I don't own Cyberchase. Max is mine.


Chapter One
To Radopolis

Previously on Cyberchase: A Black Heart. . .

Max looked at her father who now stood with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans. "You heard what Master Pi wanted me to do, didn't you?" She asked.

Marbles nodded. "Affirmative. I can't say I approve." He told her.

"I didn't expect you to, actually." Max said.

"Max, I don't like the idea of you being out there trying to destroy somebody. Even if it isn't a good person." Marbles said.

"I know." She nudged him with her muzzle and he leaned into her. "I take no joy in doing what he wants me to do. But it must be done."

"Negative, Max. It doesn't need to be done. You could let it go. Just, let it go."

Max pulled away from him. "Yeah, it does, Dad."

"Max! Just let it go!" Marbles told her.

Max stared at him. Marbles waited and Max began singing.

"Let it go.
Let it roll right off your shoulder.
Don't you know,
The hardest part is over.
Let it in.
Let your clarity define you.
In the end,
You will only just remember how it feels.

"Our lives are made
In these small hours.
These little wonders.
These twists and turns of fate.
Time falls away.
But these small hours,
These little wonders, still remain."

Max rubbed her muzzle against him. She loved how much he cared about her, but she couldn't let it go. He had done too much damage to her . . . He had caused her too much pain.

"I'm sorry, Dad. I can't let it go. I'm sorry."

"Max . . . I can understand why you feel you need to do this. But I can't condone what you're planning to do." Marbles said. "I forbid you from carrying out this terrible thing."

He folded his hands behind his back, officiously. Max hated seeing him like this and as much as she respected him, she felt she had to remind him of his position over her before things got out of hand.

"It's not really up to you right now, Dad. Nor is it up to me."

Marbles actually gave her a headtilt. "Translate." He ordered.

"The day Master Pi came to see if I could join the warriors, I made a promise that I would obey every order given to me by either him or the Red Warrior. I made the same promise the day I left Shangri-La. I promised Master Pi I would answer the gong when it rang. The gong only sounds when there is a mission to be had.

"He rang the gong and I answered. He gave me a mission and I fully intend to carry it out with or without your blessing. Either way, you do not have authority over me in this matter."

Marbles understood. He hung his head. Max didn't like seeing him like this either. She felt guilty pulling the Shangri-La-Warrior card but it was the truth nonetheless. She approached him and rested a paw lightly on his shoulder.

"Dad, please know I love and respect you. I take no joy in knowing I am to take the life of another borg but it must be done. If he can discipline me without a second thought and turn me into a beast using Magnetite, then consider what he can do to another borg. Consider what he can do to you. That's why I have to do it. I have the means and the tools necessary to do this job." Her paw slid to his back and she pulled him into her warm chest. "I don't do this out of disrespect for you, but for the safety of Cyberspace. That much has and always will be of great importance to me."

"Why? Why is this so important to you?" Ada asked.

"Master Pi told me that if I do this one thing – not just for him but also for the entirety of Cyberspace – he can give me my body back. That's all I want is my body and my life back. I want everything back – everything that was taken from me when he took me away." She licked her father and mother gently with her tongue. "Please understand why I have to do this."

"As long as you promise me one thing." Marbles said.

"What's that?"

"That once you destroy him, your desire to destroy will end there."

"Come on, Dad, I'm not a mindless killing machine. I might be a gargoyle now but that doesn't mean I lost all the borg stuff either."

"Promise me!"

Max stared at him long and hard. "I promise."

Marbles looked at the bright, pink eye locked in on his golden-brown eyes, and he knew he could not sway her from her mission. Although he didn't like the idea of Max turning into an assassin, he nodded. "Okay, Max. I understand. Please, be careful."

And now, the conclusion. . . .

The southern bedroom located right off Motherboard's control center was a depressively empty and dusty place. The bed was still made and the possessions of the room's former occupant remained where they had been since her disappearance seven years ago.

Digit LeBoid sat upon the bed's dusty covers and felt the unused pillow beneath his wing-feathers. He smiled to himself as he remembered waking her from her sleep every morning. She had been his oldest friend since he came online nine years ago. She had believed Digit when he needed to tell someone about Hacker's plans to destroy Motherboard and she had been there to stop Hacker from stealing Motherboard's encryptor chip. She had stood beside Dr. Marbles, her father, as he banished Hacker from Control Central; draining Hacker of all his power before doing so.

But she had not escaped Hacker's wrath. Angry that a seven-year-old girl could defeat him and make him look bad, Hacker kidnapped her and punished her the worst way possible:

He had used Magnetite - a viscous material that effects all cyborgs within a four-foot range. At first she had seemed immune to it but then, the side-effects started kicking in. She was turned into a gargoyle - something unheard of since Magnetite was never meant to drastically change someone's appearance. Other than giving someone an aged appearance or big feet, never had Magnetite ever made a cyborg change species before.

