Copyright © 1984 by Roger M. Wilcox.  All rights reserved.
(writing on this story began March 14, 1984)
Length = 7044 words


ANNOUNCER: Borf! Baby Borf grew up to be one of the greatest Space Warriors the universe has come to know. [impressive blaster battle] But Dexter the Daring soured with age. . . .
LIEUTENNANT: Commander Dexter?
DEXTER: CALL ME ACE [vaporizes him] HUH?!!
ANNOUNCER: . . . feeling in a nasty mood, Ace decided to wipe out the entire human population of Earth; and to this end, he built the mighty Torpedo Gun and mounted it aboard his heavy cruiser.

[An extremely blown-up version of the original Star Pac drifts across the screen, complete with its Parker Brothers symbol and the license number RS 232. Darth Vader's theme is accompanying]
ANNOUNCER: But to power the Torpedo Gun, he needs a magic sword.  So, guess who's back — Dirk the Daring! Together, you must defeat the terror that now threatens Earth, or die trying!

"G'bye, Dirk," said the bubble-headed Daphne the Daring.  "See you next summer!"

Dirk gave his usual grunt of recognition and continued to walk away from the castle.  He hadn't taken two of his leisurely steps when the thundering of three triangular space ships, each four meters long and labelled "Star Pac," shattered the air.

Crimson beams of energy zanged from the fighters and ripped at the rock-hard ground at his feet.  So: LEFT-RIGHT-RIGHT.  FORWARD.  His sword flashed as he unsheathed it, seeming to shine with a magical dragon-slaying life all its own.  SWORD-SWORD-SWORD (hah, missile deflected three for three!).

The commander of the flagship stuck his head out from behind his weapon.  He was clad in the black garb, white hair, and putrid-gray skin that was the uniform of the evil Space Ace's forces.  "If not killed," he said malevolently, "Then captured . . ."

An area-effect stun beam came from his weapon, far too wide for Dirk to escape.  A dopey smile crossed the mute knight's face, and he was unconscious.  A gasp from far-off Daphne accompanied Dirk the Daring aboard Star Pac #2 and out of sight into the dawn.

Borf strolled out of a cottage labelled "Borf's House" with a blaster pistol strapped to his side.  His new life had mellowed him considerably; despite looking physically identical to his previously nasty self, there was a certain pallor about his features which suggested a caring personality.  His voice was also in the comfortable hearing range now, which helped tremendously in identifying him as the good guy.

Suddenly, three spinning cylinders with laser turrets on their bottoms dropped out of the north sky; Borf would have to up his schedule.  LEFT to avoid a blast.  RIGHT to avoid falling down a hole that another blast just made.  FORWARD.  LEFT-BACK-FORWARD-FIRE (zark!).  Oops — two choices, left or right, to get into the spaceport terminal; so LEFT.

Now came the hard part.  Perfectly timing his leap, Borf moved LEFT to board a passing conveyor belt.  However, the flight attendant was angry at him for not having shown his pass, and began chasing him and firing his laser pistol, all the while shouting, "I don't want to hurt you!"

A leap to the LEFT caught another conveyor belt just as its ten-foot-wide safety zone zipped past.  This was fortunate, since the flight attendant's latest blast would have otherwise been right on target.  He shifted his position FORWARD on the 'belt just as the rear area fell apart.  They didn't make conveyor belts like they used to.

RIGHT to get back on his first conveyor belt.  FIRE to put a piece of the ceiling between him and the flight attendant.  Then, he jumped UP to move over a barrier of stone set in the wall that flew by only a foot-and-a-half above the level of the conveyor belt.

He made it to the far side of the terminal, nearly outside.  Oh drat it, there was another one of those spinning cylinders, shooting about three or four beams right where the conveyor belt was about to go.  He'd have to move to one side or the other, and at the speed the conveyor belt had attained, he'd have less than half a second to time the leap.  RIGHT.  Made it.

