Oracles were a commonly accepted fact of life for the ancients, much as they are to quite a few people today.

They held power from the lowest to the highest offices in the land. Both personal and political uses were found for the oracles --- by kings, nobles, queens, government officials and commoners alike. They held a great deal of power themselves, and the most famous of them remained influential for hundreds of years. Massive amounts of wealth and gifts were bestowed upon them by grateful clients, or those hoping to be grateful ...

Each oracle had their own favored method of divination. The oracle at Dodona, the oldest in Greece, was a mighty oak tree whose oracles were interpreted by a priest from the rustling of its leaves; the cooing of the doves that resided in the tree; and by the clanking of brass vessels that hung from it. The reputation and the success of the oracles were as varied as their methods, so it could be quite the chore to find one that you could trust.

Therein lies the problem.. .. There were no fewer than six famous ones in Greece alone, and by all accounts, a fairly reputable one in Egypt. All of them had their followers, and all swore by their particular favorite.

So, how does one determine who to trust?

Stop 1,024: Indiana State University
Oracle: The Internet Oracle.

Right, next up on the list is this "Internet Oracle" that I found on the web. I know that it's a stretch, but we prefer to be thorough, plus, I tend to believe that answers like "Your luck will be changed today" sound better out of fortune cookies than bird entrails. So I set off to find this Oracle.

After wandering the campus for a bit, I finally found someone to ask.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for the Internet Oracle. Do you know where he is?"
"Oh, he's in the temple."
"The temple. And where is that, precisely?"
"Oh, it's on Mount Kinzler."
"Mount Kinzler?"
"Yeah, it's right between Wrubel Computing Center, and the 7-11."

A few minutes later I approached the building located on the generously named Mount Kinzler. It was a small, simple, gray one story affair with a sign on the gray metal door:

Temple of The Internet Oracle.
Deliveries in Rear.
No, not those kind of Deliveries!
(ooh, you lot!)

And then a smaller piece of paper taped to the door:

Wipe your feet, Pythia.

I was taken back a bit when I saw that, but I did as requested and opened the door.

What I saw next left me speechless for a few moments. Inside the simple building stretched a nearly endless corridor of gleaming polished marble. Along both sides were marble benches that stretched the length. I entered and made my way down it. After what felt like half a mile, I reached a door and two people sitting on the bench. One was simply giggling to himself.

As I reached for the door, one of them shouted out angrily, "HEY! Wait your turn!"
"Oh, sorry."
"Gah, frickin' newbie. Did you even read the FAQ?"
The giggler simply continued to laugh to himself.
"The FAQ?"
"Jeez,", he exclaimed as he slowly rolled his eyes, "here, read this while you're waiting to ask the Oracle. And have a good grovel ready. He hates it when folks don't grovel."

I started reading the well-worn papers I had been handed. In the meantime the door opened, and a somewhat confused looking individual walked past us and down the hall to the exit. Oddly, he was mumbling something about finding Drew Barrymore's lip gloss. I tried to offer our services to him, but he ignored me.

Someone I can only assume was some sort of priest indicated that the angry man was next. He quickly got to his feet and followed the priest into the chamber, leaving me alone with the giggler. Within a minute he was back out again.

"CRIPES! What a lame answer! And I got a sig!", he stormed off down the corridor fuming.

The giggler was next, and could barely contain himself when he entered the room. I pressed my ear against the door to see if I could hear what was going on. Unfortunately, it was far too distant to hear all of it. What I did here was something that sounded like the Giggler asking some question, a moment of silence, and then a very, very loud thunderclap.

The door remained closed.

After a few minutes a rather hairy, short fellow with a sloping forehead and a mop and bucket appeared, opened the door and entered the chamber. There was the faint whiff of ozone and burnt steak. Minutes passed before the door opened again, the hairy gentleman left and the priest indicated that it was my turn.

I stood, adjusted my gear and touched my Colt, and we entered the dimly lit chamber.

