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Chapter Eleven

ProFIRE sat at his command chair. There were more complications in his plan. Thanks to Demi, his secret hideout was about to be discovered. Over the past few hours she had begun conducting scans over the planetary power systems grid. She was trying to isolate a recent dip in the power supply. Though his operation had not caused the dip, it was likely his subtle machinations may be discovered.

Ty stood silently beside his master. His mind was also contemplating the current dilemma. Their headquarters had to remain a secret for now. There were few options. One of which was to send a strike team to Zelan and commandeer the facility. That seemed to be the most viable solution at this point.

ProFIRE arose from his chair. His face, as usual, was cold and calculating. Ty waited patiently for his master's dictate.

"Ty, disconnect us from the Motavian Power Grid. Demi can not find what is not there."

"Yes, Lord. It will take several weeks to reestablish power, though."

"I am well aware of that. I believe we can get one of the Exodus Run's power generators functioning again. And in less time. Also, send Chaz some new playmates. I don't want him to think I've forgotten about him."

"Very well, Lord."

* * * * *

Alys listened intently to Sharon. Rune sat in the front of the shuttle. For the past two hours Sharon had been telling Alys about Chaz's new family. Even though Sharon had told the same stories many times before, somehow, it felt like the first time she had spoken the words. She watched as Alys laughed at the funny stories and showed amazement with the others.

Rune sat at the pilot's seat. Though his concentration was on piloting the shuttle, he overheard some of the stories and smiled. Chaz had grown far beyond his destiny. Rika and Chaz had both done something magical. It was far more than casting a spell or winning a great battle. They had started a family with strong bonds and high moral character. Rune took pleasure in knowing he had helped shape this magic.

Sharon had just finished a story when Alys excused herself. She rose from her seat and walked to the copilot's chair. Rune never glanced at her.

"Rune, why haven't you said anything?"

"What do you mean?"

"You usually can't keep your mouth shut for anything and since we left Dezolis, you haven't said a word. Why?"

"I'm worried. We have a new member to our group. Niya Stellat."

The name hit her hard. It had been many years since it had even been spoken to her. Alys also knew how painful it was to speak it. Only The Light knew how hard it was to see her again.

"We also have a new enemy," Rune stated. "Wren thinks it may be a new type of artificial intelligence. He is trying to eliminate us for The Light only knows why."

"So, what do we know so far?"

"Not much, I'm afraid. We haven't met this A I, yet. We've encountered his minions a couple of times. If not for a couple of lucky breaks, we would be dead. Wren thinks the thing actually has the same level of thinking as humans."

"Sounds like one tough critter. Any idea how to deal with him?"

"None."

* * * * *

The chemical light was still burning bright. It's orange glow threw odd shadows through the tunnel. Hahn did not like the shadows. They made the tunnels appear more eerie than it was.

Wren had taken point and Niya was brining up the rear. They had only had a couple of minor encounters since Wren decimated the invisible monsters.

As they looked further down the tunnel, they saw it opened up into a large chamber. The chamber was littered with computer components and metal bits. There were broken screens along the wall. This was the chamber that housed Seed's primary interface system. This was where Hahn had first met Rika and Seed.

"This is it," Hahn exclaimed. "This is where we found Rika!"

Wren was more stoic. He surveyed the chamber. After a few moments he walked over to a recessed section of the eastern wall. Once he reached the wall he drew back his fist. He hit the wall with all his strength. The wall virtually exploded away from Wren to reveal a hidden passage.

"Damn, Wren. That rattled my teeth," Niya stated.

"Follow me," Wren said in his usually calm voice.

Hahn stared at Wren for a moment. He then asked, "Wren, where does that lead?"

"If the designers were correct in their calculations, there is a chamber that could withstand the blast Seed initiated. The chamber was also a 'dump' for Seed. If he transferred all his data and programming there, we may be able to get him back."

"Why didn't Rika ever mention this chamber?"

"It's more than likely she never knew of it."

The small group of adventurers entered the adjacent chamber. The only light was that of the chemical ball the Hahn held. The chamber emptied onto a spiral stairwell. They traveled down several stories.

"How far down does this go," asked Kyra.

"Only three hundred meters," replied Wren.

They continued down the staircase and into the dark unknown of the "dump" chamber. The passage was somehow more eerie than the previous tunnels. The only sound that could be heard was that of their own footsteps.

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