The area of the first level that Conner had moved them to was surrounded by colored shards of light, that sparkled and flashed all around them. This made it difficult at first for them to concentrate on their screens. However, the information that they were reading, soon had their complete attention.
“Conner, If I read this correctly, these instructions sounds like we will be playing a video game.” Kattie said in a puzzled tone.
“Mr. Chambers understands 21st century humans better than I thought he did,” Conner said in a low tone, then answered,
“I guess Mr. Chambers figured that for you two to be the most helpful, you needed to be able to relate to what you were using, and how that would translate to his battle. As you know, we are assisting him in giving the appearance of technology-based weapons and defenses. All of Charlies power is technology-based.”
“So, to us, it would have the appearance of an advanced battle game,” Neville mumbled.
“Exactly, the difference is you will have to make your moves, based on what Mr. Chambers says and does. The settings on these machines will slow the real time action to a pace that gives you time to react, The trouble is that at some point Charlie could catch on to what is happening. If she does, we will need to shut down and be ready to flee, because she will try to destroy the source of our illusion.”
At first Neville looked concerned, but then that look turned into one of determination. He turned and looked at Kattie and smiled.
“Well then, we are just going to have to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Neville stated with a smile.
Kattie returned the smile, then started studying her screen again. Conner looked at them a little astonished.
“Here’s hopping,” he mumbled, then opened up a large book, and began to study it.
The second level of Wingate was a Masters of the arts dream. In the height of its glory, served as a training ground more masters and their apprentices. It also was a sight for contest between masters. These contests were designed as instruction sessions for apprentices, and also helped to establish a hierarchy among the masters. This level was literally a magical place. There was truly little on that level that was physically there. Everything had to be generated by the master(s), and or their apprentices. This was why the first level was created. The apprentices, especially the newer ones, needed rest periods to restore their powers.
Mr. Chambers reconstructed the arena portion of that level so that he and Charlie could be supported on small platforms that did not have to be generated by means of magic, at least at the beginning. He also arranged several shields. This was so that Charlie by either means she would have with her or by means of her ships she had stationed outside Wingate, she could not totally destroy this place.
“Charlie is such a sore loser,” Mr. Chambers mumbled as he continued to make his final touches.
Being back in Wingate was both a happy and sad time for Mr. Chambers. He had wonderful; memories of the eons of times he had there training apprentices. The contests, that helped him invent and fine tune a lot of his powers, It was during one of these contests that he was able to develop the skill to call up myths and legends from all species. He enjoyed bringing all these to life. He learned so much about the species, from the stories and tales these characters would tell. He shook his head to remind himself he had more to finish. When we was done, he checked in with Conner to see if they were all set.
“We are all done down here, and it appears that Charlie’s ships are about twenty minutes away.” Conner told him,
“I have seen the same. Be on strict watch from here on out. As you are well aware, Charlie does not play by any rules but her own,”
Mr. Chambers now made a brief to the third level of Wingate. This area was still pretty much the way it was in the “old” days. The only smart thing that the hierarchy of his species had done was lock off this level when the contest were beginning to get out of hand. Only by accident did Mr. Chambers come across the formula for gaining access to this level once again. He was not going to enter here until after his confrontation with Charlie, for fear it would be to much of a distraction. However, he was glad he did, Besides the many marvelous aspects of this level, the one that inspired Mr. Chambers was the historical archives of all the masters that had come before him. Yes, it did sadden him to an extent that some of these had abused their powers in the end, but the records found here were of all the good times before that final contest. He took a moment or two in order to renew his resolve to return this training ground back to its proper place, he notified Conner that he needed a cloaked ship placed three hundred G.T.’s from the entrance to Wingate.
Conner turned to Kattie,
“You heard the Master,” he said with a smile.
Kattie looked down at the options on her screen. She selected a ship that fit Mr. Chamber’s personality and added the appropriate crew compliment.
Five minutes later, Charlie contacted the Commander of the ships that were at Wingate.
“Commander! Have you investigated that disturbance that is about 400 J’s from your present position?” Charlie asked.
“In this province of space, those kind of disturbances happen all the time. They are caused by the expanding and contracting of Hex gasses.” The Commander responded.
“They are also caused by cloaked ships!” Charlie yelled back.
“If it were a cloaked ship, there would be a trail of that disturbance. This one is stationary. My orders are to guard the entrance, not chase ghost.” The Commander responded.
“You better be right about this, or you will be the ghost!” Charlie cut the communication.
The Commander of the Warrior ship was plotting out their next mission when there was a knock at the door.
“Commander, I thought you might want to know that the fleet that employed us have left orbit of earth and are heading towards the Frontal system.” The young officer announced.
“They are no longer a concern to me.” The Commander stated.
“Yes, Commander except…” The Officer stopped.
“Permission to speak freely?” The Officer asked.
The Commander stopped and looked at the Officer.
“If you feel it is important.”
“Commander, as you know I have researched all I could about the source of power that the one we were assigned to capture was using. We gathered enough information for you to decide that we had been deceived by Charlie, and it nullified our contract with her. You also would be interested in knowing that all the diagnosis that was done on the warriors that were deactivated shows that there was no malfunction on their part, and no other clear reason how this could have happened.”
“Is there a point to this?” The Commander asked.
“Yes sir. The Frontal system contains an area known as Wingate, The entrance to that area is forbidden, and is guarded, My research shows that is the founding place for those who were Masters of the Arts.”
The officer could see that the Commander was growing more impatient.
“Sir, if we are going to ever learn how to fight against such power, we need to find out more about it. Carlie clamed it was all a sham, yet she is headed towards the center of all things magic,”
The Commander sat back in the chair. She looked over the top of the officer that was in front of her,
“You see all those markers on the wall there behind you? Those are symbols of all the successful missions that have been accomplished since I have been in command. We have never been defeated, and up until this last mission, abandoned one.”
The Commander stood up and studied the markers another minute, then told the officer to continue her research, Then before the officer left, the Commander called to the bridge and told them to go into stealth mode and set a course for the Frontal system.
Charlie had a long list of equipment readied to transfer with her once they were in range of Wingate, She also drew up the formation she wanted she fleet divided up. The formation was designed to give her direct access to any piece of technological weapon from any ship at any time. She had done extensive research on the construction of Wingate and figured because no one having the full power of the Arts, there would not much in the way of protective walls. She was aware of all the unsuccessful attempts to destroy Wingate, by a variety of species, However, she would not be attempting to destroy Wingate, at least not at first. Her target was the one on the inside.
Charlie’s fleet was just about in range of Wingate, when she was notified that the command ship had detected the possibility of another large fleet approaching.
“Explain!” Charlie demanded.
“They are heavily cloaked so it is impossible to get any details, but the amount of disturbance that is being caused in that section of space could only be explained by a large fleet of ships.
Charlie thought about this for a moment, then laughed,
“A variation on a theme, instead of ‘Divide and Conquer,’ Chambers is using ‘Distract and conquer.’ Ignor them and focus on the task at hand,
Mr. Chambers was also aware of the fleet approaching, and he knew who they were, It was not clear to him why they might be heading his way, One thing he did know for sure was if they were still part of Charlies plan, He would be in much bigger trouble.