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Five
The Hallway


Madgelie and Alfred sat in front of the house, taking a much needed break. It had taken some time, but their camp was functioning smoothly. Madgelie eyed a few men as they moved supplies into the tents that had been set up.

“Do you want to try getting in the house again?” she said.

“It seems pointless to keep trying. The door won’t even budge,” he replied.

“Molly’s parents haven’t arrived yet. I think Molly’s father still hasn’t woken up from when he fainted last night,” Madgelie said. Alfred chuckled.

“I don’t know what’s going to come. I really don’t know if Eliza made the right call in sending those kids in,” he said.

“I have to agree. There had to be another way,”

“There must be a way in somehow.”

They both fell silent.

“Is there a back door?” she asked.

“Sealed shut.”

“Windows?”

“Couldn’t pry them open. All projectiles are ineffective.”

She sighed and puffed air through her teeth )
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Four
The Drawing Room


The sight of Elizabeth set Madgelie at ease for a while. The older woman was a sight for sore eyes. She was dressed in strange robes, but she was the same cryptic woman who challenged her constantly. She met Alfred and Madgelie outside on the main road into town.

“Professor Eliza, you must tell us of your travels,” Madgelie said, ushering her into a building that had become their makeshift base of operations. “Where is Gilbert? I told him to pick you up at the train station. Did he miss you?”

“No. I saw him and my granddaughter too,” Elizabeth replied.

“Really? Where are they?” Madgelie asked.

“Well…They’re in a house,” she began. “You know what? Let’s go meet them. Hitch up Tema to fly us across town. And bring force field boxes. And a portable temporal read out machine.”

The tranquility was rattled. Madgelie and Alfred knew they were in for one of their professor’s wild, yet some how perfectly controlled rides.

Why does this sound really big and possibly really bad? )
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Three
The Doorstep


“You know your brother needs to those samples,” she said. “So just…come back alive, okay?”

“I’m on it, Madge. Have some confidence in me,” he answered. She breathed deeply and put her hands in her pockets. Madgelie primarily communicated in sighs when Gilbert and Alfred were involved. Gilbert headed over to Gringolet and patted his side. Around the bael’s neck was a finished voice box. It was a prototype, but it worked.

“So… you think we can do this?” he asked Gringolet. The output was static for a moment.

“It’s not like you to doubt yourself,” Gringolet responded in a crackly monotone. Gilbert grinned every time Gringolet spoke.

“Let’s get going then,” Gilbert said climbing on. He pulled at his helmet straps, put on his facemask and plucked the bowstring. He then carefully lay both arrows across his lap and studied them, looking for defects. The arrows were more like long syringes that were going to extract samples from the monster. The creature itself was made up of incredibly dense dark matter and nothing existed that could hold it until recently. Alfred explained to his brother the more complex points of making a crystal that let off an energy buffer that would be unaffected by the density of dark matter. The ends of the arrows were fashioned with dark matter to pierce the creature’s skin. Attached to the hollow arrow shaft was a crystal globe that was covered with a highly magnetized sheet of metal. Gilbert could draw it back from a distance using a magnetized glove.

Shooting, out maneuvering the creature, and retrieving the arrows was going to be a tough job, but the pair of intrepid fliers had few worries. If they stopped to think about it too long, they would hesitate so they only acted. Taking to the sky, they headed for the creature’s current location. It wasn’t far, only a few miles away, amid the ruins of what was the largest metropolis in the country.

The creature was huge: a lumbering mass with stubbly legs )
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The Hour House

Two
The Lab


The Military Science Army had been in place for years. In all the years since its institution it had never been so well funded as it was under Madgelie’s reign. It was mandatory that they give a report to the Empress. Shortly after the year anniversary of Madgelie’s coronation, three commanding officers of the MSA came forward to present their achievements. Madgelie sat back in her chair eyes fixed on Alfred as he slid a folder across her desk.

“I was expecting a more substantial report, Commander Prufrock. This time machine I see here is all theory, plans, nothing more,” she said opening the thin file. “Is this all I’m getting?”

“I was hoping you’d approve of seeing a demonstration. Some of the additional data and calculations were too valuable to be moved from their secure location,” Alfred said.

She didn’t speak immediately, just looked up at him, her mouth open slightly.

“Where is it located?” she asked.

“Schrödinger’s Villa, Your Excellency.”

She leaned back in her chair and looked over the files again in disbelief )
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The Hour House

One
The Courtyard


The roar outside the palace was deafening. Inside the once still air vibrated with noise like water. Though Madgelie was deep inside the palace walls the trembling air only seemed to make her insides quiver in a similar fashion. She had always known the gravity of her choice, but until that moment it never weighed on her so profoundly. Outside there were people who had been briefly liberated by an idea of hope her father had given them. His reign as Emperor had been but a short three year affair. This seemed to be merely a moment in time compared to the lengthy period of war and unrest her uncle had churned along.

How could she make the citizens outside understand that those dark days were not returning? Despite their enthusiasm they had to be a bit worried about what she would tell them. She felt something snaking around in her stomach, threatening to rise to her throat and out through her mouth. Madgelie ran for the garden. She was losing confidence, she had to regain it—too late, she was already retching into a rosebush. She started to right herself again, thinking the worst had passed, but she was hit with another bought of nausea and she vomited again.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw him coming. She hastily tried to wipe her mouth but he had seen. He offered her a handkerchief and she took it and wiped the remains of the vomit from her face.

“Thank you, Al,” she said.

“I was going to hold back your hair, but you have it in such a tight ponytail, I didn’t think my assistance was needed,” Alfred replied. She took out her compact mirror from her jacket pocket, fixed her red lipstick and adjusted her military cap.

“Is my uniform okay?” she asked.

“Don’t be so nervous. Everything will be fine, I promise you. We all worked hard on this.”

“Alfred, will it be enough? Is what I’m doing really enough?”

He smiled and put a hand on her shoulder, “You’re giving an entire nation of people hope all over again.”

Madgelie gazed at her friend in his Military Science Army uniform. A hazy memory of the disheveled young man he had once been upon their first meeting flashed across her mind and she smiled despite herself. If she had learned anything from being friends with Alfred, it was that respect had to be earned. When they met and she gave her name and rank, her high sounding title only made him suspicious of her. Madgelie decided that day that she would eventually earn Alfred’s trust. Years later he was still working with her, a testament to how their friendship grew in adversity.

“I won’t let you down,” he said, running his thumb just under her right eye. Her eyes were her most distinctive feature on her face: her left was brown, her right was a milky yellow green. She pushed his hand away.

“I know you won’t. I hope I don’t disappoint you,” she replied.

“Just give your speech, I’ll take care of the rest.”

Madgelie breathed deeply and gripped his shoulders before they went back into the palace. They walked together for a while and lingered in the main hall. She looked at him and closed her left eye so only her right was showing.

I’ll watch for you with my good eye )

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