Iffley quickly wound
his way through the streets of the City of Remembrance. His trip back to Earth
was made in record time, but then again, he would do almost anything for his
brother. Iffley wondered what had happened to the Diadem; after he had sent it
to his brother, it disappeared. Alas, he had no time to meditate on the
wonders of the universe. He did, however, pause for a moment to pick a small
red rose to pin to his lapel (one must look decent when one goes to a
He located the path
and walked briskly through Statuary Hall. Finally, he came to Aven, adorned
with the Staff and the Sabre. He stopped a moment to contemplate. Ingstram had
specified his desire for only one Key; the problem was, which should it be? He
considered giving up the Ring, but should His Evilness gain another Key, he
would be all the more powerful. No, Iffley decided, it would be one of the two
Rallean Keys. The Staff was definitely out of the question, however. If
Ingstram had the power to control men's minds, he could conquer half the
galaxy. Iffley reached up to the statue and removed the Sabre.
Just then, Light, who
had been standing in the shadows, approached quietly, "Restorer, Thou
didst an excellent job on thy first task. But I feel that thou...you will fail
your next test. The Sabre, it is for the Outsider, isn't it?"
Iffley stared at a spot just off the corner of the Historian's shoulder,
avoiding his steely gaze. "My brother's life is in danger, and his life
is worth more to me than any task or title."
Light chided him:
"You do realize that by saving your brother's life, you may be dooming
the rest of the universe."
"So be it."
Iffley had cared too much for the universe at large, and had gotten nothing in
return: It was time for his family to come first--the universe would just have
"I know you will
do what is right," Light said, as he departed.
"Now, why did he
have to say that?" Iffley murmured to himself.
The Means * *
slipped effortlessly through the vacuum of space and next to the
Fashigal. Iffley then teleported himself into the adjoining
Adel had wanted to go
along, but Iffley had dissuaded her. Indeed, he would have gladly accepted her
help, only he feared that Ingstram had a flair for deceit. The airlock opened,
and Iffley was immediately ushered to the detention level.
Suralio," Ingstram said as Iffley was pushed into a chair opposite him.
"I trust you have the Key."
"Yes, but why
should I give it to you? I have three Keys, I could easily take over this
ship." In the artificial light, the Sceptre was glowing magnificently,
casting an aura about itself.
"That is true,
and then you could hold funeral services for your brother on Ganymede. No,
8uralio, we both know that this way is best. Perhaps you'd like to see your
brother now?" He gesticulated slightly and a portion of the wall slid
away, revealing Taft, tied to his chair, in his cell.
Oddly enough, a
mega-something-or-other was aimed at his head. A string led from the trigger
through a series of pulleys and was attached to a weight. Another string was
connected to the weight, this one clamped tight in Taft's mouth. In effect, if
Taft opened his mouth, then the weight would fall, firing the gun at Taft's
Iffley was about to
object to this punishment, but stopped when he heard a voice through the wall.
Then he noticed the audio player. He strained his ears, but could not quite
decipher its message.
"Perhaps I should
explain. The audio is playing the funniest jokes known in my system. Should he
laugh and let go of the string: B00M!! Well, at least he'll leave us
Iffley saw Theo stifle
a snicker barely in time. Should he laugh....No, Iffley did not want to think
about it. The audio stopped quite suddenly and the room began to fill with
dust. Taft shut his eyes and began to breathe through his mouth, by opening
one side up to inhale and exhale. The dust was almost too much for him, he
sneezed--through his teeth--but still he lived.
Evilly, one of the
masked guards in the cell, stealthfully stole behind him and scared
the--pardon the expression--living daylights out of him. Taft shrieked and
dropped the string.
Iffley gasped as the
weight plummeted to the floor. The gun fired and, instead of a stream of
energy, a small sign labeled:
appeared. Ingstram had, it appeared, a
flair for the dramatic as well as deceit.
Out of the corner of
his eye, Iffley saw the Diadem. It had appeared beneath the bunk~ and was half
hidden by the covers. At least that mystery was solved.
Iffley was taken
through the corridor and into Taft's cell. "Untie him," the wizard
ordered. Ingstram nodded his head, and the guard obeyed.
Taft stood up and
began to rub his wrists, "What took you so long?"
Iffley ignored his
rude comment and directed his gaze at his new nemesis. "Now, promise us
safe passage back to our vessel, and I will hand over the Sabre."
"Of course, I am
a man of honor."
Iffley handed the Sabre to Ingstram. He turned to Taft and said, "Etgay
theay iademDay omfray nderay theay unkbay."
and Ingstram said simultaneously.
nonchalantly wandered over to the bed and plopped down on it.
Ingstram furried his
brow. Not being from Earth, he had no Earthly idea what Pig Latin was, or what
Iffley had just said. Thinking it unimportant, he said, "Show me how to
"It is very easy.
If you want the Sabre to become an icepick, then say, 'Icepick'. After you
become familiar with the Key, it will work strictly on your
Ingstram repeated. The Sabre shifted form smoothly and became an icepick in
his hand. "That's pretty nifty." He thought for a moment,
"Mace." The icepick was replaced by the mace.
Iffley sat down next
to his brother on the bunk. "And now, we are free to go,
"Hardly. You have
two other Keys, and I mean to take those too."
The weapon replaced the mace.
"I thought you
were a man of honor."
"Nice guys finish
FIRST." Iffley shouted to Taft, "Now."
1ngstram said again as Taft retrieved the Diadem from the bunk. Ingstram
smiled evilly and pulled the trigger. For the second time that day, Taft
expected to die, but did not. The gun was not charged.
thoughts." Iffley ordered as he grabbed his brother's hand. Taft thought
about the random pattern of the molecules of Argon in the air, and the pair
Ingstram screamed in
rage. "Loaded machine gun." The Sabre, however, refused to respond.
Without the energy of the Sceptre behind it, the Sabre reformed into its
original form--a red rose. Ingstram's scream resounded throughout the
The Ends * *
wall, and into the next bulkhead."
Taft wondered how they
were able to talk when they were immaterial, but the question itself was
material, and the pair started to solidify. Taft quickly wondered how many
fleas would fit into a box of Whizzie Bangs, his favorite cereal, and they
faded out again.
They phased through
the wall. I wonder how many hairs there are on the back of a red-tailed skunk,
Taft thought. They walked through the bulkhead and entered the airlock. Iffley
teleported them safely aboard the Casablanca.
"You have your
orders," Iffley said into the intercom, as the first barrage from the
Fashigal hit the mother ship.
left dock and drew up alongside the Xanadu. The mother ship's Starlight
Drive activated and the ship sped off toward T'mir and the awaiting Space
Fashigal, the navigator reported, "Sir, Iffley's ship appears to
have been damaged. Sensors indicate a large amount of debris. No life form
"It seems that we
have not yet hit their engines. I want that ship! After it!"
Iffley watched the
giant ship speed off after his own and activated the Casablanca's
engines. With the help of the Ring, Taft had dematerialized the entire
skeleton crew of ten, causing complete deception.
Theo." I just can not wait until Ingstram meets the Fleet and our newly
completed Ravager wave. The reports indicate that it is very
spectacular." He unlocked a cabinet and removed the Sabre. He smiled at
Taft and then handed it to him, "Your Sabre, I believe."
The Iffley brothers
sped off toward Earth, and the last task. Light was correct: he knew that
Iffley would do the right thing.
| ||© 1985, ||K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft|