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Chapter Five

Chaz and his group arrived in Piata with a flash of brilliant light. They looked around to get their bearing. They had landed in the principal's office. The principal sat there shocked at the amazing arrival.

"Good job, Chaz. If you get any better, we may never have to walk again. We'll just RYUKA everywhere."

"Right, Rune. Then we get to lazy to walk anywhere."

Chaz quickly turned his attention to the principal.

"I'm sure you remember me, but I'll go through the formalities anyway. My name is Chaz Ashley. I am here at the request of Hahn. Both myself and a few of my present associates have a personal interest in the possibilities of reopening the Birth Valley dig."

The principal looked at Chaz dispassionately. "Yes. I do remember you. I don't remember inviting the Hunters' Guild."

"Sir," Hahn said, "Chaz and his wife are here at my request. If you recall I needed to confer with others. These are them. And they have more right to be here than you think."

"And what right is that?"

"The A I that we encountered had created this woman. That gives her the Right of Family."

"Right of family," the principal yelled in outrage. "You claim this sacred right for a computer and a freak of nature!"

Chaz drew his sword. His children drew their weapons as well. The principal could feel fear tightening its grip around his throat."

Hahn stared at the principal with anger on his face. "How bad do want the secrets in that grave?"

The principal was shocked at Hahn's boldness. "You have no idea. That 'grave', as you put it, could hold more advances than either of us could imagine."

"Then here is the deal. The Right of Family shall be recognized for the Ashleys. The dig will be supervised by them and any and all technology will be left to them to decide wether or not you have access to it. Those are the terms or there will be no dig. PERIOD."

The principal looked at the warriors with their weapons still drawn. Chaz and the children still had rage on their faces.

"Am I to agree to this under duress?"

Chaz sheathed his sword and approached the principal. "We're not here to make you agree to anything. But, if you ever insult my family again I swear that there will be a dig. A dig to make you a grave."

"Oh, very well. I agree to all the terms. I will dispatch a team there as soon as it is convenient for you."

Hahn nodded and said, "In that case, we'll leave for Birth Valley and begin a preliminary survey and go from there. We'll send word when we are ready for anything else. Oh, and by the way, you did a lot behind everyone's back the first time around. If I were you, I would play nice this time."

The principal was furious at Hahn's attitude. The group could almost hear the old man growling as they left the office.

"'Play nice this time'?" Chaz asked Hahn. "Just where did you come up with that one?"

"If I were you, I wouldn't ask."

When Chaz turned away from Hahn, he was shocked to find his wife's face a few inches from his own. She glared at him. Upon seeing this expression everyone in the group took slow and cautious steps away. Chaz looked like a mouse that a cat was busy torturing.

"Something wrong, sweetheart?" Chaz timidly asked.

"You bet, buster. You and your temper are going to get us in real trouble one day. Drawing your weapon because some idiot spouts off words. That's a great example to set for your kids, bone head."

Rune saw every flinch Chaz made as his wife verbally laid into him. Rune could have easily put a quick end to this. But, then, most men would rather face a thousand stampeding Fanbites than one angry wife. Rune felt pity for his friend as the verbal onslaught continued.

"Do you know what he could have done? He may be calling the Guild right now to turn you in. Listen, I know you meant well. But, you have to cool it with the temper."

"Rika, I. . . I'm sorry. I was wrong."

As Rika walked away, Rune stood there shocked. Chaz had admitted to being wrong. This was not the same person Rune had known twenty years ago. Chaz had somehow matured. Rune shook his head. Of course he had matured. He had a wife and children now. You don't have a family without doing some growing up.

* * * * *

The trip to Dezolis took too long. ProFIRE guided the shuttle in for a landing. He landed the shuttle a few yards from the Weapon Plant. When he stepped out of the shuttle, he noticed how cold the air on Dezolis was. Too bad his metal body was impervious to such things. He felt it was both a blessing and a curse.