Now he was outside, in the inner court of the terminal where all the spacecraft were stored.  He picked out his fighter from amongst the other junk heaps and made a mad dash FORWARD.  However, another space ship was just pulling out right in his path, so he had to make a quick dodge to the LEFT.  When he finally reached his spacecraft, one of Dexter's troops poked his head over the far side of the craft just as Borf's gun flashed; so FIRE.

He opened the hatch, revealing another one of Dexter's minions.  FIRE.  He climbed aboard, engaged the engines, and took off to the LEFT — but he didn't make it out before a domed ceiling shut down over the whole courtyard with its only exit being two jawlike doors that opened and shut in rapid succession.  He thrust UP while the doors were open, and made it out of the first scene.

Borf opened up the com channels in his fighter.  "Dirk, come in.  Are you OK?"


"I'll save you, Dirk!"

"ah . . . Ah . . . AH . . . AAAARGH!"

The familiar corridors with graph paper walls were well within visual range, but this time there was a twist; three Star Pacs had followed him there and were about to "finish him off."  Okay, the first move is UP; uh oh, the Star Pacs evidently knew the routine too, since none of them crashed.  Borf had the feeling that he was in somebody's crossfire.

"I've got him in sights," one of the Star Pac pilots said as he fired at the green blip on his targeting screen.  Fortunately, the LEFT crosshair flashed just in time for Borf to see it and go in that direction.  The Star Pac zarked again, but this time Borf followed the flashing crosshair DOWN.  Once more, and this time UP.

"Now it's my turn," mused Borf as he lined up a Star Pac in his crossfire.  Unfortunately, the graph paper wall approached too quickly, and Borf had to duck to the LEFT.  Fortunately, one of the Star Pacs turned too wide and impacted against the wall.  Now Borf was in a crossfire again, and had to zip to the RIGHT.  Whoops, there was another corridor going DOWN — he took it, but so did the other two Star Pacs.  Aha, Borf targeted another one, and this time it wouldn't get away because his crossfire had lit up.  FIRE.

"All right!" shouted Borf, leaning outside his cockpit and stamping the silhouette of a Star Pac on the side of his fighter.  Now there were two choices; the path split, and he could go either up or down.  He went UP, and gave the other Star Pac the slip as it went down.  He had the feeling that if he'd gone down things would've been tougher.

He followed the length of the final tunnel, and exited heading straight for Ace's giant Star Pac.

The route there wouldn't be that easy to traverse; Ace was expecting him and had lain down a web of weapons fire and big black (and green) spheres.  He weaved RIGHT through the first tangle of beams, searched for another openening, found one forming, and jerked UP into it just before the old one closed.  That was when a flashing green ball bore down on him.  "Yaah," he gasped, then FIREd.  [zark!] [kablam!]  He flew on through the debris.

A quick curve cut him off.  No time to think; he had to jerk RIGHT as fast and as hard as possible.  That was close; if he'd gone any earlier or later, he would've crashed into a big black ball.  Whoops, there was another one of those green spheres, so FIRE.  A pair of lasers on the front of his fighter quartered the ball without a fuss.

More ugly weapons fire came toward him, but this time he was a lot closer to the Star Pac's dock.  He moved RIGHT, LEFT, and then FORWARD, followed by moving RIGHT and LEFT once more.  Ace was tricky, but Borf had been studying his tricks all during his second life.  Now there was a wall in front of him that offered only two possible exits; doubling back by going down, and closing in on the docking bay by arcing left.  Borf went DOWN, and doubled back to a point right in front of another green ball.

FIRE.  Green ball quartered.  LEFT-RIGHT-FORWARD-LEFT-RIGHT and he was back at the wall again.  That was just like before except it was backwards.  This time he chose to go RIGHT and head for home.  He could have doubled back twice more, that time and the time following it, but the fifth time through Ace would've put a black ball below him, leaving no choice but RIGHT to get into the big ship's dock.

