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Chapter Eight

The return trip to his base had taken several hours. ProFIRE had spent the time contemplating his idea. It made almost all of the abilities his targets possessed useless. They could attack and kill large opponents with little trouble. However, his new soldiers were going to be too small to attack with a sword.

ProFIRE was greeted by Ty as he emerged from the ship. Ty stood dutifully at the end of the ramp awaiting his leader's orders.

"Ty, I want you to begin reprogramming as many repair mites as you can. I want them programmed to attack biologics and any A I s not aligned with me."

"Yes sir. I have news concerning the project you requested earlier. While Magic is a mystery to us, the research team believes they have found a way to negate its effect. Two low level force fields. The inner protects us from the outer field. The outer field creates an energy negative zone. It may also nullify techniques like FOI and energy-based weapons."

"Most impressive, Ty. I want it tested as soon as possible."

"We already have a prototype and have 'obtained' a magic user that will help us test it. If you wish, we can go see the tests at this moment."

ProFIRE nodded and followed Ty to the testing area.

"How did you get the magic user?"

"We found him near Kadary. He says his name is Juza, a follower of the late Zio. He put up a good fight. We ended up simply overwhelming him in numbers. He has agreed to help us."

Ty led ProFIRE into a large room. In the center of the room stood a dark clothed man. His face was heavily scarred and his clothes were torn. It looked like he had been beaten into cooperation.

At the far end of the room stood a large Wren type robot. It was not the same model as Wren of Zelan, but still further ahead than the Wrens of the Palman world ship, Exodus Run, which crashed on Motavia two decades ago. The Wren had a small box attached to his right forearm. The Wren pressed a button and his image became distorted as the two fields activated.

Juza focused his will. "NAFOI," he yelled as he threw his hand toward the Wren. A bolt of energy leapt from his hand and flew straight at the robot. It drew closer and closer.

Two feet away from the Wren's body, the bolt dispersed.

* * * * *

Alys sat in the copilot's seat. Her mind was a jumble of confusion. Rune had said nothing since they left Chaz and Rika in Zema. Her parents had watched the ship until they could no longer see it. Alys was on her own for the first time in her life.

"If you care to talk, which you seem to be good at, I know how to listen."

"Rune, do you think we're doing the right thing?"

"Now you have doubts? You talk me into this wild mission and you're not sure if you want to do this. You have a lot to learn about leading a mission."

Alys sat in silence. Rune was right. She knew from watching her father that a leader had to have confidence. She wasn't confident enough in her decision to revive Alys Brangwin.

"Alright. You're right, Rune. One question. How do we dig up Alys without attracting attention?"

"Simple. By the time we get there, I'll be able to use my powers again. The Col Ra Time only lasts a couple of months. Morning means it's over."

Rune smiled at Alys. She could almost smell ego in the cockpit.

"Are you always so arrogant?"

"Always."

"Too bad there are so many years between us. You might have made one hell of a friend."

Rune shrugged. As he turned back to the forward view screen, he could see Krup. He had not been back to this town since they had buried Alys. Desecrating her grave, even if it was necessary, left Rune with an uneasy feeling. To add to his tension, he was not even sure if brining her back was possible. The method he had discovered had not been used since before the Great Collapse. Would the technology still be intact enough to bring back the dead? Could Alys be brought back with the equipment in the lab of the Clone Lab Grandma? Rune was taking an awful risk.

* * * * *

Orus paced his room. For some reason he could not sleep. He was so tired and yet sleep would not come. He had not even removed his battle armor.

Orus paced a few more steps and then halted.

(No more.) He thought. (I'm going to find whatever is out there.)

He stalked out of his hotel room and through the lobby. The desk clerk merely gave him a curious look. Once outside, Orus began to sniff the air. Thanks to the animal half of his genetic code he had an extremely acute sense of smell. There were too many strange scents in the air to pick out a specific one. He began to hunt for whatever was causing his uneasiness.

There were few people out this time of night. A few people were leaving one establishment that was shutting down. Orus could smell liquor on their breaths. The smell was sour and had a burning quality to it. The scent made his stomach turn. None of these people could be a threat at this moment.

Then Orus saw him. A single man exiting the bar. He did not have the smell of alcohol on his breath. His eyes were clear and sharp. The others' eyes were watery and lucid. He walked with a long, dark-blue robe that hid most of his features. All Orus could tell by sight was that the man was tall.

Orus caught the smell of high grade carbon steel on the man. The kind they used to make weapons and armor. This man, whoever he was, was to be feared. Orus did fear him and rightfully so. The faint sounds of metal clanking under the robe confirmed Orus's suspicion of armor and weapons.

The tall man began to walk toward the hotel. His steps were steady and measured. He walked like a soldier. Orus could smell the adrenaline the tall man produced. He was anticipating something. His posture and the way he carried himself told of patience.

The tall man entered the hotel. Orus waited a few moments before following. The man may have simply wanted a room. On the other hand, there were many in dark circles who's reputations would greatly be enhanced by killing Chaz Ashley, Champion of The Great Light. Orus had to be certain wich was the case.

Orus entered the hotel lobby. A quick glance revealed that the man in the robe had already left the lobby. Orus quickly ran to the desk clerk.

"The man that just came in. He was at least six feet tall and had a dark blue robe. Where did he go?"

"Hmm? Oh, he just went down the hall."

Orus wasted no time. He darted down the hall that the clerk indicated. It was the same hall that led to his parents' room. This man, whoever he was, should not be here. Orus was sure of that.

Orus came to an intersection in the hallway. He crept to the corner and peered around it. The man was standing at Chaz's door. His robe quietly slid off his shoulders and crumpled on the floor. He had on heavy battle armor and an axe.

The man's armor was well made. It left very little exposed to attack. The axe was battle worn, but still had a good edge.

The man reached for the door knob and turned it. The door cracked open. The man peered into the blackness of the room, pushed the door open further, and entered. Orus ran to the door. He quickly drew his stingers and kicked in the door.

The sight that greeted him could turn anyone's blood to ice. Chaz and Rika were asleep in their bed. The man stood over them. His axe was drawn back ready to lop off Chaz's head.

Orus wasted no time. He summoned his strength and yelled, "TSU"

A bolt of light leapt from his hands and struck the man square in the back. The man was thrown over Chaz's bed and into the far wall.

Chaz and Rika were both awakened by the commotion and instantly took up hand to hand fighting stances. A quick glance around the room told them all they needed to know.

Orus did not wait for his parents to join the fight. He jumped over the bed and was on his adversary before the man had recovered. Orus jabbed his stinger into the man's right shoulder. The man screamed in pain.

The stranger swung his left arm around behind him and knocked Orus to the ground.

"You little slime," the man yelled.

Chaz stepped in and used a palm strike to the man's nose. The sound of cartilage crunching filled the room for a brief instance. The man crumpled to the floor.

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