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Hahn's Wedding
by Dr. Hahn


Chapter One

Hahn sat in his office in the great town of learning called Piata. He had wanted to get some work done before this afternoon, but his mind kept racing off task. Had it been only six months since the epic battle with the Profound Darkness? Had he really survived it? Although these questions weren’t new to Hahn or any of the other Protectors that had gone to the Edge and come out alive, they still played in his mind, robbing him of his concentration. The rational part of him tried to resist the pressing of these irrelevant queries, but he wasn’t an android, after all. He couldn’t get the thoughts out of his head.

As he was going over the utterly boring reports of soil reclamation projects and the biosystems upgrades, Hahn felt the need to get some fresh air. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get that wish, as he heard a knock at the door.

“Principal Hahn? Are you busy?” a familiar voice came. Hahn wished he could say yes, but he knew that he wouldn’t get any work done anyway.

“No, professor. Come in,” Hahn replied.

The door opened, and standing in the doorway was professor Holt, his energetic expression hiding his age. Although he was 60 years old, Holt never seemed to tire out. From even back in his days as a student, Hahn could never remember Holt taking a rest.

“Principal...” Holt began.

“Just Hahn, professor,” Hahn cut in. “We’ve known each other for years plus I don’t exactly feel like a principal.”

“Nonsense, my boy,” Holt replied. “If anyone is right for this position, it’s definitely Motavia’s most distinguished scholar and Protector.”

“Thanks,” Hahn said, “but I know you didn’t come here just to laud my credentials.”

“Right you are, Prin... er, Hahn,” Holt corrected. “I have come on business in truth. It seems that we have a problem that will take the efforts of the best minds in the Academy to solve.”

This peaked Hahn’s interest. Since the Final Battle with the Profound Darkness, everything had changed. Nowadays, problems were the exception, not the rule. Thanks to the efforts of Demi and Wren, the Plate and Climatrol systems have stabilized, and the land was actually slowing its decay. In fact, data projections show that, within five years, the soil should stop it’s decay completely. At that point reclamation could begin. Algo might actually have a chance to rebuild for the first time since the Great Collapse.

“What is this problem, professor?” Hahn queried.

“Well,” Holt responded, “there seems to be signs that the rainfall is increasing too rapidly. If this keeps up, with the present soil conditions, we could see flash flooding and mudslides all across the planet.”

The news troubled Hahn. In the past, rainfall was an uncommon occurrence, but when it did come, it was a mixed blessing. The wells filled up, but there were terrible disasters when the dry, cracked soil couldn’t absorb the water. Now that the rain came in controlled amounts, the disasters were seldom, and occurred only in unpopulated areas.

“Has anyone contacted Demi about the situation?” Hahn asked.

“That’s the other problem I’ve come to talk to you about,” Holt replied. “We can’t raise Demi on the communications gear she provided the Academy with. In addition, no one wants to get close to Nurvus. They all say it ‘creeps them out’. What with the history of the place, or, more to the point, what’s on top of the place, everyone is too frightened to go near it.”

Hahn knew what Holt was saying all too well. He was referring to Zio’s Fort, the tall castle built on top of Nurvus by the evil magician Zio back before the Battle. Hahn couldn’t blame the students for being afraid of it; he himself feared to tread in that place. It was one of his secret shames he never told anyone, not even Saya. It was also the reason he so readily stayed behind to watch Alys rather than go with the Chaz and friends to fight the black magician. Hahn didn’t know why Demi even left the place standing after she went back to Nurvus. Being held captive in that place by Zio, being used as bait. Hahn was disturbed just by the thought of it. However, Demi was an android, and so probably wasn’t affected by those silly emotions. Some times, Hahn thought, it would be good to be an android.

“Well, I can certainly understand their fear in the matter,” Hahn admitted. “However, something must be done to contact Demi. I suppose I’ll have to go and find out what the problem is.”

“But Hahn,” Holt said, “don’t you have plans with a certain someone in a few days?”

Hahn flinched. He had totally forgotten about Saya. Over the last few days, he had been swamped with work, too busy to remember that he was getting married in two days. Hahn certainly couldn’t miss his own wedding day, but this problem was serious.

“Oh, yeah,” Hahn said, “Saya and the wedding.”

“You bet ‘oh, yeah’” Holt said. “If you miss your own wedding, Saya will throw a fit!”

Hahn had never seen Saya angry, but he knew Holt was right, nonetheless. It was all she could talk about in her letters, and if Hahn missed the wedding, there would be hell to pay.

“Well, there must be a way to find out what’s going on without missing the wedding,” Hahn remarked. “I know, I’ll just send for the Landrover! I’ll have Seno bring it over from the Machine Center. That should get me to Nurvus in about an hour.”

Ever since the Battle, the Landrover had been in the Machine Center being studied and pulled apart by eager scientists from the Academy. Hahn hoped it would still function after the rigorous tests it was put through.

“Are you sure Hahn?” Holt said. “There must be a better way than to ride in that contraption.”

However, it was Hahn’s only choice for a quick resolution of the problem. At least he hoped it would be quick. Things always seemed to take an unexpected twist in his life, exactly when he didn’t need it.

Chapter Two

Wren was watching the status monitors in Zelan flicker on and off. There was no malfunction in them; to an android, what looked like flicker was actually data whizzing by at a phenomenal rate. Usually, the android controller of the two satellites Zelan and Kuran would be directly plugged into the system for such a data transfer as this, however the systems were undergoing a lengthy memory purge, and Wren would have had his memory wiped clean had he been directly interfaced with the massive computers. It was also a favorite activity for Wren: he so seldom got to experience life as a human that he took every chance he could to mimic human behavior, even if reading at one thousand words a second was superhuman. However, to an android, it gave time to read each word and have deep thoughts about them.

The system purge had been going on for a month now. Getting rid of all traces of the Dark Force's programming was an imposing task. It seemed to have known more about the computer systems of Motavia than even Wren did. As a result, there were firewalls and viruses everywhere Wren went in the system. I guess Dark Force still left a legacy behind him, even though his master was defeated, Wren thought. He wished it was as easy to restore weather controls in computers as it was to fix them in Dezoris's Gumbius Tower. No programming, no viruses, just a simple fight and go. Although it was highly unscientific, Wren was lately finding himself wanting for the days when he battled with the minions of the Profound Darkness, but he knew such thoughts were irrational and could lead to terrible actions. He decided to do a self memory check later.

As the files went by, being deleted one by one, Wren noticed an interesting file he wanted to check.

"Computer," Wren said in his usual monotone he spoke on the station. "Halt deletion program, authorization Wren 775."

Immediately the computer screen stopped flickering and a complicated string of numbers came up. Wren deciphered the lines of zeros ones and twos that had halted in front of his optic sensors, with great curiosity.

"Computer," Wren requested, "confirm authenticity of file 8675309."

"Working," the computer replied in its best imitation of a human female. One of the details that the Palmans and Mother Brain included in the computer systems of Algo were human-synthesized voices, placed mainly to make Palmans more comfortable with using the computers. There was probably a bit of ego involved in it too.

"File 8675309 has been authenticated," the computer said.

"Give me time file stamp and installer profile," Wren commanded.

