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The Hill left behind
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Oliver Holden, PPC

Oliver Holden paused in front of a mirror to adjust the gleaming pin on his lapel. The round Congressional pin was perfect as always, but his fingers brushed the symbol reverently anyway. His dark hair was neatly cut. The tie was straight. And his suit jacket buttoned. Unseen, he felt the cool metal of a charm laying against his chest. His eyes fell to where he knew it rested.

He wondered how many others stood before this same mirror for minor adjustments before being let into the Oval Office. Many, he presumed. Someday he would find out for himself. Be on the other side of that door while others sweat in the hall.

His hair was thinner than it used to be. His once tanned skin loose around the eyes. All in all, he was healthy for his age, but he saw every wrinkle. He felt the decay of every cell. Year after year, he knew death inched closer. It was sickening.

The door opened and out stepped Dawson's Chief of Staff-a woman named Lacey Freiburg. Ruthless, sharp, and intelligent, when Oliver shook her hand, he meant it.

"Thank you for coming, Mister Speaker. The President will see you now." She followed him inside, closing the door as she did.

The President rose from his desk and circled around to greet him. Also in the room was the Vice President, Colonel Palin and strangely enough, the Secretary of Homeland Security. Oliver hadn't expected the Cabinet member to be present today.

Each shook his hand, and the foursome sat on the couches to talk.

Frederick Dawson, the President, was looking old. Older than he did only a couple years ago after he won the White House.

"Thank you all for coming," the President began while his Chief of Staff distributed information packets.

"Inside this document you will find the draft of an executive order for a new Cabinet Position."

Oliver tentatively read the document. This was executive branch business. Why was he here?

As though Dawson read his mind, "Mister Speaker, I asked you here to ask Congress to create a committee on powered relations as well. We need an entire new set of laws governing, policing, judging and tracking these ..." Dawson's voice trailed away as disgust crept in. He didn't know what to call them.

"These psychopaths," Dawson concluded.

"They cannot be allowed to roam free as they are. Look at what is happening in Moscow! One of them could stroll over and melt down the White House! Collapse the Capitol! They could destroy all of government in a single thought!

Dawson steadied himself, and Oliver looked at the Vice President. By the looks on Col Palin's face, he shared the President's mistrust. As well he should. These magicians, or whatever they were, had unchecked power. But as far as Oliver was concerned, only Nikolai Brandon had the ability to melt buildings. And that creature was on the other side of the world.

He looked finally at the Secretary of Homeland Security. "I take it the military is readying for battle against these powered humans?" A nod of confirmation.

Oliver's lips pursed thoughtfully. "very well. I will ask Congress to form such a committee. But Mister President, I think you are wrong in your assumption of danger. If Brandon is to be believed, power users have been around for as long as the Sickness, and nothing like you fear has happened yet."

The President leaned forward, "Yet! That's why I need one as a Cabinet Member. An advisor I can study and learn all about how these people function. Who do you all recommend?"

The others made a case for several people, but none were power users.

Oliver knew exactly who should fill the role, but not at all for the reasons that Dawson described.

"There's only one man that had the bravery to stand up for the truth. And he did it much to everyone's mocking.

"Nicholas Trano."

The recognition crossed all their faces. He was perfect. But Dawson and his toeing the line with martial law had to go.

Memento mori.

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Dr. Roswell Jenkins

After the Federal government legalized national funding for chimera science in 2018, Roswell Jenkins opened the first laboratory in the field at the National Institutes of Health. With dual PhD's in genetics and molecular engineering, his lab quickly shot to the forefront of scientific news and one of the most productive in the National Institute of Aging, if not in all of NIH.

Using human DNA injected into rodent embryos, Doctor Jenkins research was also controversial. He was quickly discovering new treatments for diseases of aging, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, but his passions began all those long years ago when he trained at Johns Hopkins. Like his training, his time at Hopkins was pivotal for many reasons. But one of them was for cultivating a friendship with a man with a dual major in science and public policy. He eventually went into politics, elected to Congress, and was now the current Speaker of the House. Oliver Holden, an old friend and college roommate of Roswell's, sat in his living room in his house in Frederick, Maryland, one of the most affluent suburbs of DC and adjacent to the National Institutes of Health main campus.

They each drank a scotch. The nub of Oliver's cigar lay cold on the ash tray on the coffee table. Knowing their ill health effects, Roswell declined the vice, but I'm his stupidity, Oliver enjoyed them, so he let his old friend indulge. The cleaning service would dissolve the residues from the furniture tomorrow. Meanwhile, Roswell twisted a brass ring about his thumb, one embossed with an hourglass symbol.

"I agree with you, Oliver. Dawson is losing his nerve. All these humiliations over the last two years. Then the spoiled nuclear energy plan and the tragedy in Ohio. It's appalling."

"The Veep too. He agrees with Dawson. The looks on their faces were clear. If they have their way, every god reborn will be imprisoned. That cannot be allowed to happen." A feverish gleam narrowed Oliver's eyes with determination. Roswell nodded.

"I agree. We have come closer than ever in the last hundred years. Ever since Watson and Crick crystallized DNA. My research is on the verge of Nobel worthy discoveries. And the gods finally reveal themselves to the world. We need them to finish our work."

The Speaker leaned forward in his seat. "So you agree? Dawson and Palin must both meet their deaths?"

Roswell nodded, "That would make you President." He stated matter of fact.

A victorious grin spread Oliver's face. "But that is not why I want this."

Roswell's brows lifted. Liar
"Of course not." He lifted his glass. "Memento mori." Oliver did have one thing right. The White House needed reorganizing.

Oliver mirrored him. "Memento mori."


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