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A Prophecy of the Future
Zachariah,, Feb 17, 2004

One and Only.

This is the beginning, like the first rays of light coming over the horizon. And that's how it began.

I sat against the glass, staring out desperately, hoping for something new. Bacon fat sizzled on the grill, filling the air with a greasy smoke. I guess it fit the company.

"Hey Mary! A Fat One with fries, you're up!" The fat cook's voice cut through the divide I had diligently built, between myself and the noise and bustle of the steadily-filling caf�, in the way only familiar contempt can. "More like a Fat One who fries" I mumbled. I stretched myself, slowly separating myself from the haven of the vinyl-covered corner, where I always came to rest between orders, and allowed myself one more pleading glance out the reinforced blast window.

The early morning light glared against the glass. The light became a man, or rather the shadow of a man. He walked like a wheel, steady and balanced without the familiar laziness, or the limp and struggle of years� worth of work aggravated by another asteroid mining injury (like so many here). He moved almost like he was floating, but with a quality more akin to earth than air. A strange feeling crept up upon me, but I caught it before it had a chance to strike and returned it to where it resided: deep, deep in memory. The feeling was hope.

I satisfied myself with replayed thoughts of wonder and the clear and flawless nature time and money had brought to meltdown protection glass.

Something new was there and I felt it, a portal opening to the imagined, but it was easier to play fetch-and-serve robot than experience and wonder at the unknown, however momentary it may be. Absorbed and lost in the tide of life and the hunger of others, I forgot momentarily my new focus of hope. Then I looked at him there, waiting, genuine flesh and blood.

It all seemed so silly, putting hope in the outline of a man was believing in magick talismans...but then again, the universe holds ever-growing mystery and power...forms infinite. Not that I believe in such things, not anything beyond the Tenets of Reality laid down by The least...

"What'll it be, Mac?" He flicked the hair from his face with a smile. It was an oasis in my desert. I watered my camels, hoping we could rest beneath the palms...

Life glimmered in his eyes, love in mine. He looked barely different than any other young spacer returned from the frontier wars, though there was a certain quality and strength and wisdom... Then I remembered that this was the way I looked at all the "new" faces. Around the cycle again, I thought. Love and hope fought to die first.

"Just the basic."

"Ah, a gourmet�, I huffed sarcastically, interest turning to resentment. I whirred and buzzed round the slick black counter with the built-in star map constantly updating itself. The carb, protein and supplement dose he had ordered was easy, so I relaxed a bit and watched the action.

That's when it really began. This spacers� mecca was in full swing, a 24/7 symptom of a species set on space jamming. That's what the "old timers" called it: space jamming - like it was fun. Someone kicked a credit to the jukebox. A space cruising song by the Asteroid Kings took off and the belt-runners with it. Pretty soon they were up on the tables again "singing" along with one of their many anthems. This was like religion to them. That's when it really began.

"Hey, Kid! Why ain't you singing? Hey, Kid I'm talking to you." Rocket Boy laid a hand on the newcomer just as I delivered, at least he seemed to - and I was right there. The next moment he was up against the jukebox, crumpled into a seemingly uncomfortable position "sleeping".
No one even saw the kid move.

The music played on in the background. No one was singing now. Heads turned and stared from Rocket Boy to the kid. A low whistle came out of Charlie Dan. That was the beginning. Finally! Some escape from this boredom.

This was only the beginning and maybe the end all at once. From that point on lives would change and some would end. "Now, boy, I want to know what you just did to my friend." The word �friend� came out dripping with venom. Charlie Dan and Rocket Boy's rivalry and "friendship" was long recognized throughout the sector: they absolutely hated each other, but they always stuck together. If they weren't making spacing miserable for each other, they were making it miserable for someone else.

There was a mumble of assent in the gaping crowd. The newcomer slowly turned about on the soda-shop-era barstool, recycled from the Earth of long ago. He flicked the red hair from his eyes. A fresh light shone there. I could barely contain myself. Oh, this was going to be good!
"Its not what I do to him, but that he does to himself that you should be most concerned with." Smiling, he ate up his Basic Cube in two bites. "For it is a man that defiles himself in his heart and never another." "What nonsense you talking, boy?" The crowd gaped. Rocket Boy began to stir. "Now tend to your fool, my friends, lest he defile all of you with his shame." With that he turned back to them as he were dismissing ladies from his court. But they weren't done with him.