"Working. File created AW 1500.72 at 0913 hours. Installer profile proceeding... Installer was Terran engineer... Born AW 1487.95 on Noah worldship. Listed killed after the shutdown of Mother Brain computer network. Subjects name was... cannot be relayed without password."

That's strange, Wren thought. I wonder if my password will work?

"Computer, relay name, on screen only. Authorization Wren 775."

"Accessing..."

Then the name came up on screen, and Wren saw the terrible truth.

"Oh, dear!" Wren exclaimed. "Computer, end deletion program 001, authorization Wren 775. Also created a file of all data on subject X95 and download to monitor."

Wren knew what this file was, and he also knew what it would do if it was deleted. He had to contact Demi quickly, or all of Algo could be wiped out.

"Computer," Wren commanded as he walked to communications. "Open a channel to Nurvus. Use frequency 517 Delta, and rotate frequencies every ten seconds. Heavy encryption, narrow beam. Notify if the channel is broken into, and shut down after end of communication. Authorization Wren 775."

"Confirmed," the computer replied.

Wren quickly arrived at the communications display and set up for transmit. In a moment, the screen blinked on with a picture of the Nurvus central core. However, Demi wasn't there. Wren had expected this might happen, so he instantly demanded a search for Demi's whereabouts from the Motavian Global Positioning System.

"Android Demi location, sector 196.84," The computer fed out.

Section 196.84... the location of the shut down Daughter nucleus. Wren knew that Demi had been taken captive, and would probably have her memory wiped if he wasn't quick enough.

"Computer," Wren demanded, "access Motavian GPS. Locate Chaz Ashley."

Soon the computer display its results. CHAZ ASHLEY IS NOT ON MOTAVIA. Chaz must have gone to visit the Espers on Dezoris. And if he did, Rika was probably with him. That left only two Protectors: Gryz and Hahn.

"Computer," Wren said, "access Motavian GPS. Locate Motavian Gryz. Locate Human Hahn *****."

Again the computer printed out its response: Motavian Gryz location, sector 114.99: city of Molcum. Human Hahn ***** location, sector 067.81. Approaching city Mile.

Gryz's location Wren could understand. He had been aiding in the reconstruction of Molcum for months now. But what would Hahn be doing going toward Mile? Wren had to find out quickly before the whole system shut down.

"Computer," he said. "Repeat search of subject Hahn."

The computer gave a new readout: Human Hahn ***** location, sector 069.76. Approaching city Mile.

Wren wondered how Hahn could have moved so far in such a short time. The speed was faster than any human could run, especially Hahn. Then it hit Wren.

"Computer," he requested, "contact Landrover Odin."

"Working..." the computer replied. With Gryz too far from any communications gear to be of use, it would be up to Hahn to deal with this problem. Wren just hopped he was the right man for the job.

Chapter Three

It had been a bumpy ride in the Landrover, Hahn thought. They had ridden over hills and quicksand for an hour before they spotted the town of Mile. It was a good thing the giant, egg-shaped vehicle had air conditioning, or else the heat would have c ooked them.

"So, ah, how's my drivin'," Seno asked.

"Well, er, um, fine, Seno." Hahn lied.

The young mechanic was very talented in finding the problems with machines, unfortunately he seemed to cause all new ones when the old ones were fixed. The rest of the professors at the academy used him as the ultimate troubleshooter for all the mach ines they found from the excavated warehouses on the planet. It was said that, if there was a way a machine could foul up, Seno could find it (or cause it).

"I love ta drive this baby," Seno continued, "It shorein is fast. I bet I could rev up to a huned and eighty no prob. And these weapons? Whoo ee, they sure do take out them sandworms quick. It's so much fun, I'm thinkin of makin these darlins for sale. I heard they used to be popular back in the day."

Hahn thought that allowing Seno to make Landrovers would be the height of bad judgment. They'd probably be so unstable that starting one up would be more dangerous than facing a sandworm with a dagger.

"Say, principal," Seno resumed, "you should travel in this baby more often. Why I could even drive you around..."

"NO! No that won't be necessary," Hahn shouted. "This is really only a special occasion, Seno."

"Well what's so special about it?" Seno inquired without a touch of realization that he had been snubbed. That was the good thing about Seno, he wasn't really aware of the nuances of conversation. He preferred machines to the living any day.

"I'm going to check on Demi in Nurvus, actually," Hahn replied. "We haven't been able to reach her through normal means of communications, and the Academy needs her help."

"Why didn't ya just use that ri-oo-kuh technique ta teleport ya to Nurvus?" Seno asked.

"It's called Ryuka, and well, er, I never learned the technique, and nobody was around who had." Hahn was always wondering why he couldn't master the ryuka technique. If Chaz and Rune could cast it, why couldn't he? He'd have to try harder when he got some free time.

They were approaching Mile now, and Hahn could see the turrets of Zio's fort rising over the quicksand. It gave him chills just to see the structure: the tall, black arches and buttresses resembling a dark spirit. Hahn's thoughts were interrupted by a sound coming from somewhere in the compartment.

"Landrover Odin, respond," the voice came.

"What was that?" Seno started.

"Landrover Odin, this is Zelan satellite, Wren speaking. Hahn, are you there?"

Hahn was startled at the voice. It sounded like Wren, but where was it coming from?

"Landrover Odin, this is Wren. Press the yellow button market COMM on the panel," Wren instructed.

At that, Seno pressed the yellow button, and the transparent windshield displayed a translucent image of a rather large android surrounded by computer equipment.

"Hahn," Wren said.

"Wren, is that you?" Hahn replied.

"Yes, it's me. I have some dire news to report. Demi has been kidnapped."

This news gave Hahn a start. Who would kidnap Demi, and why. For that matter, how would they take her. The last time Hahn saw her, she was interfaced with Nurvus' nucleus so complexly, that it seemed nothing could remove her. Whatever would have t he power to do that to Demi must be dangerous.

"Where have they taken her?" Hahn speedily asked.

"To the underground facility known as Daughter," Wren said.

Hahn remembered hearing about the Daughter facility from Chaz after the Battle. It was an offshoot of the Mother Brain computer network created before the agent Rolf shut it down. Owing to the actions of Dark Force, Daughter had come on-line again b riefly, and had sent its mechanical creations out to hunt down and eliminate humans on Motavia.

"But didn't you and Chaz shut down Daughter six months ago?" Hahn inquired.

"Yes, Daughter was rendered off-line a few days before the Battle with the Profound Darkness. I saw to it myself."

"Then why would Demi have been taken to a deactivated computer facil..." Hahn asked, but then he realized why.

"Is someone trying to use Demi to reactivate Daughter?" Hahn asked.

"I believe so," Wren said. "I have a strong hunch as to who is behind it, and if I'm right, we may be in big trouble."

"Allright, so now what?" Seno asked.

"Who is the human driving the vehicle?" Wren inquired.

"The name's Seno, Seno Kain. So, you're that Wren android fellah, eh? How's tricks up in that watchacall, Zee-lan?"

"Not good, Mr. Kain," Wren replied.

"Ah, jus call me Seno," he replied.

"Well, Seno, to answer your question, I'm going to be shutting down Zelan in a few minutes. If what I fear is true, Zelan could run out of control, so I have to take the precaution."

"But doesn't Zelan control the weather for Motavia?" Hahn asked.