"That won't help, you know.", the priest said easily.
"Excuse me?"
The priest spoke in a somewhat formal, slightly condescending manner, "The pistol, or any firearm for that matter. It wouldn't protect you." He carried himself with the kind of withering dignity I had only seen in Sibyl. For whatever reason, I believed him, although I knew I didn't have much to fear.

"So who left the note on the door?"
"I did. He told me to."
"How did he know?"
The older priest didn't answer me directly, but just laughed quietly. We continued on in silence until we were in the middle of a great chamber.

"Stand Here" the priest ordered, "And mind your boots."

I looked down and realized that I stood in the middle of a large circle but more importantly a recently scrubbed patch of marble that still had some burn marks. I took the old sage's words to heart and tried not to step in anything vaguely recognizable.

"Well?..", the priest asked me, in a slightly annoyed fashion.

"Well, what?" I asked.

"Are you going to ask your question to the Oracle?", he pointed to a currently empty chair in front of where I stood. It wasn't the first time I had to ask an inanimate object something, so I started."

"Oh Oracle most wise, which Oracle is the most trustworthy?"

A great light flickered and hummed to life and the pre-recorded songs of angels filled the room as the Oracle incarnated. Immediately, I was surrounded by a crowd of individuals, including a buxom, scantily clad woman, several more priests holding what appeared to be pastramis, a group of menacing looking mimes, and a host of other creatures. The entire affair was a bit disorienting and I reflexively drew the .45.

It was only after close examination that I determined that most of the beings in the room were simple illusions. I sheepishly returned my weapon to it's holster and remembered what the old priest had said.

The Oracle's voice boomed out: "Your luck will be completely ... Pythia?"

I squinted against the nearly blinding florescent to see the face that was speaking to me.

"Uhm, yes? And may I ask who you are?"

"Bah, not really important. Suffice to say, I'm the one that told Zadoc to leave the note."

"Yes, O Mighty One who knows all and sees all." It was the older priest now prostrate and groveling before the Oracle. His complete change of demeanor was again a bit disturbing, but I tried not to let it show.

"So, are you going to answer my question?" I asked.

"Ah, yeah, 'Which Oracle do you trust' or something. Well, let's get rid of some of the distractions." Instantly the room emptied of all but the three of us.

"Do you wish me to leave as well, Ye Whose Grasp Exceeds His.."

"No Zadoc, you may stay."

"Oh thank you, Merciful Keeper of the Toij."

I have no idea what the Toij is, but I'm guessing it probably is something that helps the Oracle ponder questions, possibly related to Peyote mushrooms.

"I've been very impressed by how fast Delphic Research as taken life" the Oracle stated. "In fact, it's actually rather refreshing. The Internet Oracle has always been about humor, and it's good to see that some have grown the mythos to include new fictional characters, especially ones that seem to have both a rich character background and room to grow. You, Sibyl and Cassandra have facets of character that could never be developed with this motley crew.

"And let's face it. It's really up to the incarnation as to how these questions get answered. Whether they use the classic group or Delphic Research, the choice should be made as to which makes the better answer.

"Some will hate you, some will love you, some will just not care, but I'm guessing you ladies will be around for a while. Welcome to the madhouse.

"Oh, and you owe the Oracle a cup of sugar and to stop by for dinner some time."

The light disappeared and the chamber once again fell into near darkness. The Oracle was gone.

"That's it?" I cried out, "I didn't even get a straight answer! And what's all that clap about being fictional. I'll stuff my fictional boot up his fictional arse and show him some non-fiction! Come back here you Toij choking bastard and ..."

The old priest, having regained his composure, cleared his throat gruffly. "Are you quite done?"

"No, but screaming some more is pretty pointless, isn't it?"

"Far be it from me to stop you, but yes." said the priest, with the tiniest glint of understanding in his voice.

"Bloody hell. So can you tell me where the Psychic Friends Network is now?"

I've attached the acquisition costs for the Oracle's request to your statement. I'll send you an update after I find Dionne Warwick.