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Chapter Seven

"All right, A'Jole," Tyler said softly, in Mota, still in pain from the blaster shots he'd taken, "we've reached the time in which you tell me the whole story. What exactly was it you found out about this... umm--"

"D'zkot," A'Jole reminded him, also in Mota.

"Yeah, this D'zkot, that made his men come after you?"

"The fact that he is a telemental. Maybe not a full Esper like Lutz, but he does wield mental powers."

They were in a corner of the top floor of the s'dkin called Menobe, tucked into the end of one of the many hallways, with Plasma Rings around their wrists and ankles. A force field across one wall -- the only way out -- prevented them from leaving.

"Okay..." Tyler was going on. "I take it then that this guy descends from that one Esper who, powerless, left the mansion and entered Dezorian society."

It was A'Jole's turn to be surprised by information. "How did you know about that?"

"Rolf told me the whole story about how he met a Dezorian who told him about Esper Mansion and the whole deal when I told him I'd come down here with him. Ha! Great move there, Jorran." After a moment's thought, he added, "Wait a second, this D'zkot... It's the guy who told Rolf all that! It has to be! That's him!"

A'Jole bowed his head. "Not quite."

The Pirate looked at A'Jole and a thought came to him. Nah, Tyler thought. It can't be.

"It was me," A'Jole revealed.

Well, maybe it CAN be, then.

Tyler took a moment, leaned his head back against the wall he sat against, and took a deep breath. "Then who's D'zkot?"

"My younger brother. I didn't even know he existed until a while ago. My father recently passed. I found papers in his desk that said there was a second son, but the standard med-scans given to him at birth showed... anomalies."

"The medical signs that he was a telemental."

"They did not realize it, but yes. D'zkot was left outside the city to die."

The Space Pirate had a question. "Did you know you had a brother? I mean, how much of what you just told me did you grow up knowing?"

"I was very young when D'zkot was born, so I did not even realize my mother was going to give birth."

"Okay," Tyler said, "Have you been able to trace who raised D'zkot then?"

"Yes," A'Jole nodded. "I was unable to find a Sinntal, but I believe he was raised by a man named D'azra. He was banished from Aukba years ago and supposedly lived out in the snow-covered plains somewhere. My guess is that D'azra found the baby my parents left to die and raised it as his own."

"Well, the names sound right. D'zara. D'zkot." He paused a moment and took a deep breath. This was the big question. "So what are we going to do about it?"

A'Jole laughed, a soft chuckle. "Now? Nothing. If you had just taken me to Esper Mansion when I first asked we would not even be here now and Lutz would know... the secret. His secret."

"We'd still have had to outrun them. They could of gotten back to their Ice Rover and given chase."

"We would have made it," A'Jole said flatly.

Tyler gave him another look. "Are you a telemental, A'Jole?"

The Dezorian answered without looking at Tyler. "No, if I were the traces would have been found at birth and I would have been destroyed in a way similar to A'Jemm. Err, D'zkot."

They were quiet for a few minutes, and then they heard footsteps approaching through the halls. Finally, three Dezorians rounded a corner and walked down the hall that was serving as Tyler and A'Jole's holding cell.

One of them, the leader, Tyler recognized. It was the guard who did all the talking at the site of where he parked his Ice Digger to investigate the fallen Dezorian. The other two were unfamiliar.

"Allow me to introduce myself," the talker began, in Mota. "I am R'Ayln, and soon I will be Sinc'tekkan of Dezo. Then, the Pai'tekkan and myself will rule the dictatorship until we have removed the old Dezo and replaced it with the New Order."

A'Jole stood as suddenly as he could in Plasma Rings. "D'zkot... he's killed K'Cren, hasn't he?"

"Very good, A'Jole. Yes, the Pai'tekkan is dead. In a few hours, the Tekkan-kinsai will be held, in which D'zkot will face K'Clanne in melee combat. But that is later. For now, I need Mr. Jorran."

R'Alyn punched a button on the wall panel and the force field came down. The two guards walked to Tyler and helped him onto his feet, while R'Alyn kept his weapon on A'Jole, should the fellow prisoner try an escape. Once Tyler was on his feet, the guards led him past the cell section of the hall, as R'Alyn re-activated the force field. The guards led Tyler down the hall, while R'Alyn took up the rear, weapon centered on Tyler.

They led the Pirate down to the third floor of the s'dkin. Waiting was another group of Dezorian guards, standing in front of a wall lined with machine devices of some kind. Plus, there was another Dezorian here, one who looked rather regal and important.

I'll bet that's D'zkot, Tyler guessed.

/Very good, Jorran.\ Tyler heard in his head. /Now, let's talk business, shall we?\

"Release him," D'zkot called to the guards in Dezo. Two guards stepped forward and removed the Plasma Rings from his wrists and ankles, then resumed post in front of the machinery. R'Alyn then stepped forward and whispered to D'zkot, in Pennzat.

"Is this wise, Sinc'tekkan?"

D'zkot looked at R'Alyn as if he were addressing a g'grat. "Of course, R'Alyn. And please, address me as Pai'tekkan. I will hold that position soon enough."

"Yes, Pai'tekkan." R'Alyn bowed and stood back as D'zkot turned his attention to Tyler. Tyler only stared at the telemental Dezorian.

/Now, let's see how much information you have on Esper Mansion.\

Are you going to just pull it out of my head?

/Of course not. If it comes to that, I will, but if I you force me to, I promise to use a technique that will cause you considerable amounts of pain. No, I believe I will first use a more conventional torture technique... with a twist.\

D'zkot turned his head towards the wall of machines the guards were standing in front of. He pointed to a section of guards and said "Move" in Dezo. Three or four of them moved out of the way, revealing a tank of water approximately three feet wide and at least fifteen feet tall, filled to the brim.

The Dezorian telemental turned for a moment to glance down towards the door to Menobe, on the first floor. Menobe was laid out so that the two sides of the building were on either side of the entrance hall. This way, the ceiling of each level was about twenty-five feet, except the ceiling of the main entrance hall, which was a skylight one-hundred feet in the air. From the entry hall, you could see cross-sections of all three floors above the first level.

Smiling, D'zkot jumped off the edge of the balcony on the third floor overlooking the entrance hall. R'Alyn simply stood there, losing no composure, but some of the guards panicked; Tyler acted. He turned to face R'Alyn and threw a punch that caught him off guard, sending he and his weapon in separate directions. Tyler was running for the fallen rifle, preparing to machine-gun the guards. He dived, and extended an arm for the weapon, when it went flying through the air and back into R'Alyn's hands, who was now back on his feet. Tyler, however, could not get off the ground; it felt as if there were a Dezo Elephant standing on his back. He turned his head...

...And saw D'zkot floating a foot off the balcony, a few inches above what would have been ground level. His face was a mask of minor concentration. Tyler realized that what was happening was telekinesis, the ability to move objects with mere mind power alone.

Tyler's head turned automatically -- by D'zkot's teke -- to see that the water tank was now being pulled into the open area now surrounded by guards. R'Alyn stepped forward and delivered a pair of kicks to Tyler in the ribs and kidneys.

Then the Pirate was floating in the air, hovering towards the tank. When he saw that D'zkot was smiling, he knew exactly what was about to happen.

"Fine, D'zkot!" he yelled. "I hope you do kill me. Then you'll never get the information you want."

"Oh, believe me, Jorran," D'zkot chuckled, "I will learn everything I want to."

A mental pair of scissors cut the strings holding Tyler up and he fell the short fall into the water. He plunged to the bottom of the tank, but just as he kicked his way back to the surface, a mental hand wrapped itself around him and pulled him back down, holding him there.

D'zkot read his mind like an involved reader devours a good book. The Pirate was not only immersed in water, but in total fear, panic, and terror.

And D'zkot was laughing.

- - - - - - - - - -

Rolf and Lutz were standing on the exact spot of ground where Tyler had fallen, after he was shot by the Dezorians. Rolf held the Neisword in his hand, at his side. He had soon figured out that when he held the weapon, his just-budding Esper powers worked for him. When he sheathed it, a bit of them remained, but he was mostly blank. Leaving the sword altogether gave him nothing.

