22 March, 2011

Reposting...Hanging Over a Rail

(I am returning this story to the blog after months of trying to get it published somewhere.  If you missed it before, here is your chance to see it.  If you read it before, here it is for your enjoyment again.)

     Standing at the edge of the Great Cliff, a figure drew back the hood of his cloak. He looked at the swirling stars and mists of the Edge of the Universes. Smiling at the sight, he contemplated his vigil. Turning his attention to a nearby rock, he read the inscription carved neatly into it:
     In memory of the endless wanderer, Professor Loun Weicke 31,658- 35,165 Colrion Standard Epoch. Time Tracer Elite and Friend to the Universes.
     Running a finger over the inscription, he smiled broadly. A distinctly fitting, he thought in reflection, tribute to the man. He reached out to the top of the stone and picked up one of the trinkets left as part of the memorial. Lightly fingering each object, he picked up the ancient Terran pocket watch. Studying it carefully, he remembered that only the owner could ever manage to open it, let alone read it.
     A sudden beep gave the figure pause. Checking the communication device, he noted the confirmation signal from his client. Pulling the hood up, he waited for the client's arrival . Turning back to the edge, he silently stared into the mists and stars.
     “Ah, Ptolomus.”
     Ptolomus turned slowly at the sound of that cold voice saying, "Marshall, glad to see you arrived here. How are you?”
     “Dispense with pleasantries,“ Marshall said sharply. “Did you acquire all asked of you?”
     Ptolomus fidgeted, hesitating until Marshall's foot tapping transformed into a stomp. Knowing the words sealed his death sentence, he said, “That I was unable to accomplish.”
     The Marshall blinked once before exploding, “You are standing there telling me you dragged me to this worthless lump of mud, just to inform me of your failure!“ He hissed coldly, “Your life is forfeit.”
     Ptolomus spoke hurriedly, “Now wait a sec here. Don’t blast me to atoms that fast before you hear me out!”
     Marshall finished drawing his blaster. Maliciously he grinned and placed the blaster atop a nearby rock. “Go on,“ he urged mockingly, “tell me whatever you wish to say. Perhaps it shall determine how horribly you die.”
     Ptolomus wrung his hands at that statement. Knowing much from stories and reports on his client, he understood the truth of Marshall's words. He swallowed nervously and dived in.
     “Well Marshall, I know that you’ve been planning something of a take over of sorts. So why don’t you hitch yourself up on that rock. Make yourself comfortable even.”
     The Marshall opted to remain standing, eyes fixed in a cold glare. Ptolomus cleared his throat saying, “You know exactly where you are of course. Shansxi, the Edge of the Universes.”
     Marshall nodded slowly, intently watching Ptolomus. His hand hovered over the blaster. Ptolomus swallowed audibly, before continuing.
     “There goes a legend,“ Ptolomus intoned solemnly, “saying-“
“-how one sees thine future’s face, be whoeth he gaze,“ Marshall finished. “What of this silly legend?”
     Ptolomus almost smiled, but merely nodded. “Look over the edge if you would.”
     Laughing nastily, Marshall scooped up the blaster. Thumbing the selector to full intensity, he snarled, “I thought so much better of you Ptolomus. Such a simple and stupid ploy.”
     Ptolomus backed off a few paces. “It was not,“ he said earnestly,  “my intention to pull anything. Simply humor a dead man.”
     The nasty smiled reappeared on Marshall’s face. "Alright Ptolomus, humor I shall. Kindly refrain from moving."
     Smiling wickedly, Marshall trained the blaster on Ptolomus. Walking slowly towards the edge, he leaned over, peering into the swirling mists. Shock gripped him suddenly, freezing him to the spot.
     "Why Marshall," Ptolomus called mockingly, "you've turned the palest green ever seen. See something familiar?"
     Marshall leaped away from the edge. Aiming on Ptolomus once more, Marshall seethed. Resetting the beam intensity, he spat angrily, "Your cheap parlor trick earns you a slow death. One layer of skin at a time."
     Smiling expansively, Ptolomus reached out, picking the pocket watch off the rock. Clicking it open, he laughed at the time. Looking up at Marshall, he said evenly, "High Noon Marshall. Perfect time for a gun fight according to Old Earth."
     Marshall fought off a sudden wave of irrational fear, switching the blaster to full intensity and firing. Ptolomus promptly disappeared in the glow of full disruption, no remains save dispersing particles. Marshall stared for a count at the spot formerly occupied by Ptolomus. Shaking his head, he mastered his nerves and control. The fool Ptolomus managed to shake him with silly theatrics. The trick with the watch, he reflected sourly, especially so. In the end, Marshall brooded, all a cheap attempt to save his worthless hide.
     Reaching to his belt, Marshall pressed his signaler. Sighing, he waited to be transported away from this worthless planet. Plans would need adjusted after this delay.
     A laugh caused Marshall to jump and fire in three quick strikes. The laughter continued, sounding from every direction. Marshall backed against a rock outcropping, allowing for some cover. He winced as the laughter grew in intensity.
     “Come come, Marshall. Or perhaps," spoke the scolding voice, " between old friends, 'come come, Squadron Leader Makkia of the Tricameroon.'”
     Fear returned to 'Marshall' Makkia, practically forcing the disruptor from his hand. Makkia felt realization tingle through every fiber of nerves in his body. The use of his name and former title set his brain spinning. The voice nagged his consciousness, a feeling of recognition working just below the surface.
     “Strange forebodings and bad tidings chasing you? Surely this is not the same man I fought all those years,” the voice mocked casually.
     Makkia's thoughts crashed frantically, fear and realization choking him simultaneously. One single memory surfaced hurriedly, causing his blaster hand to tremble. Countless years indeed had passed since he last heard that hated voice. A voice he thought silenced forever, by his own hand.
     Unbidden, the name whispered from his lips:
     Appearing before Makkia in Ptolomus' attire, Weicke smiled. He bowed in grand gesture, returning the look of pure fury with a nod. He laughed as Makkia's burning eyes swept over him.
     “I feel deeply touched by your unfailing memory. To think we would have the chance to speak again after so many years.”
     Makkia shook. His lips moved, sound refusing to come out. Seeing his companion of the moment’s inability to speak, Weicke took pity on him.
     “If you are wondering how, I am quite simply afraid I can not provide an explanation,” Weicke said thoughtfully. “I, as were you, felt certain of my end, falling off the Great Cliff into the crossover.“
     Weicke paused, pocketing his possessions from the rock memorial. Placing each one in a pocket, he turned to Makkia. Noting the look of deepening anger, Weicke laughed.
     “To be brief Makkia, I found myself here, alone. I noted the marker where the things I had left before our ‘meeting’ were placed. I stared there for a good long time before realization sunk in: The Universe thought I was as dead as you had hoped.”
     Makkia fired, hitting Weicke in mid stride. The ion disruption deflected away from Weicke. Firing for a full five minutes produced zero effect. He lowered the disruptor with his rage boiling over.
     “Now that is a decent chap, “mocked Weicke. “I can see from your expression you dislike my gadget.”
     Makkia hissed, “Enjoy mocking all you wish. My guard will arrive and then I shall have the joy of ensuring your death.”
     Weicke laughed. Locking eyes with Makkia, he said nary a word. Makkia might be many things, he reflected delightedly, but stupid would not be on that list. Waiting, he was rewarded with watching Makkia realize the depth of his position.
     “Terribly sorry old friend.”