"Yes," Wren replied, "but it has to be done, for the sake of all Motavia. I am about to shut down the station. I will then proceed to the Spaceport on Motavia via the Landale. It will take about an hour to reach the surface, so rendezvous with me t here."

"Allright," Hahn said. "We'll see you in an hour."

"Confirmed," Wren replied, and then disconnected.

What could be so terrible as to necessitate a complete shutdown of Zelan? Hahn was sure he wasn't going to like this, but he had no choice in the matter. He was a Protector.

"Let's go," Hahn addressed Seno, "to the Spaceport."

Chapter Four

Demi regained consciousness slowly. She was in a dimly lit place. What was the last thing she remembered? She was in Nurvus, proceeding with the memory purge, when she came across a data file. She deleted it, and then... and then she was here. Sh e realized that she was standing up, but not by her own power.

"Well, little android, you're awake," an unfamiliar voice came out of the darkness.

"Where am I?" Demi asked, but already her internal link to the Global and Underground Positioning Systems on Motavia had told her. She was at sector 196.84: the Daughter facility.

"I think you know where you are, small one," the voice replied.

"Yes," Demi said "this is Daughter. But why have you taken me here, and who are you?"

"Patience, robot!" the voice boomed. "All your questions will be answered in time. However, now I need you for an important task."

"I am not programmed to negotiate with kidnappers," Demi said.

"Good," the voice said, "because that's exactly what you won't have to do."

Suddenly, a surge of electricity ripped through Demi's small frame, causing her servomotors to convulse wildly. In an instant, she was on the floor.

"You see," the voice, now recognizable as male, said, "I don't like to negotiate. I prefer to take what I want by force, and that is something I have in spades."

Demi realized that the man was correct. She didn't know how, but she was standing again, held up by some sort of force field. That would take a considerable amount of energy to maintain, in addition to the electric shock.

"Demi," the man said, "I require you to do me a favor, and you will do it."

"How... d... do you know... m...my name?" Demi asked.

"I know many things, machine, many secrets that you don't know."

Demi thought about this. She was 324 years old, older than any other sentient save master Wren and the Lutz memory. How could this being know more than she did.

"I have been around longer than you or that other automaton in Zelan," the man continued. "I also have great plans for this world, plans that involve your cooperation. I need you to bring the Daughter entity back on line for me Demi."

Bring back Daughter? He couldn't be serious. If Daughter came back on-line, there might be no stopping it this time. Demi shuddered at the thought.

"I will not comply with you," Demi rebuked. "The Daughter unit was programmed to mimic Mother Brain, who wanted to destroy humanity itself. I will not help bring about the destruction of innocents."

"Oh, I think you will, machine, and I'll give you a little motivation to prove it."

Again a surge of electricity hit Demi, but this time it was directed into her servomotors. She began to walk to a console filled with screens and interfaces, but not by her own will. It seemed the man had the ability to control the various mechanica l systems in her body.

"How... is this... possible?" Demi asked between motions.

"You will find that many things are possible for me," the dark voice replied.

Demi had to think quickly, before she could be led into the interfaces. She would have to shut down her systems in order to buy some time.

"See if you can control this!" Demi shouted, and shut down her power source. She immediately grinded to a halt and fell to the floor.

"NO!!!" the man shouted. "I'll have to work for hours to get her back up and operational."

Demi sat there lifeless as the man dragged her away to his quarters. She may have been down, but not out. More importantly, however, she had bought Wren time to stop this madman.

Chapter Five

It had been another bumpy hour from Mile to the Spaceport. Another hour of Seno's reckless driving, which he seemed to be getting worse at. At one point, they almost hit a sandworm full on. If it wasn't for Hahn's quick reflexes on the lasers, they would have been it's lunch.

When they finally arrived at the Spaceport, Wren was just landing the Landale. The blue exhaust from the stabilizers was blurring the air around them, and the noise from the engines was deafening. Hahn wondered how the ancients could have had these craft coming and going all the time from populated areas.

As Hahn and Seno entered the port area, the automatic sterilization system kicked in and cleaned them up. Hahn always marveled at the way the system killed off bacteria, but not the people. Seno, however, seemed to dislike the whole thing.

"Ah prefer me a waterin hole ta this sterilization thinggie any day," Seno remarked.

A short while later, Wren came in to the waiting area carrying his large blaster cannon with him.

"Hahn, it's good to see you in person again," Wren greeted. "I only wish it could have been under better circumstances."

"I know what you mean," Hahn replied. "But now that you're here, what's our next step?"

"We need to get to the Daughter facility quickly," Wren explained. "However, if the person who kidnapped Demi is who I think it is, there will probably be heavy defenses around the whole place, including high energy force fields that I don't believe I will be able to deactivate."

"Then how are we supposed to enter the facility?" Hahn queried.

"We need to get to the Machine Center," Wren replied.

"The Machine Center?" Hahn remarked. "Is there some special vehicle inside that will help us break into Daughter?"

"Not exactly," Wren said. "During the years that Mother Brain was controlling the development of Motavia, teleportation systems were set up that could transport people to places based on their memories. Each facility on Motavia was equipped with suc h a station, as were most of the towns. After the Great Collapse, the technology for the devices were lost, and replaced with use of the Ryuka technique. However, the facilities on Motavia retained the stations, and their functionality."

Hahn wondered at the idea. A technology that could replace Ryuka. It would revolutionize civilization, and help connect all of Motavia. With this technology, Hahn would never have to worry about learning Ryuka.

"Good idea," Hahn remarked, "but why go to the Machine Center? Why not just teleport to Daughter from here?"

"The Spaceport was never equipped with a teleportation center," Wren answered. "The city that used to contain the Spaceport, Paseo, had one, so the Mother Brain thought it sufficient."

Paseo! Hahn thought. The old capital of all of Motavia. It was said to have the most advanced technology on all of Mota, as the Palmans used to call it. And Hahn was standing right on top of it. Once this mission was over, Hahn would have to order an excavation of the area around the Spaceport, and also construction of teleportation systems in each town.

"In addition," Wren continued, "the Machine Center is a relatively remote system that I don't think our mysterious friend will have bothered with."

"Hey, ya'll," Seno called. Up to this point the young mechanic was busy staring at a monitor with great interest. "You must be that Wren fellah. Nice ta meet ya."

Wren looked perplexed by Seno, but then took a step back.

"Please, step back!" Wren shouted.

"What's wrong?" Hahn asked.

"This man is a descendant of one who was a destroyer. He was one of the Protectors a millennia ago, but all non-biological life feared him."

Wren actually looked scared of the young mechanic, an emotion Hahn had never witnessed in the android before.

"Who, me?" Seno asked.

"Yes, you are the descendant of the Wrecker, Josh Kain! P..Please stay away. I beg you!"

"Maybe you should wait in the Landrover, Seno," Hahn said.

"Shore," Seno replied, "but I don't know what all the fuss is about. Ah mean it was my great-great-really great-grandpappy. You don't have ta worry bout me."

Just then, Seno brushed against the main doors to the complex, and sparks began to fly out of them, throwing the doors open, closed, and then half-open where they stuck. Wren almost jumped when he saw this, and Seno decided to squeeze out of the Spac eport.

"Hahn," Wren pleaded, "as a friend and fellow Protector, please keep Seno away from me."

