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— by Bertha Sniggle Bertha Sniggle
Ahora got up, cursed, and rubbed her face.

"That is the last time someone who hasn't started puberty will throw shadows at me!"

"Started?" asked Nediso. "Dude, I'm 14, I'm, like, halfway there."

"I don't give a gut of Charna, dude!" she snarled, mocking his urban lingo. Shadows erupted from her fingertips and they shot towards him. Nediso tried to climb the rope, but the shadows grabbed him and pulled him down. Ahora bent over him and twirled a long shadow and tightened it around his neck.

At this point, Zoey had enough strength to sit up. She watched in horror, to weak to do anything.

"Say goodbye." Ahora whispered sweetly.

"You first, slut-bitch-whore." croaked Nediso.

Zoey was shaking with rage. She gritted her teeth. And then, the gauntlet containing the symbols flew off.

Shadows erupted from the symbols like snakes and twisted around Ahora's torso, and she was torn off Nediso, who gasped for breath. Takeru slid down the tunnel, followed closely by Lady Bellum. Bellum talked into her phone, beckoning someone.

Shadows curled around Zoey, lifting her into the air, taking Ahora with her. She brought her up to the top floor. Then she noticed a shadow around the unconscious Hendrix' leg. Ahora was taking him with her!

The 3 landed on the floor, when Ahora launched herself at Zoey. But then, Ahora screamed. Hendrix was awake, and had thrown a fireball at her back!

Ahora, with only moments to live, stuck her hand in her boot, and brought out a long dagger. She whirled around and plunged it in Hendrix' chest! Hendrix gasped, and while Ahora was distracted by her supposed victory, he grabbed her by the neck, and Zoey screamed as he flung himself and Ahora  over the railing.
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Zoey heard a loud thud. She was to scared to look. Then, someone held her hand. Hanson! That must be who Bellum had called.

"I'll look if you will." he whispered.

They walked to the railing. Ahora and Hendrix were lying beside each other, while Bellum, Takeru and Nediso crowded around them. Ahora was gasping. Blood trickled from her mouth. And then she laid still.

Hendrix' chest was slowly moving up and down. Bellum saw Zoey and Hanson. She blew a kiss of pink powder, which floated around them, and next thing they knew, they were on the bottom floor.

"Ms. Sorrows has called me." said Bellum. "Serpine is dead, and the book of names is fine."

Zoey couldn't move her eyes from Hendrix. She didn't cry. That would come later. Bellum looked down at him.

"It is fatal." Bellum said. "Kenspeckle Grouse would not be able to restore him. There is only one person who can save him."

"When she raised her head, her eyes were sad.

"Doctor Nye."
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The 6 of them went out of the factory onto a green hill in the glorious sunlight. Doctor Nye arrived in the headless man's carrage.

Nediso kept glaring at Hanson, who hadn't let go of Zoey since he arrived. "I can take him." he muttered.

As Nye came nearer, Bellum lead the boys away. "I don't want you seeing this," she said. "You don't have to be a psychic to know what Nye will say."

Zoey explained their situation.

"Why, I'd be delighted to help!" he said. No one believed him. "For a price." he snarled.

"What price?" asked Hanson. Nye's head shot towards him. "Vampire." said Nye. "Young, too. Athletic build. Good, physically and emotionally. I could use you as a test subject."
he moved his face so it was inches from Zoey's. "Give me your little muscle buddy, and I'll save your friend."

Zoey almost laughed out loud. There was no way that-

"I'll do it." Hanson croaked.

"WHAT?!" Zoey blurted out.

"It's the only way your friend will live." Nye said. "Once I have healed your friend and finshed my fun with your little boyfriend, I shall set them free."

Zoey didn't know what to say. Hanson gave her a little hug, and picked up Hendrix. He followed Nye to the carrage. He looked back at Zoey.

"I'll be back." he said. Then he got in the carrage and they drove away.

It had all happened so fast. Hendrix. Hanson. Gone, possibly forever. She sunk to her knees. Bellum walked over and cuddled her, as she bawled her eyes out silently, at the dawn of a new day with no one to share it with.

END OF BOOK ONE

NEXT TIME: PLAYING WITH FIRE