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By J. F. Scott

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I shrugged. “Yeah, me neither. Here, take my phone. You make arrangements with the Wardens. ” He backed the van out of the garage and into the street. The day remained quiet and sunny, few people around to see us leave. Manny and Angela’s home—Luis’s home, now—looked small and abandoned, and it was quickly left behind us as we made the twists and turns to lead us to the freeway. The Wardens’ central hotline connected me directly to Marion Bearheart. I knew her by reputation, as I knew most of the prominent Wardens; she had been well thought of by many of the Djinn, although that had never extended to me.

My held breath exploded out, and I gasped in sweet, untainted air as we both scanned the street for the Warden we’d been pursuing. He was standing about a block away, stock-still, staring upward. As I touched Luis’s arm to alert him, the Warden reached up a commanding hand to the heavens, and lightning leapt from the low, gray clouds in a furious pink-tinted rush, grounded in the Warden’s left palm, and exited from his right . . straight at us. ” Luis shouted, and we both dove for the pavement as the energy sizzled toward us.

It was all I could offer as apology, as acknowledgment of what Luis had said—that somewhere in the world, someone was missing this boy. I stripped away the blanket and carefully, using bursts of Luis’s power, removed any traces that might link the boy back to us before wrapping it tightly around him again, in an obscure wish to give comfort. Conscious of the press of time, I knew I couldn’t hesitate, yet something made me do just that. I looked down on the boy’s silent, empty face before covering it, and said, “Be at peace, child.

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