Sojourn Into Memory
When Lore and Jade returned to Kepfall they found Hugh, Kain, and
another man waiting outside the doctor's home. The newcomer was tall
and blond with rugged good looks. He was older than Hugh and Kain by
several years and carried a cunning though by no means uncaring look
about him. He waved as the women approached.
"Captain Tyler!" Jade breathed. She bobbed her head slightly in
"Good to see you've been keeping Miss Drakon company," said Tyler as he
offered them a grin. "Her friends have been worried about her."
"No Miss Drakon, please," said Lore with slight shake of her head.
"Just Lore is fine."
"Where did you go?" Kain asked in a voice that was harsh, but tempered
by his concern. "The doctor said you went for a walk but-"
She waved him off with a weak smile. "I've been okay. It's not like
I've been by myself the whole time." Though Lore had wandered
around a great deal before meeting Jade. She turned her attention back
to Tyler. "I understand you're lending us a ship."
Tyler shrugged. "Giving is probably more like it. I doubt you'll be
able to return it to me. You do plan on going back to Mota, don't
"Then keep the shuttle. We don't need it. I have my own ship and the
town has a couple of spares. Now, if you're ready, I think we should
start talking about this Noah business Hugh and Kain told me about."
Lore nodded. "I'm up to it."
"All right. Let's get inside then. We'll see you later, Jade."
The sky tiara trainer offered Tyler a brisk salute, offered her best
wishes, and departed. Lore watched her go then entered the doctor's
home where the air was much warmer and she could take a load off her
The four gathered in the den, where there were enough seats on chairs
and the sofa for all and where they could stay out of the doctor's
Tyler chewed on the end of a shaft of Dezorian grass. "So, you guys
have a ship. Now what do you intend to do? Noah is cloaked, so you
tell me. Who's to say it won't shoot you down again? I don't think
Noah's inclined to let you get close to it."
Kain folded his arms behind his head as he leaned against a wall. "We
don't know yet. It may have even changed course since we last saw it.
We were hoping you might have some sort of equipment here that would
allow us to find it, maybe even negate its weapon coordinating
"Hm." Tyler clasped his hands behind his back as he began to pace. "A
cancellation device will get you through the cloak. And a hijammer will
knock out the weapon systems, assuming they're anything close to what we
Palmans have been using. My own ship's installed with a hijammer, any
decent pirate will have one." Tyler smiled slightly. "But as far as
the cancellation device is concerned, I don't have one." He held up a
hand to silence the group before continuing. "I do know where to get
"Get one?" Hugh echoed.
"Yes, there's an old weapons plant we've recently uncovered here on
Dezo. I can only imagine what plans Mother Brain had for it, but I'm
pretty sure we can find our device there. I'll send Jade and her wing
out to investigate."
Kain shook his head. "This is our affair, we shouldn't drag your people
into it any more than we already have. Besides, what if there are
hostile AIs there?"
Tyler shrugged. "I wouldn't worry about it. Jade and her team are
capable, and it shouldn't be too dangerous, what with the Dezorian power
supply down and all. You guys only restored Mota's power, remember?
Dezo still does without. Besides, no biohazard's stupid enough to
bother a whole flight of sky tiaras. You know I don't want a second
Mother Brain, and if sabotaging the mission of those blockheads down on
Mota will do it, so be it. Let me and my people do our part."
Kain nodded. "All right."
"I'll send them on their way. Why don't you get some rest, all of you.
And start thinking about what you're gonna find on Noah. You've got a
whole evening to plan."
* * * * *
Hugh remembered their trip to Noah. He wanted to forget it, but it
continued to haunt him even after they finished their plans that night
and had gone to bed. He remembered just how the Dark Force dissipated
in the light of the Neisword, the scent of wet sulfur left behind.
"What was that thing?" Amy panted.
Hugh could only offer a shrug. "Whatever it was, it wasn't anything
alive as we know it."
"Fear, greed, and all sorts of malicious things," said Anna. She made a
look of disgust as she poured a trimate over her wounds. "It was all
those and something more."