Or at least near the big ship's dock.  He neutralized his turn by moving FORWARD, and at that point realized that the docking bay doors were closed.  He FIRED on them, which dented them and heated them to incandescence, but the barrier was still there.  FIREing a second time finally brought the doors down; but Borf had to instantly increase his thrust FORWARD to make it inside just before the emergency replacement doors slammed shut over the opening.  At last he was inside the Star Pac.

And that was when his real problems started.  Oftentimes Borf had wondered why he bothered to undertake quests like this and didn't just let Dirk the Daring try to wriggle his own way out of things.  After all, it was Dirk's dragonslaying sword that started this whole mess in the first place.  Then he would think about the torpedo gun, helpless Earth, Dexter the Daring, and the Oedipus complex, and then he knew why he was doing this.  Especially now that one of Dexter's dark-sided minions was charging at him from the far side of the airlock.

FIRE.  That was easy.  FORWARD to get through the airlock before it closed and the landing bay evacuated.  LEFT down a corridor, then RIGHT.  Whoops — dead end.  The only door leading out had one of those numbered locks ot it that he had to figure out the combination to.  He was about to blast the door open when an ethereal face appeared.

He instinctively FIREd at it, but the shot raced right on through the image, bounced off the impenetrabulium door and vaporized a guard that was about to pound on him.  Then he recognized the face: it was Kimberly's!  Kimberly the Daring, Dexter's old girlfriend — the woman who'd been his second mother despite Dexter's objections!

"You must stop Dexter's madness!" said the phantom.  "All access locks in the Star Pac follow a similar combination: you must press all four buttons — top, bottom, left, and right — and you must press each only once.  However, the order changes on every different lock; and missing even one step will kill you!  Please succeed!"

The face vanished, leaving Borf more enlightened and more afraid about the lock in front of him.  Two more minions of Dexter entered the corridor, which he had to FIRE-FIRE upon quickly to kill.  Now the lock — but which way first?!?

Good ol' precognition, the top button flashed!  So UP.  The LEFT and RIGHT ones flashed milliseconds ahead of when he pressed them.  The bottom button didn't flash at all, but he knew enough to press DOWN on it.  The door whisked open, he went RIGHT through it, and was cut short by one of Dexter's minions with its blaster drawn.

He could have just followed his gun flash and FIREd at that point, which would have saved him a lot of grief, but instead he followed the flash to the RIGHT, and though he avoided the blaster beam he caught his left foot in a completely awful and painful position.  Gritting his teeth, he inspected it.  "Sprained," he muttered at last.

He propped himself up on his right foot and returned FIRE, vaporizing the putrid-looking guard but leaving his left foot still the worse for wear.  He would have to go to the medi-lab.

He followed his original instinct RIGHT through the open portal, then immediately BACK and into a long corridor.  He had memorized the layout of this ship before he started out and knew exactly where he was going.  The corridor entailed a sharp bank to the LEFT (hobbling, of course) but that was it for a while — except for the two encounters with Gray Dexters.

The first time he had to feint DOWN and then FIRE, which was easy enough.  The second time he feinted DOWN again, but this time the guy got off a shot which sent Borf's own gun spinning away behind him.  "Good thing for this ship's artificial gravity," he said as he dodged RIGHT-FORWARD-BACK, "Or my gun'd never stop flying!"  FORWARD, FIRE button to strike hand-to-hand (punch), then BACK and DOWN again to retrieve his gun; and finally FIRE (darn, missed!) and FIRE again (zzap!).  Going left had been out of the question due to his bad foot.

At last, he went FORWARD through the door to the medi-lab. Limping over to the equipment pile, he picked out the Healing Ray from other various instruments of torture and trained it on his left foot.  The scintillating red beam fixed and revitalized the foot as though his ankle had been energized.  The job completed, a Gray Dexter popped into the room with its gun out, whom he promptly FIREd at and at last went RIGHT out the flashing door.  The scene looked awfully similar to the room he'd sprained his foot in.