     Makkia forced calmness upon himself. Thinking rapidly, escape with his life remained the only possibility. As before, Weicke’s appearance spelled the doom of his plans. Knowing no assistance from without would arrive, action from within would be required.
Makkia watched Weicke punch signals into a communications device. Flipping off the safety, his disruptor built to overload. Waiting for the overcharging to finish, he tapped a code onto his signal device. Holding a breath, he threw the disruptor.
     Watching the explosion, Makkia smiled. Even if the cheapest trick in the book caused little more than a distraction, it would suffice. The emergency recall would transport him directly into his escape vessel. Even with his ship occupied, nothing would override the vessel launch. Makkia smiled widened, already plotting a permanent demise for Weicke.

     Sandis Janil stared in total bewilderment at the body before him. Attempting numerous times, Intertime Intervention failed in capturing 'Marshall' Makkia. Janil motioned a pair of agents to convey the unconscious ‘Master of All’ to a cell on the I.I. cruiser. Satisfied, he turned to the architect of this drama.
Watching the proceedings in total satisfaction, Weicke favored Janil with a smile. Janil registered bewilderment once more at the simple fact of his existence. For years, the monument stood in mute testament of his demise. Yet, Janil thought, before me stands the legend.
     “On behalf of myself,“ Janil said thankfully, “and Intertime Intervention, we are much in your debit.” Pausing a beat, Janil asked, “I simply am astonished. How precisely did you accomplish this affair?”
     Weicke said mischievously, “Why Janil old man, you know my record.” At Janil's baffled expression, he merely laughed. “High sense of drama based on decent acting skills.”
     Janil nodded in confused agreement. Smiling, Weicke said, “Janil, look up Earth literature, Victorian period. You are looking for an author named Doyle. When done with your homework, let me know.”
     Bowing and nodding, Weicke departed grandly, leaving Janil a puzzle.

16 March, 2011

Reposting...Pale Spectre of Days Past

(I am returning this story to the blog after months of trying to get it published somewhere.  If you missed it before, here is your chance to see it.  If you read it before, here it is for your enjoyment again.)

