Chapter 30: In God's Country

Aiden clattered down the catwalk with heavy strides. He stopped every twenty paces or so to glare over his shoulder at Caillou, who stumbled between Eden's other inhabitants.

"We don't have all day, Caillou."

"I'm coming," Caillou muttered, unable to stop himself in time from stumbling into Aiden's back. "Everyone makes way for you, but they try and walk all over me."

Aiden pushed him back in place by his shoulder, not roughly, but not in a kindly manner either. "What did I tell you about complaining?"

"Not to do it. All right, fair enough. You're the one risking your life. I'm as good as dead anyway."

"New rule, then. Keep your damn voice down." Aiden looked around apprehensively at the traffic ascending and descending the catwalk, but no one seemed to take any special notice of them. "All right, I'll try and go a bit slower. I know you've lost a lot of blood since you got your ear cropped."

"I'll be fine, but that does remind me. What'll Dr Ison say when he sees I'm okay? When Asmodeus first got me, I went to him, but he turned me away."

"Left you to his fate, did he?" Aiden said, amused. "Sounds like him. I doubt he'll say anything."

"Won't he tell Asmodeus? I'm sure he'll guess you helped me."

"If he tells, then he tells. I have a feeling he won't, though."

"Do you think he'll at least be suspicious about me visiting Celeste?"

Aiden paused with his hand on the door to the second, less used entrance of Eden's smaller Medical Centre. "Why would he be?"

"She's my--"

"Your half-sister, sure. What, you can't be curious? Ison gave us clearance to visit. If he was suspicious, he wouldn't have given us that much. He's a very straight forward man." Aiden pushed the door open. "That's why I like him, even if he is a dedicated councilor here in Camp Asmodeus. Well, you going in or not?"

"Oh ...I thought you were going in first. I was waiting."

"What am I, a lady? Go, go." Aiden scooped his arm behind Caillou and shooed him into the room.

Caillou's eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the dim room, but he was still able to spot his sister sitting up in one of the beds about five metres away from the door. She looked at him with a mix of curiosity and hostility.

"My sister..." Too early to think of her as that.

Caillou stepped closer to the bed. "Er, hi there."

Celeste narrowed her eyes, but she said, "Hi. Are you the visitors Ison told me to expect?"

Her voice was low and hoarse. One small hand rested on the beige hospital blanket and an identification bracelet encircled her slim wrist. Not an Oroborus Band, Caillou noted with some interest and a bit of bitterness. She was already worth more than him.

"Yeah, Ison probably told you that we were coming,"Aiden said from behind Caillou.

"Well then, who are you?"

Caillou's tongue felt too thick to answer, and Aiden gave him a small shove. "I'm Aiden Spar. This specimen here is Caillou. He's my grandson and your half-brother. I wanted you to meet him."

Celeste's fingernails whispered across the blanket as she curled her hand into a fist. "Nytetrayn told me I had a half-brother. I didn't believe him." She ran her eyes up and down Caillou. "I'm still not sure if I do."

"It's Jake, Celeste. He's my father too."

Aiden grunted.

"So he was here. I guess I knew as much, but I didn't imagine that he..." Celeste paused awkwardly. "...had an affair."

"Oh, he had the mother of all affairs, let me tell you." Aiden hitched the pistol hanging off his shoulder. "I don't know why you'd put it beyond him, girl. You and your brother here seem to believe your father wasn't capable of any wrong."

"'Brother'," Celeste repeated slowly. "That's kind of an intimate word. Caillou, it's nice to meet you and everything, but you'll have to forgive me for not wanting to jump up and give you a hug or anything."

"He doesn't really look like your father at first glance," Aiden admitted, "so I can understand why you'd be suspicious. He takes more after my daughter, except when he does something completely irrational and stupid. Then he's his father all over. Looking at the two of you side by side though, I can see traces of Jake. The way you hold yourselves, some of your gestures ... you got the same eyes, though. No mistaking that."

Caillou and Celeste evaluated each others' eyes with an intense glance that broke off shyly on both ends. Sure enough, there was the brand they'd both received from their father.

"So. You just came here to meet me?"


"I wanted to talk to Nytetrayn or Asmodeus, but the doctor here says that now's not the time."

"Yeah, Ison pretty much calls the shots in this place," Aiden nodded. "I'm surprised he let us come to visit you. He's a fair man though, he'll let you see Nyte and Asmodeus soon enough."