Of course, this was only temporary. Once he had undergone the full training and honing of his Esper abilities, he'd be able to use them with or without the sword. Right now, though, he didn't need any kind of Esper mind power to tell Lutz was frustrated.

{What have you got?}

[It's definitely the Rebels. I can't read Tyler at all and even after giving one-hundred percent of my concentration to picking up the psychic patterns of what went on here... It's like we're the first people to stand here in centuries.]

Rolf closed his eyes in tight concentration. {I can't do the "psychic reverb" stuff, but I think I kind of sense Tyler.}

[Hmm. This could be good news. It may imply that I am being blocked specifically. And that whoever is doing this does not yet know of your powers.]

"No..." Rolf said aloud. {I can detect something else, too, floating on the Esper wavelengths nearby.}

[You're not fully trained. It's common for an un-trained telemental to read mental static as other minds.]

{Lutz, I know what I'm reading.}

The Esper merely looked at the Agent for a moment. [All right.]

Rolf was shaking his head slightly. {It's not good, though. It's like he's toying with me.}

[Then he is aware of your existence as an Esper?]

{Of that I am sure.}

They stood silently for another few moments, at a dead end in their investigation. They had already scanned for vehicle tracks of any kind, finding none, and the Ice Digger Tyler had taken rested nearby, reclaimed by Lutz and Rolf and prepared for travel again.

That's when they both heard the voice behind them.

"Don't move," it said.

[Rolf, it's the Rebels.]

{What?}

[I can't read the man behind us.]

Recognizing the man's voice, Rolf chuckled aloud. {That's because there is no man behind us.} "Hey, it's okay, El," Rolf said, turning. He even dropped the Neisword to the ground as an act of friendship.

Immediately, the robot L-479 identified Rolf. His arm joints seemed to loosen a bit as he took a step towards the two telementals. "Rolf, how foolish of me. It's just... you're right on top of it."

Rolf looked at him with puzzlement. [Who is this, Rolf? And what are you on top of?]

Without the Neisword in his hand, Rolf had to think the words. This is L-479, Tyler's co-pilot robot. And I don't know...

L-479, picking up on their confusion, pulled a small coin-like metal object off of his hand. "You're standing on one of these," the android said, handing it over to Rolf. "It's a subspace homing beacon. Tyler and I found a prototype in a lab he was hired to crash, and we had three more made. One of which you're standing on. Near, actually." He pointed and Rolf stood aside. The Agent noticed the small device then and picked it up, examining the two.

"What do they do?" Lutz asked, inspecting one Rolf had handed over.

"Not much. Their only chore is to send out a beam that we can pick up back on the Hell Runner's subspace sensor pick-ups."

"Why do you need four?" Rolf questioned, handing the two he held back to L-479.

"Both Tyler and I each carry two on our person at all times," L-479 explained. "The Hell Runner's computers are programmed to monitor the signals coming from them. Should, for example, the two that Tyler carries somehow get separated to be a minimum distance of ten feet from the other, the Hell Runner immediately flashes a signal."

"I still don't get it," Rolf said, confused.

"When one of us is in danger, and alone, we drop one of our two. That way, we can trace both signals and have two locations pinpointed. One, where the homing beacon was dropped, and two, the location of the person who dropped the first beacon."

"Hence," Lutz beamed, understanding, "you can find where Tyler was attacked -- here -- and you also know where he is now."

"Correct," came the response.

{We're back in business!}

[Yes.] "Umm, L-479--" Lutz was cut off.

"Tyler calls me Toasterhead, but most people call me El."

"El," Lutz said with a smile, "can you lead us to where Tyler is now?"

"Of course." The Polezi pointed north-north-east. "Approximately fifteen miles in that direction."

. "Menobe..." Lutz muttered under his breath. Rolf heard him and nodded.

L-479 looked between the two men. "Menobe?" he inquired.