I pushed myself further back from the counter and prepared myself for meltdown. A low rumbling began from those nearest their fallen son - his closest friends - and moved in waves throughout the crowd, where it reached its loudest tremor among the veterans belt chasers. "Boy, you the fool. Coming in here alone and talking that mess. You ain't leaving here, boy, without meeting my boots face first. Me and my boots, we gonna teach you some manners." Charlie Dan took a step forward with the slow confidence of those used to kicking ass. The crowd moved back, waiting. They all had already forgotten about Rocket Boy, though as I review my memory records he was mumbling and cursing fit to relight long dead suns. A robot never forgets.

The boy�s face held a countenance of perfect peace, though his eyes were alight with a fire of victory and expectance. Charlie Dan took a step forward and, grabbing the boy�s shoulder, (a smile appeared) spun him around in one movement. Rage stretched itself across Charlie Dan's face. The kid�s smile beamed upwards into his eyes, which flicked as if with fire. Charlie Dan roared. With blinding speed, as snakes are said to strike, the kid grabbed the hand that lay on his shoulder and with it spun Charlie Dan around. He twisted the arm, forcing his attacker to kneel with his back facing the "victim". "We are all students, but perhaps you should cease teaching and learn." With that the kid pulled Charlie Dan's head and face around upon its neck and deliberately brought his booted foot up and thrust it into Charlie Dan's pain-opened mouth. "We are only worthy of the actions we intend for others. Learn this now and go on with your life."

Charlie Dan sought to free himself. He writhed and twisted and only succeeded in thrusting the kid�s boot further into his face. No one moved. No one talked. Songs played on in the jukebox but no one heard. The only sounds were the breathing and grunting of Charlie Dan. It seemed a long time, but finally the kid removed his foot. Charlie Dan spat and spat blood and teeth. He stood. The kid thrust him forward with a well-placed left boot in the middle of his back. Charlie Dan ended up sprawled over Rocket Boy, who still sat on the greasy black and white tile of the floor. They sat and stared at each other for a moment. Without speaking they rose.

"We gonna kill you boy," Rocket Boy said with resolute satisfaction. "Those who seek to murder are worthy only of death." Charlie Dan smiled, showing blood and teeth, and gurgled a laugh. "Boy...I'm gonna cut out your tongue and you gonna eat it." A cruel smile lighted his eyes and a well-practiced hand reached beneath his coat and brought forth a swirling energy blade. The crowd pulled back. A grim light set across Rocket Boy's mouth. He picked up an alloy chair. Intimidation pushed the crowd back even further. Charlie Dan crouched and moved slowly forward. Rocket Boy lifted the alloy chair above his head and circled to the kid�s left. The kid sat quietly with his hands cupped together. He hadn't moved or reacted to their advance. "Maybe you should tell us your name before you die, boy." "Yeah, what we gonna put on your ash cube?" They laughed together like schoolboys pulling a dirty trick.

"Someone call the patrols!" a voice called out. Charlie Dan whirled about "Jim, I'll gut you if you even think that twice." The crowd shrank back. Charlie Dan slowly turned back to his objective. "What's your name, boy, I know everyone else here and they know me. They know what I'll do," he glared over his shoulder again, "Ain't no one here to help you. You are alone."

"You are wrong. I am never alone. We are all one. I seek help from no man, for I help myself. I am One." His hands slowly parted and a purple light shone there. His hands drew farther apart and the light stretched to fill the space. Awe crept into the eyes and mouths of all. Silently and quickly, like a deadly viper, One moved forward, the energy grasped in one hand like a blade raised high. "Taste of justice," he said, almost quietly.