"But what do _you_ want? I can't say I'm happy about being here, so I'm probably not going to be a model sibling if you're looking to get together for beers or something."

Caillou had to chuckle. "Just wanted to introduce myself and tell you--" he looked over his shoulder, but the room was still empty. "--sit tight. That's all."

Celeste stared.

"We're your friends. I mean it."

Dr Ison was suddenly behind them, leaning against the doorjamb with his arms crossed over his chest. "Caillou, Aiden ... time to go. Celeste needs to rest."

"Eurf," Aiden sighed exhaustedly. "Let's go, Caillou."

Caillou's heart leaped into his throat. "Right, right. See you later, Celeste."

Celeste said nothing as the pair left.

"Think Ison heard us?" Caillou whispered to Aiden as they stepped back out into the life of Eden.

"Likely," Aiden grunted, running a hand over his close-shorn head.

"What do we do?"

"I dunno. Keep existing, I guess. Pray God we form some semblance of a plan before someone else catches on and we're force-fed our own intestines."

Caillou's face fell. "That's the thing. We don't have a plan."

"How're we supposed to have a plan against _this?_" Aiden hissed, gesturing around the Great Tree. "All we can do is play things by ear and hope Nytetrayn's not screwing us over. I'm beginning to think that _he_ might have a plan after all. He delivered Celeste and kept you alive. That's more than I was expecting out of him, to be honest."

Enough time had passed that Celeste was sure her entrance into Eden wasn't a dream. She patted the bowl of her spoon on the broth that Ison had wordlessly delivered to her a few minutes ago. She was miserable with tension. Her body, unsure of what was around the corner, wouldn't afford her to lower her defences for a second. She thought with grim amusement that she was experiencing the life of a rabbit or some other prey animal ...constantly on the edge, always on the lookout for the eagle's talons. The act of dodging death on the battlefield or in the meadow wasn't so bad. It was the endless waiting and imagining that exhausted the body and mind.

Indeed, Eden was already a land of surprises. Not even a few hours since check-in, and she'd already met her fabled half-brother. Celeste frowned. Her half-brother. That was a hell of a thing right there. She should've suspected that her father, much as she loved him, wouldn't be able to park his body in one spot for long before he left his DNA behind. She'd played witness to the violent fights and accusations between him and her mother often enough. Celeste had never been sure how much of it was true, although Silvia did stop accusing Jake of tomcatting once he pointed out that Celeste's little brother, Johan, looked suspiciously like the postman. It was probably a bitter jest; Johan was a little clone of Jake, barring the inheritance of his mother's brown eyes. Regardless, Silvia had little more to say after that.

Oh, the eyes. Caillou had the same as her, no doubt about that. Celeste closed her own. She'd never had a spectacular face or body, but her eyes had certainly been enough to get her into trouble six months after Jake's death, on that confused moonlight-drenched night in the backseat of Theo Tod's car when he pushed her bangs back and admired her eyes like a midnight sky...

Well, whatever. Celeste put her bowl of soup aside and threw off her blanket.

Dr Ison was by her side in a second. "Well now, where are we going?"

"Out. This is my new home, so I may as well become intimate with it."

Ison put his hand on Celeste's shoulder and she could feel his hand tighten ever so slightly. "Not a good idea. Not yet, anyway. You're not healthy enough."

"I'm fine." Celeste stood up and swayed for a second like a sleepy kitten, but then righted herself. "See?" She reached for her clothes.

"Indeed I do, but you want to talk to Nytetrayn or Asmodeus? You won't get anywhere by disobeying direct orders, I'll tell you that much."

"You're not going to present them to me, so I'll find them myself." Celeste clumsily pulled on her shirt. She was still hurting from her encounter with Iris, and her bruised hand still ached terribly in its splint, but she wasn't about to let Ison know. She was getting pretty good at hiding wounds.

Ison seemed amused enough to drop out of the argument, but he did say, "You should at least be wearing Eden's issue clothes."

"I'm not--"

"Celeste, listen. Your father was talented, but his independent streak ruined several lives down here. The same won't be tolerated from you. You're no good to anyone if you're dead." Ison fixed her with a stare. "Absolutely no one. Do you understand?"

The fire in Celeste died as she read the message in Ison's eyes. Welcome home, dear girl.

