Puzzle

Part 5

Elite's warning came too late, and the Fhgbhdz was completed.

Nothing happened.

"How very odd!" Elite said, as he stuck his head back up to take another shot. This time, his aim was true, and the Blue Jane fell, with a new hole in her head. "OK, we seem to be in the clear for the moment. Run for the car."

They made it back to Elite's car without further incident, and drove off.

"Whew, thanks for getting us out of that mess," the man said, "By the way, I'm Hank, and this is my wife Melissa."

"I am known as Elite, and we're not out of this yet. They'll be coming after us."

"There's one thing I don't understand," Melissa said, "if those people were all sorcerers or whatever, why weren't they casting spells to stop us?"

"Well," Elite replied, "I'm not really a student of the mystical arts, but from what I understand, magic, especially attack magic, can't be cast that way. Instead, the spellcaster has to enchant an object with the desired spell, then use the object to cast the spell. Now, a spellcaster *can* enchant himself with a spell, but the spell wears off after 24 hours. I guess they just weren't expecting me. But, you can bet that they'll be coming after us with everything that they can scrounge up. Not only did I kill their leaders, but I also took their Theta-Thingy."

"YOU NEED NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH THE COVEN, AGENT ELITE, THEY WILL NOT BE BOTHERING YOU." The voice seemed to come from everywhere. Immediately after the speaking stopped, an immense ball of light appeared in front of Elite's car. Elite performed an impressive bootlegger's reverse, but it was to no avail, as the engine quit.

"I have temporarily disabled your car, for we need to talk." said the man who stepped out of the light. He looked to be in his 60s, mostly grey hair with a hint of a darker shade. He wore a white suit.

"OK," Elite said, stepping out of the car, "let's talk. How about starting with your name."

"You may call me Jonathan. I am the leader of the third group that was entrusted with the guarding of a piece of the Fhgbhdz."

"Third group?" Elite asked.

"Indeed. I represent the group known as the Crew."

"The Crew?" Elite asked, trying hard not to laugh, "What kind of name is that?"

"Well, umm," Jonathan replied, rather taken aback by Elite's laughter, "it was the best we could do. The three guardians of the Fhgbhdz were all required to name themselves with the third letter of the alphabet, and the other two got the good names."

"I see," Elite said, obviously enjoying himself, "and I suppose every group has twenty-seven members?"

"Twenty-seven?"

"Three cubed."

"That would be silly!"

"Oh, of course!"

"Regardless," Jonathan continued, trying to regain his composure, "I am here to perform two tasks. First, I shall return these two innocents to their proper place. Second, I shall take possession of the completed Fhgbhdz and remove it to safety."

"Now wait a minute!" Elite exclaimed, "I went to a lot of trouble to get this Theta-Thingy, why on earth do you think I'm going to give it up?"

"Two reasons," Jonathan replied, "We are what you would term the good guys--after all, we did help you escape from the Cabal by breaking your chain. The Fhgbhdz is far too powerful to remain anywhere save for a place where it will remain completely out of reach of evil, and we are the only ones that can provide that place."

"That's funny," Hank interjected, "it didn't seem all that powerful to me!"

"That's because you have no idea how to use it." Jonathan retorted, "The second reason is a much simpler one. You have no choice."

As he finished his sentence, Jonathan, Hank, Melissa, and the Fhgbhdz all vanished in a flash of light.

"Well, dammit!" thought Elite, "If he was going to do all that, the least he could have done is given me a ride home."

Shortly after Elite made it back to the Institute, the image of an ancient man appeared on his computer screen.

"Agent Elite!" the man said, "I see you have made it back. I've read your preliminary report--tell me, were you able to recover all of this...Theta-Thingy?"

"Mr. Luken! No, sir, it was impossible for me to bring back the Theta-Thingy. I will have the full report shortly."

"Quite all right, Agent, take your time. A pity. I was looking forward to discovering the capabilities of this object. A great loss, indeed."

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