Despite her change of species, Digit's friendship with her never wavered and she never forgot about him either. They used to curl up together in the darkest reaches of the Northern Frontier at night; her sleeping with her enormous, reptilian body wrapped around him and he in his sleep mode to recharge his batteries. Her warm-blooded skin against his metallic one. Claws curled inward to carefully cradle him in the catch of her throat.

The cyboid sighed. He knew it was useless trying to relive the memories Max Marbles presented him with. Last time he saw Max, she had angered Hacker for the last time and he turned one of his inventions on her. Digit had seen the flash of green light and heard Max's painful roar while the machine started Dematerializing her. Digit never saw her again.

Digit had escaped Hacker and had returned to Control Central where he was greeted with open the open arms of Dr. Marbles and Motherboard's warm words. As happy as Digit was returning home, he regretted having to tell Dr. Marbles that Max, his precious daughter, had not survived her ordeal with Hacker. To say that Marbles was devastated is a complete understatement and he took two weeks leave from his duty as Motherboard's repair specialist to search for Max's lingering data. Digit stayed behind, then, to do repairs as Motherboard requested.

Digit leaned his head back against the pillow, oblivious to the dust which normally left his beak stuffed and runny. His duties in Control central were done. All he wanted to do now was remember his friend, Max, as she was.

"Digit! Are you there?"

Digit sat bolt upright on the bed at Motherboard's call. Motherboard was a fairly excellent tenant as she said little to nothing at all. So Digit could be alone without truly being alone. But whenever she summoned him to the main bridge, Digit knew better than to linger. If anything, she could be in danger and the last thing Digit wanted was for Motherboard to go offline because of him.

"I'm right here, Motherboard!" He said, running as fast as he could into the room; wings open wide to keep his balance.

Motherboard regarded him. Her mismatched eyes full of fear from something only she could see. Digit knew that expression of fear. He had seen it all before since the day Hacker returned and planted a virus in her system. It was the kind of fear she reserved for only one person in all of Cyberspace.

"Hacker . . . Radopolis . . . Totally Rad Ring of Radopolis1. . . . Must retrieve quickly." Motherboard said. The virust prevented her from stringing more than a few words together.

"Totally Rad Ring of Radopolis? What's that?" Digit asked.

Motherboard quickly showed Digit a short description of the Totally Rad Ring of Radopolis which was a powerful device capable of granting the wearer whatever they wanted. Digit felt his coolant freeze. Hacker having his hands on any device of great power was a very bad thing. Even if Hacker didn't have a device of great power, he could still make something to fit his needs.

Like the Dematerializing device he turned on Max.

Digit quickly shook the thought from his mind. Now was not the time to think about Max. Max was now nothing more than a pile of ones and zeros floating around in Cyberspace. At least, that's what Digit assumed. The Doc never told anyone if he ever found a trace of Max's data - Digit had warned Marbles that Max's data may have changed since becoming a gargoyle.

"How soon can you get us there, Motherboard?" Digit asked.

"Fetch your four-person scooter. You're leaving immediately. I'll send for the kids." Motherboard said in a moment of strength that caused Digit to admire her will.

1

Radopolis was an awesome Cybersite. Quite literally. It was a place full of sports-savvy cyborgs; all professionals in the art of skateboarding, biking, scooters, and rollerblading. At one time, the Radopolis was bustling with sports competitions. And it was all guarded by King Dudicus, a close friend and loyal subject to Motherboard.

Now that Hacker had stolen the Totally Rad Ring of Radopolis, the Radopolans were struggling to do what they did best; compete. But all their attempts were done in vain. Hacker had wished away all wheels; grounding them where they stood. The Radopolans tried their best with what they had; molding stones, cans, and jars to their bikes and things to make them go. The entire site was thronged with chaos and everyone knew that Hacker loved chaos.

Three kids were flung out of their portal; landing on their feet and counting it as one of the few lucky landings they ever got when it came to exiting a portal.

"Whoa!" The boy Matt declared. "Hacker really has been here, alright. Look at this place."

Jackie, the fashion guru in the group, snatched Matt out of the way just as a cyclist thundered past them on a rather unstable bike.

"There's no telling what else Hacker will do with that ring." Inez, the youngest, said.

Just then, there was a light-hearted, exhilarating scream and the kids looked up in time to see Digit pop out of a newly formed portal and tumble to the ground. A scooter landed on top of him. But Digit didn't seem to mind. Quite the contrary, Digit got a little dinged up all the time.

"Let's go, Earthlies. Hacker set up a command post on Point Dune. Hop on." Digit beckoned; hoping aboard the scooter once he was free.

The three kids and their whacky bird friend road through town, looking around at all the havok caused by a single wish. They had to stop a couple of times to avoid dangerous sportsters, once at a blocked intersection because of a grounded train, and once because Matt broke the back wheel of their scooter while jumping the train. But the kids could not be swayed. They drew a new wheel out of a rock and Digit cut it out with one of his many beak-tools.

But, no sooner had they gotten close to Point Dune, then a tower of tires fell upon them. Stopping them in their tracks.


1Totally Rad Ring of Radopolis-episode "Borg of the Ring"