“Where have you been Thomas?” His aunt looked at his outfit. “Oh dear, you’ve become a cowboy, does your Mama know?”

Marcus responded, “It’s just some all-black cowboy outfit. I got it from working for the Smithsonian.”

“Thank goodness, you have a real job. You know your Uncle just won’t give up his old ranch. And, your Mama fell for that rambling father of yours.” She went over to the oven, opened it, pulled out a fresh green chile chicken enchilada. “And, yet you still joined the army, just to get some land claim.”

Tom smelled the casserole, and leaned back, “It was really nice for you to take in my mama and I after dad left. But if I can get us a real ranch, with some good soil, my Tío won’t have to break his back to get just two bails of hay.”

The lanky red-headed golem and small-framed girl walked into the little restaurant. Aru said, “You’re an army-man!?”

They sat at the bar next to Tom. His aunt asked, “These two are?”

“Aru, she’s a Vanguard, like us. And, this golem, he’s an inter-dimensional law-breaker.” explained the cowboy.

The golem spoke up, “My name is eCaps!”

Tom’s aunt exclaimed “You’re THE eCaps!?”

“That’s right milady.” He bowed slightly and tipped his bowler hat. She turned to Tom with a questioning look, and Tom looked just as surprised as she was.

The golem said, “Oh, I thought you were a hit team from iCobs.”

The girl then howled, and everyone turned to her. In a whimpering voice she said, “I’m confused.”

Tom Marcus took a long breath, “Okay, I’m sorry Aru, let me explain.”

The little bartender looked at the casserole, “We’ve gotta wait a bit for this to cool down. So you can explain what’s going on to all of us.”

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