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Chapter Eighteen

Chaz woke to find himself in the bare, windowless room of Zelan's Communal Quarters. He wiped the remaining sleep from his eyes. His body was sore from the rigors of the previous day. He was hurting when he went to sleep, but he had no idea he would hurt this much in the morning.

Groaning about the pain would not relieve it. Chaz sent his hand groping for a light switch. On the headboard he found a switch that activated a small, wall mounted light. The dim light was enough to let Chaz see without waking Rika.

Chaz put on his uniform. As he took a deep breath, he noted the uniform had a distinct odor. He wrinkled his nose as he smelled the stink his own body had left on the red shirt and pants. He made a mental note to ask Wren if there were any clothes he could borrow until he could get his uniform cleaned.

Chaz left the room being careful not to wake Rika. The warrior made his way clumsily down the corridors of Zelan. The lights of the corridors were substantially brighter than the one he had used in his room. Chaz found himself squinting a lot.

Chaz made his way to the Command Center of Zelan. Every step caused more pain in his limbs. The corridor leading back to the Command Center was not long. The warrior was standing before Wren and Demi within a few minutes. Neither of the androids showed any signs of tedium or discomfort. Chaz envied them in regards to the fact they could feel no pain.

"Good afternoon, Chaz," Demi said with her usually pleasant tone. Sometimes Chaz forgot she was an android. Demi behaved in a much more human manner than Wren.

"Afternoon," Chaz asked.

"Yes," Demi replied. "You have been asleep for nearly seventeen hours."

Chaz had not slept that long in several years. But, it had been several years since he had been in a fight of this magnitude.

"So, what is our status?"

Wren stepped from a room to the left of the primary control interface. The dark colored android stood nearly twice Chaz's size. His expressionless face revealed nothing to Chaz.

"We have not been able to locate our enemy as of yet," Wren stated. "I do, however, have an idea on how to locate him."

Chaz lifted an eyebrow. "Do tell, Wren."

Wren stood with his head lowered as his thumb stroked his chin. Without looking toward Chaz he began to speak. For once, Wren's tone was thoughtful.

"Well," Wren began, "we know he has to have a base of operations. He also has to have a certain amount of resources facilities in order to command the forces he has been sending against us. These facilities would need power. Unfortunately, it appears he has not connected his facilities to the Motavian Power Grid. Therefore, he must be using an independent power source."

Chaz nodded his head. He too now assumed a thoughtful posture and expression. Chaz understood what Wren was telling him, but he had no idea how this information could help them locate FIRE's base of operations.

"On a world such as Motavia, which is mostly desert, such a facility would generate a certain level of heat. For computers to operate properly, this facility would have to be cooled. If I can adjust monitoring satellites orbiting Motavia to read surface temperatures, we might be able to find his lair that way."

"How long will it take?"

The scan will take approximately twenty-four hours. I believe I can make the scanner adjustments within two or three hours."

"Do it," Chaz stated firmly.

* * * * *
"Gone," Jayce yelled in outrage. "You mean to tell me he is GONE?"

The young man behind the desk was now terrified. It was obvious to him this man was beyond furious. Why this warrior had not pounced on him and killed him was a mystery.

Without further show of anger or emotion, Jayce turned and walked out of the hotel. He stepped out onto the streets of Piata. His mind raced over every town on the face of Motavia. He wanted to know where Chaz had gone. Justice must be served and he was the instrument of that justice.

Jayce muttered to himself as he walked the streets. He could not help but notice how the people of the town gave him a wide berth. He could not stand the weak. He looked at those that stepped far out of his path with no less than disgust.

"I will find you and kill you, Ashley. I SWEAR IT," he reaffirmed with a venomous hiss.

Jayce exited the small town and started walking. He had no direction to go, but he would not let that stop his search. He found his path leading him to Kadary. The Guardian did not know if he would find any leads to the whereabouts of his prey. It was only because of a robot that he found Chaz the first time.

Jayce stopped in his tracks. For the first time, he wondered why the robot had offered to help him. Granted machines such as robot and androids were a mystery to Jayce, but he was still curious as to why. Jayce would have pain five thousand meseta for the information the robot had given. But, the robot never asked for so much as the time of day.

Jayce looked around to regain his bearings. Now that he looked at where he was, he realized he was only two days walk from where he had met the robot. Jayce changed his direction and headed for the meeting place. He knew it was a long shot, but perhaps the robot was still there. perhaps the helpful machine knew where Chaz could be found.

* * * * *

Kyra was the last to wake. Though she had not been one of the warriors assaulted by the pain inducing robots, she was no less sore. The had piloted a combat suit made for a being smaller than herself. This had made her use her muscles in way she believed were not meant to be used.

Kyra sat in the common area eating a ration bar Wren had provided. She more or less nibbled the bland nutrient compound. As she ate the food bar, she decided that neither Wren nor Demi were good cooks. The Esper was no less grateful for the meal, but did desire something a touch more flavorful.

Kyra was still upset about what she had seen the night before. She saw the looks on the faces of Rune and Niya. Kyra knew they still had strong feeling for one another. She even knew there were things she could have done to change current events. If she had only told Rune her feelings sooner then maybe things would have been different. But, she had never worked up the nerve to tell him. She cursed herself for being so afraid.

Kyra noticed some movement from the corner of her eye. She turned to see Niya walking into the common area. Niya scanned the common area. She then approached Kyra. Niya sat in a chair directly opposite of Kyra.

Niya gave Kyra a steady gave. The Esper felt the weight of Niya's stare.

"Is there something I can do for you?," Kyra asked.

"Actually, Yes. I was wondering why you have not made a play for Rune."

Kyra nearly choked on a mouth full of food. She grabbed a glass of water and tried to drink. Niya patiently waited for Kyra to regain her composure.

"What makes you think I am interested in Rune," Kyra asked after catching her breath.

"I saw you last night as you watched me and Rune. I saw the look in your eyes."

Kyra fell silent. She knew telling Niya she was wrong would do no good. Besides, while Kyra admitted she had no problem hiding her feeling, she did not feel it right to lie about them.

"I don't know," Kyra stated. She did not know why she was afraid to tell Rune how she felt. Was it his arrogance that made him unapproachable to her? Was she afraid of being rejected by him? Or was there something else she feared?

Kyra was about to speak further when Chaz marched into the Common Area. He expression was one of grim anticipation. Kyra had seen this look on his face before. This was the look that said he now had a direction to go.

"Everyone is gathering in the Command Center. We may have found something."

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