"There are four palaces here on Dezo," Lutz began. "They are Guaron, Ikuto, Naval, and Menobe. The Dezorians call them s'dkini. Centuries ago, when they destroyed Esper Mansion, they stole eight of the nine items of Nei -- all of them save the Neisword -- that Noah made for Esper Mansion's protection. They locked them in their s'dkini but after a few years', I used the Espers' prism to take the weapons from the Dezorians by making their s'dkini invisible to the naked eye."

"On my first trip through Dezo, only after Lutz gave me the prism was I able to see the palaces," Rolf continued. "But now, it would seem that someone has overcome that obstacle."

Lutz could no longer deny it to himself. [Rolf... I believe we are dealing with another telemental here.]

The Agent thought about it for a second. Lutz was supposedly the last telemental, but just a few short hours ago, he had revealed to Rolf that he, too, was a telemental. It was not a wild hypothesis. It was, in fact, quite logical. {I think you're right. I don't know how it would be possible, but I do believe you're right.}

[Oh, I am right.] Lutz paused, let out a deep breath. [And I have a very good idea as to who it is, as well.]

{What? Who?}

[Not now, not until I'm sure.] He turned sharply to face L-479. "El, you will be coming with us, I assume?" he said, his voice laced with anticipation.

"Of course," was the robot's reply.

"Good," Lutz said and headed for the Ice Digger. Reaching the cockpit, he checked the power readout. "The vehicle has been charging," he called over his shoulder. "It's not at full power, but we'll manage."

He slid over to the passenger seat, allowing Rolf to slide into the driver's seat and L-479 to climb into one of the rear passenger seats. Checking the readouts on the old, clunker vehicle, the Agent pushed a few buttons, lowering the hatch and kicking the heaters into full gear. Then, with a roar from the Digger, he threw the throttle to maximum speed and gave the wheel a sharp turn to the left, heading off towards Menobe.

- - - - - - - - - -

"Is that it?" L-479 asked. With the words, Lutz closed his eyes and winced. A machine -- a machine -- had seen the Menobe palace, completely invisible for centuries thanks to Esper magic. That had all been ruined now, because a new Esper that Lutz did not know about was changing everything.

"Yes, El," Lutz said softly, "that is Menobe palace."

"Is it all right if I scan it?" the android asked.

Rolf looked to Lutz, who gave a shrug. [I don't see why not.]

"Sure, go ahead," the Agent okayed. "But do it on the way." He flipped the hatch on the Ice Digger and began to climb out.

"Very well," L-479 responded.

They were parked a few feet into the forest area south-west of Menobe. Rolf was now putting on a small headset that L-479 had taken from a compartment in his leg. Rolf would be the center of communication on this mission, with Lutz and he communicating through telepathy and he and L-479 talking through the headset.

The group had now reached the edge of the forest. They were only about twenty-five feet away from the door to the palace. Rolf was taking point, holding the Neisword close to his chest as he snuck along. Lutz was in the center, with no weapon of any kind. L-479 brought up the rear, in full stealth mode and armed with both his shoulder-mounted blaster cannon and a hand-held blaster.

"El," the Agent said, turning to the Polezi, "stay here for a sec. Lutz and I are heading for the doors."

"Affirmative."

Slowly but quickly, Rolf and Lutz walked to the huge double doors, Rolf standing to the left of them and Lutz on the right. {Lutz, can you put a telekinetic shield around both of us?}

[Why don't you put one around yourself?]

{Can I?}

[Of course. Just imagine something, like a sheet of metal in front of you, or a huge bubble surrounding you.]

{Okay, I... I think I've got it.} He took Lutz's latter suggestion and imagined he was in the center of a huge force bubble that could repel any kind of incoming shrapnel. "El, you there?" he spoke into the headset.

"Yes, I can even see you from my position," came the reply, along with a little radio static.

"All right. On my sign, I want you to use your cannon to blow the door off its hinges."

"Got it."

He took in a breath, imagined a bubble. Huge bubble. Major-league parry device. Yeah, yeah.

And before he could have second thoughts, he whispered into the intercom. "El, now."

