Rune, Rika, Chaz, and Wren looked down into the hole.

It was impossibly dark down there.

Chaz gulped. "Wren, tell me something."

"No data," the android replied. "None of my sensors can penetrate into that darkness. No readings on infrared, ultraviolet, or radar."

"Rune?"

"It's definitely the place. This is the epicenter of the Black Energy Wave. It makes me a little nauseous to stand here, to be honest. Without the Rings of the Stars we'd be dying for sure."

Silence settled over the party. It was one thing to know that this was their destination, and that their target was inside. It was another to plunge into such a place. Even Chaz, who couldn't tell the Black Energy Wave from chocolate syrup, felt hatred and danger emanating from the hole, and was in no hurry to leap into it.

Wasn't the Profound Darkness waiting for them inside? A being that even the Great Light had been unable to destroy? How could they hope to do more than that?

Another dimension existed through that hole. Even from here it seemed to stretch their sanity. The hole was bottomless, as near as they could tell. If they did jump in, would they ever hit bottom?

Chaz ground his teeth together. He needed to play for time. "Uh... hey, Rune, I've been meaning to ask you something."

Rune thought he might have answered impatiently at some other time, but if it meant delaying dropping into that madness, he would play along. "Yes?"

"I've been wondering this for a while. How did you get to Motavia?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well," said Chaz, his eyes never leaving the hole, "the Esper Mansion is on Dezolis. That's where you became Lutz, and got his memories. But when we met, it was on Motavia."

If Chaz had looked, he would have seen Lutz become stiff and a stricken expression come over his face. But he made no sound, so Chaz rambled on. "I mean, you knew Alys before I did, so you must have been here for years. But no one knew about any spaceships that could travel between planets. We found the last two, didn't we? And you don't seem like the sort of person who could pilot a ship anyway."

With each word, Rune seemed to become less real. His colors faded, and the border of his body became weaker.

"So if you started out on Dezolis to become Lutz, then ended up on Motavia to meet Alys... how did you get to Motavia? Unless you met Alys first... but then you would have had to travel to Dezolis and back, so that's even worse... so how'd you do it?"

Silence answered him. Chaz finally looked over towards Rune.

Nothing was there.

"Rune?" he asked.

"I detect no trace of Rune," said Wren.

"Then... what happened?"

Rika stomped her foot. "You idiot! Thanks to you, he fell into a plot hole! You're not supposed to point out plot holes! Now Rune's caught mid-paradox and we'll never get him back!"

"Um... oops?"

"He also has one of the Rings of the Stars," Wren added with an edge to his voice. "It doesn't appear that he dropped it, so it must be equally irretrievable. We can't replace him in the party."

"Well... er... I guess we'd better get to work, then!" said Chaz, and he dropped into the hole. Wren and Rika followed hopelessly.

And that's how the Profound Darkness destroyed Algo.

The end.


Disclaimer: Phantasy Star and its characters are copyright Service and Games. This story copyright Bryon Nightshade, a.k.a. Sam Durbin.