He slipped into the neumatic tube which thrust him through several twists and plopped him into the seventh in a row of Jump Harnesses, which he used to jump DOWN and land lightly (with some assist) on the ground ten meters below.  Just in time, too, because five separate blaster beams from five separate Gray Dexters crossed his previous location.  Dexter was getting pretty desperate; but he was also getting pretty close to Earth.

Kimmy's face rematerialized.  "Watch out — the route through the maze is defended by thirty-seven-centimeter-long spikes!"  This time, though, it didn't disappear.

"What maze?" asked Borf as he moved LEFT away from a group of guards.  He reviewed the Star Pac's blueprints mentally, then said, "Oh, that maze."  FIRE (zptow!); make that four Gray Dexters.

"You've got to destroy the torpedo gun!" said the face.  RIGHT-FIRE-LEFT.

"So what else is new?"  FORWARD.  His weight on the metallic lavender floors was dwindling; he was approaching a region where the artificial gravity hadn't been activated.  That meant the maze.

"Dirk's sword is the center of the gun's power."  BACK-FIRE.  "It's locked out by an impenetrable force shield."  FORWARD.

This was it; he'd just entered a zero-gravity three-dimensional labyrinth.  He was in the maze, and now he had to watch out for the 37 cm metal spikes.

The face continued.  "Once you get the shield down, you have to overload the power core."

DOWN into another tunnel.  "You mean like by firing at the sword?"

UP.  "Yes," blurted the face.

FIRE into a guard's abdomen.  "But how do I bring down the force field?" asked Borf.  Whoops, a circular door just closed in front of him.  No other way out; he FIREd into the door and thrust FORWARD on through it.

"With the button panel behind the blue wall."

LEFT.  Oh, no, he meant right!  Damn, he'd been playing the room backwards and had forgotten that it was in its first inversion.  He could have avoided that whole mess by going down anyway.  After a momentary blackout, he found himself flying (with the jump harness) out of control into a wallfull of spikes.  This was not a G-rated death scene.  By his swiss-cheesed side, a metric ruler stuck up from his hand.  The tips of the spikes lined up exactly with the 37-cm mark.

Borf was drifting in a limbo between life and death.  Through the haze, against an astral-specked backdrop, Dexter peered down menacingly at him.  His wrinkled and ugly face blew the smoke from his blaster, then turned to face Borf's field of view and said, "You cannot win."

Oh well, he still had two lives left.

He rematerialized back at the entrance to the maze; he was playing on the hard difficulty level.  'Once you get the shield down, you have to overload the power core.'  DOWN.  "By firing at the sword?"  UP.  'Yes.'  FIRE.  "But how do I bring down the force field?"  FIRE-FORWARD.  'With the button panel behind the blue wall.'

RIGHT.  That time he remembered.  "Yeah, so what's the sequence?"  LEFT-LEFT-RIGHT.

"Top," said Kimmy.  DOWN.  "Bottom," she continued.  UP.  LEFT.  Suddenly, her face blurred and vanished.  She had intended to give him the final code, but Dexter had intervened and jammed her clairvoyant signal.

"What's the next move, mommy?!"  DOWN-LEFT-FORWARD.  "Don't leave me in the dark!"

But it was too late to worry now.  He moved FORWARD onto a lavender platform, feeling gravity return just as his jump harness ran out of fuel.  He unstrapped the harness and jogged on into the next scene.

His weight had returned; evidently the disengagement of artificial gravity was only present in the small band marked by the maze.  He jogged determinedly toward the right, when a blue-white shaft of light and the sound of a photon torpedo cut him short.  He jerked back to the LEFT just in time to avoid a drill-shaped light beam that smashed right through the metal floor.  He recognized it intsantly: it was an Infanto Ray.

He looked to its source and was taken aback by the sight of himself as he was before Dexter had first defeated him.  No, there was one difference — he was orange instead of blue.  The manifestation menacingly clutched a perfect replica of Borf's original Infanto Ray, suspended on a platform ten meters above the ground, and rumbled in Borf's original voice, "Beware your Dark Side!"

