13. Caught Sylvia-Handed

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         I didn't have time to talk to Zero that morning.

       I was swept away by Jack, who was excited to see me. He told me of the long boat ride, and everything I already knew about Zero while Shy just stood off to the side. When I finally managed to escape the clingy albeit funny man, it was time for Zero's fitness hour, which sent Jack into another excited frenzy.

      "What do you think about Sylvia?" I ask we walk down the hall, Zero escorted by guards up ahead and Jack a few steps behind with Shy right beside me.

      "What do you mean?" Jack asks, scratching his chin which is dotted with ginger stubble.

      "Sylvia's purpose here is to keep Zero in line, using any means necessary." I say, my words dark. Shy's eyes widen and Jack takes a big step to catch up.

      "What? That's horrible! We promise we aren't here to lay a finger on, Zero. We were told Mrs. Clark wanted the team back together, and the pay is high, so we thought Sylvia was back for the same reason." Jack says, his eyes wide.

      I sigh, shaking my head. "I know neither of you are here to hurt Zero, it just frustrates me that Sylvia is back and free to run lose."

     Shy smiles at me in sympathy, and the rest of the walk is filled with silence as we all get lost in our thoughts. I'm almost relieved when the doors open to reveal the arena. Jack and Shy gasp, and I remember it's their first time seeing the arena and track.

 I lead them over to the bleachers, waving at Coach Jackson, who smiles warmly back.

      "Okay Zero, you know the drill. Run."

       Zero goes over to the track, getting in a starting position as Coach Jackson pulls out a stop watch.

      "Wait, Zero!" I call out, standing up. His eyes flash up to meet mine. I smirk at him, nodding my head slightly towards Jack and Shy. "Don't be afraid to show off."

   He gives me his best confused look, and I resist the urge to roll my eyes. I know Zero understands what I said, and now that I know he speaks English, I realize how terrible his acting is. How did he ever fool everyone before?

      I sit down, Shy and Jack giving me a puzzled look. The whistle blows, and I don't even realize Zero is gone until I see a blur more than halfway through. Shy and Jack gasp, and I smile wide, my eyes trying and failing to track Zero. 

Finally, the blur slowly forms into a figure, and Zero appears standing right back at the start, breathing only slightly heavier. Jack stands up and hollers, while Coach Jackson claps. Shy sits on the bench, utterly still, and when Zero looks at me I give him a thumbs up.

      "That was.......I don't know what that was!" Jack shouts, clutching his head in his hands with a wide smile on his face.

      "How is that even possible?" Shy finally gasps out, watching Zero drink a cup of water Coach Jackson gave him. I shrug.
  
       "I wish I knew, but I'm not a scientist. They actually probably think of me as an experiment more than an employee."

       I stop talking, wincing when I realize how that was too much information. I stand up when Coach Jackson and a slightly sweaty Zero walk over, Zero sending me a huge grin.

      "That was extraordinary, Zero! It's a good thing you're going to that party, because you deserve it!" Coach Jackson exclaims, clapping Zero on the back. This time, real confusion crosses Zero's face, and I almost slap my forehead.

       I forgot to tell Zero about the party! I'll have to find a way to do it secretly. I look nervously at Jack, who's rambling off questions to Coach Jackson. I have a feeling I won't be able to inconspicuously pull him aside any time soon.

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