The corpse slumped over the computer terminal was decayed and partly mummified by the dry air beneath Sioux Mountain, but it was unmistakably Jasper. The tattoo on his wrist was visible, as were the dog tags he’d inherited from his father just after the firestorm the first day of the war.

Trixie bit her knuckle to stifle a sob at seeing him like that. She had to force a second back when she saw the old Colt in Jasper’s hand, now rusted, and the neat wound between his eyes. A letter, stained with rusty blood, lay before him; Trixie picked it up and read:

To whomsoever finds this: know that I was wrong and that I was as foolish for coming here as you were for following me. We all thought the Legion was a sleeping army–maybe people, maybe bots–waiting to help Cooperston in our petty little struggles against warlords or whoever. We never thought about what would keep a force like that locked up here, or why anyone would do so.

The Legion isn’t an army; it never was.

It’s a hive mind.

Gathering outsiders in until they’re nothing more than another finger or toe. The weak ones go first, then the strong. Can you hear it? Whispers in your head? That’s the beginning. Soon you’ll be swallowed whole.

Get away from here while you still can.

While you’re still you.

And for God’s sake, keep the Legion sealed away, as it must be.