"Where's my new uniform?" she asked heavily.

"Good girl." Ison reached up on a shelf and produced a forest-green jumpsuit. "Hope this'll fit. I'll leave you to get changed."

Celeste struggled into the jumpsuit, feeling as if lead weights were tied to her wrists and ankles. Her brain and soul felt miserable, but all she could do was struggle forward, even though her body felt like it had been worked over by a pony's hooves. "I'm pretty eager to break some rules, maybe some heads while I'm at it," she said evenly.

Ison laughed. "That threat doesn't suit you. You know, if you just submit, you'll find life here so much easier."

"I can't imagine how much trouble that would get me into." Celeste zipped up her jumpsuit. "I'm not even sure what you bastards all have planned for me here, so why would I just roll over?"

"Oh ... when you were younger, I think we had simple enough plans for you. Train you, marry you off at eighteen or so, have children, help bring an end to Reploid life on the surface. I don't see any reason why the plan would change at this point."

"This is bloody crazy," Celeste spat. "You ransacked Maverick Hunter Headquarters just to find me?"

Ison raised an eyebrow. "Don't be giving yourself an ego, now. That attack on HQ has been a while in coming. The glove-slap preceding the duel, if you will. You were a side-quest, a sort of "I-dare-you" from Asmodeus to Nytetrayn, but not worth mounting a war for. We did send someone after you a while ago, but it never panned out and we didn't sweat it too much. We knew it'd be nice to have McTreggor blood around here again, but you've got a lot of the surface world embedded in you ... rebellious, disagreeable. I'm also sorry to say that you weren't an overly-talented child. Arlen used to curse about you a lot."

"Arlen?" Saying the word chilled Celeste as if she'd received the name of a terminal disease that had been plaguing her. "Who is that?"

"Was," Ison corrected her. "He trained the children of Eden. When you want to hunt abominations, there's no better teacher than ... an abomination."

"You mean...?"

"He was a robot, yes."

Celeste felt dizzy.

"Your father busted him up pretty good in a fight. Arlen disappeared after that. You all did, actually."

There was a simple chair pushed up at Ison's desk near Celeste's bed, and she gripped the back of it weakly. "This is all a bit much."

"A shock to your system, I'm sure, which is already in rough shape. Are you sure you don't want to rest?"

Celeste straightened up, closed her eyes, and opened them again. She could see a bit more clearly now, with both her eyes and her heart. She had been here once, and she had escaped. Whatever might come, she could do that much again. Eden wouldn't make her submit, never. She walked away from Ison wordlessly and pushed open the door nearest to her.

"That's the broom closet," Ison had time to say before a falling mop handle smacked Celeste a good one on her forehead. She cursed as she pushed the mop back into place, and then tried for the larger door beside the closet. Warm air roared quietly past her ears and ruffled her hair as she pushed, and the scent of cloth and flesh, metal, oil and war engulfed her before she actually saw its origin.

Outside the quiet hospital room, there were people. People dressed for battle, and Mechadrakes, a species constantly ready for strife. They crawled like insects on winding catwalks that ascended for a staggering distance around a cylindrical chamber.

"What?" Celeste whispered to herself, frozen on the spot. Drowning in her dreams and nightmares, she couldn't bring herself to say anything else, and rational thought was unimaginable, except, ironically, for the same question Aiden had placed to Caillou only minutes earlier.

How do I fight THIS?

"There's nothing left for you here," the fair-haired girl said evenly to Zero. "We're shadows."

Seven cocked his head. "Awful lively for shadows."

"Seven, shut up," Zero said automatically, not taking his eyes off the girl. "You're mistaken, miss. I've never been here before."

The humans clustered in front of them laughed jeeringly. Monroe scratched the side of his head and winced when his nails caught his sunburned cheek. "There seems to be a hearty joke going on here at our expense. Who wants to fill me in?"

"Not me," Zero said flatly. "Apparently I'm the punch line, but I'll be damned if I know why."

The girl shook her head slowly. "Not a punch line. You're Zero. You're too deadly to be funny. But you're still as beautiful as you were on that day. Like a fallen angel."

Seven laughed through his nose.

"How can you forget?" Dean shot furiously. "I know you robots don't got heart or soul, but how can you forget this?" The big man jabbed a finger at the girl. "She was hardly more than a baby, and you busted her legs. She hardly got a chance to use 'em."

