Leonis, 1:1, 2:14 - Roach Hotel - Hazardous For Horo

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Burning sparks of ash drifted skyward toward a hole in the crumbling factory's ceiling and flickered out. These tiny embers produced by the flames of a makeshift fire pit briefly competed with the light of the full moon and stars littering the sky. Undulating light from the fire bathed the men and women of all ethnicities surrounding it in an orange hue, erasing any of their tonal differences. They were all the same here at this gathering...all of like mind and of purpose.

Agent Harvon eyed the motley assortment of disheveled strangers surrounding him and his two companions in curiosity. He covered his mouth and kept his voice low, "Reggie, do you understand the magnitude of all of this. The advanced weaponry these people's enemy possesses is exactly what we need if we are to protect ourselves from the Negexis."

"I agree, but notice that even with little to no electricity or electronics this ragtag group is holding their own against all of that. I think we could learn something from both sides of this odd civil war."

"Hey boys, what are you talking about? Was the meeting not exciting enough for you?" Karen asked. She patted Fentz on the shoulder, gave him a wink, and presented a smile to the other two men.

"Nah, we were just saying how well your...erm, our forces were doing against the NWUS."

Karen lifted an eyebrow. "Right. Well, I am looking for volunteers to go out and meet up with my sister and her crew. A runner brought Jason Elder back to camp in pretty rough shape and we all are a bit concerned. He said he'd been popped by a drone. Carver, his father, went back out with a few soldiers earlier and we're not sure of the outcome."

"Those drone things sure are a pain in the ass, aren't they, Cap?" Reggie asked and crossed his arms.

"You can say that again," she replied.

Gilbreth pursed his lips in contemplation and angled his head as if calculating his next move. He lifted a hand and swept it side-to-side. "I have no problem volunteering, but we three were actually sent in to locate a man with the last name of Raymond. Anyone around here calling himself that?"

"Oh yeah, Karen said. He's with my sister, Kate. They should've been back already, but something must've happened. I can't be sure, but I feel it."

"Then what are we waiting for? Let's go!" Reggie said and draped and arm over each of his partner's shoulders.

<<*>>

Karen raced down the road with a torch in her hand. She began panicking the moment she spotted the dead NWUS officers lying in the streets of Platte City next to several members of her twin sister's squad. "Oh, no...Kate!?!! Where are you, sis?" the captain called out into the darkness.

Carver Elder suddenly appeared from the shadows, instantly bathed in the light of the woman's torch. "Hey, Karen, stop! You shouldn't go back there," he said with his hands up.

"Why, Carver? Sh-sh-she's dead isn't she?" Karen's typically stoic voice cracked. She stood upright and sniffed. "I knew something was wrong, I could feel it. Now, move aside!"

"I need you to take a deep breath, okay? Uh, Karen?"

Fentz caught up with the woman just as Carver Elder held a light over Kate's body. He caught Karen as her knees buckled. "I have you, ma'am."

<<*>>


"She's gone..." Karen sat with her back against the brick wall directly across from her sister's body. She held a canteen of water in her quaking hands. She rested her head on Fentz's chest as he sat beside her with an arm around her shoulders. "What am I going to do without her? I know I am supposed to forget, but I don't know if I can this time. We've always been together...through everything."

An older gentleman in a green field jacket that Karen had seen around the Fort a few times knelt down and softly placed a finger to his forehead and then Kate's. "Set it and forget it, sweetie."

"What did you say, old man?"

He stood and began to walk away. "I'm sorry for your loss, Captain Summers."

"Wait a minute, soldier...what did you say, set it and forget it?"

A kind smile appeared beneath the white beard followed by a nod of affirmation. "That I did, ma'am. It was something your sister said to our group before she was killed. It's a quote that Parker fella said came from where he was raised. The words were supposedly spoken by a brilliant philosopher named Ron Popiel or something. Set it and forget it...may I?" the old man asked and lifted a weathered hand to Karen's face.

Karen shook her head in agreement.

"I believe it works like this," he said and lightly touched the woman's forehead with a rough pointer finger and then her sister's. "Set her memory here in your mind and then forget the body."

Karen was confused. "Isn't that blasphemy?"

"Against whom, my child? You can no more erase all of your happy memories of your sister than I can shift into another reality simply by thinking about it..."

Fentz leaned forward to examine the grinning old man's face. "Arthur?"

The bearded old man stood and extracted something wrapped in a sheet of the familiar metallic paper Fentz would have recognized anywhere. Unwrapping a Horologium, the man crumpled up the paper and then stowed it away in his jacket pocket. "Well it's time for me to be off before I lose the light of the full moon."

"Hey, wait!" Rudolph said and jumped up to stop Arthur. He grabbed him by the arm. 

The old man stood still in the middle of the road. With the Horo buzzing in his hand, he turned and presented a cigarette to Rudolph. "Here, give this to Sarge. Tell him the Ferramortium is coming."

"Ferramortium? Iron Death? Wait, how do I get back to 1846, Arthur?"

"You don't," Arthur said and pointed behind Fentz at the distraught Karen, her head in her hands. "She needs you, now. The Multiverse needs you more than anyone in that time period."

"But, my wife and..."

"They will be fine. In fact, she was cheating on you with your neighbor, George. You child is actually his." Arthur lifted a finger to Rudolph's forehead as the Horo buzzed its third and final time. "Set it and forget it, my friend..."

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