ProFIRE entered the Weapon Plant. All the machines were cold and silent. He walked over to the main computer. Somewhere in this console was the comm link that hooked this system to Zelan. He began scanning the system. He found the comm link and disabled it.

After he had disabled the comm link, ProFIRE began programming a new design into the computers. Despite his speed with computers, it took several hours to program the computer.

ProFIRE took much delight when the machines finally started to move. They began taking apart old robots and weapon to use as raw material. After all the available material had been collected the machines began to build a new device.

* * * * *

Chaz and his friends approached Zema. Rika was very apprehensive. Chaz wish he knew what to say that would help. As it was, all he could do was hold her hand. She smiled at the soft touch of support he offered.

As they drew closer a group of figures grew in the distance. Wren suddenly stopped. His robotic eyes had scanned and identified the figures ahead. They were robot battle drones. More specifically they were LifeDeleters. They had been heavily modified.

"Chaz, I think we have some severe trouble ahead."

"What kind of trouble, Wren?"

Before Wren could answer a fireball struck the ground two yards away from Chaz. The force of the blast threw Chaz to the ground. Rune was blinded by the flash.

"Wren, How many and range?" Orus demanded.

"Eight units. Range two hundred fifty meters."

Orus flashed his sister a look. The two young adults closed their eyes and began to focus their minds. Energy patterns began to coalesce.

Suddenly one of the LifeDeleters exploded with such force that the unit next to it was thrown into a nearby boulder and fell to the ground.

Chaz had gotten to his feet just in time to see the second robot fall.

"Where's Niya?" Rune yelled. His ex-fiancee had disappeared.

Rika charged the group of enemies. The distance between them proved to be more than enough for one of the LifeDeleters to fire at her. A two foot spike impaled her right shoulder.

Hahn quickly ran to pull Rika out of the line of fire. When he reached her he began desperately to seek cover. As he scanned he saw something that froze him in his tracks.

"Chaz," Hahn yelled at the top of his lungs.

Chaz looked to Hahn. Hahn merely nodded to Chaz's right. When Chaz looked he saw his entire life leave him. There in the middle of a raging kill zone lay the motionless bodies of his children. Rage began to well up inside of him.

"MEGID!"

With that the remaining robots disintegrated in a ball of fiery light. A few pieces of charred metal fell to the ground. That was all that remained of the LifeDeleters.

Chaz rushed over to his children. He quickly checked to see if they were alive. He found they were both breathing. Chaz drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"Rune, Wren, watch over the kids. I'm going to check on Hahn and Rika."

Chaz calmly walked over to Hahn and Rika. The sight of the spike in Rika's shoulder sickened Chaz.

"Hahn, will she be alright?"

Hahn grabbed the spike with one hand and placed the other against Rika's shoulder. He closed his eyes, took a deep breathe, and pulled the spike out. The sound the action made quiet, but distinct sound. Blood began to flow freely from the wound.

"Nares," Hahn commanded.

Chaz watched as the wound closed and Rika's eyes opened. She groaned at her first attempt to move.

"She'll be fine, Chaz. She'll just need to rest when we get to Zema."

"Good. Let's round everything up and get going."

"Wait," Rune said. "What about Niya? I can't find her."

Chaz looked around. Niya was nowhere to be seen.

" If she won't fight beside us, leave her behind."

"No one asked if I didn't have better things to do, hunter."

Chaz turned to see Niya perched on a tall boulder. She leapt down from the boulder and walked over to him.

"And just what was so important that you desert us in the middle of a fight?"

"This." She held up the remains to a small robot. It didn't appear to have any weapons. Just a mobile body and a single lens for an eye.

"This!?" Chaz yelled. "You leave us to fight some major headaches so you can go kill a walking eyeball on treads."

Wren interrupted, "Chaz, that is a surveillance android."

"Someone is gaging us," Niya said. "This fight was a test of our abilities."

"That would imply that someone has it in for us," Rune stated.

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