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BUT YOUR FRIENDS ARE FEW

by T. G. Taft: The first half of The Alliance.

The original Ledic sighed as he stared at the original Ludit, sitting only a few seats ahead of him. (Or was that the other way around?) "And I thought this class would be boring," he murmured, intensifying his gaze even more. Suddenly, the Ludit spun around in her seat, and startled the Ledic. Adjusting brilliantly, he quickly shone a big, broad grin. The Ludit stared at him a while, and then managed a courtious smile as she turned back around. "What a jerk," she thought to herself, as the teacher began discussing some 'gallant little country'...

AGAIN the sun rose over the plain, meeting with the horizon in a beautiful and picturesque picture that would cause most poets to shudder. Far off in the distance the Mountains of Zubar rose above the brazen ground and softly appeared more monstrous than they ever had before. Below all this, sitting deep within the Taft Towers (Inc.), the great T. G. Taft sank back into his famous custom-made chair. Suddenly the realization struck him: This would be the last time he would be relaxing like that. "I'll miss you," he thought to himself, as he squeezed his chair once again.

All of a sudden he was brought back to reality. He shrank back in his chair and shuddered as his mind wavered: Today, he remembered, was the day that he would have two visitors from his past; a past that he had hoped to forget; a past that happened eight long years ago.

**T. G. Taft**

Above all this, time seemed to pass quickly, and at approximately 12:00 noon Taft had finished the final paperwork that had to be done before he left for Pluto. Just as he put down his pen, for perhaps the last time, his intercom rang. "Sir," came the sweet voice of Susan Smith IV, "there is a man and his... er... pet here to see you."

"Send them in." Taft called. But he knew something was wrong, for the words did not roll off his mouth as they usually did; they came off almost in a stutter.

"Oh, and sir? Can I board the 1:00 PM shuttle for the Susan Smith? I have finished my work here and I would like to decorate my cabin."

"Yes. Go ahead."

Taft got up from his chair, and turned to face the wall behind him. He was not sure what his facial expression should be like when that man walked in, and, perhaps it would be better if he just stood toward the wall. That way he would let the other guy feel out of place first.

It was then that the door to his office creaked open, and he heard a small, squeaky voice reverberate. "Well, I'm here. You know, I think he knows that. Well, I should anounce it anyhow. Politeness you know."

Taft slowly turned around, not knowing what to say to this man; not knowing what to look like or how to express himself. He decided, perhaps prematuraly, to act very businesslike. His facial expression, as his motions, became as systematic as possible; and he told Enad the Great, his long lost enemy, to sit in a noncustom-made chair next to the desk.

Suddenly Taft heard a hitherto unheard of voice. "Sir, my infrared sensors indicate that this is indeed the T. G. Taft; this is the famous author. I believe that it would be proper to give a cordial bow."

"Shut up, you moth-eaten transistor!"

"Gentlemen, gentlemen. Settle down. For the record, I intend to ignore all formalities and get straight to the business at hand. Enad, as you know, you and I have been the worst of enemies for years upon end. However, I for one would like to forget all those bad times, and would like to make a business trade..."

"Hey, T. G.? Do you remember Kakablik? He was such a pal. I remember..."

"My many spy devices that were set up inside of Camelot detected your presence there and I..."

"Do you remember how you shoved that cow into that..."

"Like I said, I have a trade that I wish to make. I am now into what is turning into a space race. I intend to help you join it too if only..."

"You know, I don't think he's paying any attention. No. Neither do I. I wonder..."

"STOP IT!"

**T. G. Taft**

With that outburst the room fell quiet; and, almost ironically, the intercom buzzed. Taft slammed his hand onto the button and screamed out, "Ms. Smith, I thought you were gone!"

"Sir... there's someone here to see you Sir...it's...Oh my gosssshhhhh..."

Taft slowly sank back into his seat, for had been standing up after that conversation with Enad. In a monotone, almost rhythmic sound, he mumbled: "Send her in."

The single door of the office slowly opened, as both men stared blankly facing it. Taft, knowing who it was, closed his eyes. He thought about the day he had found the small note. Now, almost a year later, he silently hoped that he hadn't cleaned the attic and bumped across it. Enad, meanwhile, didn't know who it was that was coming through the door; and he sat there, hanging in suspense. Both men screamed out her name as she walked in, and their voices echoed througout the near empty chamber that was the Taft Towers.

"Amanda!"

