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Prologue to the Omen

                                   Jonathon Pierce

Bronson Colt Randolf raced along the highway in his new hovercar. The car handled beautifully around a sharp turn and Bronson smiled brightly, "Thank you once again for this late birthday present, Madison, I really appreciate it."

His beloved mentor nodded gently, he would do anything for his ruler to make him happy. "No thanks are necessary," he said once again for the thousandth time that day. "Why do you think that there has been a meeting called at the City of Remembrance?"

Bronson frowned. He did not like going on missions without adequate information. He scanned his brain concerning the City of Remembrance. He did this quickly and efficiently--thanks to Madison's Brain File Sorter Spell, but could not find a reason for such a meeting.

Suddenly, a large silver fox emerged from the woods and ran onto the highway. Bronson, catching the gleem from the animal's coat, slammed on the negative acceleration pedal. Unfortunately, his reactions were too slow. The hovercar smashed into the animal, crushing its spine and skull. It yiped sharply and then expired.

The pair jumped from the hovercar and stared at the remains of the beautiful animal. Madison muttered a quick Dig-a-Grave-by-the-Side-of-the-Road spell. Bronson delicately placed the fox in the grave and covered it up. "A very bad omen," Madison said slowly.

"It could have been worse; it could have been a black cat." Bronson replied. The meeting seemed to have started off on the wrong foot.

*  *  The Observed  *  *

Bronson pulled up to the bank of the dried Pool. He stepped out of the car and walked up to the waiting group.

"Late as usual, I see." Taft said brusquely.

Iffley noticed Bronson's mouth drop open--not that any would NOT notice it--and introduced Taft, "This is my brother, Theodoric Taft. Theo, I think you already know Mr. Randolf."

"Your what?" Bronson asked.

"Yes, Iffley, we have met before on occasion, if you'll recall." Bronson scanned the last member of the group, Eve Eden, and took a particularly long glance at the object around her waist, the Belt of Excho.

An elderly gentleman, dressed in white flowing robes, appeared at the entrance. He motioned for the group to come closer. When they had entered the boundary of the City, the man spoke, "I am Beam, Historian of Remembrance. Come, enter our beloved City."

The entourage followed the aged man and entered the City. As it loomed before them, Iffley realized that the City was more beautiful than he remembered. The City had been restored unto its original glory. The waterfall-hologram roared spectacularly in the distance. Iffley walked slowly by the canals and frowned at his reflection. He combed his unruly hair with his hand and checked it in the reflection. He sighed, realizing that his hair would never cooperate, and continued on the trek.

Abruptly, the group arrived at the Museum of Remembrance. They climbed the marble steps and quickly entered the maze of corridors.

They transversed the Twentieth Century hallway and Iffley scanned its contents. In the section entitled Fads, Iffely found several quotable quotes.

"Where's the Beef?"

"They pelted us with rocks and garbage!"

"Those are my chunks!"

"Did I ask your input?"

They continued through the Museum, finally stopping at a section entitled Superstitions.

As they entered this section they were greeted by two more Historians. The first, a female, Iffley recognized as Shine. The other introduced himself as Light.

"Our guests have many questions," the Historian named Beam said. "Miss Eden, for example, wants to know why she was brought here."

Eve looked quite shocked. Then, after a brief moment of cogitation, she realized that his 'mind-reading' was only a simple parlor trick. Naturally, the reason for their summons was on everyone's minds.

It was Light who spoke: "You have all been brought here to be warned of an upcoming omen. Shine has the unique ability to sense omens, and she is quite certain that one is approaching."

"Let me assure you, omens are not something to be taken lightly." Shine perused the entire group, "As you can see, the five basic omens have been presented for your convenience." She gestured at the five holographic displays on the forward wall.

"The first omen is the blazing comet." The hologram came to life, showing a brilliant comet streaking across the midnight sky, its tail stretching out behind it. "This omen signifies the birth or death of a prominent person. Mark Twain, B.P., is one example of the omen."

"Then that omen would signify one of our deaths, since none of us are pregnant." Taft shifted his gaze to Eve, "Overtly pregnant, that is."

"Did I ask your input?" Iffley remembered the quote and now realized why it had turned into a fad: It was a very effective rebuttal. Iffley glared at his brother in contempt. He still was not sure of Taft's honesty, but he did possess the Crest. Perhaps later, he should check up on him.

"The next omen is the complete rainbow. This signifies peace." The second display activated, playing out its scene. A complete rainbow stretched across the horizon, seeming to touch the earth at both ends. "The peace after the great flood is an example."

"So, not all omens predict bad things."

"No, Bronson." Madison chastised, "You would have realized this if you had checked your brain file on omens."

"The third omen," Shine continued, "is the red-blood moon." The third display showed a ruddy crescent dominating the twilight. "This omen represents death and destruction. A red moon was seen one week prior to the destruction of Hiroshima.

"The next omen is the solar eclipse. This omen symbolizes a power struggle, political upheaval, or other insurrection. The examples are far too numerous to cite here."

"There has already been a power struggle: Iffley has reclaimed the throne of Furanose."

"We are aware of this fact," Beam said, "but that was only a slight struggle. The throne was his and, by claiming it, no complications occured. Therefore, the situation was not warranted with an omen."

"The last omen is the shooting star." Shine paused a moment for the display to complete its program. "This signifies a natural disaster. A falling star was recorded a few days before the violent eruption of Vesuvius."

"As you can see, these omens fortell very important events. Within a week of the omen, its consequences will occur. Shine, when will the omen appear?"

"I will need your help, Light." Light approached her and the pair clasped each other's hands warmly. Then Shine began to concentrate. "Tonight." She gasped, "The omen will occur tonight." She smiled warmly at Light and then released his hand.

"Come, you must be hungry." Beam said. He directed the group to a small diner at the edge of the City. They sat down at a large table, according to the names on their placecards. Iffley stared at the menu:

Welcome to the Restaurant of Remembrance,

The place of enchanted foods.

A robot waiter appeared with a tray of food. He set down the first course--soup and salad. Iffley stared at the salad: It was a delicate shade of blue. Angrily, he grabbed the salad and threw it across the room. He stood up, excused himself and stormed out of the diner, slamming the door behind him.

"I'll see to him," Eve said as she ran out after him.

"I thought I told you to serve nothing blue--especially to Iffley." Beam scolded the robot.

*  *  In Russet Mantle Clad  *  *

Iffley stood staring at the horizon~ unaware of Eve's approach. "Iffley, are you alright?"

"Yes...No, I'll never be alright." Iffley felt terribly alone and was glad that Eve had come to join him.

"Iffley you must forget Adena. I know that you loved her, but you must put that behind you now. Her love for Blue was simply too great, you can't blame her for--" She stopped abruptly and began staring into the twilight sky. "Iffley, look."

Iffley followed her pointing finger, resisting the urge to say, "It's not polite to point," and gasped at the object: A blood-red moon was slowly rising over the horizon.

 © 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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