Warren Murphy: Prophet Of Doom

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    Prophet Of Doom
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Prophet Of Doom: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Where There's Smoke... Everybody with a spare million  is lining up at the gates of Ranch Ragnarok, home to Esther Clear Seer's Church of the Absolute and Incontrovertible Truth. Here an evil yellow smoke shrouds an ancient oracle that offers glimpses into the future. But when young virgins start disappearing, CURE smells something more than a scam. Here in Wyoming, East and West are about to fulfill an ancient prophecy. For Apollo himself, Zeus's own wild boy, is set to unleash a power greater than any seen in two millenia. He's got a score to settle - and Remo is the lucky sacrificial vessel.

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Esther had been backing down the stairs slowly, but

i j

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when the chain bit into Remo's flesh, she stopped completely.

Remo didn't struggle. He simply reached up and snapped one of the metal links. The two halves of the broken chain slithered uselessly over his shoulders. He broke the chain at Buffy's legs and lifted her away from the rocky crevice, setting her carefully atop the platform.

Esther took this as her cue to leave. Heart beating like a trip-hammer, she turned and raced down the remainder of the stairs.

Once Buffy was safe, Remo bounded to the top of the staircase and, with a simple flex of his calf muscles, launched himself from the edge of the Pythia platform. He moved at an angle through the dwindling yellow smoke and, at the apex of his turn, his back barely brushing the vaulted concrete ceiling, he tucked his legs in close to his body and executed a flawless somersault, landing on both feet at the bottom of the stairs.

Remo stood face-to-stunned-face with Esther Clear-Seer.

"Tah-dah!" said Remo, throwing his arms out wide.

Esther Clear-Seer had no place to run. Remo barred her way. And all at once she knew in a sudden terrifying spark of blinding realization that this man was going to make her suffer for every evil she had committed in her life. Especially for the kidnappings.

It was the only time in her life one of her prophecies came true.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Harold Smith and the Master of Sinanju caught up with Remo at the main gates to Ranch Ragnarok. He had sat the still-unconscious Buffy Brand against the nearest guard tower. Beside her, staring blankly into the forest, was Lori Cole.

Smith left the door to his rental car open and, ignoring Remo, stooped to examine the Cole girl.

"Sorry, Smitty. Her mind's gone," Remo said vaguely. "Buffy should pull through, though." He continued fiddling earnestly with something in his hands.

"Mark Kaspar and Esther Clear-Seer?" Smith asked.

Remo shook his head. The look on his face told Smith not to press the point. He began loading the two women in the back of his car.

Chiun had sidled up beside Remo, and fell to watching the young man as he worked.

"You are well," the Master of Sinanju said, his eyes unreadable, his tone deceptively casual.

Remo nodded. "The prophecy was told in Old World terms, but it was intended for the New World. It wasn't Sinanju and Greece. The 'East' was Sinanju,

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but the 'West' meant America." He looked up from his work. "I am the prophecy."

Chiun nodded.

"I have always suspected there was something fundamentally wrong with the legend of Tang. He is remembered as a dullard. Perhaps history has been too kind to him."

Remo sensed that Chiun was about to have another go at the ancient scrolls of Sinanju with a quill pen and a bottle of Wite-Out. Before then, Remo had one more thing to do.

"We should leave," Smith said, straightening from the back of the car. The girls were safely strapped in, ready to be dropped off at the nearest hospital. "The state police are arriving in Thermopolis. We should be gone before they begin making inquiries."

"Right behind you, Smitty," Remo said. He turned a small knob and squinted in confusion at what was an unplanned response.

"What is that?" Smith asked, nodding to the knapsack in Remo's hand.

"Just something I picked up from one of the bunkers. Did you know this place was loaded witii explosives and gasoline?"

"I was aware of that."

"It's kind of convenient," Remo said. His tongue jutted between his thin lips as he made a final adjustment on the contents of the knapsack. "There," he announced proudly.

Smith peered inside the small bag. "Remo, that is a timer-detonator," he said worriedly.

"Yup. I filled the Pythia chamber with enough explosives to take out half the state. It should take care

345

of the bunkers, as well. But I'm not so hot with gadgets. So I suggest we get out of here. Fast."

And with that Remo pulled the knapsack closed and flung it deep into the Ragnarok grounds. It soared through the air until it was nearly a speck in the clear blue sky. Only Remo and Chiun saw it drop neatly through the open skylight of the Pythia Pit.

They were back in the rental car, Smith behind the wheel, and driving rapidly down the dirt access road when the first explosion rocked the ground beneath them. This was rapidly followed by others that soon became one long percussive wave of shuddering rumbles and thunderings.

A tiny hail of black pebbles pelted the roof and hood of the fleeing car as the Wyoming prairie collapsed and ignited in leaping monsters of searing flame.

"You may cancel the submarine vessel, Emperor Smith," Chiun said thoughtfully from the passenger's seat. ' 'Now that all dangers have passed, the House of Sinanju stands ready to serve your mighty throne."

From the back seat, beside Buffy Brand, Remo snorted loudly. Smith, uncomfortable at perpetuating the lie, nonetheless nodded stiffly as the car plowed out onto the main road beneath the flashing amber light.

Neither Remo nor Chiun was watching as a huge cloud of dirty yellow smoke belched high above the treetops behind them.

EPILOGUE

"Okay, that's it! That's it!" The supervisor was yelling at Nick Biel and Nick really didn't like it at all. His boss had been acting like a show-off ever since the bigshot had shown up earlier in the afternoon.

The entire area was charred black from the fires that had raged across the plains months before and Nick's backhoe was having a hard enough time getting in and out of the trenches that were the result of all the collapsed underground structures. The absolute last thing Nick needed was somebody screaming at him.

He got down out of the cab and walked around to where the supervisor and the mysterious bigshot stood. He Was again struck by something familiar about the man. But he felt that way a lot. Last week he swore he had seen Bruce Willis at the mall.

He dismissed the thought and, following his supervisor's shouted instructions, got down on his ample belly and reached down into the collapsed wreckage of one of the buildings. He pulled a charred piece of corrugated tin out of the way and found the object below it. Just where the stranger said it would be.

Nick was amazed that it could have survived all of the explosions intact and he was even more amazed that someone would want something so filthy.

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The man had thanked Nick's supervisor, and after he left everything had returned to business as usual. Nick had gone back to clearing away the building debris so that the environmental clean-up crews could get into the deepest bunkers.

All day as he worked, Nick kept wondering why the mysterious man looked so familiar. It wasn't until he was home in bed that night that the answer finally came to him. His union had urged its members to vote for the man during one of the past presidential elections.

He wondered what Michael "Prince" Princippi would want with a dirty old crockpot filled with yellow powder.

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