"What are you--"

"After you killed her parents, no less. And after you killed my wife before that." Anger contorted Dean's greasy, shaggy face and he seized a rock at his feet and threw it. Monroe made a surprised sound and veered a little, but Zero caught the missile as casually as a ball player at a summer game.

"Bastard!" Dean snarled. "You don't care. Why should you? You'll live forever."

"I don't know, his life might be cut short by my hand once I figure out what's going on here." Monroe's voice was dangerous. He regarded the girl. "You knew Zero's name."

"I won't forget it soon. I won't forget that day."

"His name doesn't mean anything," one Hunter interjected. "Everyone knows it. It's in newspapers, on television..."

Monroe slowly gazed around the meagre village and the endless, empty sea of grass that surrounded it. He fixed the reploid with a bemused look.

"Right," the reploid mumbled.

"I see the dog isn't defending himself," Dean grunted.

Zero smiled and let the rock slide off his palm. "Despite being a 'dog' who supposedly ripped up your lives, I see you're awfully bold towards me."

"It's what Eli said. There's nothing here for you to feed on anymore. We have nothing to lose."

"I think you have some powerful friends behind you." Zero dusted off his hands. "You called me a robot."

"Yeah, so? Sky's blue, ain't it?"


"That's what you are. A robot."

"If you want to call a tiger a cat, then sure. I'm a robot." Zero unlatched his helmet and let the wind take his hair. He watched Eli, and sure enough the girl winced as if burned.

"There was another robot with you," she said.

"Was there?"

"A black robot. Cruel eyes. The two of you seemed close."

"And supposedly, we're the ones who ripped this place up? Funny how I don't remember it. What was this village before, some sterling tourist destination? Somehow I doubt it."

"Zero." There was a warning in Monroe's voice.

"This was a mining settlement," Eli said. "I'll admit society's best didn't live here beforehand, but my mother didn't deserve to die. Not by your hand."

"I didn't come here to talk in riddles. Who are you hiding--"

"Detain him," Monroe said tonelessly.

Zero's arms were pulled roughly and suddenly behind his back, and his helmet fell from his hand when someone thumped him on the back of his bare head with the butt of some instrument. Damned if it wasn't Seven who did that...

The panther wandered into Zero's wavering sight, grinning and patting the flat of his axe. "Where's your unit badge, friend? It seems to be absent from your person."

Zero turned his head slowly and saw two of his own holding him sway, two Reploids he'd shared the trenches with since the first Maverick war and would have trusted with his life only seconds ago. That was the dangerous business about war; you didn't know who was going to betray you until it was too late.

But not everyone. "Cain, sir! You can't do this to Zero."

"It's only temporary," Monroe said to the distraught Hunter who'd spoken for his Commander. "There has been a very serious accusation raised by a human. I have my reasons for thinking it deserves investigation."

"The attackers--"

"Will be dealt with very shortly. This is top priority." Monroe faced Zero. "You've been here before. You know this girl. I can hear it in your voice."

The Hunter looked at boots, furred with dust, and his shoulders shuddered with restrained laughter.

"I don't see what's so barking funny," Seven growled.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Zero lifted his head and caught his breath in a slow draw. "I just find this kind of amusing. If you want a real joke, though, let's talk about Reploids and fair justice."

"What does that mean?" Monroe said sharply.

"It means I tracked down that hybridization of Sting Chameleon when he first entered the city. I fought him, and I killed him for his crimes. He asked for proof of his offences, and I had none. He seemed satisfied with that because he knew how the Hunters operate. If that freak can accept his fate quietly, I can do the same. I can do more."

Monroe's lips tightened, but he didn't answer.

"I won't get a trial, will I."

"Once further investigations have been conducted, you'll stand before the Tribunal."

Zero mumbled slowly to himself, then said "What happens 'til then? Am I entitled to bail?"

"What do you think?" Monroe said flatly. "You're a Hunter, you know how the process goes."

"No, I didn't think so."

"You've chosen an awfully convenient time to suddenly weep for the state of your downtrodden race." Monroe peeled his damp bangs from his forehead. "Once we're back at Headquarters, you're getting your systems scanned. My father never bothered, and Lifesaver tried to squirm out of it, and there may very well be blood on their hands because of it. And on my hands."

