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Deon and Nevan were already waiting in the building's shadow when Zelda and Kaede arrived

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Deon and Nevan were already waiting in the building's shadow when Zelda and Kaede arrived.

"Glad you could make it," Deon greeted them as Nevan pulled open the side door to the large building that, at one point, may have been an office building—the type with all the little cubicles and no actual offices.

It had taken some convincing on Zelda's part to get Kaede to agree to come here before their assignment. She had conveniently left out the part about them looking at a car because Deon and Nevan were planning to leave. After what Kaede had told her yesterday about the group being her family, Zelda knew there was no way she would have come had she known.

Zelda stepped inside first, with Kaede right behind her. Deon and Nevan brought up the rear.

After her eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness, Zelda saw they were in a lobby. There was a handful of uncomfortable looking chairs scattered around among fake trees with a twisted metal sculpture sitting right in the center of the room. No car in sight.

"So, what are we here for?" Kaede's eyes swept back and forth over the space, checking for threats. "Are there some Rotters you need help dealing with?"

Deon shot Zelda a questioning look.

She lifted her shoulders in a little shrug. Yes, she should have told Kaede the truth about what they were doing, but she would find out soon enough. She would be angry to be sure, but it wasn't like Kaede could do anything to stop them when they were already here.

Deon shook his head at Zelda, and then said, "Not exactly. Come on. It's over here." He led them past the sculpture and across tiles that had long ago lost their glossy sheen.

As they walked, Zelda saw the room was in fact L-shaped, and when they turned a corner near what must have been a receptionist's desk, the car appeared.

"Here she is," Deon announced proudly.

"She who?" Kaede asked, looking around.

Deon sighed. "The car. Right there." He waved dramatically at it, as if they had somehow missed it.

Zelda bit her lip. It was some kind of sports car. She couldn't have named the model, but even she knew it was the type of car you collected and didn't actually drive around. It had obviously been a showpiece for the lobby. After all this time, the paint job was still perfect—if a bit dust-covered—like even vandals had been afraid of messing it up.

"I'm not sure it's going to work."

"Why not?" Deon asked. "It's fast. And just look at her! She's a beauty."

'She' was a flashy red color that would stand out anywhere they went.

"Does it have gas? Or if it's electric, does it have a charge? How would you get it out of here? And what about safety? Where would you put your supplies?" Zelda ticked off each question on her fingers.

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by Stephanie Smith
After scientists create real-life Dragons, the Wyrmrot parasite is un...
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