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Chapter Seventeen

The Flight to Zelan had been relatively short. The group of friends and warriors, however, were still exhausted from their ordeal. Every moment seemed to drag on forever. Even Wren seemed to be showing signs of being tired. The sound of the docking clamps locking the shuttle into position aboard Zelan were a welcomed thing. The trip had ended and soon, assuming no new disasters presented themselves, the band of heroes could rest.

Wren carried the memory storage container to the control center of Zelan. Demi was there to great everyone. Under different circumstances, the reunion would have been joyous. The best the group could manage was a greeting that showed all to well the limitations of human flesh.

"Master Wren," Demi began, "I have been working on the interface system as you requested."

Wren placed the memory storage container at one of the workstations. Wren then sat down in one of the command chairs. He looked to Chaz and the others. Chaz looked as if he could fall asleep standing where he was. The others in the party looked only slightly better.

"Chaz," Wren called. "We have a few rest stations left over from when humans were on board Zelan."

Wren pointed down a corridor and instructed Chaz and his friends to take the second left. The entire party followed Chaz down the corridor to the sleep stations. The corridor emptied into a large common area. Chaz had expected little more than a row of sleeping bunks to sleep in. The common area had several personal quarters that stood empty. A quick glance told Chaz there were twenty rooms available.

Chaz and Rika entered the nearest room together. Sharon and Orus entered the second. The other members of the group entered various other rooms. Niya and Rune stood in the common area after everyone else had entered their rooms.

Rune was so tired that he could no longer feel his body. Fortunately, his sight had returned. Rune was still disgusted with himself about having panicked. The idea of being blind had never bothered him. What had scared him was the idea that he may have to depend on someone else. Rune was fiercely independent.

Rune felt a hand gently touch his left shoulder. He turned to his left and saw Niya standing beside him. She looked straight ahead, never meeting his gaze. He knew she wanted to talk to him. He knew she had questions she wanted answered. He even knew she was scared of those questions and didn't know how or if even to ask them. Rune simply put his hand over hers and smiled.

"Yes," Rune began. "All the hell that you and I went through those years ago was worth it. But, I never stopped loving you. I thought so many times about contacting you."

"Why didn't you?"

"I was scared. We parted as friends, kinda. I was so scared that, if I contacted you, you would hate me for dredging everything up again."

Niya thought long and hard about Rune's words.

"There was a time that I was so angry and hurt that I would have killed you rather than speak to you. But I never hated you. Despite the arrogant front you put on for everyone, I know you are a kind and caring man. That is the Rune I fell in love with. That is the Rune I love today."

Rune looked into Niya's eyes and saw the echoes of her love for him. Suddenly, he was aware of the fact he was trembling. Was the love she still had for him enough to try and build a new relationship on? Or was it only enough to provide a warmth to an old memory?

Rune was so intent on figuring out what Niya was telling him that he never noticed the door to Kyra's room open. He didn't notice her step back inside her room after walking out. He never noticed Kyra watching the tender exchanges between himself and Niya. And he never saw the tears of loss that slipped from Kyra's eyes.

Niya took Rune's hand in hers. They walked to the farthest room in the common area. Rune entered first. Niya stepped in behind him. Kyra closed the door to her room. The common area was now empty.

* * * * *

He opened his eyes for the first time and looked at the world from his new body. No, his eyes didn't open or close anymore. They simply activated or deactivated. Juza looked at his hands. Cold, metallic, and unfeeling robotic appendages were the things he saw.

He should have been angry. But, for some reason, he felt nothing. He had lost something during the transfer process. He could not determine what was missing. All of his memories were there. Then he became area of what was gone. Some would call it a soul. Others might call it his spirit. Whatever the name, he was missing that spark that made him human and unique to this universe.

At that moment, Ty walked into the room. The robot looked as uncaring and unemotional as Juza now felt. Somewhere in Juza's mind he knew he should attack and destroy the robot for what was done to him. The emotion to act upon, however, was no longer within Juza. Not that it would matter if Juza did have the inclination to attack. Surely Ty would have built in some kind of safety device to prevent such an occurrence.

Juza simply stood still. Since he had no desires anymore, there was little else for him to do. Ty inspected Juza's new body. The robot had Juza perform motor sills tests as interaction tests. Once Juza had passed all of Ty's tests, Juza was escorted to ProFIRE's command room.

* * * * *

Demi and Wren worked through the night. They busied themselves with two tasks. Wren sought out the possible location of their enemy's headquarters and Demi completed the interface device that would bring Seed back into the world.

Demi's task was simple compared to Wrens. The mechanical and electrical problems posed by the interface device were solved in the way most familiar to the two robots. Logic.

The problem of finding a base was not so easy. Both Wren and Demi had been programmed with the full military library Motavia, Palma, and Dezolis had to offer a thousand years ago. Thousands upon thousands of documents on military philosophy, history, strategy, and weaponry were available within their own memory banks. If Wren was to look at the matter from a logical military stand point, he could have narrowed the options down to just a small handful.

The problem was they were not dealing with a being of logic. Even though their enemy was a robot, he was capable of making the leaps beyond logic that humans so often used. No, logic would only go so far in this case.

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