"Allright," Hahn said, "but I don't see how he could be that much trouble."

"You don't understand," Wren replied. "His genetic makeup isn't natural. Josh Kain's father was a technician at the Biosystems Lab on Palma before it exploded. He was one of the first people to realize that Mother Brain was trying to destroy Algo, and was the initiator of the Worldship project. Before he died, however, he decided to create a human with the power to disrupt all mechanical things. He created Seno's ancestor, Josh Kain with an innate, always active technique field which disrupted th e physics of machinery. A side effect of the process was an above average knack for figuring out machinery, and a total lack of common sense: a combination devastating to all things mechanical. Unfortunately, all of Kain's ancestors were also endowed wi th the same genetic coding. So you see why I fear him so much."

Hahn was astounded by this knowledge. A genetically engineered being with a sort of anti-technology power. No wonder the Landrover ride had been so bumpy.

"Well, I'll do my best to keep a good distance between you two," Hahn said. "I guess with Seno Kain on our side, whoever took Demi is in for big trouble."

"Seno Kain is a punishment I wouldn't even wish on Mother Brain," Wren retorted.

As they were heading towards the exit, Hahn looked up at the monitor Seno had been so wrapped up in. It was showing images of people dressed in strange clothes yelling and hitting each other. A caption at the bottom of the screen said "Women who dat e their boyfriends' mothers."

"What is this on the monitor?" Hahn asked the android.

"An ancient Terran television program that was very popular, if I remember correctly," Wren answered. "It was a program called a `talk show'"

"It doesn't look like the people are doing much talking," Hahn said. "It seems very violent."

"If I recall correctly, this one was particularly popular with the ancient Terrans," Wren recalled. "It was hosted by a Terran named Jerry Springer. It is speculated that he was the reason for the Terran's destruction of their planet, Earth."

Hahn could understand that. He made a note to himself not to bring up this television idea at the Academy.

Chapter Six

Gryz was toiling in the heat of the mid-afternoon sun. As a native Motavian , Gryz hardly noticed the heat, but the labor was getting to him. However, the work was so rewarding, and the lifting and masonry work helped him get out his anger from the past. It had only been six months ago that Chaz, Rika, Rune, Demi, and he had vanquished Zio and later restored peace to Algo. Yet Gryz still had the anger and yearning for closure that Zio's death didn't fully take away. Building Molcum up again, howe ver, was helping him deal with his feelings. Each brick he laid, each beam he erected was one more piece of the bad feelings he got rid of. It also didn't hurt that he had Pana and Grandfather Dorin for support. Without them, all the building in the wo rld wouldn't have helped.

"Gryz! Gryz!" a young voice called. It was Pana, and she was running towards him, excited as an infantworm.

"Slow down there, Panatuara," Gryz told the girl. Panatuara was the name Gryz often used when speaking to his sister. It was her full name in the Motavian language, but it also held a special connotation. It meant "little light" and that was how Gr yz would always see her. It was her little light that kept him going after his friend Geeza died of the desert fever; it helped him go on after Molcum was destroyed; and it gave him the power to face the Profound Darkness in the end.

"Gryz, Gryz," Pana said. "Mr. Hahn and Mr. Wren are here to see you in a big metal egg!"

Hahn and Wren? What were they doing here? And the big metal egg must have been the Landrover. It would be good to see his friends again.

Gryz followed Pana to where the three men were waiting for the Motavian. Sure enough, it was Wren and Hahn. There was also another fellow who looked oddly familiar.

"My friends, welcome to Molcum," Gryz greeted them.

"Hello, Gryz," Hahn said. "Hello Pana."

"Hello Mr. Hahn..." Pana shyly remarked.

"Just Hahn will be fine Pana," Hahn said.

"Excuse my inhospitality," Gryz said, "but I'm curious. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

"I wish I could say it was just a friendly chat, but it's more serious than that," Wren admitted.

"You see," Hahn began, "Demi has been kidnapped by a mysterious person who Wren believes is holding her captive in a computer facility called Daughter."

"Demi, kidnapped!" Gryz exclaimed. "Count me in. I'll just get my ax and tell Grandfather Dorin where I'm going."

"Thank you, Gryz," Hahn said.

"Hey, we Protectors have to stick together, eh?" Gryz said. "Plus, Demi helped me exact vengeance on Zio. I owe her my services."

"Can I go too," Pana asked.

"No, Pana. It's too dangerous for you." Gryz told her. "Besides, I need you to stay here and help with rebuilding Molcum."

"O.K.," Pana said, a little dejected. She then ran off in the direction of their restored house .

"I'll be right back," Gryz said.

They waited, and in a few minutes they were all on their way to the Machine Center. As Wren was driving, the Landrover sped along smoothly without even a single bump. Hahn was beginning to see why Wren was so wary of Seno.

"I don't we'se been introduced," Seno said to Gryz. "Mah name's See-no Kain..."

"Did you say Kain!!!" Gryz broke in. "As in Josh Kain?"

"Sheesh, does everybody know my relatives?" Seno replied.

Immediately, Gryz got down on his knees and averted his eyes.

"Er, you know of Josh Kain?" Hahn asked.

"Of course," Gryz exclaimed. "He is almost like a saint to my people. He represented a return to a non-technological life. He was the destroyer of the perversion of machinations... uh, no offense, Wren."

"None taken," Wren said, less than convincingly.

"To Motavians, the great Josh Kain was an inspiration. We never were big on technology, some of us going so far as to live in the garbage dumps rather than the technological cities. We called him Palagatha, the destroyer of unlife."

"Um, I shore am grateful for the presentation," Seno said, "but ya'll can get up now. I ain't no saint."

Gryz slowly lifted his head, and got up, but seemed unsure of himself.

"I shall do as you say, descendant of Palagatha," Gryz conceded.

However, for the rest of the trip, Gryz stared in silent awe of Seno. Seno seemed to be a real legend on Motavia. Hahn was developing a whole new conception of the young man. Both a saint and a devil, Seno didn't seem to let it get to him. Hahn wo ndered how little common sense Seno Kain had. Hahn had a feeling that this mission was going to be a long one.

Chapter Seven

In the dark underground of Daughter, Demi sat in a heap; her once livid body lying limp as a rag while the shadowy figure worked at his console. Although she was deactivated, she was not without consciousness. Outwardly, she was helpless, but inside she was working furiously to keep the evil man's programs from erasing her will. For now, Demi was holding her own against the programs, but they were becoming more and more complex by the second. Demi had to wonder how anyone could create so many prog rams so effective at destruction. Demi had to admit, she was up against a brilliant mind. One that might just be able to overwhelm her.

She was close within her CPU now. Trying to put up firewalls against the complex executions of the programs, but each one seemed to disappear as soon as she thought she was safe. She silently hoped that Wren would get here quickly. She knew that he would come looking for her when she disappeared from Nurvus. Unless he had deleted the data file as well. He could be... no. Wren was too smart for that. He had been around three times as long as Demi had. Master Wren would know not to be so careles s. She mentally kicked herself for her own carelessness in the matter. If she had only taken the time to explore the file.

There was no use in tormenting herself with it, though. Her main task was to keep the programs out, and that was just what she was going to do. She only hoped she could hold out long enough.