Rolf nodded grimly as he looked towards the empty space where the
innocuous red box had been. "That thing had no business being here."
Shir shifted her gaze uneasily. "Was it what Lutz meant by those who
watch us from outside Algo?"
"One entity, no matter how unnatural it may be, is hardly cause to use
the plural," said Hugh.
Kain shrugged. "Slip of the tongue?"
Rolf shook his head. "No, I think there's something more. Lutz didn't
just send us here to get rid of that thing." He looked at the open area
that had been blocked by the box. "It was trying to hide something from
us, and we've got to find out what. Look, we haven't finished exploring
this ship; it can't be much farther now."
Whatever "it" was. None of them had ever expected their battle to carry
them this far.
Rolf pointed his sword towards a staircase to the right of where the
Dark Force had blocked them. "Up there. That way."
The weary band of seven pressed on. Those who once were uncomfortable
wearing armor for long periods of time no longer complained. Their
previous lives lurked in the distant past, though that was only a matter
of weeks. Amy and Shir once had to take numerous breaks whenever they
traveled far by foot. Though tired they now kept up with the party with
a new, deeper energy.
The group ascended the stone stairs, the hum of vast amounts of
electricity thrummed in the distance. They could feel the vibrations of
gargantuan generators fill their chests, creating the unsettling feeling
of being part of a greater machine. At that point Hugh almost turned
back, bewildered by the magnitude of the unseen future he knew lurked
just beyond the next turn in their path. He did not know its identity
for certain, but he had no wish to confirm his suspicions. But then he
saw Amy, moving along with her quiet sense of determination, and he
resolved to stay, to not bring up his wayward fear.
He walked near the rear of the group though, telling himself that he
would be near Amy that way and he could protect her from a surprise
attack. So greatly had his thoughts turned inward that he nearly walked
into Kain when the party stopped moving. Hugh knew he should have been
surprised at what they saw but he was not. This fate had awaited them
since they set foot on Noah.
The floors and walls of this room were lined with circuitry, and the
narrow stone path leading through them ended in a metal wall formed into
the face of a woman. The eyes of the stone face glowed, projecting the
image of a lovely woman with four arms spread as though to encompass the
stars. Though enchanting, the eyes of the woman were hard, without
compassion, and she looked down upon the seven with scorn.
Rolf warily took a step back, crowding those behind him as he brought up
his sword in a guarded stance. Gasps and murmurs came from the others
as they were overcome by the presence that was surely Mother Brain.
Hugh felt somewhere in the pit of his stomach that the universe was
about to end. The Mother Brain controlled everything! But if they were
to free Algo...
Mother Brain laughed loudly as though she sensed their paralysis. "Just
as I thought, you cannot harm me. I am like a mother protecting her
child. And now I will take my child, Algo, by the hand and lead it down
the path of destruction."
"No!" said Rolf loudly. He stepped forward and pointed the Neisword at
the hologram. The enchanted blade shone in the eerie light of the
The hologram grinned devilishly. "You are such fools. If you damage
me, the world will be thrown into a panic. Without me, the people of
Algo are helpless. They have become soft and used to comfort. If I
were to malfunction, the people would die cursing their fate. If that
is your aim, disable me! If not, return now!"
"No," Rolf said again, softer this time. "Algo needs to be free."
The hologram's face contorted into in a hideous snarl. "I will show no
* * * * *
Hugh did not want to kill anymore. He told himself that as he got up
the next morning. He could barely call up the vaguest of memories of
the battle that followed Mother Brain's destruction and he did not want
The biologist shook Kain awake and after the both of them had dressed,
they left the guest bedroom and searched about Tyler's house for their
host. He was nowhere to be found, but two men found a note telling them
to eat the bread and jam in the pantry and to meet Tyler at the sky
tiara paddock outside of town once they finished. Bread toasting via a
foi technique was okay so long as they did not burn his house down.