**T. G. Taft**

Amanda, you see, was T. G. Taft's one and only wife. Married when they were only eighteen, they had found what most people had not: True love. Their first child was born two years after their honeymoon, and, when T. G. Taft II was only two months old, the accident occured. Recorded here is the single reason that T. G. Taft and Enad the Great have been enemies for eight years. Read now so that you may know the truth.

One cool autumn night, Enad had been driving Amanda home from a party: A party in which T. G. was invited but could not attend. Amanda really wanted to go to it, however, so she found a babysitter and asked Enad to drive her. Anyhow, as he was driving her back to the Taft's home in downtown Taftville, Enad somehow made a very bad misjudgement. Going slightly above the speed limit, he ran smack into the back of a stalled car. Both Enad and Amanda together were hurtled out of the car and on to the same hard pavement, but they did not sustain the same injuries. Enad healed in a couple of months. Amanda died the next day.

Taft was the first to speak up. "I found your note. Only a year ago. I almost didn't."

Amanda was not a tall girl, about seven inches shorter than Taft, with curly black hair tied up in the back. She was completely dressed in white clothes, as she usually was, and she held her figure in a very girlish sort of way. Enad stared at her hands, for in them was the Tiara of Phumos. He also noticed her finger: It held the Ring of Ranet.

Amanda walked over to Enad, who, seeing her coming, buried his face in his hands. "Enad, don't continue to blame it on yourself. What happened, happened. But the future is yours. You see, what you see now, that is me, is from the past. Nine years ago, I learned about the Power and about the Keys. And what continued to fascinate me more and more was the power that we ourselves held: Time travel. You see, I am not from this time; neither is this Tiara or this Ring. We are all from the past."

She turned her head toward T. G. "Darling, could you get your Tiara, please?"

With that, while still hiding his face, T. G. slowly reached into the desk drawer and pulled out the fabulous Tiara of Phumos. He set it on the desk.

"You see," she set her Keys down and pointed to them, "this Tiara is from the past. Nine years ago, I took that Tiara, and ventured across the sea to see a man named Kirk Jameson. Once there, all it took was a little persuasion by Susan Smith V, and I had the Ring of Ranet. Oh; don't worry; I will return it, for if I didn't time would not be like it is now. But with the combined powers of the Tiara and the Ring I was able to go into the future. What you see here is really from the past: Nine years in the past to be exact.

"And I know all about your feuding; all about the Plimpkin plot, etc. And what I had to come here to say is simple. I am dead. You cannot repair that. But you guys are not dead; you people have the future to live for! You cannot let my death destroy a perfectly good friendship!

Taft got up and let out a tiny murmur. The tears poured out of his eyes as his next few words trembled out. "Why should I forgive him. He killed you. My only love..."

"Did you not also kill Kakablik, his best friend?"

Taft sat down after that, with his head buried in his hands.

For the first time Enad lifted his head. "You... killed Kaka..."

Amanda stopped him. "Before I came, T. G. had a proposition to make to you. If I am right it had to do with..."

Taft slowly pushed himself up, and prepared to address Enad. "How did you get within Camelot without Blue Ledic noticing?"

Enad changed his glare to Taft and gave a curious stare. "KWAMKUT, here, has the capability of what is known as atomic transfer."

"Yes." Taft nodded. "One of the possibilities that I had thought of. My deal, then, as I mentioned before, is simple. I will give you a tiny two-man spaceship, one of those that are aboard the Susan Smith, complete with an undisclosed fuel base, in exchange for the technology of atomic transfer. I wish to use it on my starships in place of shuttlecraft. Oh, and I want one other thing. A guarantee that no one else will ever obtain that technology from you, for any price."

Enad smiled. "I'm not exactly sure what a Susan Smith is, but it sounds good. You got a deal." Enad straightened up and looked up at Taft. "Friend."

Amanda shone a small smile, and picked up her Keys. "Well, I have completed what I had to do; I must return to the past."

"Wait!" Taft screamed out, and he ran over to her. As they met, his lips touched hers, and he held her closer than he ever had before. He knew that this would be the last time that he would ever hold her, and he embraced her until they could hold no more. They finally stopped, staring deeply into each others mutually brown eyes.

Amanda made no noise; she held her Tiara tightly, and began to concentrate. Finally a soft shimmer began, and she gave Taft one last look: Taft met her stare with one of his own, and a small smile began to form around the corners of his lips. Then, just as she was almost totally gone, she said the last words that he would ever heard her say:

"Habe in memoriam: Hostes tui multi sunt sed amici pauci." She closed her eyes. "Et amo te."


 © 1984, 

L. Charles, D. Conrad, A. Duncan, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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