When Tecna and her group arrive at Zenith Central by levecar she finds Bloom, Flora, Spika, Musa and also Shego and Icy already in the outer courtyard waiting for them. Tecna takes the group to an inner chamber and there introduces all to her father, King Cryos of Binos, and her mother, Queen Magnethia.
As soon as introductions are made, both King Cryos and Queen Magnethia focus their attention on Wade.
“You are a technical genius to have built such beautiful circuitry out of junk!” exclaims King Cryos, returning the Kimmunicator Tecna had sent ahead for analysis. Wade bites his tongue not to retort that on Terra these are state-of-the-art components but, during the four hours spent opening food processing robots and getting a good firsthand look at their circuitry as he replaced modules, he quickly realized that these were built with university graduate components compared to his primary school ones.
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” replies Wade unsure if he should say anything more.
“It is a shame that you will not be remaining with us,” continues the King. “We could really use some fresh blood on Binos.”
“Yes,” adds Queen Magnethia, “and if you were a few years older, I would consider you as prime husband material for our daughter.”
“Mother!” exclaims Tecna, reaching for Timmy’s arm and holding to it possessively.
“Just a thought, dear, just a thought,” smiles her mother then turns her attention to Spika.
“You are the first of your kind I have met,” she tells Spika. “You are beautiful and your fur is luxurious. I wouldn’t mind having fur like yours.”
“Your Majesty,” purr-speaks Spika, “that is kind of you but I doubt you will want fur in this climate. On my world there are only two seasons like what on Alfea are called fall and winter. Our fur evolved to protect us from the cold but I found out during my first year at Alfea College how hot and oppressing it is during late spring and summer. And then, I don’t think you will ever want to experience what it is like to suffer through a flea infestation.”
“Oh!” replies Queen Magnethia then moves on to Kim and Ron.
“And you are also unique from what I hear,” begins the Queen as her husband comes to join her. “We would like to better understand how you evolved from Terran to Kimiran as our daughter has informed us.”
“Yes,” says King Cryos. “I hope that during your few days with us that you will allow us to do a thorough examination.”
“Kim!” cries Ron in a panic. “They want to slice and dice us to examine under a microscope then eat our brains.”
“Yikes!” squeaks Rufus then dives for the bottom of Ron’s pocket.
“What’s he on about, Tecna?” ask her parents perplexed while Kim, Shego and Icy roll their eyes upwards and groan.
“Ron!” snaps Tecna angrily. “Shame on you! You have lived on Alfea for more than a year. That is long enough to know that Faeries are not in any way like that. At most the examination will involve a few scans, taking a few strands of hair and a small sample of blood. The blood will be drawn so quickly and painlessly that you will not know it is done before it is already done.”
« His brain’s been addled from watching too many zombie movies, » sends Shego to Kim who nods.
Meanwhile, Icy notices that Spika is acting strangely – shifting her weight from foot-paw to foot-paw and swishing her tail nervously. “What is the matter?” Icy asks when Spika starts growling deep in her throat.
Spika does not get a chance to reply before klaxons begin to wail and everyone about freezes to attention.
“Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!” announces a synthesized female voice. “Stage 10 electrical storms eminent for Zenith, Conductra and Silica Provinces. Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!”
“That’s right on top of us!” exclaims King Cryos.
The next instant, servants or guards are rushing in. “Majesties, Princess Tecna, quick! Get into your insulated cloaks. We need to move you to the shelters.”
“Can we help?” is Flora’s first concern. “Maybe erect a shield?”
“Water will just draw the electricity to us,” says Icy. “Bloom, Shego, Kim?”
“No idea,” replies Bloom. “Never used it for that before.”
“Same,” says Shego.
“Ditto here,” replies Kim, shrugging her shoulders.
“I could possibly fly above the storm and redirect some of it,” offers Stormy.
“But to where?” asks Bloom. “You don’t know this planet. You might redirect it to some densely populated area and kill a lot of people.”
“I think the Binars know what they are doing,” says Shego, putting an end to the discussion. “We’d do best to let them get on with it and keep out of the way. Let’s just follow instructions and head for the shelters.”
Shego reaches for her communicator that puts her in touch with the Ambasatari.
“It’s bad, Captain, really bad,” reports Kamala’s voice over the communicator. “The storm is massive and there’s total panic and pandemonium breaking out all about us. We’re receiving automated, multilingual broadband messages from the surface ordering all ships in orbit about Binos to break orbit and flee for their lives.”
“Then get the ship out of harm’s way but try to say close enough to monitor the situation. Render assistance to any ships in distress you can without putting the Ambasatari in danger,” orders Shego.
“Aye, Captain,” is the reply, “but what about you and the others?”
“We are heading to some underground bunkers, so I’m told,” Shego informs her. “I might be out of communication with the ship until we re-emerge. Nonetheless, keep monitoring this frequency. Until then, Security has command of the ship. Keep the ship and everyone safe.”
“Aye, Captain, will do,” replies Kamala. “May the Goddess save and protect you all!”
Shego pockets her communicator and rushes to rejoin the group. She finds guards waiting at the entrance of what must be and escape exit.
“My parents have gone ahead,” Tecna tells them. “The guards are here to assist you. After I go, a guard will follow then one of you then a guard until all of you are on the slide.” Without any hesitation, Tecna is on the slide heading down followed by a guard. Shego has Bloom follow with her guard then the rest of the group until it is her turn.
