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Chapter 17

Rune ran threw the corridors of Lassic's Prison. He couldn't wait to get out of here so that he may personally put his hands around Lassic's puny little neck. He looked up and down the corridor. The creature that was chasing him was nowhere to be seen. Rune leaned against the wall and tried to catch his breath. He had killed a few of the Lassic's pets, but they were just small creatures. Then, Rune heard it coming from behind him. Then he heard another one in front of him, there was nowhere to go know.

{You know, for once small fry, I wish you were here. I'm trained in magic not fighting, and even if I was it would take years to....WAIT, That's it! I have five generations of experience on my side. The Fourth Generation Lutz was one of the finest tacticians that ever lived, and the Third was well trained in martial arts.}

Rune sat down on the floor and concentrated, which was very hard to do, considering he couldn't use his magic to help him relax, and those....things that were chasing him, were getting closer and they sounded like were hungry for an Esper. He started thinking about tactics to use and what skills to use. Rune stood up and faced the creatures that were after him. He looked up and he saw a beam above him, he waited, waited.....NOW! He jumped up and grabbed the beam just as the creatures dove at him. They missed Rune, but not each other. The one that was in front of Rune had bitten into the other one, the second one took it personnel and bit the first one. They fought for a little while until one of the creatures killed the other, then Rune jumped down and slammed his staff into the other one killing it. He hated killing it in it's weakened state, but considering where he was, he didn't have a choice.

Rune looked down at the corpses of the two creatures and then he saw it, going along the bottom of the wall was a wire, if he followed this wire, then maybe he could fine the power source for this labyrinth, then he could take down that field, and ultimately end his little dilemma.

{Lassic, I knew that you'd eventually make a mistake, and now that you have I'll be able to use it against you,} thought Rune

Lassic sat back in his throne and smiled, "I was wondering how long it would take you to find that wire, sheesh. Some all powerful Lutz, but then again, without magic your nothing!" shouted Lassic into the monitor that showed Rune wondering threw the lower level of his castle. "But, playtime is over kids, now the fun really begins, HAHAHAHA!" Lassic pushed a few buttons that released several of his tougher "caged pets".

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The Esper Mansion was taking a beating, but it was still holding fast. Both sides had suffered loses, but neither side were gaining ground. Juza was down to seven ships, from the thirteen that he originally had. The Personnel Armed Escort was down to four, but being slow Ice Diggers, they were easy targets. The Ice Diggers were heavily shielded, only three of the eight Diggers were destroyed, the others were simply disabled using the same weapon that Juza had used on the Landale in their first meeting.

"Juza to secondaries, start Phase II."

"Yes, sir."

"Great Juza, If we beam in our solders, then shouldn't we hold off on attacking the mansion."

"Negative. Aim for the top levels, and try and destroy those pesky Diggers as well as Chaz's group."

"As you command."

Chaz dove behind a rock just in time to avoid a series of fire power that would have disintegrated him. He leaned back against the rock. He felt like he was ready to pass out. Ricto came over to him.

"Human. Are you injured?" he asked.

"The name's Chaz, and no, I'm not injured. I'm just tired. I don't think that I could even cast a Foi Technique."

"I see. Well, then maybe this will help," said Ricto who pulled out a plasma rifle.

"Your wife sent a pilot to the ground and I managed to kill him. After that I took his weapon," said Ricto with pride.

Chaz graciously accepted the gun. "Thank you, ah, Ricto is it?"

"Yes, Ricto of the Hunter Clan," said Ricto again with great pride.

"You Musk Cats are a very proud species aren't you?"

"You better believe it. Hey, look!" said Ricto pointing inside, where flashes of blaster fire could be seen. "They're inside!"

"Transporters," said Chaz, "Go on in. I'll hold things off out here."

"Alright," said Ricto as he dove in through an open window and moved inside the mansion.

Chaz yelled over at Rika, "Hey Rika! They're inside the mansion. You can't do anything else out here. Get in there and help the Espers!"

"But..."

"No buts, just go!" shouted Chaz then aimed the plasma rifle and started firing at the invading ships.

Rika hesitantly dove into the mansion, in relatively the same manner that Ricto did.

The Landale swung around to try and take another pass at the invading ships, then he saw it, another ship was approaching. And this ship was bigger then most of the other ships. Wren aimed his weapons and fired, but nothing happened. Wren looked at the monitor before him and he saw why nothing happened. The weapons had been completely disabled.

"I do believe that I'm in trouble," said Wren.

The other ship had all of it's weapons armed and aimed, but something was wrong, it wasn't aimed at him. The Esper Mansion, it must be aimed the mansion. Wren set a collision course for the incoming ship.

"You will not harm those people," said Wren.

