Leonis, 1:1, 2:11 - Part IX - Persistence and Periodicals

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One filthy disheveled Parker, attempting to appear aloof, was very aware of the vendor's persistent stare, nevertheless he remained calm. The guy manning this stand was most likely unaware of Parker's recent run-ins with other similar establishments or he would have run him off already.

"You gonna buy somethin', mister?"

"Maybe," Parker replied, scratching his chin in feigned contemplation. He hummed a song the man would have never heard before and continued scanning over the racks of periodicals. Parker was quick to locate his favorite paper and checked the headlines. The date in the corner said, December 16th, 1948.

"I want this one," Parker said, and then, like a bolt of lightning, snatched it from the rack and disappeared down a nearby alley with the copy of the paper in his hand.

"Hey 'derro', stop! Damn thief, stop!" shouted the newspaper stand vendor scrambling to exit the small hut covered in magazines. He shoved his way through the crowd on the sidewalk to catch Parker, but was too late. He shook a fist in the air at the retreating American as he watched him run down the alleyway. "Don't come back here or I'll call the coppers!"

Parker said nothing in response as he ducked around a corner and fell back against a filthy brick wall. He glanced around the corner to make sure he was not being followed. Parker took a moment to calm himself as he held the newspaper to his heaving chest.

Parker lifted the paper to read it. He scanned over the headlines one-by-one noting that this was the sixth copy that contained no articles written about the discovery of Terrence's body since the December ninth edition. Nothing. These people were completely unaware of the wolf in their midst. All over the rest of the paper, there were, however, many stories written about what was going on around the planet...those did give him pause.

"Such a perfect time in the history of the world to sow the seeds of its own destruction," he considered. "Smart bastards."

Parker had taken Terrence's advice. Since the day he left the Geniel agent on the beach to die, Parker essentially became a ghost...a phantom of sorts, living on the street like a vagrant, or 'derro', as he was called by some. He wasn't sure what the term meant; only that it was derogatory in some form or fashion. Regardless, he considered his situation to be quite awful...mostly because he was alone, but secondly, because he was surrounded by so many wonderful sights, sounds, and things to eat. Damn the local food and wine, in particular. It was truly wonderful, but when he couldn't scrounge up money to buy any, it was absolute torture...thus the need for stealing newspapers.

Nevertheless, today was going to be the final time he had to live in this way and irrespective of Adelaide and its surrounding areas' beauty and bounty, he was ready to move on...and in due course.

Parker folded the newspaper up and shoved it in the pocket of his tattered coat. He readjusted the Australian Army haversack over his body. It was where he stored the things he had been collecting in preparation for his next shift. This was the last time he was going to be caught unawares by something...or someone.

<<*>>

With the sun now set and the stars shining, Parker looked skyward. "Here we go. My idiot self is about to  attempt to shift with two Horo's," Parker said under his breath. He noted his shaking hands as he stood on the rooftop of a hotel looking up at the dark sky. What possessed him to keep both of the things, he wasn't sure, but Terrence obviously didn't want the device to fall into the locals' hands. Parker supposed that would be a wise thing to consider, even if it meant a threat to his own life.

Suddenly, he had an idea. He extracted the metal paper James found in the last Multiverse and the pair of Horo's. He set the two devices to the same address and then carefully wrapped the Horo clone in the metallic sheet. As a precaution, he covered the copy with the thick newspaper and finally encased all of it with an old shirt. "That'll have to do," he said, stuffing the ball down in his haversack.

The original Horo began to vibrate.

"Alright, here we go. One..."

And again.

"Two..."

<<*>>

"It is confirmed, Parker has shifted and we now know his destination. Verification the tracker is working and online, mother," Belinda said, removing the headset from her ears. She sat back from the glowing screen of a very out-of-place, twenty-first century laptop situated in the middle of a long wooden table. The sleek machine, with its ultra-thin lid raised vertically, drew a stark contrast against the simplicity of the farmhouse's vintage dining room.

"It's the next Multiverse on the dial, Leonis, 1:1, 2:12. He must be shifting to each Multiverse, one-by-one."

Mrs. Childers crossed her arms. "Parker is looking for someone or something. Tell the agents they are only to follow and observe from a distance...Do not engage! These are the new orders from Emperor Geniel."

"Acknowledged, mother," Belinda said with a nod. She returned the headset to her ears, and adjusted the microphone. "Your orders are to follow Parker Raymond, Seven-Four-Two and Eight-Five-Five. I repeat, your orders are only to follow Parker Raymond. Do not interfere or intercept unless operation is a failure."

The headset crackled to life. "Acknowledged. follow Parker Raymond. Do not interact or engage unless failure occurs. This is Seven-Four-Two and Eight-Five-Five preparing to shift."

"Wait," Mrs. Childers said with a hand in the air.

"Wait, Seven-Four-Two and Eight-Five-Five. Further instructions incoming."

"Acknowledged."

"Tell them, if Parker finds anything or anyone related to the missing manuscript, collect what was found and return it here, if they can do it without exposing their presence. If they find nothing, maintain objective until the location of the Manuscript is discovered."

Belinda pressed a key on the computer's keyboard and began speaking once more, "Seven-Four-Two and Eight-Five-Five. If anything or anyone related to the missing manuscript is discovered, collect what was found and return to this address, attempt only if no chance of exposure. Nothing found...maintain orders until discovery of the Manuscript's location, understood?"

"Understood, Zero-One. Seven-Four-Two and Eight-Five-Five, acknowledges."

"This is Zero-One, out."

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