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STALEMATE

BY: Danae Conrad

The halls were stifling with heat and age; their timbers were splintering at the seams. Footsteps silently pushed away the inches of dust covering the silent floor. A door creaked quietly on its hinges and the hall was filled with a pulsating blue light. The footsteps passed through and the door fell closed.

The round mirror shimmered with a myriad of colors and shades. The marble floor was cool on the intruders' soles; the silence proved intolerable to their souls. The end of their trek lay before them. Wreathed in the blue miasma of fumes, a form floated quietly in the silence. The first robed figure stepped to the edge of the mirror and stepped cautiously forward. He retracted quickly when his foot struck quicksilver and sent ripples across the still mirror. The other hissed an insult and began to follow their instructions.

A concealed lever was revealed and activated; the mirror ceased its rippling and became solid. Again the intruder stepped to the edge and reached forward, nodding in satisfaction at its solidity. Another pressure on the lever caused the mists to slow and dissipate. A reassuring thud on the glass caused both to start and then grin in evil pleasure.

The refreshing coolness of the mirror caressed the inert body, slowly reviving its occupant. A hand closed to form a loose fist and eyes began to flutter. As the mind began to awaken, they heard the small groan of a dreamer. A shift in position produced a metallic clink. A hand flew to the throat where it still glistened brightly.

This was the cue that they had been awaiting. Padding quickly across the glass, they forced their victim to her feet. Binding her hands, they sought to remedy future struggles, but she was too alert to be halted; an imprisoned rage broke through to strike at the nearest target.

*********************************************************

The door opened behind him, causing no sound loud enough to break his train of thought; the scream that followed caused him to turn quickly to face...Adena.

"So nice of you to come." He glanced at his watch. "Punctual as usual." He took quiet pleasure in her shocked face. He quickly dismissed the guards from the room, before she could reveal anything.

"You...dare to bring me here!" Her green eyes began to cloud as her anger crescendoed. "As your foolish messengers found, I don't need my hands to work the Amulet." She struck violently through her key, sparking and sparkling right in front of him.

"However, you fail to realize that I have protection against it." He smiled wickedly. "You always try to get your way don't you."

"I always do."

"Well, you're not getting it any longer. Do you understand?" He forced her to meet his eyes. "Do you?"

Adena choked down a "NO". She found it hard to realize what the man she had loved had become. "Yes."

"Splendid. Now that we understand each other again, I will do away with those bonds. But I can easily put them on again. "He effortlessly pulled the constricting cords from her wrists."Make yourself comfortable. You have a long wait." He returned to his desk and left Adena standing in the center of the room, rubbing her chaffed wrists.

Noticing a chessboard set for a match, she reached forward and put the game in stalemate, with a quiet comment under her breath.

Archimedes glanced from his desk - "Would you care to restate that?"

"No." She raised a challenging eyebrow to him.

"Well, I think it would be best - if you value your safety, that is."

"I said, 'You may try to destroy the knight, but you will never take the queen.'" With that, she quietly knocked over his king piece in confirmation. She also found herself on the floor with a bruised cheek.

"If you are quite throwing the gauntlet, I will speak with you." He proffered his hand to her. Stubbornly, she pushed past it and him. He pinned her arms quickly and yanked her back. "I asked if you were finished."

Her eyes stung with unshed tears. "Why? Why are you doing this to me - to us?"

He almost balked at his wife's tears and the damage he had done, but he quickly forced that aside. "Because revenge is a dish best served cold - and it is very cold in space." He pushed her away and stalked back to his desk.

His insinuation made her start with surprise. Space - but Taft's country held the only space colonies. Unless the Alarians had left, too. "You wouldn't strike an old and trusted friend." He ignored her completely. She drew back and, stopped, right before slapping him. "You're going to destroy them, aren't you?" He smiled to himself.

"That was my intention."

"You're a fool as well as an idiot."

"I thought you had learned you're lesson. Go down the hall five doors and enter the one on your left."

"What's that room - the torture chamber?"

"You could say that." She left the room to avoid a further confrontation. Per instructions, she opened the fifth door - the master bedroom.

Not waiting for another second, she bolted down the hall. Running down two flights of stairs, she finally felt some safety. She turned into the next room which appeared to be a communication center. She locked the door behind her and approached the console. She tied in a frequency to the Sceptre that she knew Iffley would hold, if he were still alive.

*********************************************************

Iffley stood looking out the window into the bright Titan morning. The warmth of Sol felt oddly cool in his Yorkshire Mansion. Turning, he saw Campuria who seemed completely undisturbed. He counted it to restless nights and an overactive imagination.

Suddenly, the Sceptre began to quiver, then shake and finally leapt shrieking from his hand. Both looked at it in amazement; the frequency that the key had produced could only mean another key was at work.

They hurried down to the command console's home base on Titan. Specialists quickly pinpointed the emission's origin and a picture began to develop on the front viewing screen. With Campuria's grasp, Iffley looked up and found himself in shock. Adena, he fought the memories welling up in his mind. But he found himself enjoying his vision of her once again. When he beheld her face though, he felt an anguish. Fear and horror held the reins and her eyes sparkled with tears not with the laughter he remembered.

"Iffley, Campuria or anyone else in near range of this transmission. Danger is on the way. The knight has died and the enemy king is blocking the queen's escape. When she falls, the defense will be useless." She turned as a loud noise of knocking and shouts interrupted her message."Hurry! Don't look back!"

The screen went black and silence held the room. A dull smack penetrated the deafening quiet, followed by a shriek - a cry from the heart.

Campuria looked at Iffley in shocked disbelief. But the White King was already calculating his next move.


 © 1984, 

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

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