by Goose Gansler
After his third space warp, Vaalor was floating above the world of Roxar. He tried mentally reaching out to Radea, but he couldn’t get a response. The interference was mentally deafening. He hadn’t had much experience with artificial mental shields, but the interference didn’t seem to be a result of a deliberate intent. The same couldn’t be said of the beam of hypercharged plasma that came streaming at him. He enveloped himself with a force-bubble just in time.
“Well, that’s not exactly a friendly welcome.” Vaalor concentrated to maintain the integrity of the bubble. Mega-ergs of energy cascaded around him.
Adjusting his position, Vaalor noted that the beam did not track him, but continued now into the depths of space. He zoomed down toward the planet on a path parallel to the beam. Something interesting has to be at the spot where the beam is being produced. He kept up the force-bubble just in case.
Seconds later, Vaalor was at the surface of the planet. He could see dozens of native Automs operating the gigantic plasma cannon. Definitely not the peaceful little robots that the Clockworkers described, he thought.
“Another fleshling!” one of the Automs shouted. “The Tyrants were right. The hominids are coming to invade our world.”
“Invade?” Vaalor replied in shock. “I’m just trying to find someone here. I come in peace.”
“Peace will only come when the Computer Tyrants rule all!” a voice boomed from behind Vaalor.
The young hero turned to see a gigantic robot reaching for him. “Moons of Worsel!” he exclaimed. Though the giant reached for him, Vaalor zipped out of the way.
“This is Security-10,” the giant robot beamed widely. “My colossal housing is not complete, but I have engaged the fleshling. Alert to all security and defense units.” The message was instantaneously transmitted to the various other Tyrants around the world.
“I mean no harm,” Vaalor proclaimed. “I’m only trying to find another humanoid. Her name is Radea.”
Security-10 lashed out again and almost snagged Vaalor’s cape. “She is our prisoner, as you soon shall be.”
“We’ll see about that.” Vaalor smiled with determination as he let loose with an energy burst. The impact staggered the metallic titan. He circled around the robot. “Since I won’t be getting any cooperation from the locals, I’ll have to find her myself.”
Another attempted blow by the robot was deflected by Vaalor’s energy-bubble. He expanded the field to push the robot back.
I wonder if I can reach Radea now, Vaalor thought. Seeing that he had a split-second while Security-10 righted itself, he reached out with his mind again. “Radea? Are you out there?”
“Yes, I am,” came a strong reply. With it she reported her location and all of the information that she had gained in her captivity.
“The Computer Tyrants of Colu,” Vaalor said, understanding the situation from the transferred information. “I guess it makes sense for them to set up here. Robots would be easier to control for them than high-level intellect Coluans.”
“There’s no time for speculation,” Radea beamed firmly. “They’re mobilizing more Automs, and more Tyrants are converging on you.”
“Then I’ll rescue you, and we’ll leave Roxar.” Vaalor pounded an approaching Tyrant with a volley of force-blasts.
“Their holding facility is well-fortified. You won’t get in. Plus, my body is completely sedated. I would be of no help.”
“Then how do I get you out?” Vaalor scattered some Automs who were trying to train their cannon on him again.
“We trade,” came Radea’s reply.
Vaalor zoomed out of the Automs’ range again. “I don’t think the Tyrants would want me over you. You’re a famous hero.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, Vaalor,” Radea replied kindly. “But you’re right. The Tyrants won’t make a trade. However, I have both a plan and the knowledge to implement it. For computers, the Tyrants are rather vain.”
“But I still don’t know what you mean.” Some plasma bolts came dangerously to striking Vaalor.
“When our minds touched, I learned all about you,” Radea explained. “I can do the task with your hands.”
“You will do what?!” Vaalor beamed back incredulously. How had she broken though his mental shields without him even noticing it? “You want to… switch? But you’re a girl!”
“And you’re a boy,” Radea answered. “I know you can effect a mind-transfer. Do it, and let me save us both.”
“I-I don’t know,” Vaalor stuttered. He had never performed a mind-switch with a woman before. The thought troubled him. “Maybe I can beat them myself. I could… outsmart them.”
“You’re going to outsmart a group of computers that dominated the most intelligent race in the galaxy?” Radea asked with a hint of disdain.
“Well, when you put it that way…” Vaalor muttered. “But you’re going to outsmart them? Are you part-Coluan?”
“No, and I don’t have to be as smart as a Coluan,” Radea beamed with self-confident pride. “Just more clever.”
“OK, then,” Vaalor replied. He began to concentrate after the conversation concluded, which actually had only taken a fraction of a second. His mind was loosed from his body. It blazed a trail on the psychic plane that pulled Radea out as he pushed into her body. Soon Vaalor’s mind was in Radea’s sedated body, while Radea inhabited Vaalor’s form.
“Well, then,” Radea said, smiling as she enjoyed the feeling of the powerful male frame. “So this is what it feels like.” She only allowed herself the luxury for a moment. Using Vaalor’s physical powers, she rocketed toward the capital city again, her destination the central mainframe.
