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THE BARCHON DICTATORSHIP

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER II

The masked figure in front of them pressed down on the trigger, but before he could shoot them the other masked figure shot. He removed his mask so they could see who he was.

"Shawn!" the three of them exclaimed in unison.

"It's only on stun, so you'd better keep an eye on him in case he wakes up."

Lisa volunteered figuring it would be easier than what Shawn had planned for the others.

"Now for your job," Shawn began turning to Peter and Hank and proving Lisa right. "I have located the central computer for you. The easiest path for you to get to it is to the southeast."

Shawn pointed to the southeast in case they had lost their sense of direction.

"From there, you should take a hidden pathway to the northeast of the central computer," he continued. "It should take you straight to the top of Mt. Veneb where the remaining members of the dictatorship will be. Use extreme caution when approaching their base. Even with their robot guards out of order, they should still have a few surprises waiting for you. As you can see, I have replaced one of them and will attack them from the inside. The resulting confusion should allow you to get by with little difficulty."

Shawn picked up their former captors phaser and gave it to Hank. Hank admired its construction and knew that he would need such a weapon to get to the central computer. Then Shawn reached into his pocket, took out a spare phaser, and gave it to Lisa. It wasn't as powerful as the other one was, but if the prisoner came to she would need it.

"What am I going to use?" wondered Peter.

"I'm sorry but I only have one extra phaser," Shawn replied. "You'll just have to make due with what you've got until you can find another weapon. Lisa needs the weapon more than you do. Be sure to keep an eye on him, I have no idea when he will recover."

"You can count on me," Lisa assured him.

"Good," Shawn commended. "Now the rest of us had better get busy. The sooner we get started, the better."

Lisa watched the others as they went their separate ways. Peter and Hank headed toward the central computer and Shawn crept back into the woods in a direction of his own choosing to do whatever is was he had in mind. Lisa quickly turned her attention to the prisoner. He was still limp and silent. She had a feeling that it was going to be a while before he would begin to stir.

TIME : 2:31 P.M. (14:31)
PLACE : The central computer

Peter and Hank had no trouble getting to the central computer and were ready for the hard part. The journey had taken them the better part of an hour, but their journey was a simple one. The path was well marked and free from most obsticles.

The path ended at what looked like a secret entrance to the central computer. There was only a single robot guarding the entrance. Hank was tempted to shoot it, but he remembered that all the robots were connected to the central computer. As soon as one robot detected their presence, all of them would know they were there and the two of them weren't prepared to fight all the robots at once.

Hank looked around him for an alternate means of entering. The main entrance and the secondary entrance were the only other ways to get to the central computer and each of them was guarded by a number of robots. They would have to use the secret door.

The first thing they needed to do was to distract the robot. Hank found a small rock and threw it at a clearing away from them. The robot detected the noise and checked its programming to see if it was more important to investigate the disturbance or to continue guarding the entrance. After a slight pause, it continued to guard the entrance as if nothing unusual had happen.

Peter caught on to what Hank was doing and threw another rock in the same place. The robot still remained at the door. After doing this several times, the robot left to investigate the disturbance giving Peter and Hank the break they needed.

The two of them quietly made their way to the door. The dictators either didn't know about the door or thought that it would be too difficult to get to it because the door was left unlocked. Without a second to loose, they opened the door and made their way inside. The robot had spotted them entering the building, but by that time it was too late. The robot was programmed to stay in that area and not follow anyone elsewhere no matter what. However, the robot could report its discovery to the central computer. It in turn would alert the other robots to their presence.

"Hurry!" commanded Hank. "We've been discovered."

Hank and Peter felt along the walls until their eyes got adjusted to the light, or rather the lack of light. There had been no human inside the place for days and the robots didn't need the light. They kept as quiet as they could knowing that the darkness would prove to be a definite disadvantage for them.

Finally, Hank spotted a few dim lights coming from one of the control panels. It was just the one he was looking for. From the dull light, he could see an assembly line next to him where new robots were being made constantly. Fortunate for him, the robots were in the early stages of development and not yet able to detect what was going on around them.

Hank would have liked to have seen how the robots were made, but he knew that would be too great a risk for him to take. He looked at the control panel and began rapidly pressing a series of buttons apparently at random though Peter could tell that it was in some sort of pattern that he couldn't recognize.

"What are you doing?" he whispered letting his curiosity get the better of him.

"I'm overloading the computer," Hank explained. "In about a minute this place will be blown to bits."

The control panel was already beginning to overheat. The computer was unable to carry out Hank's instructions, override the program, or shut itself off. The assembly line began to become disorganized throwing robot parts in all possible directions.

