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Making Night Hideous

                            by Jonathon Pierce

The shuttle from the Scimitar landed softly as the last light from SOL faded. Saturn's enormous body now successfully blocked all of the life-giving rays from the sun. Without the sun to provide the light and warmth, the satellite lost its functions as an artificial star. This period was known as the Dark Time, its duration as diverse as the stars in the heavens.

The occupants of the shuttle hurried along the catwalk to escape from the icy grip of the Night. Dion walked silently beside Doctor Sharpe, who was pushing Adena in a hover-chair. Adena bit her lip at the restraint--She really was well enough to walk to Yorkshire.

They entered the mansion and immediately went straight to Adena's room, the Emerald Room. As most of the rooms in the mansion, the Emerald Room was decorated only in the color of the gemstone for which it was named. A strikingly beautiful chandelier sparkled as the light reflected off its multifarious dangling emeralds. Pale green carpet stretched across the floor and climbed partway up the walls.

"Now, Little Miss, you stay in this room, or I'11 have to strap you in bed. And no more of your sneaky tricks, Young Lady. Good Night." Torquay left the two women in silence.

Time slowly dragged on, each woman staring at each other. Infinity slowly crept by the pair. In an effort to break the deafening silence, Adena said, "Dion, would you care to play a game of..."

"No, thank you," Dion curtly interrupted."We have some serious matters to discuss."

"Alright, then, proceed." Adena lifted an eyebrow at her friend's g1eg impatience.

"Adena Ledic, I have only one question to ask you: Why? Why did you abandon Iffley when you met Blue; Why did you reject him and later ask for his help? Why are you here now?" She spit out the words in a fury of emotion, ignoring any consequences she might invoke in Adena.

Adena uncharacteristicly opened her mouth. No words, however, would issue from her lips. Dion continued with the interogation, "But most importantly of all, what are you doing here trying to take Iffley away from me? Wasn't Blue enough...Or is it the Power you're after?" Adena stared blankly at Dion. She had not realized the extent of Dion's devotion to Iffley. Even still, the torrent continued, "I had a chance when you were dead. I still wish that you were dead! I wish you were dead! I..." Dion stopped in horror at her last spoken statement. "Adena, I...I'm sorry." Her face streaked with tears, she ran out of the room.

Adena watched the door slowly close, her mind twisted with inner torment. She huddled at the end of the bed, wondering what had become of her life. Perhaps it would have been better if she had died. Perhaps....As the rhythm of her heart slowed, the first ripples of sleep touched her muddled brain. The last words taken in by her conscious were an announcement over an intercom: Ms. Puriantio, there is an emergency on Cinap. You are immediately to depart and....

* * * * *

The scene on the Enchantress, the finest Dreadnought in the Fleet, was one of turmoil. A dozen of the Fleet's leading Admirals and Captains, including the elusive Admiral Barrymore, several ambassadors, Taft II, and Jonathon Pierce sat at a rather large conference table. Each participant voiced his opinion in a vociferous tone. Some pleaded surprise attack; others, a blockade. Iffley, however, had another suggestion.

He turned to Taft II and said, "Do the people know that their leader is Blue Ledic? I thought not. What if we were to expose him to his followers. Imagine the impact." He turned to the chancellor, "Locate Mr. Slocin--I believe he and John Jemason are planetside. Have him transported here, I want to see some proof." The chancellor nodded and busily carried out her orders.

"Excuse me, gentlemen, but what would this action cause?" Captain Boothe inquired, not really paying attention to the meeting.

Jonathon stared at the Captain in annoyance, "Once the people will learn of his identity, they will overthrow the government."

"Yes, but isn't the real Taft inhabiting Blue's body?" Iffley sat in consternation: News travels fast in the Fleet.

"I assure you," Taft replied, "that no one will believe my father. They all think he's dead!"

Suddenly, the chancellor looked up from her screen. "Captain Iffley, there is an emergency message for you from one Adena Ledic. The message reads: 'Dion left for Cinap on an emergency mission, and I haven't heard from her in four hours. She is, I feel, in danger, and needs our help. That's the end of the message, Captain, shall I send a response?'

"Yes, but not to Adena. Send a message to the Sentry, informing them of the emergency. Under no circumstances are they to let Adena follow me. Place a guard outside of her room." He glanced at the members of the conference, "Gentlemen, you will have to continue without me. No, Jonathon, you stay here at the meeting, this is something I must do alone." He left the room and rushed toward the hanger.

The chancellor look up again from the screen, "Jonathon, another message has been piped in from the Scimitar. I think you should read it..."

* * * * *

A shuttle lay abandoned at the base of a cliff. Iffley, using his extreme logic, identified it as the shuttle used by Dion. With her location known, he softly landed his shuttle beside the other. Clad in a thermo-suit, he exited the craft.

Howling winds greeted him with fierce exuberance. As the wind's icy touch chilled through the suit, Iffley wondered if even Ecap fur would withstand the intense cold. He ran to the base of the cliff and, noticing a cave, ran inside.

The cave, free from the elements, was oddly hot. Lanterns illuminated the entire cave. Stalagtites and stalagmites lined the entrance and outlined two passageways. Iffley examined the floor by the passages and chose the right one, mostly out of instinct. He followed its winding corridor, coming, finally, at a large cave.

An underground spring bubbled warmly in the center of the cave, several fish swimming in its clear waters. Dion, chained to a column, reached for her blaster, which was sitting on a flat rock. Startled, she looked up, "Iffley, I knew you would come. John Jameson tried to kidnap me, his own mother."

Iffley smiled, "Maybe I should just leave you here for a while, it might sweeten your disposition a little." Aware of Dion's glare, he dissolved her bonds with the Sceptre. He bent over and picked up her blaster. "This is yours, Madame." She calmly took the blaster from him. "This way, Madame," Iffley waved at the direction.

Dion smiled at him and pulled the trigger. A brilliant blue beam of energy streamed from the weapon and streaked toward its victim. Iffley's face contorted in pain as the energy struck him. The pain exploded in his spine, streaming throughout his entire body. He fell with a groan to the floor. Dion removed the Sceptre from Iffley's grasp and laughed.

The illusion soon faded, revealing the true identity of the villian. John Jemason stood over Iffley, the Sceptre heavy in his hands. After securing Iffley to a stalagmite with chains, he mocked, "Maybe I should just leave you here for a while. It might sweeten your disposition a little." His father would have been most pleased. Two victims in the same day. And now, he had a Key, to boot! They would all pay for killing his father. First his mother would die slowly and painful1y; then Iffley; then Adena; they would all pay. He left the large cave and took the left passage.

The passage ended abruptly. At the end of the corridor, Dion, chained and gagged, shook in fear for her life. John picked up a long, sharp knife, blade caked with dry blood. Dion screamed, the gag muffling her voice. "Now, now, Mother, you sit still and be quiet. I must punish you for what you did to Father. It will all be over soon..."

 © 1984, 

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

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