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Harvest Moon

                                   Jonathon Pierce

Adena slipped on a green jumpsuit, admiring herself in the mirror. She brushed back a sassy lock of hair and moved over to the open window. A large golden moon hung in the distance, shining its beams of light onto the cooling earth. The trees had just turned their fall colors. The orange and red leaves mingled with the light. Adena had wondered how it had changed from winter to fall so quickly; time, it seemed was not as constant as it used to be.

She stared at the glistening orb, remembering her mother's words. This was, she knew, the harvest moon: the season of reaping. You will reap what you sow, her mother had said. She suddenly questioned the quality and quantity of the harvest.

As she pondered, her Amulet began to glow brightly. Sensing another prescence, she quickly turned around.

"So, Adena, I have come for you at last."

"Sterling, how did you get in here?"

"Do not evade the situation, Adena. You threw me a clever curve in the City of Remembrance, but I've got you now." The Shard pulsed with each word, emphasizing his wrath. "You must pay for the damage that you have done."

Adena responded with volley of lasers. The lasers struck Sterling, and ricocheted into a nearby lamp. Adena was apparently shocked.

"I suggest that you come along quietly, Adena, because you can't hurt me." He smiled broadly, knowing that he had won.

*  *  Grandmaster of the Game  *  *

Suddenly, Adena found herself in a balcony of an extremely large room. The floor was circular, patterned with alternating bands of silver and gold. Four platforms hovered above the floor at either end. The room, in fact, looked like a life-sized klitik board.

Sterling appeared beside her, the Shard glowing in his hands, "Make yourself at home, my dear."

"I don't understand," Adena said, somewhat exasperated. "How did I get here?"

"You are still in your castle. You have not moved, your surroundings have merely changed. That's one of my powers--reformation."

"One of your powers? Tell me the others!"

"My, aren't you demanding? I suppose that you noticed the weather. I simply reformed the seasons. It is really quite useful. My father did have, you know, the power of creation. Reflection is another talent. I reflected your lasers earlier. By the way, I suggest that you not attack me anymore: I can reflect your attack back at you as easily as I can reflect them away. My last power is reincarnation. Eventually, I will find my parents and bring them back. "

"So now I understand."

"Alas, but you do not. I will kill you as surely as you are standing here. Then I will reincarnate you as a grasshopper. I will pull out all of your legs and antennae. Then I will step on you. I will then reincarnate you into a mouse, and have my cat chase you around. You will die many times before your death--each will be more painful than the last."

Adena's face whitened, "Just you try."

"But first, I want to kill your companions. I want to see you squirm beneath my grip." He clapped his hands, causing the klitik pieces to appear. "I will play silver; you gold. Now, the stakes. If you win, you and your friends may go in peace. If I win, both you and your friends will die. If you submit, only your friends will die, and you will be my slave."

"I shall refuse to play!"

"Then you shall all die. Are you ready?" Adena nodded her head, perhaps she could win this contest. Sterling continued, "The Infantry shall represent one family residing in Furanose--picked randomly, of course. The Calvalry shall represent Madison and Jonathon. The Cavalier shall be Bronson. The Necromancer represents Iffley; the Emperor, Toltec. Shall we begin?"

Adena nodded weakly. Bronson and Madison had threatened her, but because their pieces were so valuable, she could not afford to lose them. She contemplated her first move and decided to play boldly, "Cavalier to Platform Three."

"Infantry 4 to Ring 3."

Sterling was playing conservatively, and that bothered Adena. She thought for a moment and advanced her Infantry to Ring 3 also, allowing her Chaplain freedom of movement. Sterling advanced another Infantry to Ring 3. Adena countered with another Infantry to Ring 3.

Sterling smiled, and placed his Calvalry One on Ring 4. His piece was protected by both of his Infantry. Should Adena attempt to trade? Suddenly she realized that there was no trading--every mistake she made held lives in the balance. She decided to ignore the Calvalry and brought her Chaplain onto Ring 2.

