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Rune had been traveling for nearly two days without rest. His could no longer feel the pain in his legs. Come to think of it, he couldn't feel his legs at all. They had gone numb sometime last night.
As he looked to the east, he could see the outline of Aiedo. It was probably another ten or so miles away. He had to get there soon. The news he had for Chaz could not wait too long. Rune knew that Chaz would want to know about this at once. He knew that Chaz had to make a decision.
If it wasn't for the Col Ra Time, Rune could have teleported to Aiedo in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, during the Col Ra Time an Esper was not allowed to use his magic. It was an exercise to teach Espers that they may not always be able to use their magic. They would have to rely on the physical skills they possessed. It did tend to make things difficult.
Suddenly Rune felt an invisible presence rush past him at an incredible speed. No, not just one but four. They moved far too fast to be seen. Two of the beings Rune did not know. The other two he knew quite well. Chaz and Rika. They had used RYUKA to go somewhere.
"Damn," Rune cursed out loud. "I spend two days walking to reach you and you zap out just like that. Chaz, when I find you, I'm going to kick you so hard you'll have to take off your hat to put your boots on! ! !"
Rune dropped straight onto his backside. He was exhausted. He now needed time to think about how to find Chaz. (I wouldn't have to go looking for you all over again if you had waited another hour before taking your little trip to only the Light knows where.) Rune thought.
His spirits had fallen just about as low as they could go. Here he sat in the middle of the Motavian desert with news that would change Chaz's life for the better and Chaz had just zipped off to who knows where and would be gone till whenever. If this wasn't a lesson in humility, it should have been.
As Rune sat there feeling sorry for himself, the ground began to vibrate. Rune paid it little mind at first. Steadily the vibrations grew to a low rumble. Rune jumped to his feet and began to watch the ground intently.
"Great," he stated aloud. "All I NEED is for a worm to rise up and swallow me now. This just isn't my day."
Time seemed to drag at this point. If this was a worm, it should have risen by now. It's not like them to play with their food.
Then the sound of metal grinding could be heard in the East. Rune looked toward the sound. Roughly a mile or two away, he could see a Land Rover approaching. Rune looked to the sky and said, "Thank you. At least I can hitch a ride into town and get some rest."
The Rover stopped just a few feet away. Rune was surprised to see Hahn open the hatch and step out. Rune raced over to greet his former comrade
Hahn looked at Rune with a curious grin. "Need a lift, stranger?"
"If Aiedo isn't too far out of your way."
"You caught me on a good day. I was just heading that way myself. Hop on."
With that and a helping hand from Hahn, Rune climbed aboard the Rover. The cool air inside was very welcomed. The cushioned seats were not unappreciated either. Hahn handed Rune a bottle of water from the supply storage. Rune drank the water greedily.
"So," Hahn began, "What brings The Great Fifth Generation Lutz to the forsaken deserts of Motavia?" The playful sarcasm was heavy in Hahn's voice.
Rune simply smiled. "Only the same thing that brings The Humble Educator of Young Minds, I would imagine."
The two looked at each other and simultaneously stated, "CHAZ."
Hahn sat in the control seat and started the Rover on the last few miles of its journey.
"You wouldn't happen to know where he went, would you?" Rune asked
"What? You mean he's not at Aiedo?"
"He just left. I felt him, Rika, and two others I don't know pass by. He used RYUKA to get where he's going."
Hahn sat and thought a minute. "We will go into town and check with the Hunter's Guild. Ever since his daughter got sick four years ago, he always tells the Guild where he'll be in case of an emergency."
Hahn looked at Rune. Rune's jaw was practically on the floor.
"Chaz has a daughter?!"
"Yeah. He also has a younger son. There about seventeen and thirteen. When was the last time you saw Chaz and Rika?"
"Not since they got married. I thought Chaz would never get the wedding cuff on her ear. Why did those two choose ear cuffs as wedding tokens anyway?"
Hahn just shrugged. The two continued to catch up on old times. Rune found he had missed a lot over the past twenty years. He missed a family begin, grow, and love. He missed so in just Chaz's life. What had he missed in the lives of his other friends?
The dark figure sat alone in his chamber. He did not move so much as a finger. The six monitors in front of him displayed the actions of several different people. Each person on those screens had to be eliminated and soon. The question was when and how to do it. He could not afford to turn these people into martyrs against his plans. No, they would have to be taken care of quietly and subtly.
The first one he would have to dispose of would be the very one that was responsible for his 'awakening'. If not for this man, the dark figure would still be a motionless heap. Chaz Ashley needed to die first.
"Two Eighty-Three," the dark figure called.
A small service android trundled up.
"Call up all the files on subject: Chaz Ashley. I want to know everything I can about my 'stepfather' and his family. I want all information from now back to the birth of his parents."
The little robot went to a nearby console and jacked into it. It began accessing every network in the Algo star system. Over the next several hours the small robot would amass all the information possible. No avenue of data would be unexplored.
Another robot approached the dark figure. "Sir, Chaz is going to Zelan and then to Dezolis. Why do you not just have him destroyed in space?"
The dark figure did not move to look at the android. He simply stated, "Because, that would invite the attention of two A I s I am not ready to deal with. Wren and Demi are not slouches by any means. They would surely find my hand in such a method of execution. Besides, I want him to suffer. When Rune gives Chaz this new 'gift' I will take it away and crush his spirit."
If this dark figure had one thing above all else, it was patience. And a patient enemy is one to be respected and feared. Time, after all was on his side
Chaz stood at the communications panel at the Machine Center. Rika watched with impatience. Though she had been teaching what she could about computers, he was a far better fighter than button pusher. Still, she thought it best not to embarrass him in front of the children.
"There," Chaz exclaimed. "I think I've got it. Chaz to Zelan. Chaz to Zelan. Come in."
Chaz waited patiently for a response. A few moments passed with nothing. Then a quick burst of static crackled from the speakers followed by Demi's voice.
"Zelan here. This is Demi. How are you, Chaz?"
"I'm fine. I was just wondering if you could help me out. My family and I want to come up for a visit. If you could call us a taxi. . ."
"One is on its way now. It has already been programmed for pick up and delivery so all you'll have to do is enjoy the ride. Zelan out."
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