But, the ship opened fire before Wren could do anything, then he realized it wasn't shooting at him OR the mansion. Wren moved away from the incoming ship, and saw two fireballs were ships used to be. Then the communication system came to life.

"Who are you?" asked Juza angrily. "And what are you doing with that ship?"

"Revenge," was all Michael Steiner said.

"I know you. You're that pilot that recovered the Eclipse Torch. Why are turn your back on the master after all you've accomplished?" asked Juza.

No response. [Holly, son, this is for you.] Michael opened fire with all four batteries.

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The inside of the mansion was a shambles. Between the exchange of magic and plasma fire that was going on, there wasn't much left of the main hall.

"Rika, let's back out then you flank left, and I'll go around to the right. We'll squeeze them out..."

"And then the Espers will be able to take care of them," finished Rika. "Good thinking Ricto."

"Thank you," said Ricto who held up his claw, "For victory and honor."

Rika held up hers, "For victory and honor." They touched claws and started to move.

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Daystar listened to Tom's retelling of the battle with Lassic. She listened to every detail and comment and seemed to ponder over each statement as if she was a scholar pondering the meaning of life.

"This is very interesting. Perhaps with training..." Daystar trailed off.

"What kind of training? Wait! Don't tell me. All in due time, right?" said Tom.

Daystar laughed. "You humans are so impatient, you know that?"

"I guess that comes with being mortal," said Tom.

Daystar raised her eyebrows, "You ARE interesting. Would you like something to eat?"

"I'm not hungry," said Tom as he stared at nothing.

"I know you are worried about your friends, but they are all doing very well." She closed her eyes and seemed to concentrate for a minute. "In fact, it looks like that Juza fellow is ready to retreat."

Tom sat back for a minute as he thought about that. He did relax a little having knowing that his friends were all right. He sat back and closed his eyes and thought about the battle, he concentrated on what they might be doing. Then he saw them, it was as if he was standing right behind Chaz watching everything. Tom gasped and stood up.

"You saw them," said Daystar. It was an observation, not a question.

"It was like I was there, and yet I wasn't," Tom said feeling very confused.

"Well, in a sense that's true. It's called a vision. If you think about something hard enough, it will seem like you're there."

"An invisible spectator."

"Exactly. You are learning fast."

"But, I though that only telementals could have visions."

"You're right."

That answer was like a blow to Tom's stomach. He felt dizzy and overwhelmed.

"Now, you know why I didn't want to tell you. You need to concentrate and focus with all of your might for the upcoming battle."

Tom didn't like the sound of that.

"I'll try."

"To quote an Ancient Esper from long ago, 'There is no try, only do or do not'" said Daystar.

"I see," said Tom still feeling completely overwhelmed.

Then they could hear large footsteps approaching them. It was Thunder. "Hello," he said and pulled out the sword, "I know it's not your birthday, but I got this, anyway."

Tom accepted the Elsydeon and he could feel the power that the sword contained. It pulsated and flowed through him like a closed circuit.

"He does a bright aura about him, doesn't he," said Thunder.

"Yes, he does. Now, would you like to return to your friends?" asked Daystar.

"You know the answer to that," said Tom.

"Very well. Ryuka!"

Tom was surrounded by a white aura, his body shrank into the aura and it got smaller and smaller until he was gone.

"Daystar."

"I know old friend. But he must learn."

"I don't like it."

"Neither do I, but we are Ancient Espers, not tour guides."

"I know, but my thoughts are going to be with him."

"As are mine," said Daystar, "as are mine."

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Rika and Ricto were now directly behind the solders, they didn't even notice them, which was good. The Espers weren't doing much along the line of attacks, which was bad.

"Why aren't the Espers putting up much more of a fight?" asked Ricto.

"Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Elsydeon isn't in one piece, a lot of their beliefs revolve around The Sword, you know."

"I suppose that's true, I mean if anything happened to our master, then we Musk Cats would be in absolute turmoil."

"Which is one of the reasons that stayed out of the public eye."

"Probably."

"What was that?" said one of the solders who turned and started firing on Rika and Ricto.

"So much for our surprise attack."

Then there was a flash of light coming from somewhere behind the solders, it was as if both sides stopped fighting inside to see what was going on. Tom materialized right before them, Elsydeon in hand and a smile on his face.

Rika and Ricto couldn't see past the solders. "What's going on?" asked Rika.

"I haven't a clue," said Ricto.

Tom pointed Elsydeon at the solders, "I'm giving you the option of an honorable retreat."

The solders responded by raising their weapons.

"As you wish. Hewn!" said Tom.

A sudden burst of wind blew the solders back against the far wall, knocking them unconscious. Tom then concentrated on the two soldiers that were standing behind the wall, as he concentrated, the wall became translucent. [I see you.] thought Tom. He pointed Elsydeon at the one of solder on his left. "Nathu!" A blast of white energy shot at the wall, it went threw the wall and threw the soldier as well.