A flash of red came from the forest. For a moment, Rolf thought the beam was headed straight for him. Getting a grip on his imagination, he was just in time to make his teke bubble a little stronger when the blaster cannon's bolt hit the door, throwing a few wood splinters towards them but blowing most of the door's fragments inward, into the palace's entrance hall. Tremendous heat and flame, however, did come their way. Rolf, slightly surprised to see he had deflected the blast with his TK, pulled the Neisword closer to him, kissed the blade, and stood.

Lutz was already a few steps into the mansion, looking upward, towards the third floor balcony. His thoughts were so clear, it didn't take much telepathy for Rolf to pick them up.

By the God of Algo...!

Rolf ran to his side and saw what had shocked Lutz. There, floating some seventy-five feet in the air, was a Dezorian, staring straight at Lutz... and smiling.

- - - - - - - - - -

D'zkot PLEASE!

D'zkot just floated there, staring at the tank Tyler Jorran was immersed in. The Space Pirate's arms were flailing frantically up and down as his legs gave ferocious kicks. He had to admit, Jorran was still doing some good thinking, even in his panic. But the glass of the tank he was trying to kick was really transparent ceramics -- super-thick and impossible to break with mere manpower.

His thoughts were rather enjoyable as well. D'zkot could pick up in the back of his subconscious frantic pleas from his lungs, just now beginning to fill with water. He was a little disappointed, however, when he realized that Jorran's kicks and pleas were becoming just a little farther apart.

R'Alyn kept glancing from the water tank to his (soon to be) Pai'tekkan. The guards surrounding the tank kept their eyes on Tyler, as if there were actually any way he could escape this.

And then came the explosion.

The guards, including R'Alyn, could all tell that the explosion had come from the main doors, but none of them could actually see what had caused it from their position on the balcony. Except D'zkot. The Dezorian telemental had turned his head from Tyler's death scene to face the three intruders.

/Hello, Lutz,\ he mentally chimed, his face a huge smile. /It certainly took you long enough!\

[I don't know who you are but release him. Tyler Jorran. Release him this instant!]

"As you wish!" he yelled down to Lutz, his accent wrapped with contempt and sarcasm. He turned his attention back to the tank, releasing telekinetic hold on Tyler, who began to kick to the surface. At the same time, he extended his arm towards the tank. Tyler was now a few inches from the surface. At that moment, D'zkot pulled his arm back and spun around in the air.

And the tank flew off and over the balcony, plunging down through the air towards the floor of the large entrance hall, seventy-five feet below.

Lutz took one glance at the tank and clenched his jaw. Reaching out with his mind, he put a mental hand around the tank. It was only stopped in the air long enough for the Esper to reach into the water and take hold of Tyler as he let go of the tank at the same time.

The Pirate was hovering in the air as the tank fell the rest of the way. With a loud crash, the ceramics shattered and water swept across the entrance hall in all directions.

Over the commotion that was going on, Lutz, Rolf, and L-479 clearly heard D'zkot yell something to his troops in Dezo.

"Kill them all!"

Rolf and L-479 dived against the wall of the entrance hall. "Is there a stairway anywhere?" the android asked the Agent.

"Yeah, but way up that way," Rolf panted, pointing towards the rear of the entrance hall -- probably fifty feet away -- where there was a stairway that stopped at all three upper levels.

"Run for it?" the android suggested.

Rolf glanced down the hall, where Lutz was beginning to rise through the air using telekinesis of his own. Another glance, this one towards the ceiling, and Rolf could tell that D'zkot had moved as well and was no longer floating off the balcony.

"My teke isn't strong enough to get us up that way," Rolf nodded towards Lutz, "but I think I can keep a little bit of a shield around us as we run. Move!" Rolf and L-479 began to run, when Rolf glanced back towards the door one more time.

Damn! he cried in his mind. He'd totally forgotten.

Tyler was laying near the doorway. Lutz was so involved with getting up to the third floor to face this new, apparently Dezorian telemental that he'd simply moved Tyler to the ground and then left him to Rolf.

"Hold it," Rolf called to L-479. "Change of plans." He turned to Tyler, dropping the teke shields he had put up around L-479 and himself, and gripped the Neisword a little tighter.