Shego feels like the slide is going on forever and the rate of descent accelerating. She watches the blue markers on the wall blurring past her. When the markers change from blue to yellow, the guard behind her suddenly grabs her around her waist. Shego is about to protest violently until she realizes that the guard is using special grips on his boots and the sides of his pant legs to slow their descent. When the markers again change from yellow to red, Shego can see the end of the slide. A guard is waiting to grab her and stand her on her feet.
“Shego, this way,” calls Tecna, indicating a bank of turbo lifts. There is a five minute ride during which the turbo lift goes even deeper underground then shuttles sideways a number of times before it comes to a stop.
When the doors open, Shego suddenly finds herself awestruck with her mouth agape. She had expected to end up in a crampt, concrete bunker with only Spartan amenities but spread before her as far as the eye can see is an underground megalopolis complete with habitats, stores and even a monorail.
“We have had millennia to learn how to deal with electrical storms,” explains Tecna. “This underground city is large enough to hold the entire population of Binos and is self-sustaining.”
“Wow!” exclaim the others.
“Every quarter cycle,” Tecna continues, “a quarter of the population resides here and a quarter goes back up to the surface in rotation. That way, if we experience a massive loss of life on the surface, there will be a large enough population in these subterranean shelters to repopulate the planet. The Great Computer and Database are another twenty levels below us. But come now. I need to have you registered and assigned quarters.”
“It sounds like we shall be here for some time,” says Shego.
“At least a week,” replies Tecna.
Shortly after, they are in a large courtyard where people are lined up waiting their turn to slap their palms against a metal plate.
“They are using their neural nets to register and be assigned quarters,” explains Tecna, “but, because you don’t have one, you will be issued ID bracelets. Even Rufus will get one.”
“Bling! Yay-hey!” shouts Rufus, smiling.
“Will I get to see any of the labs?” asks Wade excitedly.
“Certainly,” Tecna smiles. “I’ll arrange it once you are settled in.”
Icy notices that Spika is acting nervous again. “Icy!” she hears Stormy moan behind her then turns to see Stormy falling to her knees, keeling onto her side and beginning to glow.
“Goddess!” exclaims Icy. “It never rains but it pours! Everybody! Clear the area!” she shouts urgently then, raising her arms high and bringing them down to her sides, she cries, “Ice chrysalis!”
Icy, cloaked in her own glowing skin, is on her knees, sitting Stormy up straight, shaking her shoulders, then she smacks her hard across her face. “Stormy! Stay awake!” she screams.
“What’s going on?” asks Tecna, rushing to Icy and Stormy from the front of the line.
“She has built up an excess of electricity,” is the reply. “She probably got an enormous jolt from the oncoming storm. She needs to discharge it into something. If she falls into unconsciousness or starts convulsing, she’s as good as dead.”
“Like the ion batteries on the Kimiran ship?” asks Tecna.
“Yes,” replies Icy, “but we must hurry.”
Tecna holds her palm near her mouth and starts wailing and screaming into it then it wails and screams back at her. A siren starts to blare then everyone hurries to evacuate the courtyard and clear the passageways.
“There is an electrical conduit that feeds into a bank of accumulators about half a kilometre that way,” shouts Tecna pointing.
Icy picks up Stormy and starts flying in the direction indicated by Tecna who is flying behind her. When they arrive, there is a crew of technicians frantically unbolting an alfeanium cover from a large conduit exposing two solid gold rods.
“Which one is positive?” asks Icy.
“It doesn’t matter,” replies Tecna, “the circuits will adjust automatically to the correct polarity.”
Icy has to wipe away green ooze from Stormy’s hands then place them against the rods. Stormy instinctively holds fast to them then they begin to glow as the excess of electricity is drained from her body.
“What’s that stuff?” asks Tecna as Icy cleans her hands of green ooze.
“It’s her body’s last ditch effort to save itself,” replies Icy. “We made it just in the nick of time.”
Meanwhile, there is excited chatter going on among the technicians. Tecna moves to see what’s happening then exclaims, “Whoa!”
“She’s fully charged a whole bank,” she explains before Icy can ask. “We’re switching over to a secondary bank.”
Five minutes later, Stormy releases the rods then crumples to the ground.
“She’s out of danger,” answers Icy to Tecna’s concerned expression. “She’ll sleep for at least a day now.”
“This could be disastrous if it happens onboard the Ambasatari,” says Tecna. “Maybe we can help her while she’s here on Binos.”
“I agree,” says Icy, “but how can you help?”
“We’ll give her a neural net,” explains Tecna. “It will be just like mine but we can build into it an accumulator and discharge unit that will keep her electrical buildups at a safe level as well as giving her the usual Binar’s computer interface capability.”
“But what’s the catch?” asks Icy.
“It’s never been used on a non-Binar,” says Tecna, frankly. “The operation could kill her.”
Icy hesitates. Tecna calls over the technicians for a whine-wail conversation. The looks are first ones of surprise then one of them shrugs in a manner that can only mean: “Don’t ask us for we ain’t got no clue.” One of the technicians whines into his palm and soon an old gentleman has joined them. The old fellow takes a scanner from his belt and passes it a few times over Stormy’s body then whines and wails to Tecna.
“Our most senior physician says that Stormy’s Storm-Witch adaptations have already made her as close to a cyborg as biologically possible. Her chances of survival have just gone up from fifty-fifty to ninety-five percent,” she interprets for Icy.
“Let’s do it,” is Icy’s short reply.