"No one else will take responsibility for my actions," Zero said evenly. "I won't stand for it."

It was easy to break out of his Hunters' grip; there was a reason they were below him. There was a reason all life was below him, and he reveled in it as his fingers dug into Seven's throat.

"Glrk!" the panther choked. He grasped Zero's wrist fruitlessly as the Hunter lifted him off the ground, and his legs flailed like a landed fish.

"We oughta finish what we started, friend."

Energy sizzled, and pain jerked through Zero's arm. He dropped Seven roughly, but managed to land a kick in the panther's gut. Seven yelped and clutched himself, but recovered quickly and was on his feet. The heavy blade of his axe wedged itself in Zero's shoulder and split his armour like knotty pine. The crimson Reploid fell to one knee and grit his teeth as he pushed his shoulder up against the axe. Seven's eyes glittered with hatred. "What the hell are you made of?" He wriggled his weapon out of its crevice and raised it again.

"The humans!" Monroe's desperate shout rose above the row. "Stop before they get hurt!"

Indeed, the humans. Most of them had fled from the vicinity of Zero and Seven, but Eli couldn't, with her useless legs. She watched Zero, her eyes level with his. She didn't try and drag herself away--maybe she had too much dignity--and she flinched when Zero reached out and cupped his hand under the girl's chin.

She started to tremble, and her eyes were haunted. "Don't do it again. Please don't."

Zero shook his head slowly and pulled himself to his feet. His shoulder sizzled and fluids bled down his arm in thick black ropes. He looked at Dean, who stood in limbo between Eli and the other humans who'd pulled away from Zero and Seven. "Well, Mr Nobleman? You going to help her, or are you just the brave and broken hero when there's no immediate danger to yourself?"

Dean told the Hunter where to go as he approached Eli and lifted the girl into his arms. They both retreated to the shadows of the nearest cabin's threshold. Zero stood in the circle of humans and battle-tense Hunters, a baited bear waiting for the bloodsport to begin.

"So, who's going to fight me? You're my men, you trained with me. You know my weaknesses."

Some of the Reploids took tentative steps forward, then reeled back. Even Seven stood motionless with his axe planted in the ground, breathing heavily. Zero's kick was evidently catching up with him.

It was Monroe who stepped up to him. "Surrender quietly, Zero."

"Why start now?"

"You're unstable. I knew it from the first, and my father knew it, too. And you might be in big trouble if the girl's accusations turn out to be true, but you're a good Hunter. Come quietly, and I'll help you."

"Like you 'helped' Celeste?"

"I don't want to lose you."

Monroe used the same voice and body language a veterinarian would use with an injured wild animal. Zero bowed his head for a second, then looked up again. "I'm not interested in accusations. Evidence, witnesses ... that's the least I can do."

Zero seized Monroe by the arm and the boy staggered forward almost comically. The other Hunters were jolted out of their stupor and rushed the red Reploid. Zero jerked Monroe back as he slingshot past, and Cain's son howled with pain as his shoulder dislocated. Zero dug his knee into the base of Monroe's spine, and the boy crumpled.

Half of Zero's men ran to help Monroe. The other half jumped on him. Zero shook them off and dove for his Ride Chaser, which started with an easy kick and roared south, spitting up dust, leaving behind houses, lives and bones all broken by his hand.

The light of the day was beginning to take on a darker, used hue when Zero finally stopped, and the silence rang in his ears. He panted with exertion and terror, but also some small element of relief; it was finally over. It had happened.

Now he just had no idea what happened next.

Jagged mountains bristled in front of him like the spines of a dragon. His southward flight had been cut short by the huge sentinels, so he'd turned his path west and followed alongside. His Ride Chaser could take the foothills, but he doubted the lower models could. Elevated above the plains on a grassy swell, the Hunter glanced down at the trail snaking its way through the tall grass. His head and heart throbbed with dizzy thoughts. It didn't seem as if anyone had pursued him anyway. Either he was considered too dangerous, or it was determined he was a fugitive anyway and couldn't run for long before being recognised. Or Monroe was dead, and more important things took priority. Zero closed his eyes tight and silently mouthed meaningless words. He drew a calming breath and said to his bundle, "What made you quit hollering for me to stop?"

"I noticed you weren't stopping," Jody said, faceless in his hiding spot. "So why bother?"