Slowly, Tyler began to slide across the ground towards where Rolf and L-479 stood, still close up against the wall of the entrance hall. The Agent and the Polezi could not be seen from the third floor balcony where the guards searched for them now. But they could see Tyler. And if Rolf was moving the Pirate towards them... "They'll know right where we are!" L-479 shouted to Rolf.

"I know, that's the idea. We have to guard Tyler though, and make sure he's all right, so instead of going after them, we're going to have to fend them off."

L-479 obviously didn't like being defensive rather than offensive, but he had no other choice. Rolf was right; they had to protect Tyler.

If Subject: Jorran, Tyler has not already ceased function, a mental algorithm offered in L-479's brain. He chose to ignore it.

Tyler was now at their feet. Rolf knelt down towards the Pirate and ripped open his soaked shirt. "Guard us, El!" he called back to the Polezi. "Full sensor sweep, shoot at anything that comes our way!"

The Agent cautiously probed Tyler's mind as he began to administer first aid. He was no doctor, like Amy, but he knew some techniques for helping drowning victims -- it was part of his Agent training.

{Tyler? Tyler, can you hear me?} "Tyler! Listen to me!" He threw the Neisword aside. It was getting in the way of first aid so he'd just have to plain-speak to Tyler, not mind-speak.

"Tyler! Talk to me, you ugly Pirate!"

Nothing.

Rolf brought up a hand, slammed it down on Tyler's chest once more; not so much in first aid, but more in disgust for the Pirate not waking up and fighting.

It worked -- water came coughing out of Tyler's mouth and his legs flew into the air. Frantically his lungs gasped for air. He would make it.

"Hey..." he said softly to Rolf. "Blame my mother if I'm so ugly, you filthy Agent." He coughed more water.

All Rolf could do was laugh.

Laughter that was broken by the high-pitched squeal of L-479 suddenly opening fire with both blaster cannon and hand-held blaster.

"Rolf!" he called. "Tyler's life signs are stabilizing. Help me out here!"

Quickly and smoothly, he picked up his Neisword with his left hand and drew his Sonic Gun with the other. As he fired with his weapon, he held a teke shield around Tyler with his mind.

Calmly and casually, they picked off guards as they came off of the stairway at the far end of the hall. Eventually they would realize it was suicide to come off the stairway, so they'd fire from the stairs.

Tyler saw this coming and fought to take in air as he stepped up from the ground. "Toasterhead, you got a spare gun?"

Without turning around, without so much as a spoken acknowledgment that he had heard his captain and friend, a small hatch opened on the outer calf of the robot's right leg. Tyler reached his hand towards the blaster that was in a metallic holster there, but quickly drew the hand back as the gun came flying out of its holder with a soft hiss of springs and servos, nicking the Pirate's middle finger. Shaking it off, he grabbed the blaster off the ground and crouched down, firing in-between L-479 and Rolf.

The Agent had quickly averted the teke shield Tyler apparently no longer required and used it to put up a wall between them and the guards. "That should hold them off," Rolf said to the others as they stopped firing. He gripped the Neisword tighter as more blasts came in from the Dezorians, bouncing off the wall, while at the same time he called to Lutz.

{Lutz? Lutz, can you hear me? Lutz!}

That's when he heard Lutz scream in agony. It was the first time he had ever seen or heard Lutz in pain of any kind.

Tyler saw it first. "Ohh, God, no...," the Space Pirate prayed.

Lutz was falling from the second floor balcony on the right. Rolf knew Lutz could save himself with his teke, but there was one small problem. Lutz wasn't using his teke.

In fact, Rolf could make no contact with him whatsoever.

What the hell do I do? Rolf pleaded to himself. Save Lutz, and in the process drop our shield, or just let him fall... and hope?

He didn't have much time to decide.

- - - - - - - - - -

Lutz floated up to the third floor balcony. He had himself surrounded in a teke bubble at the same time, and blaster bolts bounced off of the mental shield. Once he had reached the third floor -- with Rolf, L-479, and Tyler far below him; Dezorian guards right in front of him -- a flash came from nowhere.

