XXVIII

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[KYRA]

KYRA KEPT LOOKING BACK

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KYRA KEPT LOOKING BACK. She half expected to see those nasty sun dragons toting a flying chariot with a screaming magical saleswoman throwing potions, but nothing followed them.

Leo steered the dragon toward the southwest. Eventually, the smoke from the burning department store faded in the distance, but she didn't relax until the suburbs of Chicago gave way to snowy fields, and the sun began to set.

"Good job, Festus." Leo patted the dragon's metal hide. "You did awesome." The dragon shuddered. Gears popped and clicked in his neck. Leo frowned and that made Kyra feel uneasy. She didn't want the dragon to randomly drop out of the sky again.

"I'll give you a tune-up next time we land," Leo promised the dragon "You've earned some motor oil and Tabasco sauce."

Festus whirled his teeth, but even that sounded weak. He flew at a steady pace, his great wings angling to catch the wind, but he was carrying a heavy load. Two cages in his claws plus three people on his back—the more Kyra thought about it, the more worried he got. Even metal dragons had limits.

"Leo." Kyra patted his shoulder. "You feeling okay?"

"Yeah ... not bad for a brainwashed zombie." He hoped he didn't look as embarrassed as he felt. "Thanks for saving us back there, beauty queen." He thanked Pier, "If you hadn't talked me out of that spell—"

"Don't worry about it," Piper said.

"What happened back there?" Kyra asked turned slightly towards Jason and Piper,

Leo was silent as the other two explained to the Daughter of Apollo what had happened in the department store. Kyra shivered, slightly grateful that she was unconscious during that time. She would have felt horrible if she was forced to fight her friends.

"We're going to have to put down soon," Leo suddenly warned them, "Couple more hours, maybe, to make sure Medea's not following us. I don't think Festus can fly much longer than that."

"Yeah," Piper agreed. "Coach Hedge probably wants to get out of his canary cage, too. Question is—where are we going?"

"The Bay Area," Leo guessed. "Didn't Medea say something about Oakland?"

Piper didn't respond and Kyra wondered if Leo had said something wrong. "Piper's dad," Jason put in. "Something's happened to your dad, right? He got lured into some kind of trap."

Piper let out a shaky breath. "Look, Medea said you would both die in the Bay Area. And besides ... even if we went there, the Bay Area is huge! First, we need to find Aeolus and drop off the storm spirits. Boreas said Aeolus was the only one who could tell us exactly where to go."

Kyra hummed, "So how do we find Aeolus?"

Jason leaned forward. "You mean you don't see it?" He pointed ahead of them, but Kyra didn't see anything except clouds and the lights of a few towns glowing in the dusk.

"What?" Leo asked. 

"That ... whatever it is," Jason replied, "In the air."

Leo glanced back at Kyra. She gave him a confused look. She had no clue what Jason could see, "Right," Leo cleared his throat, "Could you be more specific on the 'whatever-it-is' part?"

"Like a vapor trail," Jason explained,"Except it's glowing. Really faint, but it's definitely there. We've been following it since Chicago, so I figured you saw it."

Leo shook his head. "Maybe Festus can sense it. You think Aeolus made it?"

"Well, it's a magic trail in the wind," Jason stated, "Aeolus is the wind god. I think he knows we've got prisoners for him. He's telling us where to fly."

"Or it's another trap," Piper added,

Her tone worried Kyra. She didn't just sound nervous. She sounded broken with despair, like they'd already sealed their fate, and like it was her fault, "Piper, you all right?" she asked.

"I'm fine." She snapped,

"You're not fine. If your dad's in trouble and we can help—"

"You can't," Piper responded, her voice getting shakier. "Look, I'm tired. If you don't mind ..."

She leaned forward against Jason and closed her eyes. All right, Kyra thought—pretty clear signal she didn't want to talk.

They flew in silence for a while. Festus seemed to know where he was going. He kept his course, gently curving toward the southwest and hopefully Aeolus's fortress. Another wind god to visit, a whole new flavor of crazy—Oh, boy, Kyra couldn't wait.

She looked ahead, observing Leo. He seemed to nod off a little and Kyra knew he was getting tired,

"Catch a few Z's," Jason said, as if reading her mind, "It's cool. Hand me the reins."

"Nah, I'm okay—"

"Leo," Kyra cut in, "you're not a machine. Besides, Jason is the only one who can see the vapor trail. He'll make sure we stay on course."

Leo's eyes started to close on their own. "All right. Maybe just ..." He didn't finish the sentence before slumping forward against the dragon's warm neck, making Kyra smile.

Kyra leaned back against Jason lightly so he could handle the reins and see the sky in front of them. She began to think about what had happened before the department store, when she was trying to recover Jason's memories. The blonde behind her must've been thinking the same thing, "Did... did you see anything? You know, before you passed out?"

She looked up at him and found him staring at the sky in concentration. Kyra stared at him for a moment before Jason looked down at her, "Kyra-"

"I didn't see much." She interrupted, looking forward once again, "I saw the Golden Gate Bridge. And some girl."

Jason looked down at Kyra with furrowed eyebrows, "Some girl? Like my sister?"

Kyra shook her head, wincing as it began to throb once again, "No, she was wearing a purple shirt like the one you wore when you first came to camp. And she had the same tattoo."

Jason frowned, not wanting to bring the girl up again, "I don't want you to do that again. You scared me, Kyra. I thought you were going to die."

The blonde sighed and put more weight on Jason, "I thought I was going to, too. It burned so badly. It was like my brain was melting." Tears filled Kyra's eyes at the thought of the pain that came with digging through Jason's mind, "Someone, Hera, clearly doesn't want you to have your memories. At least, not yet."

Jason noticed the tears and wrapped one of his arms around Kyra's waist, trying to give her some comfort. He kissed the side of her head, "I've survived this long without my memories. I think I can go longer without them. Now, get some sleep."

Her cheeks heated up as Jason kissed her hair, "Jason, I've been asleep for who knows how long. Maybe I should take the reins and-"

"I'm the only one who can see the trail, Ky." Jason interrupted, "I'll be fine. Just sleep."

With a sigh, Kyra turned to the side slightly and buried her face in Jason's chest, protecting her face from the wind as she quickly fell asleep.


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