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"

"Why?" demanded Zack. He couldn't make sense of it. Deuce was a shady, two-bit operator, sure. But suicidal? Zack couldn't see it.

Nor could Ivanova. Deuce seemed to focus on her momentarily, and she felt chilled for some reason.

"Because it's outside," he said with quiet confidence. "It's calling me. It's calling all of us. They know who we are, there in the city."

Zack caught Ivanova's reaction to that from the corner of his eye. She seemed startled by it, and her eyes appeared to cloud over momentarily. Then she noticed that he was looking at her, and he mouthed silently, You okay?

Fine, she said without speaking, even as she turned back to Deuce and demanded, as if it were suddenly the most important thing in her life, "What city?"

His eyes narrowed, suspiciously at first, but then with a craftiness that seemed to indicate he understood something. Something that perhaps she herself didn't fully grasp. "You know," he said, sounding almost coy. "You've been there ... you've seen. I can tell by looking at you." He lowered his voice and there was an intimacy in his voice that was chilling. Ivanova felt unclean, as if she wanted to shower just after listening to him. "We belong to them, you know. And they're going to come for us soon. We have to open the door. We have no choice," he said with rising urgency. "Those of us who hear the call, we belong to them."

Ivanova could see in Zack's expression that he clearly thought Deuce had gone completely around the bend. What truly frightened Ivanova, though, was that everything Deuce was saying made a strange sort of sense. It was as if she and he were the only two people in the room who truly knew what was going on.

His voice lowered, filled with warning. He was speaking solely to Zack, as if there was
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