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Roses Are Not Always Red

                                 Jonathon Pierce

Adena awoke early the next morning, well before her alarm rang. As she pulled on her green jumpsuit, her mind became muddled. She had experienced an intense closeness with Iffley, and yet, somehow she felt uneasy about it. His 'Father-figure' explanation had been correct, but something inside her would never let her share Iffley's love; she and Iffley would have to remain content as friends. The thought pained her, but she realized that it was true.

She turned down the hallway to confront Iffley. The computer acknowledged her presence and told her that the room was unoccupied. Adena expressed her desire to wait for him inside. It checked its memory banks for comfirmation, and allowed Adena to enter.

She crossed the hallway and entered the suite's aft section. In amazement, she stared at the room. It remained exactly as she had left it that evening. The dishes still lay on the table, the disk rested upon the reader. The rose, its petals now closed, drooped sli9htly, the vase preventing its collapse. Ashes still adorned the hearth, a few glowing embers remaining active throughout the night.

Her eyes shifted to the sofa, where they had sat last night. A small red envelope with 'Adena' written on it lay on a pillow. She took it and examined its contents: one solitary data tape. She transversed the room to the computer housed in the roll-top desk.

She opened the desk and activated the terminal. She inserted the tape and accessed the data:

Dearest Adena,

Throughout our lives, I have known you and respected you. I have valued your judgement. I have fought by your side; I have felt your wrath. I grieved with you in your losses; I laughed with you in your happiness. We shared each other's thoughts and consciousness. You have saved my life more times than I can tell. I owe you a great deal.

However, I only repay you with unhappiness. In spite of my great love for you, I now know that we can never be together. Your love for Blue is too strong; and that is something that I never want to take away from you. He is yours, and you are his; this fact will never change. I do not want to make the same mistake that I made several years ago--a mistake that ended in tragedy. That is why I must leave you. I will not ask you to choose between us, for I know the victor of that scenario. Instead I beg forgiveness for the errors in judgement that I have made.

While I am away, Jonathon is to take charge of the Colonies. I know that he is not interested in ruling anymore, but he will have to accept his role. The Fleet is yours to command; use it wisely. The Sceptre is coming with me, I have a feeling I'm going to be needing it. Protect and watch over Dion, she too is a good friend. Meric's transfer is to be completed; Doctor Torque's as well. You will need them more than I. Do not try to follow me, for you will never find me. I need this time to be alone.

Keep a careful watch for my return, for indeed, I will return. I must complete my tasks and fulfill my promises before the emptiness in my heart can be conquered.

Finally, Adena, I present thee with a gift. In a box, sitting on the desk, is a small token of my gratitude. Cherish it, Adena, for you have truly known happiness.

I will never renounce your love.

Suralio Frith Iffley

White King forfeits game.

The last line flashed on the screen until Adena could no longer bear to look at it. She turned the computer off. She picked up the box, holding Iffley's last gift for her, and slowly opened it.

The light reflected off the object, revealing its identity: the Ring of Ranet. Laying beside the Ring was a delicate flower. Its petals pushing outward into the light. Tears welling within her eyes, she carefully picked up the blue rose.

Startling Adena, the clock sounded the half-hour. Its tiny soldier, bedecked in a red uniform, entered from a small doorway and marched to the center of the clock. He then blew the trumpet, a simple sweet melody designated for the half-hour, and saluted. Thus, having finished his task, he marched toward the opposite doorway. He entered the clock and disappeared without a trace....

* * * * *

The Scimitar sped off toward its destination. The sound of the engines perfectly timed the the beat of Iffley's heart. Iffley scanned the new faces on the bridge, a new surge of loneliness filled his heart. Years of running away from his problems had not solved them. Deep in his heart, he always knew that they would remain a constant threat to his happiness, and yet, running away seemed the only way to avoid them.

But now, as he tried to straighten out his past problems, new problems seemed to keep arising. He hoped that Adena would understand his impromptu decision; if not, well, he had never promised her a rose garden....

 © 1984, 

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

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