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 cooked 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 machines 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
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
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 the 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 briefly, 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
"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 there."
"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."
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. She realized that she was
standing up, but not by her own power.
"Well, little android, you're awake," an unfamiliar voice came out of
"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
Suddenly, a surge of electricity ripped through Demi's small frame,
causing her servomotors to convulse wildly. In an instant, she was on
"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
"Demi," the man said, "I require you to do me a favor, and you will do
"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
"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 mechanical 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
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
"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.