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Unconsidered Trifles:

The Historian Chronicles

                                   Jonathon Pierce

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 kidnapping exchange).

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?"

"Yes." 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 to wait.

"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  *  *

The Xanadu slipped effortlessly through the vacuum of space and next to the Fashigal. Iffley then teleported himself into the adjoining airlock.

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.

"Good morning, 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 head.

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 laughing."

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:

BANG!!!!

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."

"Fine." Iffley handed the Sabre to Ingstram. He turned to Taft and said, "Etgay theay iademDay omfray nderay theay unkbay."

"Huh?" Taft and Ingstram said simultaneously.

"Unkbay."

"Oh," Taft 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 work this."

"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 thoughts."

"Icepick." 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, correct?"

"Hardly. You have two other Keys, and I mean to take those too."

"Hardly," Iffley mimicked.

"Mega-Super-atomic-flesh-fryer." The weapon replaced the mace.

"I thought you were a man of honor."

"Hardly."

"Nice guys finish FIRST." Iffley shouted to Taft, "Now."

"Hardly," 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.

"Think immaterial 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 disappeared.

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 ship.

*  *  The Ends  *  *

"Where now?" Taft inquired.

"Through that 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.

The Casablanca 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 Fleet.

Aboard the Fashigal, the navigator reported, "Sir, Iffley's ship appears to have been damaged. Sensors indicate a large amount of debris. No life form readings."

"It seems that we have not yet hit their engines. I want that ship! After it!"

"Aye, sir."

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.

"Remarkable plan, bubba."

"Thank you, 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

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