Whatever had hit him had snapped the teke bubble right off him and knocked the wind out of him upon impact. Lutz was sent flying backward, across the entry hall and downward, heading for the right-side second story of Menobe. He realized now that what had hit him was the Abomination -- The Dezorian Esper -- and that the Abomination was even now clinging to him and riding with him to wherever they were going to land.

With a deep thud, they landed on the right side second story balcony. After rolling a few times, Lutz lie still, even now trying to draw air into his lungs. The Dezorian appeared unharmed. He stood, taking his kem'pallah off of the ground where it had landed, and readjusting it on his head.

Rubbing the arm he landed on, Lutz got to his knees and faced the Dezorian. [Answers.] he mentally demanded.

The Dezorian stared at him.

[Who in God's name are you?]

/My name is D'zkot, and soon I will be Pai'tekkan of Dezo.\

[K'Cren?]

/I killed him, blew his head completely off with a few blasts from my mind to his.\

[You're insane. No Esper uses his power in that way.]

D'zkot smiled. /I'm not an Esper, am I? I'm a Dezorian. But I am also a telemental.\

[I should have known about you. You are a descendant of the powerless Esper I let leave the mansion, aren't you?]

/Yes.\ A mental chuckle. /If only your precious Noah hadn't screwed up and burnt-out their powers.\ Mental laughter followed.

Lutz was now standing, and the two telementals eyed one another carefully. [I still should have been aware. I tracked the family line. The only child born recently was A'Jole.]

/Wrong again. I was born after A'Jole, and I was abandoned when I was found with signs of mental instability -- my powers. And besides, you have noticed me.\

[Nonsense. I would have destroyed you!]

/You tried.\ D'zkot could hardly contain his laughter. For months now, he'd waited for this moment, to see the look on Lutz's face when he told him that--

/A few months ago, you came to me and tried to destroy me. But I was more powerful than you, Lutz. I wiped your mind of the knowledge of my existance.\

Lutz's face went white. [No. I am the most powerful. I am!]

D'zkot's smile disappeared. His eyes were wide with malignancy and evil, and at that moment he wanted nothing more than to destroy Lutz. /No, Lutz. The deadly mix of Dezorian and Esper blood through the ages has created a brew of sheer power. I now harness the mental abilities of generations.\ "You cannot destroy me!" D'zkot shouted at him, in Dezorian. "But I will destroy you!"

Lutz knew it was coming. All through their talk he had been gathering power to raise incredible shields. At just the right moment he raised them. He could not have timed it better. The most powerful shields he had ever created were up in nanoseconds.

D'zkot's mental blast punched right through.

If the shields hadn't been there, or if they had not been as strong as they were then, Lutz's brain would have been fried. Instead, he was merely stunned... and was given a splitting headache.

It was all D'zkot needed. In a step he had reached Lutz. In another, his strong hands had wrapped themselves around Lutz's already sore arm and snapped it like a twig. Then, he grabbed Lutz's collar with one hand, and a leg with the other, and hurled him off the side of the balcony.

D'zkot smiled. He was proud of himself. He didn't even have to kill him with telepathy. The fall would do just fine.

- - - - - - - - - -

"Take cover!" the Agent yelled, and with that, he dropped the shield and extended his mind towards Lutz.

The Esper was stunned and was trying to use his power, but to no avail. Rolf got a firm grip on him with his teke, as his body dodged blaster shots from the Dezorians. "Tyler, El, we're getting out of here!" he yelled to them.

The Pirate and the Android were following Lutz and Rolf out, but facing the Dezorians and laying down a stream of cover fire. Lutz was now in Rolf's arms as the Agent ran for Menobe's main entrance, using his once-again free teke to put up a shield between his group and the guards. He reached the doors and was outside at an amazing speed for a man carrying such a burden. Tyler and L-479 were not far behind.

Rolf put Lutz into the back of the Ice Digger while Tyler and L-479 kept their guns aimed at the doors. But no guards came charging out towards them.

With Tyler in the passenger seat, L-479 driving, and Rolf attending to the barely-conscious Lutz, the Ice Digger charged across Dezo back towards Esper Mansion.

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