*******

The dark man was working tirelessly on the little android sitting lifeless by his workstation. All of his programs were being thwarted by her efforts, but he was slowly gaining ground. He knew she wouldn't be able to hold out forever, and when she c rack, he would have her bring back Daughter. After millennia of waiting, he would soon have his revenge against the wretched Palman scum that defeated his master creation and destroyed his friends. Once the android broke through the coding of the block Wren had installed on the system, Daughter would live again, and this time, nothing would be able to stop him from making a home for his people. The people of Earth would live again on a paradise in which they would want for nothing.

The man salivated over the idea. He renewed his assault on Demi's will with an increased vehemence. Nothing would stand in his way; not the Protectors, not the Great Light, not even Daughter. He would have vengeance.

Chapter Eight

Hahn and the others had finally arrived at the Machine Center after a half hour. They quickly entered and headed for the control room. There were technicians everywhere, all busy studying this machine or that one. Ever since Demi had opened up the Machine Center for study, there were always at least two teams working at any one time.

As soon as Hahn and his group walked into the room, a middle-aged man with slightly graying hair came towards them.

"Principal Hahn," the man greeted him. "What a pleasant surprise. What can we do for you?"

The man, Hahn remembered, was Professor Nash from the Academy. He had been appointed to the position of leader of the Machine Center excavation team after the project had begun. He was well known as being one of the biggest sycophants at the Academy , and didn't try very hard to hide it. Hahn didn't know the exact reasons for his getting this position, but he guessed it had something to do with sucking-up to his superiors.

"Nothing much," Hahn replied. "We're really just here to use one of the machines in the Center." At this, Professor Nash's eyes lit up. It was the perfect opportunity for him to brown-nose the Principal of the Academy for his own gain.

"Of course, Principal," Nash said with his best feign of respect. "Which vehicle can I get for you?"

"Actually," Hahn said, "none." This instantly took the luster out of Nash's eyes. Hahn had never seen someone's expression change so quickly before, or so dramatically.

"We're in need of the transportation device," Wren broke in.

Nash looked Wren up and down with impunity. Apparently the Professor didn't think very highly of the android, or didn't think he could lead to any raising of his own status.

"I've never seen or heard of a transport device before," Nash said, the scorn obvious in his voice.

"It is located in section A01 of this Machine Center, and should be fully operational," Wren replied with just the hint of a smile on his face.

"Well, Principal," Nash addressed to Hahn, "feel free to use any of the facilities here. If you need me, I'll just be working over on the Hydrocoil."

"That's HydroFOIL," Wren corrected.

Looking like he had just been told to serve a Muskcat, he turned and went back to his work.

As soon as the Professor was out of sight, Seno spoke up, "Ha, ha, ha! You shorun stuck it to Nash good, Wren. That guy's been bustin the humps of every fellah here. Bout time someone stuck him in his place!"

Wren tried to seem unemotional about it, but Hahn could definitely recognize a smile at the edge of his lips, and for an android, that was like a belly laugh.

*****

Hahn, Wren, Seno, and Gryz reached the transporter after working their way through the long twisting corridors of the Machine Center. When they finally reached the control center, Hahn saw technicians studying all parts of the room. Wires lay expose d, as did various circuits and fuses. Hahn had never seen such a mess before in all his life. He wondered if the technicians would be able to put it all back in working order when they were finished.

"Hey, Wren," Gryz inquired, "where's this teleportation system, anyway?"

Hahn looked around the whole room, but didn't see anything that resembled what he thought a teleporter would look like.

"You shouldn't be able to see it, Gryz," Wren told the Motavian. "The device has been hidden by a holographic force field in order to protect it."

"Protect it from what," Hahn asked.

"Well, when Demi opened the Machine Center to the Academy, she thought that some of the students might get overzealous and break things by accident. So, she decided to protect all the systems she couldn't repair with the force fields. That way, the higher technology would stay safe until humans could understand it enough to work with it without breaking it."

"Sorta like a momma lockin the liquor up from the younguns," Seno remarked.

"Er, uh, yes, I guess you could say that," Wren replied. To Hahn, it seemed that the android was getting more comfortable around Seno, but he still kept his distance from the man.

"Well," Hahn said, "lets deactivate the force field and transport to Daughter. We need to save Demi."

Obeying Hahn, Wren went to the main control panel in the room and set about punching in numbers and letters in a flurry of motion so fast that Hahn began to get dizzy. After about five minutes of typing, Wren confronted the group.

"I have some bad news, everyone," he said. "It seems that our kidnapper has figured out about the teleportation system and blocked access out of Daughter."

"Which means?" Gryz asked.

"Which means that we can get to Daughter, but once there, we can't get out of it," Wren explained.

"That shouldn't be a problem," Hahn remarked. "We'll just pick up a telepipe from the storage facilities here and be on our way."

"Good idea," Wren conceded.

In a few minutes they had retrieved a telepipe and were back at the teleporter station. After another minute of furious typing, Wren spoke up. "All right, the coordinates have been set. When I press this button, the teleporter will activate and tak e us to the Daughter facility. Be prepared, however. The facility will probably be filled with robotic security and force fields. I should be able to deactivate the internal fields, but I don't know how the codes have been changed. We may be in for a one way trip."

The group suddenly became silent, and the room was deathly still. Having shooed out the techs, they were the only ones left in there. It was Gryz who was first to speak. "Well, I'm in. I'm going to save Demi weather there are ten robots or ten tho usand. I owe her that much."

"I shore don't like ta back outa a fight," Seno commented. "What the hey, I'm in too!"

Hahn was the last to speak. It took him a few seconds to consider all that was at stake. He owed so much to Demi, and she was such a good friend and ally, but Saya needed him for her. Then again, if Hahn did nothing, the kidnapper might win and des troy all of Algo. It was a chance he couldn't take.

"I guess I'm in," Hahn said. "I need to do this for Demi, for Saya, and for all of Algo."

Bolstered by the statement, Hahn walked to take his place beside the others at the teleporter.

"Okay, everyone, lets go save Demi," Wren said, and then pushed the button.

Chapter Nine

Demi's eyes opened into darkness she knew she was still in Daughter, but where was the shadowy man?

"Demi," the cold voice called out of the darkness. "It's time to wake up."

Demi suddenly stood up straight as if at attention. She tried to move, but she was frozen in place.

"What have you done to me?" Demi asked the darkness.

"I have erased your will," the voice answered. "I have made you my slave, mine to command. You will do what I tell you when I tell you."

"I'll never serve your wicked commands, Darkness spawn!" Demi shouted.

"Oh, but I think you will," the voice responded.

At that moment, Demi began to walk towards the Daughter console. She tried to stop, but she couldn't. It was if she was trapped inside her own body. She decided to try shutting down again, but she couldn't access any of her internal systems.

"Feeling a little trapped, are we," the voice came. "I couldn't erase your will without rendering you useless thanks to the infernal Palman engineering. So, I did the next best thing. I subverted you will. I let you cut me off from your CPU while I trapped you inside. Now I control you, and I will make you reactivate Daughter!"

Demi was at the console now, interfaced directly into the control panel. She felt her decryption circuits start to work at deciphering Wren's codes.

"Stop this you madman!" Demi shouted into the darkness, but only got a maniacal laugh in reply.

"Hahahahahaha! You call me mad, but you are the one who is truly blind to sanity. Those wretched Protectors killed off all my friends. But I am going to bring Terrans back to their former glory. We will once again be masters of the planets, and I will be their leader! The world is my oyster, Wah hahahahahaha!"

Demi's systems kept working furiously at decrypting the codes. Wren's encryption was good, but, given time she knew she would succeed at cracking it. This was one time, Demi thought, I wish I wasn't so good.

Chapter Ten

The sparks faded from Hahn's view. In its place was a room full of computer equipment and monitors. There was very little illumination coming from the ceiling, and Hahn could barely see his hand in front of his face.

"Shore is dark in here," Seno commented.

"Let me just activate my external lights," Wren said.

Wren's lights illuminated the whole room. It took Hahn a while to get used to the change in lighting, but they were soon following Wren down a long corridor.

"This hall will lead us through the security section of the facility," Wren explained. "Once we get there, we'll probably meet up with resistance from the kidnappers forces, so be on guard."

"Wren," Gryz asked, "who IS it that captured Demi anyway?" Hahn had been wondering that himself. In the rush to save Demi, he hadn't bothered to ask WHO it was that had captured her.

"If I'm right," Wren said, "our kidnapper is a remnant from a past Algo wishes it could forget. Have you ever heard the story of the Terran conspiracy?"

Seno and Gryz looked puzzled at the android's reference.

"Wasn't that the plot to destroy the Palmans?" Hahn asked.

"Yes," Wren replied. "The Terrans were the survivors of a race of beings from a planet called Earth. Over two thousand years ago, the inhabitants of the planet waged a devastating war against each other. The two major powers on the planet, a busine ss conglomeration called a corporation, and a band of resistance fighters battled for the planet. The corporation had set up devices to control all aspects of Earth's ecosystems, much like the Climatrol and Plate systems here on Motavia. When the non-co rporate Terrans figured out that the devices were slowly making them lazy and dependent, they formed a resistance to overthrow the corp. Led by a man named Damian Thomas, they overthrew the corporation and began to take back the planet. However, a few o f the corporation's followers, along with it's leader, found a crashed Palman worldship on their planet's moon."

"But how could that be?" Seno asked. "Didn't the Palman worldships get destroyed by that old varmint Dark Falz?"

"That's Dark FORCE," Wren corrected, "and, yes, it did destroy all but a handful of worldships. Only four survived, the Dezolis, the Mota, the PalmII, and the AlisaIII. The first two landed on the planets they were named for. The PalmII and the Ali saIII both headed out of the Algo star system. For over a thousand years, both the PalmII and the AlisaIII drifted in space, flying towards the closest star system: the Sol system. However, during the escape from Palma, the Dark Force was sealed away on the AlisaIII by two heroes, a man named Orakio, and a woman called Laya. However, a thousand years later, the Dark Force was able to destroy the PalmII by having the AlisaIII fire its weapons at the ship. After that, the inhabitants of the AlisaIII des troyed Dark Force, but the battle sent the ship off course into the path of what is known as a wormhole. It was a tunnel through space that transported the AlisaIII to Earth. Unfortunately, with its engines so badly damaged, the AlisaIII crash landed on the Earth's moon. As a gesture of good will by the new society created in the wake of the war, the Terrans rescued the survivors and took the worldship back to Earth. But the leader of the corporation took the knowledge of the worldship's construction and built one of their own, called Noah. A hundred of the loyalists went with their leader to Algo through the wormhole, in order to find a new homeworld where they could change the planet to suit their will. When they first arrived, the Profound Darkne ss was just about to send another Dark Force into Algo. Knowing this, the Terrans decided to use the opportunity to rid the worlds of life, so that they could make them their own. They entered into a pact with the Profound Darkness to corrupt the acting king, Lassic, to keep down any would be Protectors. However, as you know, Alis defeated Lassic and Dark Force, foiling the Terran's plans for domination. However, their leader, who had been lying in cryogenic sleep, decided that they would trap the Dar k Force in order to use it for their own gain. After Alis defeated it, the Terrans brought it back to their ship and set about establishing Mother Brain on Palma. However, about a thousand years ago, the Terrans sensed that a new Dark Force would be arr iving in Algo, and so they again acted to destroy the Palmans. Fortunately, a Protector named Rolf and his friends, one of who was your ancestor, Mr. Kain, destroyed Dark Force, Mother Brain, and all the Terrans. All but one, that is. The leader of the Terran corporation was hiding in cryogenic suspension again, and was passed over by the Protectors."

They were approaching the security section now. They immediately saw the force fields in place at the elevators.

"But you still haven't answered the question yet," Gryz said. "Who is this man?"

"His name is. . ." suddenly Wren stopped. "Enemy mechs approaching from our flank."

"Wuz a mek?" Seno asked. He was answered by a blast of laser fire a few feet away.

"Look out, everyone!" Gryz exclaimed as he reached for his ax. The group scrambled into action. Wren fired in the direction the laser came from. Another laser blast shot out of the darkness.

"My Photo Eraser didn't even phase it," Wren shouted. Just then, a lumbering robot the size of a small building came into view. It had a chassis mounted on two legs each ten meters in length. On the sides of the chassis were two arms, both holding what seemed to be rotating weapons. It also seemed to have boxes with lots of holes in them on the head.

"Thas a mek?!!" Seno shouted.

"Yes," Wren replied. "Designation, Hellcat class battle mech. A very popular weapon of the Earth war."

"Wren," Hahn shouted. "Can you do anything about this?"

Wren was already two steps ahead of him. He was at the control panel of the force field, typing as fast as he could.

"I'll try to take down the force field so we can escape using the elevators," Wren said. "I need you to hold off our adversary for two minutes while I crack this code."

Hahn thought the android had to be kidding. They were no match for this huge war machine. Hahn himself had only a laser dagger to fight with.

"I'll take his flank," Gryz shouted to Hahn. "You distract him!"

Distract this thing? How, trip it? Of course, Hahn thought, that's it!

"Gigra!" Hahn shouted, as a gravity well formed at the mech's legs. The force of the gravity caused the mech to temporarily lose it's balance, and Gryz took the opportunity to strike. He leaped into the air and gave an ear splitting war cry. When h e came down, the ax was embedded in the cockpit. Gryz hacked away at the glass, and was soon inside the control center of the giant.

"Blast," he shouted, "I can't seem to work any of this garbage!"

Suddenly, Seno was up with Gryz, having climbed up the mech's leg.

"Move over, Gryz, ole buddy," Seno remarked. "Let ole Seno take a try."

Following Seno's instructions, Gryz leaped out of the cockpit and onto the ground. Inside, Hahn could see Seno working on all the buttons in the cockpit. It looked like he was pushing them randomly, lost as to what to do.

As Hahn was watching Seno, he didn't notice the boxes on top of the mech's chassis turning toward him. They fired what looked like rounded cylinders at him, trailing smoke.

"Hahn, look out!" Gryz cried and leapt toward the human. He hit Hahn with all the force of his weigh and momentum, pushing them both out of the path of the missiles. Hahn tried to get up, but the Motavian was still covering him, weighing him down. Gryz had been knocked out cold by the explosion, and Hahn was pinned down.