Infanto Ray beams started coming down like hail.  RIGHT-RIGHT-FORWARD.  Borf had to distract him.  FIRE.  Well, that didn't do any good.  LEFT-BACK-FORWARD.  Whoa, RIGHT to avoid that hole in the floor.

Was that a mirror on the side of the room?  Naah, that would be way too corny.  History doesn't repeat itse—RIGHT.  Well, maybe history could repeat itself just this once.  BACK.  LEFT-BACK.  Made it to the far side of the room; yep, it was a mirror.  He pushed the mirror to the RIGHT just in time to intercept the next 'Ray, the beam reversed itself and hit Borf's Dark Side, and the obese orange bad guy was knocked back and turned into a little baby without even having to inspect his hands.

Borf watched the little orange brat fall to the floor and bounce a couple times.  No matter, orange Borfian babies are too tough to be damaged by falls anyway.  Borf forged ahead.

One last sealed doorway.  This was it!  A warning printed on the door read:


This security lock would be easy; some rookie had crayoned in the letters B, T, L, and R above the four-button panel so that he wouldn't have to memorize the Top Secret Access Sequence.  DOWN, UP, LEFT, and RIGHT, and the door slid open.  One of Dexter's minions caught up with him from down the corridor, so he had to FIRE on him.  The doorway flashed yellow a couple quick times, and Borf jumped RIGHT through it just before it closed and the other ten or twelve soldiers caught up with him.

Whoops, he had leapt through the door a little too fast without looking.  A Gray Dexter towered right above him, bringing a wicked-looking scythe down from high above its head.  RIGHT to avoid the hack.  FORWARD to front-kick it in its gut.  And there came a few more.  FIRE.  FIRE.  And a quick RIGHT to avoid a potshot from the catwalk.

Borf looked to where the gun bolt had come from.  There stood a wide-chested man halding a smoking blaster pistol.  His tights were stark-white, his face had been soured by age, and he wore a horizontally striped undershirt that constantly switched between blue and red.

"Borf," chanted the figure sinisterly.  "At last we meet again.  But you're too little, too late to stop me now!"

He indicated the left side of the room, from which a deep hum originated.  A sword was mounted on a pedestal in the center of the front end of a wide, round tunnel.  "When the rings inside the tunnel make it to this end, my Torpedo Gun will fire on Earth!"

Borf could just barely see a thin, white, shimmering bubble around the end of the tunnel and the sword.  'That must be the force field Kimmy told me about,' he figured.

The white dude continued.  "And I also have your friend:"

He pointed to the right.  A man was clasped to the wall by his hands and feet, suspended eight meters in the air.  His triangular belt buckle, conical helm, long nose and mute wail betrayed him instantly.

"Dirk!" Borf cried involuntarily.

"There's no force in the star system that can stop me now," the man in white gloated.  Borf noticed a framed 8x10 glossy behind him.  It was a picture of Kimberly with a mustache drawn on.

Borf stood his ground.  "And what do you plan to do after you've turned your home planet into a slag heap, Dexter?"

Deep anger instantly replaced the smirk on his face.  "CALL . . ."  His eyes turned red.  ". . . ME . . ."  He bared his sharp teeth.  ". . . ACE!!!"  He fired, holding the gun out stiff-armed in both hands.  Borf had to duck DOWN.  ". . . HUH!?," he completed the phrase.

Well, Borf was really in for it this time.  Dexter ol' buddy would surely show no quarter now that Borf didn't call him Ace, huh.  A flurry of gun bolts came down from the rafters, both from Dexter and from his gray minions.  LEFT-FORWORD-RIGHT-FIRE (cross off one minion!).

"Rrrrrh!" screamed Dirk the Helpless.  The Gray Dexters beneath him were getting restless and had begun to try and climb the wall.  Knowing them, they could probably grow claws and succeed.