They tried to leave by the way they had come, but the robot guard was there waiting for them. It still hadn't been effected by the overload in the central computer. The robot raised its built in phaser and prepared to fire, but Hank shot it before it ever got the chance. The shot hit directly in the center of its chest unit causing it to jerk violently before finally crashing to the ground.

The robot gave off a lovely display of fireworks, but neither one of them could stay and watch. The whole place was going to explode in a matter of seconds. Once the place exploded, the remaining robots would become disabled. However, Peter and Hank would have to get past the robots while they were still active or else they would be killed in the explosion.

"I wish my phaser hadn't been disentigrated," thought Peter.

They ran into the woods not caring which direction they were running in except for the fact that they were going away from the building. Some of the robots spotted them and fired at them as they made their way through the woods, but they were out of range.

Just when they thought they were safe from the robots, another robot appeared in front of them. Hank reacted instantly and shot the robot before Peter even knew what had happened. A second later, the central computer exploded in a gigantic boom that could be heard for miles covering them with minute particles of debris.

As soon as they heard the explosion, Hank and Peter fell to the ground and covered their heads to protect them from any trees that might fall on them. Nothing of the sort happened, but they waited several minutes before rising to their feet again.

"Thanks, Hank," gasped Peter examining the remains of the robot Hank had shot. "I owe you one."

"You owe me five," corrected Hank. "but whose counting."

Greatful to still be in one piece, they returned to the site of the explosion and looked for the hidden pathway Shawn had told them about. The path was fairly easy to find since they knew where to look, but if they didn't know where to look it would have been practically impossible for them to find it.

There was no doubt in their minds that the enemy knew about the explosion. They would be waiting for them to show up. Surprising them would not be easy without some help from the inside. They could only hope that Shawn had succeeded with his part of the mission like they had done.

TIME : 2:33 P.M. (14:33)
PLACE : Beside the ship

Lisa's prisoner had been conscious for about ten minutes, but he pretended to still be unconscious to fool Lisa. He waited until she was looking the other way with her phaser dangling loosely in her hand before making his move. His patience had payed off. Lisa was totally surprised when he crept up behind her and overpowered her taking the phaser away from her.

Lisa gave up struggling and stared at her former prisoner. This was the position she had been in when she first met him. He had attempt to kill her before and there was nothing to guarantee her that he wouldn't try again.

"Aren't you going to kill me?" she demanded trying to figure out what his new motives were.

"No," he replied. "I have more important uses for you."

"You were going to kill me before," she reminded him.

"Yes," he agreed. "but that was when I had all three of you. Now I only have you, but I can use you as bait to trap your companions. They won't try anything as long as I have a hostage."

Lisa took a step back in fear causing him to laugh in an evil way.

TIME : 2:44 P.M.
PLACE : The top of Mt. Veneb

Unaware of what had happened to Peter, Hank, or Lisa, Shawn continued to sabotage the base. Shawn could work rapidly without having to worry about being discovered. There were only three of them left and the base was much too large for a chance meeting among the four of them. His disguise had fooled all of them, even the leader of the group.

The only other thing he had to watch out for were the robots. Although the robots there were not completely dependent on the central computer, they could no longer work as a unit. If robot discovered he was up to no good, that would be the only robot he would have to worry about. Their communication system was completely destroyed thanks to Peter and Hank who were on their way to meet him.

The remaining members of the dictatorship had indeed found out that the central computer was destroyed. They also finally discovered that one of them was missing. Only their leader remained calm. The other two started to panic thinking that someone was out to get them and they would be next.

The leader also thought that someone was out to get them, but he thought that they could regain control of the situation. He called his subordinates together to discuss plans for a counter attack. Shawn joined them at the meeting so he wouldn't blow his cover and so he could listen in on their conversation.

Shawn smiled quietly to himself though the other could not see it behind his mask. The leader of M.W.G.D. was in the same room with them and they didn't even know it. Shawn was pleased that they were having their private conversation since it would allow Peter and Hank to reach the top of the mountain without being spotted.

At that very moment, Hank had destroyed another one of their robots and both of them could see the base in front of them.

"Almost there," sighed Peter.

Things were going great until the leader received a message from the one they had captured earlier who was now holding Lisa hostage. He warned them about M.W.G.D. and told them of his suspicions that one of them was an imposter. He wasn't able to see who had stunned him, but he had more than a hunch that he was betrayed by his own kind.

Upon hearing this, the leader of the dictatorship ordered all of them to remove their masks. To prevent the others from suspecting him, he was the first to do so. The other two members of the dictatorship followed suit leaving only Shawn with his mask still on.

The others turned to him suspiciously. Shawn saw that he had no place to hide. Reluctantly, Shawn removed his mask revealing a face they all recognized.

"Well, well," grinned their leader. "if it isn't the head of M.W.G.D. himself."

Shawn gave a sigh of dispair. He knew he was trapped.

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