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Chapter Six

ProFIRE looked over his new toys. They all stood waiting for his orders to begin the conquest of Algo. Human like robots that could out perform any human alive. They only lacked two abilities that humans had. Free intellect and the abilities to use magic. He walked down their ranks. Each robot was perfect in its construction.

He was about to activate all the robots when ProFIRE heard a noise. The noise was so subtle that a human would have missed it. It was an excited heartbeat. Machines don't have heartbeats.

ProFIRE scanned the Weapons Plant. The sound was coming from the one of the auxiliary control platforms. In the blink of an eye ProFIRE had turned, aimed his cannon, and fired at the platform's only support arm. The platform came crashing to the ground. There was no body in the wreckage.

"You're very quick," ProFIRE announced, "For a human. There are few people that know of the existence of this place. Most of them are in Zema."

Silence was the only response. ProFIRE listened intently for any clue to where the intruder was. There. Slight panting.

In a single motion ProFIRE had fired off a quick three round volley. The human used a combination of hand springs and back flips to dodge the attack. The human's face remained hidden by the shadows. That did not hide his identity from ProFIRE.

"So Mrs. Tierney, I was wondering when you would join the game."

"It would be nice to know the rules of this game and what the prize is."

"Ask me no questions, I'll tell you know lies. It is for me to decide who lives and who dies."

"Since when do robots have a sense of humor."

ProFIRE fired another round at Kyra. His skill was exacting and precise. He was playing with her.

"Well," Kyra said, " since the conversation has dried up, I think I'll take my leave."

Suddenly all of ProFIRE's robots were struck by lightening. ProFIRE identified the energy pattern as a TANDLE spell. Since his androids were not activated they could not defend themselves. The circuits of every robot were fried beyond repair.

ProFIRE turned to vanquish his opponent only to find she had disappeared. His army of new robots stood there in ruins.

"You will pay for this, Kyra Tierney. I swear it."

* * * * *

Chaz began examining the entrance to Birth Valley. The rocks had sealed the opening extremely well. Chaz could think of no way to reopen the place.

"Rune, Wren, can either of you think of a way to get in?"

Rune stared at the rocks. "The best I can come up with is FLAELI. But, that may collapse the whole place."

Wren stepped forward. He seemed to be working in ways the others could not comprehend.

"The only option I can see is to manually remove the rocks and brace the passage as we go."

The children groaned.

"That may take years," Orus complained.

"There may be another option I failed to consider. Wren to Demi."

"Demi here. Go ahead."

"Yes. Beam me all diagrams, schematics, and blueprints for the Birth Valley installation."

"Let me round up the data and I'll send right down. Demi out."

Chaz looked to Rika. She had been awful quiet since this whole thing began. What has going on inside her? Chaz walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder. She lightly placed her hand over his.

"You know, it was about twenty years ago when I lost my best friend in the world. If someone with a kind heart hadn't been there to cheer me up I might be some mean old sour puss today. It's funny too, she never said much. She just listened to me."

Rika chuckled. Here was Chaz telling her a story she knew just as well as he did. All he wanted was to be there for her the way she had been there for him. She knew he only wanted to help.

"Chaz, are we doing the right thing? I know to many that Seed was only a machine. But, to me he was a father. I feel that we're desecrating his grave."

"I can't tell you if it's right or wrong. I don't know what to tell you. But, if you don't want to do this, we won't."

Rune felt it. The energy of the area shifted like they had just made room for something. He drew his staff and took a cautious stance as he scanned the area.

Niya was the first to notice Rune's actions. She drew her sword. She took a similar stance on Rune's left.

Alys called her parents. "Mom, Dad. Rune and Niya are getting hyper on us."

Chaz and Rika joined Rune and the others.

"O.K. Rune. What's up?"

"I felt someone teleport in. Trouble is, I don't know who."

They all stood at the ready. Each member had their weapons drawn waiting for the new threat. They watched as a lone figure entered the gates of Birth Valley.

"I know it's been a while, but I didn't expect a greeting at sword point."

Chaz dropped his sword and ran to embrace her. A wide smile was on his face.

"Kyra! What are you doing here?"

Kyra and Chaz hugged each other. For a moment, Rika was jealous. She quickly shrugged the emotion off. Everyone rushed to greet an old friend.

Kyra looked at the friendly faces around her and began to cry.

"All we're missing is Raja, Demi, and Gryz and we would be having one heck of a reunion. Where are they, anyhow?"

"Demi is at Zelan and I guess Gryz's wife wouldn't let him out of the house," Chaz answered.

"And Raja," Kyra asked.

Rune stepped forward. His face was solemn. "Raja died last year. He went in his sleep."

Everyone in the group grew silent.

Rika was the first to speak. "Well, I'm certain the Great Light is enjoying his wit now."

"Groaning at it would be more like it," Chaz mumbled.

"Well," Kyra began, "I wish this was a social visit. The truth is that I was exploring the Weapons Plant when I came across a robot building an army. This robot gave me the creeps. It knew my name and worst of all it had a sick sense of humor."

"Humor," Wren asked.

"Yes. The thing made the remark "Ask me no questions, I'll tell you know lies. It is for me to decide who lives and who dies.'"

"One moment, please," Wren said as he stepped away from the group.

Everyone waited while Wren silently communicated with Demi. After a few long moments Wren returned to the group.

"I fear we have a grave problem. The information Kyra gave me leads me to believe that a FIRE model robot actually exists."

"FIRE," Chaz asked.

"Before Palma was destroyed they were working on more than just the world ships. They were working on a new type of robot. They called it a Free Intellect Robotic Entity. FIRE for short. It is the only type of robot that has true free will."

"Wait," Rune said. "You mean to tell us that a machine that can think for itself is on the loose? Why is that so bad? You and Demi can make your own decisions."

"That is not entirely true. Demi and I can make decisions in accordance with our primary and lesser functions. We fought the Profound Darkness because it presented a clear danger to the Algo system. Our primary function is to stabilize and protect the environment of Algo. This new robot may have made decisions that would again threaten the primary functions of Demi and myself. We must investigate and determine its intentions."

"I can help a little there," Kyra said. "It attacked me without being provoked. It has also been keeping tabs on us. It knew me by name and said that you all were in Zema."

Chaz once again stepped into the role of leader. He looked at everyone and said, "Wren, find out where FIRE would most likely have a base of operations. Hahn, you and the kids continue with the dig. Rune, Niya, Rika, Kyra, and I will hunt down FIRE as soon as Wren gives us a direction to go."

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