Putting Vaalor’s powers to good use, Radea streaked through the skies of the planet Rexor, finding the experience exhilarating. She had flown with rocket-packs and anti-gravitic devices before, but to fly just because she willed it was a novel experience. However, she knew that she had to concentrate on the task at hand. The Computer Tyrants who ruled Roxar were definitely not feeble intellects. They would be tracking her flight path, projecting her likely destination, and initiating countermeasures.
She poured on the speed as she made slight adjustments to her course. She didn’t want her final destination to be too obvious. That might mean that there would be dozens of gigantic robotic forms of the Computer Tyrants, not to mention the dominated Autom locals.
I’m fortunate that the Tyrants are so egotistically chatty, Radea thought as she reminisced about her time in captivity at their metallic hands. She hoped that they would do nothing grievously harmful while Vaalor now inhabited her body. They let it slip that they have a central mainframe for processing error functions for all of the Tyrants.
She came up to the innocuous facility that housed the central mainframe. There were a few armed Automs guarding the entrance. Extending her hands, she let the energy build. Her force-blasts pushed the Automs away without harming them too severely. Increasing the intensity, she smashed through the omnium steel doors. Once inside, she enveloped herself with an energy-bubble as she searched for a terminal.
With her futuristic mind, she had no trouble picking it out amongst the technological wonderland that the complex was. Concentrating, she expanded the bubble until it surrounded the entire complex. She knew that would weaken its strength, but she also knew that the Tyrants and their minions would be converging on the place. She had to keep them out until she could complete her task.
Her fingers danced across the terminal as she struggled to access the core programming. “It’s a Vax-based system,” she noted with amusement. “I was hacking into these as a toddler. This shouldn’t turn out to be too difficult after all.”
Suddenly, the facility shook violently. It was obvious to Radea that the Computer Tyrants were bringing their forces to bear. The energy-bubble could not withstand too much of a sustained bombardment.
Pounding the keyboard furiously, Radea broke into core programming routines. “There,” she said, smiling. “Now to add two lines of code.” She inserted one set of commands near the top of a constantly accessed subroutine. With a flourish, she recompiled the subroutine into the core program.
Within seconds, the bombardment stopped. Radea let the energy-bubble dissipate. She stepped outside to see a number of gigantic Tyrants standing immobile. There were a number of Automs looking around warily, electronic confusion emanating from them.
“What is going on here?” one of the Automs asked. “And who are you, alien?”
“That’s sort of complicated,” Radea answered. “I mean, I’m here at the behest of the Guardians of the Clockwork Universe to help you. The Computer Tyrants of Colu had enslaved your world, but the electronic domination, as well as the Tyrants themselves, has been stopped.”
The Autom checked the readings of his personal datalog versus his chronometer. “That’s strange. My memory banks are blank for the past few cycles. There’s nothing after the irregularities in the omni-wave broadcast.”
Radea extended her hand to the robot’s shoulder. “That how the Tyrants took control here — by hijacking the omni-wave broadcast and controlling your minds. Now they don’t have control of themselves. We’ll have to do a thorough job of rounding them up. But first, I have to rescue myself.”
Taking to the air in Vaalor’s body, Radea left behind some befuddled Automs. She soon was at the side of her own body. Going through the devices that the Computer Tyrants had used on her, she administered a counter-agent, and her body quickly returned to consciousness.
“Whoa, this is strange,” Vaalor said from inside the graceful feminine form. “I never could have imagined what this would feel like.”
“It was an experience for me, too,” Radea replied. She helped Vaalor to stand. “But I really would like to get back to my own body.”
Vaalor nodded. An instant later, he was nodding his own head. “Ah, that’s better.” He looked at Radea. “So what exactly did you do, or is it too technical?”
“Not at all,” Radea said, grinning. “I added two lines of code to their core programming. The first line was LINE 100: GOTO LINE 200. The second line was LINE 200: GOTO LINE 100. I created an infinite loop. It was too simple for any of their countermeasures to do anything.”
“Very clever,” Vaalor laughed.
“It’s probably only temporary,” Radea admitted. “They might find some way to break out of the loop. With the Tyrants down, we should be able to contact the Clockworkers.” She closed her eyes. “Nestro?”
“Our minds touch once again,” the leader of the Clockworkers beamed back across the light-years. “We can tell that you have been successful. The Computer Tyrants of Colu, eh? A very ingenious trap. I will soon have some of my colleagues contact you with a plan to clear the Tyrants from the Autom systems and to permanently imprison them.”
“Well, then,” Radea said, returning her attention to Vaalor. “I guess your task is done. I’m free now. Thank you for lending a hand, among other things.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “Feel free to visit me on Hyperba if you’re in the area.”
“S-s-sure.” Vaalor’s yellow cheeks became rather flushed. “Um, er, I guess I’d better get back home now.” He took off into the sky and soon left Roxar’s atmosphere behind. He opened up the first of the space-warps that would take him home. “Wow, what a gal!”