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Drottningville

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The moment Raj and Leonard went to the garage to get their Vespa's Missy was encouraged by her co-workers, Daniel among them, to visit Leslie who might know what her fellow scholars were up to. Being rather curious herself, Missy obligingly put down the axe she was using to sharpen a bamboo pole and went to the workmen's house. It was a plain two storey building, made in the 1970's to accommodate the extra hands needed during the harvest season. Missy liked plain when it went along with practical and as she was still thinking about that when she stepped into the dining kitchen/living room the two couples shared, her first remark after greeting Leslie was that she liked her house.

'So do I,' Leslie said. 'Don't you like your home?'

Missy shrugged. 'I'm grateful to have my own. But sometimes I find it unbelievable that I'm living in an RV. My momma thought that people in mobile homes were trash.'

'She bought yours, didn't she?'

'Yeah. After Shelly had convinced her about the zombie threat. It was her last house. And George's and Meemaw's too. I suppose it's worth cherishing for that reason alone.'

'Ouch!' Leslie said, dropping the arrow she was working on on the table and pressing her hands on her belly.

'Giving trouble?'

Leslie shook her head. 'I'd be really nervous if it didn't make a fuss.'

'Absolutely. Say do you know what Penny and her gang are up to?'

'Huh?'

'Penny, Howard and my brother spent the night in house zero and most people think it has to do with the robbers from Camilla and Martha's group. Wyatt kept everyone within the wall after Raj talked to him this morning. Raj and Leonard just left to join the threesome. '

'Leonard and Raj worked in the outdoor lab yesterday evening,' Leslie said. At breakfast Leonard had been excited about what he'd done but Leslie, chagrined for being unable to help her colleagues due to the fatigue that hit her multiple times a day since she'd entered her sixth month, rather than making inquiries had changed the topic. 'The guys are preparing for an attack.'

Despite having expected that Missy got a sick feeling in her stomach. She fingered an arrow. 'Sometimes I picture how it would be to lose it all. Be on the road again, with two children, facing zombies and more dangerous evil.'

'To lose this, someone must take it. I won't allow for that. No one will.'

Missy looked from Leslie's enormous belly to her piercing eyes. 'I know. I will fight too.'

'Like last time.'

'Yeah.'

Simultaneously the women said: 'Poor Fred.'

'He was on guard at the gate when Livia and I arrived,' Leslie recalled fondly. 'I was thrilled to see his decent face.'

'Decent?'

'Yeah. We'd met a lot of two-legged beasts on our way here. He wasn't one of those and I knew that no matter what we'd ended up in a safe haven.'

Missy repressed memories of her own journey to Penny's farm and grinned. 'If recollection doesn't deceive me, you didn't lower your gun until Leonard came running toward you.'

Leslie smirked. 'Old habits.'

'Any idea what the guys are doing exactly?'

'They probably came up with something interesting and Penny's there to protect them. If those guys are playing, they won't be watching zombies after all.'

This being said Leslie reached for some feathers. Missy took her cue. While walking to the gate to see if they were allowed to leave already she talked to several people about her chat with Leslie and she herself was informed that Martha, when questioned about the travellers, had described some men in her former group as "violent". Ten minutes later on Caroline, who'd come to the kitchen in the main house to deliver tomatoes she'd grown in the vertical garden, was told by Denise that word was that the scientists were preparing something advanced to fight an enemy, possible having to do with damaging fire-weapons.

'I hope Raj takes care,' Caroline said.

'I'm sure he does. Such a smart young man.'

'Isn't he?' Caroline said with a content sigh. 'And so loving to Sarah. And so kind toward Alex.'

'And charming,' Denise acknowledged, for she knew just what would please the sweet elderly lady.

Caroline in her turn said nice things about Neill and Melody, and Denise nodded along while she cleaned potatoes. Caroline located a potato knife in a drawer and started helping Denise. They talked about Martha and Camilla and agreed that they seemed to be kind women. A bit shy perhaps, but there was nothing wrong with that.

'You knew Penny as a child, didn't you?'

Caroline nodded. 'She was a cute girl. A bit of a tomboy in her early years. I feared for her when she went to LA. Such a tough city, such an inexperienced girl. My dear James wasn't worried. He said that a rodeo-queen would make it anywhere. Sissy wasn't into rodeo… She was more into baking. And boys. She was so lucky to find John. And he to find her, I may add.'

The women worked in silence for a while. It was broken by Denise: 'What we have here works just as well as the old system. Maybe better. What if the Greeneville people object to it?'

'They won't,' Caroline decisively said. 'I'm sure Howard informed them about our rules.'

'Yes, but they could say they accept them, and then try to ruin the system from within.'

'We are within too. If someone tries to do damage, we'll fight. Not with fists or arrows, but with our tongues!'

Denise thoughtfully nodded. She was not made for the outside world but she made a contribution inside and she knew that she was appreciated. Some people, and she wasn't necessarily thinking of the small Greeneville group, needed more than that.

OoOoO

Raj had peed his pants and Leonard's leg was broken, but these were inconveniences easily overcome by a change of clothes and a handful of aspirin for having seen Penny go undetected by zombies puzzled their minds.

The four scientists sat in house zero's living room, with Leonard occupying the couch. They stared at Penny, who stood in front of a window and stared outside. Howard told Raj and Leonard about Penny having been bitten and her somehow having survived that. At her name being mentioned Penny turned around. She sat back against the window-sill but didn't utter a word.

'Penny,' Raj said reverently, 'you are the Key.'

'She is Wonder Woman,' Sheldon said without a trace of a doubt.