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Chapter Fifteen

The process was long and tedious. At least it would have been tedious if Wren had been human. For nearly two hours, Wren had been using a modified laser to pick off each repair mite that had not attached itself to one of the humans. So far, Wren had counted exactly one hundred twenty-seven miniature robots.

Hahn paced behind Wren impatiently. The basic plan was to clear the robots that had not attached themselves to one of his friends. If they were lucky, the other robots had not been programmed to release and attack Wren as he approached the fallen comrades. Hahn glanced over at Kyra and Niya. Niya sat on a nearby rock. She looked as calm as a woman on a picnic. Kyra, on the other hand, was fidgeting with her slicers.

Suddenly, Wren's laser fell silent. He stared intently at the area where his allies had fallen. Hahn guessed that the huge robot was scanning to see if the area was clear for them to approach.

"I believe it is safe for me to approach now," Wren stated coolly. "None of the robot reprogramming repair mites should be left so it should be safe for me. But be ready to destroy me if I am wrong."

Hahn blinked. Kyra stared in disbelief. Their friend and ally had just ordered them to destroy him if things went wrong.

"Not a chance," Kyra cried.

Before Hahn could voice his agreement to Kyra's statement, Niya spoke up.

"We'll destroy you if that is what is needed."

Hahn turned toward Niya. Rage filled his eyes. With clenched fists he walked over to her.

Niya drew her sword and held it in a defensive posture stopping Hahn in his tracks.

"Now you listen to me," Niya hissed with venom. "If he gets reprogrammed by these things, then he becomes the enemy. He knows it and so do I. And if he becomes the enemy . . . as strong as he is he could kill us all easily."

Wren simply watched the altercation between the two warriors. Niya was one hundred percent right. But even Wren did not like the idea that he may be forced to turn on his friends. More precautions could be taken on his part. Wren stalked over to the nearby shuttle and entered it. When Wren emerged, he was wearing a heavy suit over his body.

"What on Motavia is that," Kyra demanded.

"This is a deep space pressure suit designed to protect our more sensitive circuits from radiation and micro meteorites. It should be enough to buy me some retreat time if I am mistaken about having eliminated the repair mites."

With that, Wren walked into the middle of an area that could mean the end of his existence as he knew it.

* * * * *

Juza stood in his cell awaiting his fate. He had been a devotee of Zio, a dark lord that wanted to see the goals of the Profound Darkness fulfilled. He believed that Zio was the answer he had been searching for since childhood. Now, he sat alone in the dark and felt nothing but loneliness.

The cell door opened and two robots entered followed by a third. The third robot was the one called Ty. None of the mechanical monsters had any emotions to their faces. All were hollow and with out soul as far as Juza could see.

"Juza, thanks to your cooperation, we have created a new defensive weapon that tilts the odds in our favor."

"So now am to die for my deeds I take it."

"Not exactly. My master has elected you to undergo an experiment of his. You will be transferred. That is if you survive the process."

Juza flinched at the sound of the words coming from the automaton's mouth. He did not feel that being "transferred" was preferable to death.

The two robot guards grabbed Juza. The young man struggled to free himself of their grip. The squeezed his arm tighter as they dragged him from his cell. He felt himself being carried down the corridor.

"No. Don't do this to me." Juza cried. But his pleas fell on less than deaf ears. They heard his cries but ignored them.

* * * * *

Night now fell over Zema. Wren had been working since early that afternoon to rid his friends of the troublesome robots that stimulated every pain center in their body to their maximum. He had bee surgically removing the robots and crushing them before they could re- attach themselves.

The repair mites had been removed from Alys, Rune, Rika, Sharon, and Orus. Wren now concentrated on removing the last robots from the shin of Chaz. Fortunately, the group had not reawakened during the procedure.

Kyra had taken the first watch. She stood nearby scanning the horizon for more intruders. Hahn slept on a blanket nearby. Kyra looked in Niya's direction. The warrior woman sat on a rock motionless. Kyra could not tell if Niya was asleep or not.

The full moon of the night threw odd shadows everywhere. The sound of night creatures filled the air. Kyra hoped that any second Wren would say that he was finished removing the robots and could move her friends to a medical facility. Until Wren had destroyed every single robot, none of the downed warriors could be approached by a human.

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