     Watching the twin suns sink slowly toward the horizon, I smiled faintly. The light shaded into a deep hue, suiting my thoughts perfectly. My smile assumed a very sad cast as I looked to the sky.
      My name is unimportant, but it is Johaniz Marife. Only an elite few actually knew that name. I, however, was known by many other names on thousands of worlds. Countless cultures, living and dead, knew me by song, stories, you bloody well name it.
      Spending thousands of years chasing the Darkness across time and space provided me with several lifetimes of stories. Adventures beyond the Dreams of Avarice flashed through my mind in an instant. The successes far outweighed the failures of my journey. I smiled again as they flew by in my mind.
      The failures came to surface as well. My failure to save Acsehc of Adelborn IV from the clutches of the Cult of Polla. My inability to save the rule of Arian the Fair at the time of the Solar Concordia. The loss of the race known only as Q;idh.
      Sighing to scatter all the memories with the breeze rustling the trees, I returned to the here and now. Waiting, even now, managed to cause my blood to boil. I mused ruefully about all those philosophical lessons on patience. Good thing, I decided ultimately, I never bothered with attending those lessons.
      The sound of footsteps behind me summoned me from my memories. I played the drama out, letting the approaching figure stop and stare at my back. I smiled, knowing that the person behind me was doubtless attempting to summon his loyal guards. Sadly, facing me alone represented his sole choice.
      "I do not know how you got here, but my guard is on the way to remove you from this holy place."
      Smiling at the false bravado coming from my companion in this place, I remained in place. My patience tried, I returned the favor. My reward came quickly in the form of shouting.
      "I am Lord Voris! Answer me you shall! Who are you?"
      "I know very well who you are, "I said in an even tone. "I even know quite well what you have done."
      "WHO ARE YOU?"
      I laughed wickedly at the creeping hysterics in Voris' voice. By now he knew he was not receiving help from without. Knowledge and understanding was a wonderful weapon when used properly. Laughing again, I said mockingly, "Why Voris, where is the calm that charmed a planet?"
      A snarl issued from behind me.  Laughing again, I felt the strike of a plasma disruptor, and then again. Waiting for him to cease firing, I spoke evenly. "You know who I am Voris. Let your memory work back to those you threw as it where in thy headlong rush for glory."
      I continued smiling into the light of the twin suns. Behind me, I knew Voris' face would be twisted in the thoughts of memory. Knowing the dictatorial mind well, I furnished ample time for his memory to flow. A sudden gasp prompted another laugh.
      "I killed you..."
      Turning and smiling, I watched all the color drain from his face. Voris stared at me, then through me. Transforming my smile, I spoke evenly and sarcastically. "Oh yes Voris. Your eyes deceive you not, nor thy memory."
      Laughing, glaring with all my rage, I spoke. "I am as real as you remember. As real as when you thought you tossed me off this very cliff."
      Voris snarled again at me. I could see his hands flexing, eying me up to try again. Yelling again, he spat, "You powerless fool. Challenging me? You dare challenge me on this world you lost?"
      I yawned at his outburst. Voris leaped for me, but found himself frozen in air. I waved a hand, dropping him unceremoniously. Peering down at him, I let the rage carry through to my voice. "I told you I would come back Voris. I knew you would subjugate this priceless world, with your lies, your domination. I did nothing, this world having shown trust in you and themselves."
      Hissing and spitting, Voris rose before me. Shaking in total rage, he screamed, "Damn you Marife. You may have humiliated me in this moment, but the world is mine. Mine! There is nothing that you can tell these mindless sheep. Nothing! Their will is mine, I broke them and swooped when they were weak. They think as I wish them."
      Pausing, Voris continued at the smile on my face.  "Laugh Marife, LAUGH! Laugh while you can, my guards will come when I do not return. I'll turn your mind inside out! Serve me you shall, an example to these foolish people. I'll turn you, making you my puppet to dance, DANCE!"
      Letting Voris pant from screaming, my smile shaded malevolent. I tapped on my collar, saying pleasantly, "My Lord Voris, I thank you. That simply goes down in the books as one of the best abdication speeches ever."
      Ignoring his stunned screech, I transmitted the the recording to an uplink. Broadcasting around the entire planet, I knew the effect. Turning back to the matter at hand, I smiled at Voris. Waiting eons for this moment, I slowly pulled a small container from my right sleeve.
      "This, " I spoke calmly, "contains a particle of temporal energy. When released, you and I will disappear from time, in a most permanent fashion. No hope of recovery, nevermore a starfall, sunrise, or tea. Just gone."
      Voris snapped out, "You are a Time Tracer! You can not do this! I know the rules of InterTime Intervention. I demand my rights!"
     I smiled sadly for him. "Correct Voris. I am indeed a Time Tracer, and a founding member of InterTime Intervention for that matter. Under ordinary circumstances, I would be bound to accede." My smile fading to sadness, I continued. "Luck is with you not. Dying am I, and leave you for InterTime Intervention to save shall I not."
      I tossed the container up. In a moment, I watched the temporal energy swirl. Smiling, I watched time spiral, hearing Voris scream.