Lore had slept at the doctor's place so the two men decided they may as
well follow Tyler's instructions. Kain in particular was famished, and
though the food suitable for Palman consumption was poorer on Dezo than
Motavia, he ate it with zeal. Hugh poked at his food, chewing and
swallowing it without thought. When he finally noticed that they had
finished almost half the loaf he prodded Kain on the shoulder and
motioned that they should get going.
They cleaned up their dishes and started off for the paddock.
The sun was still low in the sky when they arrived and Tyler and Lore
greeted them. The historian seemed much healthier than the day before,
and she managed to walk without stumbling. She fervently declared she
would be ready to handle herself by the time they reached Noah, though
the trio still did not know entirely what to expect. At best they hoped
for an empty ship. At worst they feared a graveyard roost of an evil
they did not understand.
Not long after Hugh and Kain's arrival, Jade and her wing returned.
They brought with them the cancellation device, a modest black box that
could be installed beneath the control panels of their shuttle. Tyler
thanked Jade gravely and took Kain with him to show him how to connect
it. Hugh remained thoughtful and introspective throughout the exchange.
Lore in turn watched Hugh carefully, hoping he had no misgivings about
Less than a half hour later, Kain and Tyler returned. Their shuttle was
ready. It was a modest vehicle, small in size and barely equipped for
handling interplanetary travel, but it suited their purpose. They did
not need the extra room for cargo as Tyler's own vessel, the
Landale , had.
"Throw your stuff on board and let's get moving," said Tyler.
"You're coming with us?" asked Lore.
The space pirate threw her a roguish smile. "Of course! You're not
gonna survive without the Landale's hijammer, and someone's gotta watch
your backs while the three of you are running around in there."
"Thanks." Lore nodded gratefully.
"Don't mention it. Besides, I need an excuse to get away from being
mayor here for a while."
Kain chuckled. "Sure. We'll be ready in a few. All our stuff's packed
at your house. We'll just throw it in the shuttle."
Another hour saw Tyler taking off in the Landale and the other
three in the smaller shuttle dubbed by Kain as the Dipwad . The
shuttle had previously been used to load and unload passengers from the
now empty world ship that still orbited Dezo and its builders lacked the
forethought to etch a name into its hull. Kain vehemently insisted that
to fly without a name violated protocol. Hugh pointed out the serial
number marked in the cockpit in a weak attempt to avoid being caught up
in such a conversation, but Tyler agreed with Kain. Lore remained
steadfastly indifferent to name choosing and Hugh rolled his eyes. Kain
had chosen the first thing that came to mind.
"Dipwad ." Hugh shook his head. "I still can't believe we're
flying in a ship with that kind of name."
Kain shrugged as their shuttle left the Dezorian atmosphere. "You had
your chance. You won't suggest anything better. And it's an adequate
name. If you ask me, succeeding in this trip without getting our hides
nailed when we return is a pretty dippy chance."
Lore played idly with her displays. "We're taking it though," she said.
"If Cass and Rolf do their job the Council won't be able to nail us as
the ones who took the Command Center's shuttle."
"Which also means we'd better hide this one when we return," said Hugh.
"If we show up with this shuttle we're going to have a lot of nasty
questions to answer."
"True enough. Maybe we can stash this thing in Roron. The Council
would never think to look there."
"The Council would never want to look there," Kain corrected.
"Truthfully I'd be worried over leaving this shuttle among so many Mota
people. Who's to say they won't take it apart and build another jet
scooter? Those buggers have no concept of private property."
Lore shrugged. "They lead a different lifestyle than us. Their way of
living is much more communal than ours. But yeah, I see your point.
How about we hide this at Uzo instead then? I have telepipes so we can
teleport back to Paseo when we're done."
"Fine by me."
Hugh nodded as well. Then he changed the subject. "Where are we headed
"Roughly where we were earlier," Kain replied. "Tyler's keeping his
hijammer warmed up, and the instant either of us sense a weapon system
being powered up that baby's going to knock it out."
"Great. I'll put my scanner online in case anything starts to show
"Something should. Noah chased after us before. I think if it notices
us it'll be in the mood to show itself again."
"Space is a big place. We don't know if it will notice us."