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Leaning over in her Seraph Hunter suit, Brenzel checked the straps of the odd-looking guns on her thighs, tightening them securely. It’s time to go. Using a hair band, she bound her long, blond locks up in a tight bun. A tingle of excitement ran through her. Tipping her hat, the marvelous bonnet appeared. Taking her goggles from off the band, she tipped it again and it vanished. Brenzel slipped the special lenses on, adjusting them snugly.

Her saddle bags draped, she checked the small buckles, cinching down the straps tightly on either side, making sure the pointed ends threaded through the end of the metal clasps. Fond of her bags, she’d kept them since the hatting near Tombstone. Tugging at the extra water bottles, Brenzel straightened and turned to look at Derek, who was sitting uncomfortably a few feet away.

Fallon stood by the big scout, raising her eyebrows, hands on her hips. “You sure you can wrangle this thing, mister?”

The big man, dressed in his own Seraph Hunter gear, looked up in mock annoyance. “I’s can rides anything, Darlin’.” Smiling, the young Seraph Hunter awkwardly slipped herself into the sidecar next to him, adjusting her glasses, too.

Looking at her protegees, Brenzel sighed. I hope they’re ready. Then she gazed out over the road leading down from the escarpment upon which they stood. The Desolation, as Halans called it, smelled faintly burnt, or something like it. This light breeze from below didn’t smell like the comforting fires of her youth, but like the very absence of life itself, as if it was cursed – devoid of…well, everything. As far as she could see, only wasteland lay ahead of them with a single ribbon of road cut through it. At the end, Brenzel was told, the last outpost of Hala’s ancient civilization stood up against the encroaching sand. And beyond the Great Divide – Haders. Brenzel turned back around, looking beyond Derek and Fallon at the road which led into the wall of green. They told me to go south, to the edge of the desolation to meet up with the group, but. . .now I feel I should go the opposite direction, north, into the forest. She had that familiar funny feeling in her stomach. Shaking her head a little, she thought, It’s easier when it’s just me. Not understanding why – again – Brenzel knew that trusting was the best choice. Out loud, she said, “North it is.”

Sunrise on Hala

Swinging her leg over, Brenzel started her engine, it rumbling to life beneath her. Derek did the same with his. Fallon yelled to Brenzel, “Where’d you get these contraptions? They’re so loud, they sound like thunder!”

Brenzel, on her modified Harley-Davidson, smiled, revving the throttle, the bike making a circle on the ground as dirt flew, shouting back, “Sturgis!”