"Severe mistake, my dear." Sterling captured her Infantry with his Calvalry. The deceased piece appeared on a chart on the far wall. A name flashed beside it--Sir Q'lation, the Ludit's personal foot doctor (random indeed!).A wave of guilt passed over her, for she knew that the family would die. Angered, Adena placed her Infantry adjacent to the opposing piece. No matter where Sterling moved, he would lose his Calvalry.

Sterling responded by placing his Necromancer on the First Platform. Undaunted, Adena took the Calvalry with her Infantry. A silver piece now also flashed on the wall, but no name appeared beside it.

"You are not thinking clearly, Adena. Retu P'moc Chaplain." Adena gasped as her golden Chaplain turned into a silver one. Her own golden piece appeared on the wall~ along with the name of Eve Eden. She moved her own Necromancer to Platform Four. This piece was protected by both the Emperor and the Cavalier.

Sterling took Necromancer. Adena followed suit with the Emperor. Now Iffley's name also flashed with the others. Sterling had gotten the best end of the deal: he had taken her Chaplain.

"Do you really think that I would fall for T'el Shai?" He brought his own Chaplain out from Ring 1. Adena responded by moving her Emperor to Platform One. Sterling moved his converted Chaplain to Adena's back Ring. Adena smiled and took it with her Cavalier. Sterling took the Cavalier, in turn, with his own Chaplain: he had gained another piece without losing one of his own. Bronson's name was added to the list. The Chaplain once again threatened Adena's last pieces of value. Adena moved one of her Calvalry, but Sterling took the other. Madison's name also flashed on the wall.

"Forfeit, Adena, and become my slave."

"Never." Adena then noticed that her Emperor was in danger. The loss of the piece would ensure her swift downfall. She weighed the alternatives. She could lose and die with dignity, or she could submit and try to help her friends. She decided on the latter, "I submit."

"Excellent." All of Adena's pieces blinked on the wall, along with their representatives. Toltec, Jonathon, and other familiar names associated with Furanose were added to the death list. Adena's stomach turned.

"First things first. Who shall I kill first? Perhaps Iffley."

"Over my dead body." Adena said coarsely. She concentrated, and teleported to another location in the castle. Sterling had not lied, she had not moved from the castle.

Sterling, however, seemed unconcerned at this new development. He stared deeply into the Shard and teleported to Iffley's castle.

*  *  The Grim Reaper  *  *

Iffley's quiet surroundings of his study suddenly changed into a desert scene. The sand dunes piled up in all directions, and Iffley shook himself into reality. The wind whipped around, causing the sand to fly at him. The tiny grains of sand bit into his skin. He raised his Sceptre to create a sheild made from water vapor. Nothing happened; there obviously wasn't any water vapor present.

He pointed the Sceptre at a nearby dune. Instead of transforming into a shelter, it changed into a sand devil. The monster lunged for him, and he tried to run across the sand. He slipped and fell, allowing the monster to gain precious ground. Just as the creature loomed above him, it rolled over and died, a victim of Adena's powerful lasers. The creature reformed into its natural shape. Sterling now laid lifeless on the sand. Apparently, he could not maintain all of his reformations and reflect the entire laser burst. His talent had not, however, prevented his death, it had only stopped his frying.

"Iffley, are you alright?"

"Yes. What is going on here."

"Sterling is trying to kill the leaders of the Earth. He feels that this is appropriate for revenge. Come, let's get out of here." She helped him to his feet, and they exited through the door--which looked like a hole in the horizon. They emerged into the hallway and closed the door to the hostile world.

Adena twirled the Ring on her finger, "There is something that I must tell you. I can't see you anymore."

"It's Toltec, isn't it."

"No." She took off the Ring and placed it in his hand. "It just won't work, Suralio."

"I think I realized that. It was one of the reasons that I left."

"After Blue died, I needed someone to help me."

"And, as usual, I was convenient." Iffley said, accepting the rejection better than he should have.

"Iffley, I must go." She kissed him lightly on the cheek. "Take care of yourself." Adena turned down the hallway and exited to her waiting danae. She had now fully reaped her harvest, and yet somehow, she wondered how Iffley always got caught in the thresher.

 © 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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