There was the guy with the scythe again.  FIRE button to bring his gun up and block the blade on its way down.  They didn't build blaster pistols like that anymore.  Unfortunately, the blow knocked him prone, so Borf had to FIRE at the figure to ward it off.

That only made it mad.  He came at Borf again, swooping his scythe sideways toward his head.  Ducking DOWN proved quite useful there.  He followed that by jumping UP over the next swipe.

He looked back at Dirk, but Dirk only directed his attention to the torpedo gun (he grunted and pointed with his nose).  Borf could now make out finer details of the tunnel the sword was at the end of.  Its walls weren't smooth, but ridged into foot-wide alternating bands of brown and black.  The fifth black ring — from the angle, the farthest ring Borf could see — had just lit up bright white, and it looked as though the fourth ring was starting to glow as well.  'So that was what he meant about the rings inside the tunnel making it to this end,' he thought.  His time was running short.

He scampered UP onto the big Gray Dexter's shoulders, and clamped a magnet to his head.  Now the big guy would lose all sense of direction; but more were coming.  He leapt LEFT off of the confused scythe weilder, let the other Gray Dexters all congregate on his previous position, and then FIREd four times into the mass before they figured out what was happening, picking up some free experience points.

'Now then,' he wondered, 'Where's that force field control?  Damn it, not a single instrument panel here on the ground!  Maybe it's up on the catwalk. . . . No, it better not be.  Much too heavily guarded up there.  But all there is down here is the torpedo gun and that stupid steel plate covering a small part of the wall.'

Borf mentally whacked himself on the forehead.  That was where the torpedo gun force field controls were stored, it had to be!  Decisively, he dashed to the LEFT, having to FIRE through a stray Gray Dexter in the process.  He ripped the sheet of steel from its rivets without much bother,but Ace saw this and started panicking.

"Get him!" Dexter shouted, readying his gun.  "Get him!!"

He fired.  Borf dodged LEFT, and returned FIRE.  Dexter ducked out of the way too, but Borf's shot went on to hit a weak part of the ceiling which sent several tonnes of plaster crashing down and stopping most of Dexter's forces dead in their tracks.  Realizing that now it was just a race between himself and the torpedo gun, Borf returned his attention to the hole in the wall he'd just created.  Beyond it was an instrument panel with four buttons and a sign:

Insert 2 dimes or 1 dime and 2 nickels or 4 nickels or 1 dime, 1 nickel and 5 pennies or 3 nickels and 5 pennies or 1 dime and 10 pennies or 2 nickels and 10 pennies or 1 nickel and 15 pennies or 20 pennies

That was what he was looking for, but unfortunately he had no 20th-century-currency spare change.  'Now what was the sequence she told me?  Ah yes.  Top.'




'Then what?'  His mommy had been cut off at that point.  He would have to make a fifty-ifity decision.  He brought his finger stlowly toward the button on the left, and just as he was about to press it he suddenly remembered something.

During the whole time when she had been telling him the correct sequence, he had been turning in exactly the opposite direction on the maze: she said "Top," he went down; she said "Bottom," he went up.  His move after thet was left, so the next button in the sequence should be . . .

RIGHT.  He'd moved his finger at the very last instant.

And the last move, of course, had to be LEFT.

He looked to the torpedo gun.  Sure enough, the force field was down, but the circles of light were only one step away from reaching the sword at the end of the tunnel.  He handled his gun, took careful aim, and at last FIREd.

The beam connected.  The sword glowed red.  And the rings of light retreated back down the tunnel as the core of the torpedo gun broke down.

"No!!!" Dexter shouted, but it was too late.  White, pulsating energy began to radiate from the sword, energy which eventually faded into lethal beams like the shrapnel of a hand grenade.

Borf had to dodge the patterns of random bolts.  RIGHT.  DOWN.  LEFT-UP-RIGHT.