At this point, the mech began to lumber towards the two Protectors, aiming to crush them with its weight. Only two meters separated them, then one. Hahn closed his eyes for the end. . . but it didn't come. Hahn opened his eyes again and saw that th e mech had stopped moving a foot above his head.

"I think ah got it ta stop!" Seno shouted down to Hahn. Sure enough, it had stopped all it's functions.

"Good work, Seno," Wren called up to the young mechanic. Wren seemed genuinely proud of the engineer, totally forgetting what Seno was.

"Thank ya kindly, Mr. Wre. . . eh. . . ennnnn!" The mech was falling backwards, robbed of all its balance and up on one leg. It crashed to the ground with a large clang. Wren rushed over and pulled Gryz up, while Hahn ran over to see if Seno was al l right.

"Seno," Hahn called. "Seno, are you okay?"

"Ah ain't never been better, maw!" Seno said, and then collapsed. Well, at least he would be okay after he got back to the Academy. By now, Gryz was back on his feet and awake.

"Thanks for the help back there, Gryz," Hahn said. "You saved my life."

Gryz slapped him on the back, "Forget it. You would have done the same for me. Besides we're Protectors, and Protectors need to stick together."

"I don't mean to wreck this moment, guys, but we need to get going," Wren interrupted. The field had been disabled, thanks to Wren, and they needed to get going.

"Oooh, wat hit me?" Seno asked, rubbing a large lump that had formed on his head.

"Not wat," Hahn replied, "the floor! Ha, ha!"

Seno didn't seem to get it, but that didn't surprise anyone.

They quickly headed toward the elevators and entered.

"Section A01," Wren spoke, and the elevator began to descend. Hahn's unease was growing. He wasn't claustrophobic, but he didn't like riding in this elevator. It felt ominous.

"When we get to the bottom," Wren began, "we'll have to get Demi as our first priority. If she breaks through my encryption codes, Daughter will be able to reactivate."

"What if Daughter is reactivated?" Hahn asked.

"Then we'll have to destroy this whole complex in order to assure the safety of Motavia."

Hahn didn't like the idea of having to possibly be buried in this place. He wished that this would all be over so he could see Saya again.

Just then, a hissing sound began to come from the roof of the elevator.

"What's that noise," Gryz asked.

"It's sleeping gas!" Wren shouted. "Cover your noses and try not to breathe!"

"Hahahaha!" A voice seemed to come from the speakers. "You foolish creatures are no match for a Terran genius!" As he said this, a spark shot out of the wall and into Wren.

"Ahhhhh!" Wren screamed, and then fell to the floor, unconscious.

"Wren!" Hahn shouted, but dropped down as the gas started to knock him out. "Seno, Gry. . .y. . .yz," Hahn tried, but fell on his face. He thought of Professor Holt and of Chaz and Rika, and all the other Protectors. And then he thought of Saya, how they were going to get married and have a family. Then everything went black.

Chapter Eleven

Hahn woke up feeling like he had just been hit by three Megid's at once. His head ached worse than any other time he could remember, although he couldn't remember much right now. The ringing in his ears made sure of that.

"Wre. . . en?" Hahn managed to force out between breaths.

"I don't think the robot will be of any use to you right now," a voice said. It seemed to be coming from everywhere, but that could have been because of the acoustics and Hahn's own disorientation. Hahn looked over to where Wren was sitting, or more appropriately, lying. "I have deactivated your android, Palman scum! I made sure that he wouldn't give me any problems while I complete my plans."

He looked over to Gryz and Seno. They were both still unconscious from the effects of the gas. Hahn felt a twinge in his stomach. He knew he was in a truly bad situation, and that he would have to depend on himself to get out of it.

"Who. . .who are you?" Hahn managed to say.

"I," the voice began, "was the greatest, most powerful human on the Earth, that's who! I controlled millions of lives with my beautiful corporation. I was on my way to becoming RULER of my world! But that meddlesome Damian! I could have crushed th em all if it weren't for him. He stopped me at every turn, always seemingly one step ahead. . . but I digress. You see, I was the inventor of Mother Brain. I was the one who attempted to use the Dark Force for my own gain. I was the BRILLIANT MIND who almost destroyed all of Algo! And I am the man who will do it now. You want to know who I am? Allow me to show you." As the voice ended its speech, a platform began to descend towards the floor. The light that shot in from the hole in the ceiling te mporarily blinded Hahn until he could get used to it. When the spots cleared, he was sitting in front of an old man with thick glasses and a close cropped haircut. The whole of the man's being screamed `megalomaniac'.

"I," the man exclaimed, "am William Gates!" Hahn could now see the madness in Gates's eyes. It was as if what remained of his humanity had been sucked dry by hatred and malice. This was truly a man to fear. "After the destruction of my beautiful c reation, I knew those wretched Protectors would come to slaughter my followers. So, I hid in cryogenic suspension, and placed a file in the computer systems of all the facilities here on Motavia that, if deleted, would wake me up and overload the compute r system it had been deleted from. If it hadn't been for that Wren-type android, I would have also had control of Zelan, but I still have Daughter."

Hahn felt an uncharacteristic streak of courage run up his back. "Bill Gates, you say? Sounds like the name of someone who gets beat up a lot!"

"How, DARE you??!!" Gates screamed, and backhanded Hahn across the face. Ironically, it didn't hurt that much. "I command power, I don't submit to it."

"Do. . . you. . . submit to your. . . mother's power?" a sarcastic voice suddenly spoke up. It was Gryz. He was fighting the effects of the gas, but was still heavily under its influence.

"INFIDEL!" Gates screamed in his old man rasp. "You shall pay for your words, you pathetic bug!" Gates ran up to Gryz and kicked him, and immediately fell over. "Uggh. . . robot, get them!" he shouted.

At that, Demi began to move towards the group, pulse vulcan extended.

"Demi," Hahn cried, "what are you doing?"

"I'm sorry, Hahn," the little android replied. "I can't fight his programming. He's locked me out of my own systems. You have to run!" But run where? Hahn thought. They were all trapped almost a mile underground in a very unfriendly place.

"Demi, I have to do something," Hahn apologized. "Please forgive me." Hahn got up and stumbled over to Seno's prostrate form. He began to drag the young man over towards Demi, as the little android moved closer to firing range. As Hahn was pulling Seno, the man began to awaken.

"Owww," he began, "mah hed hurts!"

"Sorry, Seno," Hahn replied, "but you have to get close to Demi.

"Aw, let me just get fahv more minutes. . ." the engineer replied. Demi was almost upon them now, and was setting up to fire. Hahn had to make this quick. Demi raised her pulse vulcan, powering up to fire. Almost there Hahn thought. Green light s urrounded the deadly cannon, signaling it's readiness.

"Hahn!!" Demi cried, and then pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. It was as if the whole weapon had gone dead. "Hahn?" Demi asked. "How did you, did you, did you, did you. . ."

"I'm sorry Demi, but you'll have to be deactivated for awhile," Hahn said. Then, Demi began to move wildly, swinging her arms and legs like a puppet, and finally she fell down, lifeless.

"How," Gates asked, "how could you?!!!"

"Never underestimate the power of the Palagatha!" Gryz said, now standing up and ready to fight.