Zero unwound the baggage from the back of his bike and lifted it as gently as a groom with his bride, mindful of his cracked shoulder. Then he spread his arms and Jody grunted when everything spilled to the ground roughly.

"Come on out," Zero said, putting his hands on his hips and looking back out at their darkening trail. "May as well."

Jody crawled from the womb of blankets, slick and panting. His clothes stuck to his lanky frame, and his hair was soaked with sweat. He pat the ground blindly and retrieved the canteen that had fallen from the rest of the supplies. The boy leaned back drank deeply. "Oh Christ," he gasped, jerking forward and replacing the cap on the drained container. "I don't know how I didn't die in that oven. I really don't."

"You Eden-dwellers are a hardy breed I guess," Zero responded dryly.

"Seems like we're more sane that you Reploids, too. I have to admit, I don't have a super-computer brain, but I think my plan was a bit more sensible than yours."

"That wasn't in the script."

"Gee, wasn't it?"

"What, me going nuts at the sight of my past and attacking my Commander?" Zero snarled, clenching his fists. "Being driven into a violent rage like a cornered fox? No, I can't say it was."

"You missed my sarcasm, I guess." Jody scrabbled to his feet. "So, you were familiar with that village?"

"Oh ... I don't know." Zero pressed his palms against his aching optics and pushed his head slowly backward. "I don't know. I think so."

"You 'think so?' What does that mean?"

What was it supposed to mean? Zero couldn't find words to relay the sudden, sick nostalgia that'd enveloped him when he saw those humans and Eli's dark, trembling lips against her skin, pale with fear, like blood against the snow. Blood on the snow. He remembered that much. And when it had all been set before him, he knew it was over. He'd evaded the humans' accusations for as long as he could before Monroe closed in on him. He had seen the end coming; he just didn't think it'd come so soon. And he definitely didn't imagine he'd ever spare a thought for the Mavericks that had fallen before him. Reploids were not revered in Human society. They couldn't thrive. He'd known it all along; he'd said as much to X on that July evening when they recalled the first Maverick War. Why did he suddenly care? Zero shuddered. X would hear all about his attack, and maybe he wouldn't be surprised. He'd be sad, though. All that remained after years of fighting side by side in savage wars.

"Hey, good job calling the Tribunal a 'circle jerk.' That was stunningly accurate."

Zero had to smile. "So you heard that, did you."

"Well, you mumbled, but it was still loud enough. 'Scuse me a sec." Jody relieved himself against the front axel of Zero's Ride Chaser. "Ah yeah. Good stuff."

Zero turned and walked past Jody, grasping the back of his head and slamming it against the windshield. The boy clutched his bruised forehead and barked, "You do have issues."

Zero started to gather up the scattered supplies. "I bit the hand of my master. What do I have to lose? At least I now have the opportunity to establish and enforce a few rules."

"What about a new plan? That's a better idea."

"I'm done with running for tonight. We'll rest."

"Good, I can use something to eat."

"No fire." Zero sifted some flat packages through his hands. "Lots of ration bars, though. Bit on the melty side."

Jody grunted. "No substitute for a hot meal. If you don't want me to light a fire, don't expect me to be at my best for sentinel duty tonight."

Zero dropped the bars at Jody's boots. "I'll take watch all night, you baby. I don't need to sleep. Anyway, I have plenty to think about, like the look on Monroe's face as I killed him."

"I didn't see what happened, but I heard it well enough. There's a good chance he's not dead, you know. He's probably just really, really hurt."

"It's all the same when you're a Reploid." Zero flopped on the grass and pressed his back to his Ride Chaser. "And I may as well point out, you just witnessed the reason I can't get close to Celeste."

"But we're still going to help her, right?"

"Oh, sure. You just marked my Ride Chaser as your territory. Why shouldn't I help you do the same with the girl I care for?"

Jody stretched out on the grass across from Zero and pillowed his head with the crook of his arm. He watched the Reploid silently for a moment, then said, "And now _you_ know why Eden is going after Reploids."

"Because of potential freak-outs?"

"That would be part of it. God is perfect. Humans, the next generation, are chaotic. Reploids, the third, are just plain nuts. The line needs to be cut off while there's still time.."

Zero plucked at a tuft of grass. "Well, aren't we just learning so much about each other."

"I bet tommorow'll be better."

"I bet. Now be quiet."

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