There were still a couple Gray Dexters clinging to the wall beneath Dirk; the destructive pulses coming out from the sword finished them off quite nicely.  Only four beams actually hit the helpless Dirk, though; one on his right wrist restrainer, one on his left wrist restrainer, one on his right ankle restrainer, and one on his left ankle restrainer.  Dirk fell down about eight meters and landed feet-first on a three-meter-wide plywood disk.

"Dirk," asked Borf.  "You okay?"

Dirk made the okay sign with his fingers and clicked twice out of the side of his mouth.

Meanwhile, the sword had calmed down and had let the basic reactor core of the torpedo gun take over the rest of the buildup to critical mass.  Not needing the dragonslaying sword anymore, the system ejected it off the pedestal and into Dirk's hands halfway across the arena, whereupon Dirk properly sheathed the weapon, indicated "Let's go!" with his left hand, and dashed off to the RIGHT since some old the Gray Dexters were coming to again.

They were out of the room.  Dexter was madly shouting "GET 'EM!"s to any Gray Dexters within earshot.  But the reactor core of the torpedo gun was still heating out of control.  A feminine voice that sounded like the space traffic controller on Galactica droned, "Torpedo gun overload.  Sixty seconds to self-destruction. . . ."

Before the pair stretched a long corridor with six little floating, colored electrobots going back-and-forth down its length.  Dirk looked over his shoulder, and a musical sting accompanied the entrance of a mob of seven Gray Dexters coming at them from behind.  The mob looked more like a black mass writhing toward them, giving the impression of a big black sphere.

Dirk waited until the first (yellow) electrobot passed to the right in front of he and Borf, and then they both went DOWN the corridor.  The electrobot came back at just the right intstant to run into the Gray Dexter on the far right.  The 'bot and the minion both vaporized like something out of Tron or Robotron.

Dirk waited for the next colored electrobot to pass by to the left, and then he and Borf both went DOWN the corner again.  And again, the electrobot returned just in time to annihilate the Gray Dexter on the far left side of the black mass.

Four more times they went DOWN the corridor, passing the red, green, orange, and lavender electrobots; the one Gray Dexter remaining didn't stay on their tail long as they jumped FORWARD over a hole in the floor and the Gray Dexter fell through.  Dexter never learned that artificial gravity only helped his enemies.

As they reached the end of the corridor, six trumpets seemed to materialize from points outside their perspective; they began playing the Dargon's Lair fanfare in their ears so loudly they almost went deaf.  That was all Dirk could stand; he drew his SWORD, turned his attention to one of the off-stage brass players, and neatly cleaved the surprised man in half.

"Cut!" the yell came from a short guy in a french hat sitting in a folding canvas chair holding a megaphone.  By his side were a guy holding a spotlight, a guy holding a microphone, a guy manning a camera, and Dexter himself standing in front of a canvas chair whose back read, "Call him Ace, Huh?"

"You killed one of our best musicians!" the director complained.  He turned to Ace.  "Fire that man!"

"With pleasure," Ace said, drew his blaster pistol, and fired on Dirk.  Dirk promptly vaporized and a circle of darkness closed around his ashes.

After a drifting pause, Ace's form returned as Borf's and Dirk's only sensory perception.  He began to point his gun toward where they thought they were.  "You will lose. . . ."

The light returned, but now Borf and Dirk had only one life remaining.  No matter, that was all they needed; and that last death scene was worth it.  They were at the front of the corridor with the electrobots and Gray Dexters back again.  DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN-UP.  "Da da da, dah da — du-WEE!"

They were stopped short in the next room by a beam that was quite definitely an Infanto Ray.  They had to move FORWARD (which was backward to them) to avoid the hole in the floor.  Up on his pedestal, mounting the Infanto Ray, a little orange Borfian baby was saying, in a voice that sounded like Dexter when he was still under the influence of the Infanto Ray, "It's me again!"

