"So what else is new? Here, Fraci, there are new crystals. If you look hard and long enough, you can see your future."
Deep in the cave, Fraci and Merci passed the twilight hours studying mineral formations. It was common among the vagabonds to indulge their passions for divination. Whether it was reading water ripples, cloud formations, or stalactites, the dinosaurs loved to "see" what the future held for them. However, on this night, Carmen was very much on their minds. It was a shame to see their friend so cruelly treated. It was even more disturbing to see how much Joey had allowed himself to become obsessed with Carmen. After all, as Merci observed, "Carmen never stays in love with one for long. Why can't this stupid corporeal see that? Why doesn't he just go back to his Mica, the one promised to him, and leave Carmen alone?"
The hadrosaur sisters discussed the recent events: how Carmen accused Joey of not choosing between her and his duty; how Joey reacted when Captain Zuno ordered him back to his post; how Joey, after attacking his superior, fled into the deep forest. There was now a search party out looking for the renegade iguanodon.
"Surely," said Fraci, "that once captured, Joey will be swiftly and severely punished, and all for his stupid passions. Why are so many of the young bucks like that? Even so, this one has let his passions rule his head. He doesn't know how to handle a female like Carmen. Let him get whatever is coming to him!"
At last report, Joey had been seen heading for that spot in the valley where his mother resided. Perhaps, as Merci explained, his intended mate, Mica, will try to talk some sense into him. The sisters agreed to discuss the matter no further and resumed their crystal divinings. Just as they peered into the swirling colors of translucent stalactites, hoping to conjure visions of the future, Carmen appeared in the cave.
"So," asked Fraci, "where is your Joey?"
Carmen sighed and replied, "We had another quarrel. He said he had to go see his mother. I told him to go." She sighed again, adding, "Let us talk of this no more."
Then, realizing what her friends were doing, she asked, "What do the crystals tell us this time?"
Looking intently in the swirling, mineral-rich colors, Merci saw patterns
that suggested future events.
"See this shape in the crystals?," she said. "It means I'm to find a handsome, gallant mate."
"Ooh, do mine," said Fraci.
"All right," replied Merci. "Hmmm..."
Her eyes lit up when she could make out an odd apparition in the crystal. "See this long pink light? It means you will find your true love and travel to faraway places."
Carmen, her interest piqued, looked into the crystal. Perhaps there is good fortune for her; although there seemed precious good will in her relationship with Joey. Perhaps the crystals will say she would better off with Kron. As she peered deep into the gleaming crystal, concentrating on her questions, she saw something that disturbed her. Within that crystal, a dark shadow overtook the lovely bright colors. This is not good, thought Carmen. It could mean only one thing.
"Death. To me and to Joey."
Merci and Fraci stood quite dumbfounded, but the crystal continues to blacken. There was no mistaking that omen: Carmen's destiny is death. And what did Carmen do? She simply accepted her fate and vowed that she would live her life to the fullest, with or without Joey.
Near the cave, Mica waited for Joey, who had just come to find Carmen. She was decidedly worried for her beloved. Never before had he acted this way. First falling for the femme fatale Carmen, then deliberately disobeying orders. To cap it all, he had the gall to attack his own superior officer. Mica was not afraid of Carmen. On the contrary, she wanted to face the female who turned a mild-mannered iguanodon with a promising future into a renegade and criminal.
Just as she saw Joey approaching the cave, a figure suddenly appeared from deep brush nearby. Instantly, Joey, assuming an intruder, called out a warning. And who was this "intruder"? None other than Kron. Mica, now afraid Joey would do something stupid, hid herself amidst the thick underbrush. What she witnessed next certainly broke her heart.
Kron, in a sarcastically haughty tone addressed Joey. "As you can see I am no intruder. It is I, Kron! Now, young buck, if you will be so good to tell me where I might find the officer who was so briefly Carmen's lover. I want to see for myself the fool who broke her heart."
Joey's eyes darkened; his heart raced. In a blinding rage, he bellowed, "I am the one you seek. And you are the one who wish to steal her from me."
With lightening speed, Joey lunged and Kron, knocking the formidable dinosaur off his feet. But Kron was quicker. Immediately the two iguanodons were rolling and brawling in the dirt. Kron delivered a sharp thumb spike to Joey's chest, inflicting a deep but not life threatening wound. Despite the pain, Joey held his own. Kron would've surely killed Joey if Carmen and her vagabond friends hadn't stepped in and separated the brawling dinosaurs.
"What is wrong with you, Joey! Stupid fool!," roared Carmen. "Kron was to come and invite us to the games tomorrow, and you had to pick a fight!"
Joey, gasping for breath, said nothing as Kron collected himself. He glared sheer hate for Kron, and for Carmen. Then Kron, in lofty voice, said, "My dear ladies, you are formally invited to our annual games. Many a young buck will try his skill but I assure an easy victory for myself." He smirked at Joey who by now seemed to have totally lost all reason.
The disgraced corporal just stood there in silent rage. Just as Kron and the ladies were leaving, Joey heard a rustling coming from the underbrush. It was Mica. Astounded and ashamed that his betrothed had to witness him at his lowest. Whatever will she think of me, he wondered. She may not want to be my mate after all. She may never want to set eyes on me again.
Gently, Mica approached Joey, saying, "If you still love me, come with me. Your mother is dying and wants to see her son one last time."
She watched Joey and followed his gaze down the valley towards Carmen's vanishing form. Mica shook her head, merely asking, "Will you do that much for me?"
With reluctance, Joey agreed, and as they left, he could hear Kron singing in the distance. He could hear Carmen's faint laughter. In his mind, he said, "We will meet again, Carmen. You will love me or die!"
Deep in a distant forest, forbidden to the Herd, a lone carnotaur, searching
for a stray Herd member, bided his time. He could sense that his hunger
would soon be sated....
Go to Acte IV