"I repeat, you have the option of an honorable retreat," said Tom.

The soldier made ready his plasma rifle, but then he saw Rika and Ricto pointing their claws menacingly at him. "Get me out of here, NOW!"

A transporter beam grabbed a hold of him and in an instant he was gone, and the entire room broke out into cheers.

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Kyra was with Raja and his aides. She liked and preferred healing magic as opposed to offensive magic, and considering the siege that they were under, they needed all of the healers that they could get. She heard a high pitched sound coming from outside the hall.

"Did you hear that?" asked Kyra.

"Yeah," said Sarah, "what was that?"

"I don't know, but...." started Raja, but was interrupted when one of the soldiers kicked the door in and another ran in and pointed his weapon at Kyra.

"Flaeli!" said Kyra quickly and a fire shot went out, but the soldier ducked in time to avoid being fried, but it left Kyra wide-open to an attack.

Ka'Glem jumped out of his bed and stood in front of Kyra has the soldier fired. The plasma shot struck him dead in the face, literally.

"Ka'Glem!" shouted Raja.

"Nafoi!" shouted Kyra.

A blast of fire shot straight at the soldier, he didn't get out of the way this time.

The other soldier rounded the corner, and a wounded Esper named She'an brought out her arm and hit the soldier right where it hurts the most. Needless to say, the soldier dropped his gun and feel to his knees. Before the soldier could regain his strength Kyra walked over to him and decked him as hard as she could. The soldier fell over backwards unconscious and with a broke nose. She then turned her attention back to the man that had just saved her life. Rajim looked up at her, tears in his eyes.

"Is he..." she asked already knowing the answer.

Kyra leaned next to their fallen comrade, fighting back tears, "Go Ka'Glem. Go....to the....Elsydeon. Rest in peace, with the other protectors of Algo."

Then Kyra, Sarah, Rajim, and Raja broke out into a heart-felt rendition of A Song of Remembrance for their fallen friend.

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Outside Chaz and Demi could just watch as Juza and Michael went through a very dramatic dog-fight in the sky. The badly damaged Landale made a rough landing at the bottom of the hill that lead up to Esper Mansion. Wren got out of the ship and was watching from the bottom of the hill. Each pilot was a match for the other, neither person was gaining an upper-hand to the other. Then Michael got the upper-hand. As Juza was chasing him, he stopped all forward motion, and Juza jut flew on by. Michael aimed and opened fire. Juza's ship buckled under the assault but, his ship held fast. However, Michael did destroy another ship, just leaving Juza and one other pilot.

"Great Juza! We must retreat!" said the remaining pilot.

"Never!" said Juza.

"Fine. You can stay if you want, but I'm outta here!"

The other pilot transported the other pilot that Tom let get away to his ship, then he took off.

"Coward!" shouted Juza.

Juza was then rocked by several attacks. Chaz and Demi started firing their rifles, some of the Espers come out and started casting magic, and Michael was also firing at the ship. Then a light on Juza's panel lit up, it was the light that showed the ION Cannon had recharged and was ready to fire.

"Perhaps I should retreat, but first." Juza aimed and fired. The ION blast hit Michael's ship dead on, then Juza hit the afterburners and took off leaving Michael to his fate.

The ship's circuits fried and overheated. Nothing, not even the manual flight controls worked. And the ship was about to fly head-long into the mountains. Then the ship stopped falling, it was as if he was floating in mid-air and gently dropping like a feather. He looked out and saw about fifty Espers using their telemental abilities to ease his dissent. Michael Steiner had once again eluded death's grip.

Michael stepped out of the ship and was met with a variety of expressions. >From the distrust of Ricto and Chaz to the smile of some of the Espers.

"Hello Rick," said Chaz flatly.

"I see you remember me. But actually, my name's Michael. Rick was just a name I used at the guild," said Michael.

"Well, Michael. It would appear that you have more lives then a..."

Ricto cleared his throat.

"Ah....Rika, do you want to help me out here?" said Chaz.

Rika chuckled, "Not really."

Wren had walked up the hill and was know with them, "Well, the Landale in very bad shape. It will take several weeks to get it back up to speed."

"Well," said Michael, "as soon as this ship is de-ionized, you could use it for whatever you want."

Ricto stepped forward and pointed his Laconian Claw at Michael, "First things first human. Where is the Eclipse Torch and what have you done with Kaman?"

"I'll explain everything. We should get....." the color on his face drained as he looked at someone in the crowd. A very familiar face. "Tom?"

Tom stepped forward and he looked at Michael, "I know you don't I?"

"Are you Tom Steiner?" asked Michael.

"Yes."

"My name is Michael. Michael Steiner. Your uncle."

No one was sure of what to say at that moment. "I think that all of us need to talk."

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