Dirk held up one finger as if to say, "Let me handle this."  He approached the pedestal, but was warded off with an infanto beam he avoided to the RIGHT.  LEFT-FORWARD-LEFT.  RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT.  Whoops, he was right in the center of the next blast. There was no way to avoid it.  He unsheathed his flashing SWORD and held it up defensively before him.  The spinning business end of the beam crashed onto his sword and vibrated it a bit, but the full force of the beam had been intercepted.

"Ooooh!" smiled Borf, and clapped his hands cheerfully as he jumped a couple times.

There was Dirk's opening.  FORWARD.  He threw his SWORD up and right through the chest of the baby, who flashed a few times and fell dead to the floor as Dragon's Lair triumph music blared in the background.  Dirk popped his sword out of the dead body and sheathed it.

The core of the torpedo gun was reacting even more violently now. The top of the pedestal was pulsing with an off-white life all its own.  The female voice droned, "Thirty seconds to . . ."  The scene switched back to our two heroes.  ". . . self-destruction. . . ."

Borf was about to lead Dirk out the portal in the front of the room, but Kimberly's phantom face and voice intruded.  "Your Buzzer fighter has been moved.  Go to the left."

'Oh no,' thought Borf.  'Now I'm sure we'll never make it in time!'

Nevertheless, he and Dirk went through the LEFT door, and were greeted by the buzzer not five meters in front of them.  'Well, maybe I was wrong,' Borf said.

They hopped in and Borf ignited the engine.  He began to leave by thrusting FORWARD down the launching tube.

My goodness, he'd never seen a tube with this many twists and turns in it!  He must have been in a back spacecraft storage room rather than a main launching area.  Someone really didn't want him to leave.  UP.  LEFT.  RIGHT.  DOWN.  RIGHT.  LEFT.  Whoops, there's a Star Pac: FIRE.  Blam.

Stamp pad, another Star Pac silhouette on the side of Borf's fighter.

DOWN.  Level off FORWARD.  FIRE through a thin plaster wall right in front of him, then FORWARD through a pair of opening and shutting doors while they were open.  It was getting so confusing.  UP past a wall that just appeared.  Level off FORWARD again.  FIRE at another Star Pac and print its silhouette on the outside again.  Good thing space isn't really a vacuum in these cartoons.

Then came a decision.  The corridor continued on straight, but a side tunnel lead LEFT.  Borf took the side track; it was worth more points that way.  FIRE through a Star Pac, RIGHT to get back on course, FIRE through another Star Pac, and finally LEFT to bring him to exactly the spot he would be had he gone the other way.  But the other way didn't have any shooting and only required one (LEFT) move.  More stamp-pad work, two more silhouettes.  It was getting pretty crowded there on his hull.

"Ten seconds to self-destruction. . . ."

RIGHT.  The exit door was in sight, but as usual it was closed.  FIRE to melt it to a palpable consistency, FIRE again to blast a hole in it, and finally FORWARD to thrust right out through the door.

Dexter was beyond hope.  He was pulling his hair out and screaming indiscernable curses.  The top of the pedestal was sending out threatening, pulsating rays.  The feminine voice droned, "Three . . . two . . ."

Borf was outside the big Star Pac, but still within its explosion range.  Viewed from the front, he followed the flash DOWN to kick in the after-burner and the after-after-burner and thrust madly away from the doomed ship.

Underlit cracks appeared in RS 232's hull in time with the old "Energize" fanfare.  And at last, the whole ship, and Dexter aboard it, exploded into little fragments.  Borf had fulfilled the Oedipus complex at last.

Borf didn't even look back; he knew what had happened.  Kimberly's illusory face appeared again and smiled, then faded out since her presence was no longer needed.  Borf turned to the knight in the seat behind him.  "Tell me Dirk, can you say anything in English at all?"

There was a pregnant pause while Dirk thought.  Then, finally, Dirk the Daring shrugged his shoulders and said, "No."

The Buzzer fighter sailed off toward Earth's dawn.


Send comments regarding this Web page to: Roger M. Wilcox.
Click here to go back to my main old stories page