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Plans--Old and New

Bronson awoke early that morning. The night had been restless, and the day before--the whole week--had been a confusing and restless one. He knew that when he became Chancellor of Ranier that there would be problems and headaches, but the strain was getting to him. He wanted to get away for awhile and relax. However, he knew this would be impossible. Too much had happened. He decided that he could get away though, at least for an hour or so. He left a note for Madison saying that he would be out flying for a short time, and that when he got back they would go over plans for the new system for preventing intrusions from underground. He did not want anyone else to ever enter the kingdom again as Iffley had the night before.

After a quick breakfast, Bronson was off to the hanger, and soon was soaring over Ranier in his Starstrike II. He flew over the Temple of Excho, and saw its beautiful spires sparkling in the sun with fresh fallen snow. He then headed out to the coast and flew through the islands just off the main contenent. As he flew along he was reminded again of the intrusion as he saw the hole in the ground which led to the tunnel Iffley used to get to the Palace. He then circled around the Palace and its grounds, and the rest of his capital city of Paradise. The Palace was a beautiful sight. Its white marble exterior and its seven gold topped spires gleamed in the sun. All the grounds were beautiful, except for the gaping hole left when the tunnel collapsed. Madison's spell of Restoration and Regeneration would fix that. However, the recovery of the missing Belt would not be as easy. Now that this Key was no longer in his hands, he felt an emptiness--an uneasiness that he had not felt since... But that was some thing altogether different. It left another kind of emptiness, a deeper sense of insecurity. He could not let his thoughts bother him any longer. He must get back to the Palace and back to work. After all, a Chancellor's work is never done.

He was greeted in the hanger by Madison with news of the new plans, as well as other good news.

"How was your flight Bronson? Did you enjoy yourself?"

"It was okay for the most part. Anything on the plans?"

"Yes, I have good news. The analysts and I have worked through the night, and found a way to alter our existing systems to accomodate our new needs."

"Oh really. Tell me about it."

"Later. Right now I have something to show you."

"What is it?"

"You'll see. Just come with me."

"A few minutes later they were standing in the East Garden. The giant hole was gone. The garden had been returned to its original beauty by Madison's spell.

"I thought this might be it. Thank you Madison, the garden is now as beautiful and pleasant as before. Now tell me about the alterations that have to be made on the systems."

"Its really very easy. Let me take you to the analysts. They may be able to explain it better than I."

Moments later, Madison and Bronson were in the Defense Systems Analysis Lab, talking with Jacob Astin, Chief Systems Analysts.

"Jacob, Madison has told me that a plan has been devised to alter our present systems to accomodate our new needs."

"Yes, Mr. Randolf, we have. The concept was Madison's. My department worked with it and have come up with an idea. It will take refining. However, we think that the system could go into effect within the next month."

"Good." So tell me, what does this plan entail?"

"At present our defense shields are extended in such a manner that they stop near the borders of Ranier. The idea is to find some way to intensify the shields to either extend several miles underground or extend beyond the borders, and on to the surface of the seas surrounding Ranier."

"Sounds good. However, wouldn't it be better to combine these ideas so that the shield extends below the bottom of the sea?"

"That was another possibility we were looking into. It is possible, but because of water's tendency to reflect certain types of waves, we may have a problem with getting the waves that produce the shield to travel underwater."

"Okay. Keep up the good work. Be sure to tell me of any new news."

"Yes, Mr. Randolf. We will."

Bronson then left to go to his study. He had thought about doing some light reading from a work written before the plague -Tolstoi's War and Peace. However, he decided to dive deeply into more serious matters.

Minutes later, he found himself in hot water over his decision. He did enjoy it though, because this hot water was the bubbling, swirling type found in his hot tub. He let the jets of water swirl around his aching muscles. Soon he was off in another world. Though he was awake, he was dreaming of someone he knew several years before. He had thought of her earlier that day while he was flying. When he lost her, she left an emptiness in his life. For a long time he was not able to accept her death. He had finally done it though, and even forgot her for awhile. However, something that week had caused him to remember her. He was feeling that void in his life again and needed to fill it. He had to find another that could be as good a friend as she had been.

In his mind he went through the scene of her death again, and the helplessness he felt as she and her family were consumed in the flames of the fire that burned their house. He remembered hearing her scream as the floor where her bedroom was collapsed. If he had been there earlier, as he had planned, he may have also died in the fire -- or he may have been able to save her.

"Bronson, wake up! What's wrong? I was trying to find you when I heard you screaming. Were you dreaming about her again?"

"Yes. I was dreaming about the fire, the way she screamed when the floor collapsed, what may have happened if I had been there sooner."

"Bronson, it's not your fault. You could not have done anything about it. You would have been killed too."

"I know, Madison. But that was the night I was going to propose. I had talked to Debbie just a few hours earlier. I told her I would be coming over, but I was delayed and got there late. If only I hadn't been delayed..."

"Do you realize that this is the first time you have said her name in seven years?"

"I know. Even now it still hurts when I hear it or say it. After the fire, I looked through the ashes and found her burned body. I could barely recognize her. She was clutching the gold locket I gave her. It had a picture of each of us in it. I was surprised that it wasn't burned. I picked it up and kept it. I still have it. Every once in a while, usually on her birthday, I will get it out and look at it, thinking of what could have been."

"I understand. I will leave you alone now. I figure you need some time by yourself. If you need me though, call me. I'll be happy to talk, or listen, whatever you need."

"Thanks, Madison. You are a wonderful guardian. You have been a very good father to me since my family was killed. I love you."

"Thank you, Bronson. I also love you. Just as I would my very own son. I'll be in the study if you need me."

Madison's eyes began to burn as he left the pool room. He finally realized how much Bronson appreciated him and how good a job he had done raising him. Bronson reacted much the same way. He soon left the tub and went up to his room. As he layed there he thought of Debbie, of Madison, of plans for defense, of plans for the future. He was soon asleep, dreaming of his future, and the people special to him. He knew one day he would fill the hole in his life, and he knew who he wished to fill it with.

 © 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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