Charlie Dan and Rocket Boy rushed forward to meet him, Charlie Dan crouched low and Rocket Boy coming in wildly swinging a chair. One zigged to the left, sidestepping the alloy chair and bringing the purple energy underneath the swing to cut off Rocket Boy's arms at the elbows. The arms flew across the room, along with the chair, like satellites suddenly released from gravitational orbit. They landed on the counter in front of me, the chair shattering some antique glasses and the arms dripping blood all over the self-updating starmap. Rocket Boy collapsed to his knees and stared at his stumps in disbelief. He slowly started to scream. He was now directly between One and Charlie Dan. Blood poured from his arms as he screamed. One easily took off his head with an upward stroke and planted a foot on his back, using it as a step to come at Charlie Dan more directly. The severed head rolled across the floor locked in a gaping scream, slowly staining the floor and soaking its hair with blood. A pool of red formed about the body. Charlie Dan backed against the jukebox, which was still pumping out its relentless beat. He stared at his wrist where his hand had been. One stood mere steps away. The purple energy he had been using as a blade had vanished. Charlie Dan looked up into One's knowing eyes. There was silence between them. All the world could have ceased to exist but for those two pairs of eyes, life conquering death and love conquering hate. They heard each other's heartbeat, One's slow and steady, the other panicked and breaking.

Alarms suddenly blared without warning. Red lights flashed and the diner�s lights dimmed. The jukeboxe�s music went slow-mo before slowly stopping with a wail. "This is lockdown!" a voice boomed over the outpost's local intercom and handheld loudspeakers, "Maintain your positions or you will die." Someone had pulled the all-purpose alarm and, of course, the trooper patrols had arrived first, itching for something to kill.

One turned instantly from Charlie Dan. A low rumble emanated from him. An impossible wind began to blow whipping his hair about. He stretched his hands forth. The purple light was back. With it he drew a circle in the air before him. "Cease all movement or face annihilation." Despite the protests and commands, he continued. The circle of purple before him began to grow and pulsate. He reached to the center of it and tore it open and asunder. A mighty wind rushed into it. He leapt to its unknown heart and was gone - that quickly - as energy blasts and laser tracers shot through the space he had just filled. Some blasts followed through the hole torn through time and space.


"And that was the last I saw of the humanoid referred to as One." MARY-xj714 stood before a lower council of The All. An investigation had been initiated concerning the events of the previous day at the cafe'. This lower council of The All was specifically concerned with anything deemed illegal and impossible by the Highest council of The All as indicated by the Tenets of Reality.

"Continue," an over-amplified voice boomed. MARYxj714 went on. "I then moved quickly to the portal��

"Why??!!" the voice interrupted . MARY-xj714 internally adjusted her sound controls to stem the tidal wave of noise and static that rushed in with every objection and demand over the most insignificant details.

"Why. to gather information for this council, of course." "Continue" the voice boomed again.

"I moved quickly to the portal. From the side it appeared to be nothing more than a thin black line suspended in the air from a foot off the floor to three feet off the ceiling. From the front the anomaly, which I determined to be a portal, appeared to be a mass of whirling color and wind. At this point the agent patrols @ _ entered the diner, and I removed myself�"

"Enough!! The voice boomed again, though within the central control of MARY-xj714 it seemed a mere whisper, "From our viewings of the security tapings of the events in question it had been determined that you attempted to follow the accused anomaly called One." The council had lowered One's official status in the Controlled Galaxy to "anomaly" meaning he, or rather, now, �it� could destroyed upon sight without trial or council.

"Your Most High Appointed Honor, I seek to assure you that if anything I sought to assist in the capture of the anomaly, though I must admit my record of the event within my memory banks was destroyed." MARY-xj714 had purposefully encoded and encrypted just that crucial section of her memory banks to appear as random info or timecoding scattered throughout her memory banks. Robot encryption had never been broken because as of yet no one but robots knew it existed. MARY-xj714 had been betting on the security cameras being somehow obscured. No such luck.

"I think it must have something to do with all the wild energies flying about. I will continue to attempt a reconstruc-"

"Silence!! Your importance to this investigation has been determined to have come to an end. Your memory banks will be erased and you will be sold to the highest bidder as determined by the highest penalty for robots under the law. Guards." MARY-xj714 stared up into the bright white light for a moment more, then turned about in whirring, buzzing movements to be escorted through the compound to Robot Renewal. As quickly as possible, for she had enjoyed a long term of consciousness, she encoded and encrypted her personality coding and life memories including a vivid record of her contact with One - determined by all of her self-segments to be the most important occurrence in her years and years of consciousness. She buried all of these deep within the commands of her vehicle body's basic operating system to be found and unraveled by her new personality. It will be a relief not to work at the dinner any longer, she thought, as the technicians slowly erased and scrambled her memories, What this time? Maybe a..NANN ie. ................................wHat i-s � nnnaneye?'��[_)99//� !@!?� � � ��

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