BY: DANAE CONRAD
clock pulled closer and closer to one in the morning. Adena tossed her pen to
the desk and stretched. That presentation ceremony had lasted longer than she
had anticipated; that accounted for her working late. The Alarian people had
responded enthusiastically to her, as her own people of Furanose had done. The
destruction of the Hall of Mirrors had ruined much of the farmland and forest
surrounding it. The Furanosian population had never been very large so she had
arranged for her people to select a new home. They could remain on Earth and
inhabit the lush lands of Alarius or they could go to then new power center on
T'Mir. Many of the youth had chose the space route and were being
indoctrinated into Fleet policy.
picked up her pen preparing to resume her work. She simply stared at the
instrument. Her body called her to sleep, but she quickly overrode such
impulses; this work needed to be done. She rested her head against her hand,
her delicately curled hair falling to shroud part of her face. She decided
that a break was in order and stood up from the table. Her pearl gown
shimmered in the light. She removed the emerald from her neck and locked it
with her new metal. The pearls bedecking the Amulet shimmered in quiet harmony
with the gown.
glanced down and mused over the day's events. That's it - she mused. Iffley
hadn't apologized for losing his tempter with her. Well, maybe she had spoke a
little sharply, but no, he would have to apologize first. Suddenly, she heard
a noise - quiet though it was, beyond the range of normal human ears.
went to the door and opened it cautiously. When nothing attacked she stepped
into the hall and walked to the banister. Looking down, she hoped to spot the
source of the noise. Seeing nothing, she paused; should she get help? Of
course not, she reminded herself and with that, she ran lightly down the
was amiss on the second floor and the same for the ground level. She puzzled
over this. She knew that she had heard something. She heard something over her
left shoulder. Spinning to face it, she peered into the darkness.
are thou?" she whispered lest she wake anyone. Her fear brought out the
Old English in her speech.
answered her question but heavy breathing. Her mind began to whirl with
thoughts. "Who art thou? What business dost thou have here?"
grotesque silhouette appeared on the wall and Adena's mouth flew open. She
began to back up to the lightswitch; finding it, she turned it on, flooding
that corner with light. Her relief was immense when she discovered that it was
the night guard, Horace. Iffley had told her about him but had never formally
me, m'lady." His voice was gutteral and deep. "Must have sharp ears
to hear a Nightstalker." Nightstalkers were a rapidly diminishing species
on T'Mir, they were one of the few creatures that could stand the Dark phase
on the planet. They resembled Earthen trolls in looks and speech, but were
gentle and trustworthy; hence, Iffley's reason for hiring Horace. "If the
Lady would be as kind to dim the lights, tis bad for one as I."
sorry." Adena dimmed the lights to where it didn't pain the Nightstalker
but allowed her sight.
did not mean to wake thee, m'lady." A crusty grin spread over his face.
"The master warned me that the young one had sharp ears."
wasn't asleep. I just heard a noise and came to investigate. I am pleased that
it was just thee."
Nightstalker smiled again with her speech. "Long since I have heard the
words of ancient times." He paused. "Thou should not have come
can take care of myself; but I heed thee."
is well, m'lady. I wouldst take over from here."
gave a farewell to the creature and dimmed the lights completely. She slipped
back up the stairs quietly. As she walked to her room, she stopped in front of
the Ruby Room, Iffley's quarters. Making a decision, she buzzed the outer
bell. The computer came on and gave a reponse.
OCCUPANT IS NOT WITHIN.
dost thee mean? Surely, he is there."
open up any way and I'll wait."
She was getting frustrated by this machine.
am I supposed to know the code? Oh well, her mind was sharpening for the
challenge. Something near to him, yet not obvious - that would be it. In their
youth, Adena and Iffley had loved solving riddles and playing jokes. This was
probably a challenge to her. The light dawned!!
last laugh is on you."
slipped in expecting to find him frustrated because she found out his code.
Now he'd have to think up something better. But he wasn't at his desk. She
keyed the door to lock and wandered into the suite.
was gorgeous and she had thought that hers was the prettiest. Red velvet
stroked her bare feet and there was a faint red sheen over the whole room. It
felt warm to her senses. She like this room - maybe Iffley would switch with
her. Her eyes were distracted to the table.
were stacked neatly on the desk corner and the computer felt warm to the touch
- it must have just been shut off. Several stacks of printouts lay adjacent to
the terminal. She sat in the desk and casually picked one pile up and began to
CONSUMPTION REPORT, boring, UPDATES ON ENGINEERING REPORTS, dull, she picked
up another stack, COMMENDATIONS FOR CADETS AND PROMOTIONS DUE, she noticed
with pleasure several of her cadets on the list, COMMUNICATION RECORDS...
desk clock chimed - it was two. Well, I guess he went out, Adena said to
herself. She stood and began to walk toward the door, when she found herself
with a mouthful of the lush carpeting. She kicked intending to inflict as much
damage as possible. That's why Iffley wasn't in, some stranger had hurt him.
Her struggles became harder, but the hands that held her were strong. She
tried a new tact, by going limp.
caused her attacker to let up to pull her in and she kicked. Her foot hit its
mark and sent him sprawling across the floor. She stood quickly to defend
herself and her eyes darted around the apartment trying to find Iffley. Then
she saw him....
his head dazedly as he got up from the corner where she had kicked him.
He looked at her with full realization. "What on earth are you doing here
at this hour?"
are you doing attacking me at this hour?"
true --- Now wait one minute! This is my room. Don't try to tell me that
you've been sleepwalking."
wasn't for your information!" She was brushing red fuzz out of her hair
and Iffley was cleaning the same off his slacks. "I heard a noise
came to get me to see what it was."
I am a big girl now and I went down myself."
went downstairs during the dark phase. You must be ill."
in the least," she stated. "It just so happens Nightstalkers are too
ran into the Nightstalker?"
why did you come up here?"
my room is next door and I had work to finish. I wanted to mention the noise
to you - if you were still up. Your foolish computer informed me that you were
that doesn't explain how you got in."
it does. I gave your computer the code it wanted."
didn't know it!"
But I am not stupid either. I can figure problems out."
stared at Adena and she challenged him right back. "You are unbelievable,
Adena. Absolutely unbelievable. Somehow you always manage to surprise
challenging stare turned question. "I don't know whether to take that as
a compliment or not, sir."
the 'sir', and I might consider talking to you."
well...sir," she teased.
sank into the settee next to the fireplace. "Now that you have woken me
up completely." He shook his head. "Look, you're going to have to
teach me how to slide down that banister." She flushed a deep red.
"Keep that up and I may hire you as a decoration for the room."
am sorry." She turned her eyes down to accomodate her statement.
needn't be so. Tis my fault and blame." She sat on the floor next to his
I guess it's my duty - as the wronged party - to mete out a suitable
punishment." She nodded quietly; her eyes pleading softly. He was teasing
her now, but she hadn't become aware of it. "As your punishment-"
she winced. "you will have to - oh, the heck with it.."
pulled her to him and kissed her. Her eyes were wide in the lambent lighting
of the room. "You were asking for it. Dressing that beautiful and then
fabricating a story, cracking a code and waking me up..."
she began, cut off by another kiss. She drew back, unsure of the
all. Your punishment is complete." He smirked and came to his feet.
eyes narrowed slightly. "You think that..." She decided not to push
her luck farther. She turned to leave, but whirled to kiss him gently. Then,
she bolted from the room.
listened as her door opened, closed, locked and lights extinguished. She
always able to pull a last minute surprise. Tomorrow, he thought to himself,
tomorrow will be interesting.
| ||© 1984, ||K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft|