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The Primrose Path

                                   by Jonathon Pierce

As the Scimitar slowly descended into the void, Suralio Iffley gazed longfully at the planet he once called Home. The Earth spinned slowly by, her lush landscapes covered by drifting clouds. The ship accelerated, leaving the beautiful world, and headed into space. Visions of the Ledics crowded his thoughts, reminding him of the happiness he once knew. He was angry at them for destroying his life and his dreams; and yet, his undying love for Adena could only wish her the peace and happiness she so desperately sought.

He shook himself. Now, he had other things to worry about. He entered the turbolift and travelled to the Medical Level. He quickly walked into the office."I hope I'm not disturbing you, Doctor, but I was wondering how our patient was."

Doctor Torque Sharpe, fresh out of the Alarius Medical College, looked up from the bio-screen--a chart flashed with perforce on the screen--and sighed. His normally cheerful face turned shallow and cold.

"Tor, will she die before we reach Titan?" Iffley asked; his voice quivered.

"Truthfully, Captain, it is only a matter of time. I can't promise you anything. Her own will to survive has kept her alive, I haven't."

Iffley lowered his head in acknowledgement and proceeded into the next room. Here, Campuria floated in suspension. Various wires and tubes connected her body to a large life-support machine. He perused the bio-screens: The life sensor was dropping; she was getting weaker. Unable to cope with the situation, he left for his quarters.

* * * * *

He entered his room, the lights activated by his presence. His steel-gray walls contrasted the red bedspread and wall hangings. Several artifacts from the Museum of Remembrance adorned a shelf above the bed. In a corner, a rather large gem on an ivory stand pulsated at intervals, bathing the room in a reddish glow.

After sitting in his favorite chair, he began to read an ancient novel named Fat Chance. The author of the book was anonymous:

Mr. Erk sat thoughtfully at his cluttered desk.  Thirty students frantically copied unreadable notes from an overhead projector, Mr. Erk laughed uproariously as he dropped a metallic pole on the floor. "Sound Energy!!!" He screamed.

Quite suddenly, however, one of the students, who had been eating a box of M&Ms, dropped dead. Someone stood up to summon an ambulance.

"Sit down!" Mr. Erk shouted, "You have not been dismissed yet!"

Iffley finished the book and recalled its plot: Mr. J. Erk stands trial and is sentenced; thirty years pass while he torments fellow inmates; his parole and revenge on R------- High School. Iffley laughed at the climax. It was a most enjoyable book. It also seemed odd for him to laugh. He hadn't even smiled since...

The sound of the intercom returned Iffley to the real world. On the viewer Meric Tartre, Iffley's science officer, excused the interruption. His staunch features, unmoved as usual, manifested his moil. "Captain, we are approaching Titan. Estimated time of arrival is seven point five minutes." Iffley acknowledged Meric and then turned off the intercom. The denouement was soon to come. He must be prepared.

* * * * *

The beautiful planet Saturn rotated slowly across the screen. Its multifarious rings stretching out into the void. Meric increased the magnification of the main screen. Titan coalesced into view. Through the layer of clouds, an immense ocean could be seen, broken only by an occasional land mass. The moon's poisonous atmosphere, changed recently with the help of the Sceptre, now supported a variety of life.

"Scan the satellite, Mr. Tartre." Meric obeyed the order, producing positive results. The satellite's primary function was to reflect the sun's radiation onto the moon below. The Synchronized Orbiting Light, a.k.a. SOL, was the means of the artificial light and heat for the moon. While the atmosphere's molecular structure could be altered, the distance of the sun could not be lessened. The alternative was the building of SOL, bringing life to the world.

Iffley ordered a shuttle and, with Campuria aboard, piloted the craft to Opgirg--an island in the Restricted Territory. With the help of the gem, Iffley was able to track the location of his journey. He landed the shuttle at the outskirts of a small village.

With Campuria on an anti-grav stretcher, he approached the village. A small, furry native greeted Iffley in a diaphanous, musical voice, "The Law-giver am I. Fizzbin is the name by which I am known."

Iffley stared deeply into Fizzbin's crystal blue eyes and said, "I am Suralio Iffley, Key-bearer. I seek the Descendant."

The Law-giver spoke: "One such Key-bearer, the legends speak of. Do you have that which the Descendant seeks?" Iffley nodded in truism. "Then the way will I show unto you." She lead them through the village, past small huts and into a rather large domed house.

The interior shone with a lambent light. Silver decorations adorned the walls and metallic rugs lay across the floor. Sitting in a steel-gray chair, a young man watched the advancing figures and introduced himself, "I am Sterling, the Descendant. Dost thou have the Shard?"

Iffley held out the red gem, "The Shard had been stained with blood of many Innocents. It is still, nevertheless, intact." He proffered the Shard to Sterling. At his touch, the Shard's red stain dissolved, revealing its normal beauty. The Shard then showed this scene:

Wisdym's flight from Ozino had not been entirely successful. She realized that he knew of her condition. The baby she was carrying was not Ozino's. She gathered, in haste, a small group of fuzzy creatures known as the Ecaps, and fled to Titan. She created a small dome--with the help of Aven--and hid inside, safe from Ozino's fury. There, the baby was born. She entreated the Ecaps to care for him until he was ready to seek his destiny. A tearstained Wisdym then left to repent to Ozino for the Act. Her only regret that the punishment had already begun...

The image abruptly faded as Sterling realized his quest." I must seek out my parents and take my rightful place by their side. The threat of Ozino is gone, my fears are now alleviated. But first, my friend, I must repay you."

Iffley looked at the dying body of his love and explained the situation, "I tried to use a resurrection spell on her, but, unforunately, I am not as adept as her..."

Sterling nodded in rapturous understanding, "Life does not always lead us down the Primrose Path." He touched her temples and began to concentrate. Finally, he said, "It is done."

Campuria blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light. She focused on Iffley and smiled. Her attention then turned toward the shimmering stranger who said, "I must take leave of you now. Longevity to you and to all your kind." The Shard then faded away along with Sterling, leaving only a red, longstemmed rose.

Iffley gathered Campuria off of the stretcher and carried her outside. The Ecaps were chanting in a soft, lilting tone as the satellite set in the west. A brilliant conflagration brushed against the clouds and melted into the twilight. Iffley gazed deeply into the gray eyes of his love, "Someday, I'd like to learn more about the person inside you. Campuria, my love, this is the beginnng of a new era: the beginning of the rest of our lives..."


 © 1984, 

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

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