pushed him away as sudden sense of relief washed over her.

"Oh, come on babe."

That's it!! Rika wiped out her claw and held it in a VERY threatening manner.

"Do you know my friend Laurena Bobbitt?"

The jock backed off and left to pursue something less dangerous.

Rika then collapsed on a nearby chair and sighed.

"Men."

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Chaz at the same time sat down and looked at this stupid picture. He was getting quite sick of this.

[Calm down you've only been at this for two hours.]

"It's just too bad it seems like two-hundred."

But, he had to keep trying for the girl how was still in intensive care. He wish something would happen, but what does he expect? Someone to walk up to him and say 'Hey, I know that guy!'

"Hey, I know that guy!"

Chaz got up and turned around. Still disoriented by the overwhelming feeling of deja-vu.

"This guy?" asked Chaz referring to the picture.

"Yeah, he was in my history class. Weird guy, always kept to himself."

"This guy have a name?"

"Ah...Scott...Scott Meston."

Chaz couldn't help but laugh. He really should think like that more often.

"Thank you, you have no idea how much you've helped me."

A student turned and waved, "sure no sweat."

Chaz waved. "Chaz to Tom."

"Tom here."

"I just found out. His name is Scott Meston."

Hahn spoke up. "That is just what I needed." He shuffles through the cabinets. "Here it is! He's staying at Myau Hall, Room 212."

"Wow, thanks Hahn."

"Sure, Tom and I were going through each file trying to match up your picture."

"Hahn, isn't that illegal?"

"Yeah."

All three laughed.

"I'll contact Rika, Tom meat us at Myau Hall."

"Roger."

Just then the administrator walked in on Tom and Hahn just as they were leaving, "Hey, who the #@$%% told you that you could snoop through student files."

Just before leaving Tom gave the administrator the universal signal for 'Ask me if I care.'

-------------------------

"Here we are."

Chaz was in front of the door, Rika was poised to one side while Tom was ready, sword in hand on the other.

"Scott, this is the Hunter's guild, we have a warrant for your arrest."

There was a pause. "Maybe nobody is home." Just then the door blew off it's hinges at blunt of force of a Nafoi. Scott then jumped out and was poised to finish this runt off, but Rika caught him off guard and stabbed him in chest with her claw, a wound that would normally kill somebody instantly, however Scott was far from normal. He looked down at his wound and stared and Rika and snarled, but not for long, because with one quick movement Tom cut his head completely off.

Chaz smiled rubbing arm that was injured when Scott blew the door off it's hinges, "Well, that was fun."

Rika gave a Chaz a stern look, "This is no joking matter."

"Who jok..."

"Chaz, honey, what is it?"

Chaz removed the shirt that Scott was wearing and despite the blood they all saw what Chaz was so shaken by. It was a big tatoo of a scorpion in a fighting stance holding a bloody snake by its mouth. The symbol of the Zio Cult.

Chapter 2

Everyone was quiet on the the way back to the guild. Was Zio really back? Had Alys' murderer wound some sort of reincarnation? Or did some lackey decide to take off were Zio had left off nearly ten years ago? Chaz seemed to be the one who was hit hardest by the news and you didn't have to be an Esper to know why. Rika was doing her best to console Chaz, while Tom drove their LandRover. Then it happened.

"Sandworm!"

Tom's shout was drowned out by the noise from all of the equipment falling about, not to mention the Sandworm's roar.

"How come the monitors didn't detect its approach?"

"I don't..."

Then come a very uneasy feeling of weightlessness as the LandRover was tossed aside like a used ragdoll, and it landed right on the main blaster, and then rolled on to it's side. Chaz, Rika, and Tom jumped out of the LandRover and rolled in the sand.

Chaz got up and dusted himself off, "Since when do Sandworms become so agile."

"Here he comes!" shouted Tom.

All three jumped out of way and just in time. The three started to slash as it came by, but then it stopped and made a few jerking movement, started to move left and then came straight at them. Rika and Tom managed to move out of the way, but it was still coming at Chaz.

"Chaz! Look out!!"

Chaz had to act quickly, so he put all of his concentration into one strong attack.

"Nathu!"

A ray of light and energy shot out into the gapping jaws of the encroaching Sandworm. The Sandworm screeched an ear-piercing scream and dove back into the sand and didn't resurface.

"Well, that was fun." said Tom failing in his attempt to lighten the mood.

"Rika, what's the damage to the LandRover."

"It's bad. We'll have to walk back to Aiedo and get some another LandRover to pull it off it's side."

"Isn't the Machine Center just south of here?"

"Yes, but it's locked and we would have to go to Aiedo to get the keys anyway."

"Well then, after you."

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"Many people don't come here willingly, especially those that failed."

Juza bowed his head in respect. "Lord Lassic, the Sandworm wasn't under my complete control."

"I don't want to hear it! You didn't come all the way out here just to give me pathetic excuses."

"No my lord, I have an idea on how to retrieve the Eclipse Torch."

"If this idea has any merit, then maybe a won't kill you quite so slowly."

[Gee, thanks.] "Of course, my lord. This is my plan..."

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"Penny for your thoughts Chaz."

"Huh? I'm sorry Tom what did you say?"

"You seem to be lost in deep thought, and I'm not just talking about the Zio Cult."

"You're right."

Rika walked back to them, "The Sandworm attack?"

"Yeah, I've never seen any of those things attack with such ...."

"Aggressiveness?"

"Yeah, I mean they've attacked LandRovers before, but not like that."

"And it seemed to adjust to our fighting style, they've never done that before either."

"Chaz, just what are you trying to say?"

"To be honest, I just don't know. But, something definitely isn't right."

"I agree."

"As do I."

If it wasn't for the buzzing, then the result would have been worse. Rika, with her acute hearing, heard them turned and gave appropriate warning. The three of them did manage to dive out of the way in time, but just barely. They recovered and stared at the three oversized bees that was in front of them.

"Wait for them to attack. It's the only way to ..augh!"

Chaz's sentence was interrupted by four that flanked them. Two on each side. Tom and Rika managed to slice through three of them and four remaining spread out.

"Since when do buzzers know about flanking maneuvers?"

The remaining four suddenly dove in at the same time. Tom took care of one, Rika used her Disrupt Technique to drive of two, while the strength of Chaz sliced the last one in half.

"Something is definitely wrong here."

"No kidding."

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