"It makes no difference," the evil genius said. "With this switch, I will reactivate Daughter, and then nothing will stand in my way, AHAHAHAHAHAH!" Gates had really lost it now, Hahn knew.

The man flicked the switch, and the whole room began to glow with a dull red light.

"Artificial intelligence, designation Daughter, on-line," a voice came from the computers. "Checking status. Awareness, active. Satellite feeds, active. Cameras, active. Confirming directives. Priority alpha, self preservation. Priority beta, e stablish control over systems of second planet of system Algo, designation, Motavia. Priority gamma, terminate all organic lifeforms. Priority delta, expand network to third planet of system Algo, designation Dezolis. Commencing execution of directives ." Hahn really didn't like the sound of that.

"You shall all perish under the will of Daughter!" Gates exclaimed. Hahn had to do something about this, or all of Algo would be destroyed.

"Gryz, take care of the nerd and cover me!" Hahn yelled. Gryz seemed more than happy to accommodate his request. The Motavian began to run towards Gates with bloodlust in his eyes.

"Now," Gryz said with a cool demeanor, "who's a bug?" As Gates saw this, he began to step back slowly.

"You, you stay b. . . back," Gates commanded, but Gryz kept moving forward. "Keep away, I command you! Daughter, help your father!"

"Affirmative," the computer replied. "Proceeding to aid father in mission: destroy all organic lifeforms."

"Yes, Daughter, yes!" the madman shouted. "Destroy, HAHAHAHA!" As Gates said this, a mean looking laser emerged from one of the walls of the complex. "Now you will see the true power of my creation!" Gates shouted.

As Gryz looked up in fear of the laser, it suddenly turned towards its creator.

"What are you doing, Daughter?" Gates asked. "Crush that worm!" The laser, however, stayed pointed towards the man.

"Aiding father in mission: destroy all organic lifeforms. Father is organic lifeform. Must destroy father!" With this, the laser powered up, and began to fire at Gates.

The man began dodging and jumping with all of his power. "Stop! I am your creator. You can't do this!"

"Affirmative," Daughter replied. "Systems are capable of destroying organic life." Gryz decided to let Daughter keep Father busy for awhile, and ran over to where Hahn was working on Wren.

"I think Daughter and its father have had a bit of a falling out," Gryz chuckled.

"No time to joke," Hahn replied. He pushed a button on Wren's back, and the android came to life again.

"Confirm location," Wren said. "Daughter underground control facility. Status operative."

Hahn looked relieved to see the android back, but there was no time to waste. "Wren," Hahn said. "We need you to shut down Daughter."

Wren looked up at Hahn and finally seemed to remember who he was. "Hahn? What. . . Daughter is reactivated?"

"Yes," Hahn replied. "We need to deactivate the computer now, while its still initializing."

Wren immediately got up and began to walk towards the computer terminal interface. "I'll try to deactivate it, but Daughter knows all my codes this time. I don't think I'll be able to do anything." Wren worked furiously on the control panel, trying program after program in order to get through Daughter's lockouts, but it was no good.

"I am unable to break through the security on this terminal," Wren said. "Gates has installed protection and ICE all through the system in a rapidly changing pattern."

"Which means?" Gryz asked.

"Which means that we'll have to destroy this whole facility in order to stop Daughter," Wren replied.

"How can we do that?" Hahn asked.

"We'd have to mess up the system so badly, that it would overload and set off a chain reaction in the power plant's core," Wren said. "However, I can't work fast enough to do that. It would take a major corruption of all the systems at once in order to set off the overload."

That was it, then. If Wren couldn't do it, they were all doomed, Hahn thought. Then it hit him.

"Senoo!" Hahn called in a sing song voice. The mechanic looked up groggily at Hahn, but wasn't reacting to his voice. The gas must still be affecting him.

"Senoo, come he-ere!" Hahn sang again. By this time, both Gryz and Wren were looking at Hahn like he had lost his marbles completely. "Senoo, come and watch the television."

"Television?!!" Seno exclaimed. "Where?"

"Go and find it," Hahn called. "It's on one of the monitors!" With that, Seno bolted up and ran towards the panel of monitors, each one representing a different system readout. He went from one to the other, pushing the buttons, trying to get pictu res of people on the screen.

"Genius!" exclaimed Wren. "He's single handedly destroying all Daughter's systems trying to find the television." Hahn was proud of himself for the idea, but very worried about how addictive television really was. He would have to recommend a ban o n it when they got back.

As Seno went along pressing buttons, the monitors began to explode, one by one, frying all the systems.

"Warning, warning, systems overload, systems overload," Daughter said as a klaxon began to blare.

"We need to get out of here, now," Wren advised. Hahn couldn't say he disagreed.

"Wren, you get Gates and Demi, Gryz, grab Seno!" Hahn commanded.

"You're actually going to save that worthless Terran?" Gryz asked Hahn.

"We have to do it," Hahn replied. "If we don't save him, we're no better than he is. Plus, this guy needs to go to trial for his crimes. We'll let the Governing Council judge his actions."

Gryz knew Hahn was right, and went to collect Seno, while Wren got Gates, who was now unconscious from taking a hit by one of Daughter's stun rays. After they were all gathered, Hahn looked for the telepipe they had taken, but found it was badly dama ged in the fight with the mech.

"Now, what will we do?" Gryz asked. Hahn was afraid this was the end of the line for them all. They had probably saved all of Algo, but would pay the ultimate price for that rescue. Hahn thought about all his friends; Chaz and Rika, Rune, Holt. He would never see them again. He thought of his father and mother in Krup, and how they would be heartbroken to lose their son. Then he thought of Saya, and how he would be leaving her all alone, and would never see her again. Hahn couldn't let it hap pen. He had only one chance left. He steadied himself and began to concentrate.

Picture a place in your mind he remembered Chaz saying, and imagine the way to that place. Then say, "Ryuka!" Hahn exclaimed. He felt his body getting lighter, and soon they had all disappeared, just as the ceiling caved in.

When he opened his eyes, he was back in Krup with Wren, Gryz, Demi, Seno, and Gates. They were all looking in stark amazement at Hahn.

Gryz was the first to speak. "We're back in Krup. Hahn, how did you. . ." Hahn was amazed himself. He had used the Ryuka technique to warp them all back to Krup, yet he had never been able to master the technique before.

"I just thought about Saya and my parents, and I imagined going to Krup, and, well, here we are," Hahn said. "I guess it just triggered the ability within me!"

Just then, Saya walked into the room, holding only a bath towel around her. She looked at the group of people that were standing there and stopped dead in her tracks.

"What is going on here," she asked. Then she saw Hahn. "HAHN!!! Are you responsible for this?!!! How dare you come in here with all your friends right when I'm getting out of the shower! Is this your idea of a joke?"

"Well, I, that is, I," Hahn stammered. "Uh, RYUKA!!!" In the next instant, Hahn was back at the Academy, in his office, where the maid was cleaning up. She stopped and looked up, then promptly sped out of the room with her things. Hahn couldn't blame her, he'd probably have reacted the same way.

Saya would be furious at him when she saw him, but, hopefully, by then, Wren and the others would explain it all and calm her down. Hahn had gone up against monsters, robots, and evil genius, and the Profound Darkness, but all those paled in comparison to a woman scorned!

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