Robert sighed as he trudged through the campus grounds and kicked himself for blowing two easy quiz questions in his Calculus class. Had he just paid closer attention he would have seen his mistakes. Robert’s mind was just elsewhere; he kept on thinking about tonight’s plan. He thought it was a good plan, but when the people you were trying to fool were superhuman cheerleaders, it was hard to be confident.
He probably shouldn’t worry about it. Sure, he was skeptical, but in the end, these were the monster-fighting heroines of Kessia City he was worrying about. They had promised to give him information on his glowing. They had, as promised, gotten back to him promptly. Isn’t that exactly what he had wanted? Why couldn’t he shake this feeling that something was amiss?
With a sigh, Robert shoved his hands into his pockets. Part of him wanted to scrap the entire plan altogether. Was it okay to involve Cory and Eli in on this? If he had any misgivings, shouldn’t he try to discourage their participation? However, both were adamant about being involved and “having his back.” Cory especially encouraged their involvement. Robert suspected he wanted to be able to finally justify “borrowing” the camera to Eli, but Robert didn’t feel he was in any position to judge.
Robert shook his head, trying to dismiss his paranoia. Cory’s “borrowed” fiber-optic camera had a range of 500 feet under ideal conditions. The plan would get them about 350 feet away in case the conditions weren’t ideal. That was over a football field away with plenty of treeline for cover. Plus, they were taking a back route to get to their spying area. They’d be fine.
But then again, the Spirit Guard had already displayed superhuman strength, speed, and reflexes. What if they also had super hearing? Or infrared vision? Or x-ray vision? Or telepathy? There were too many unknown variables. He needed information. He needed to prepare. He needed to not feel like he was blind as a bat. With a grunt, he punted a pebble to release his frustration.
A high-pitched shriek cut through the air. Robert jerked his head up and watched two cheerleaders dart backwards from the pebble he had kicked. Papers flew in the air as one lost her grip on the fliers she had been holding. Robert grimaced and hurried forward, his backpack bouncing up and down as he jogged. “Sorry! Sorry! So sorry! I–I didn’t mean to kick that so hard. Sorry.” He immediately started to help pick up the fliers that were scattered about.
The cheerleader who hadn’t dropped her fliers, a brunette with shoulder-length hair, attended to her partner. “Lily! Are you okay?”
Lily leaned down to start picking up her fliers and gave Robert a dirty look. At first, Robert thought she had platinum blonde hair, but upon a second look, he saw it was pure white. He wondered if Cory and Eli had a name for this hair color too. The first idea that came to his mind was “whitehead,” but he had serious doubts that was correct. “I’m fine, Stacy. The hell is your deal?”
Robert blushed. How could he have been so careless as to kick a rock on a crowded campus? He really was out of it today. “Sorry. I just wasn’t thinking. I didn’t hit you, did I?” Robert stacked all the fliers he picked up back together. Across the top in a bold, jazzed-up font were the words “Club Week!”
Lily huffed and accepted the fliers back from Robert. “No. You didn’t. Just, I don’t know, watch where you’re going or something.”
“I’m really sorry. I’m not normally so careless.”
Stacy nervously cleared her throat. “So, um, have you heard about Club Week?”
Robert would have been more than happy to scuttle away from the awkward scene without another word, but a change in subject was his second best option. “Uh, no, I have not. What is it?”
Lily pouted; she was obviously not happy that Stacy had engaged the ruffian that had kicked a rock at them in conversation. Still, Lily did her best and forced a smile on her face and push the event they were promoting. “Next week all the SAUSBA approved clubs will have booths in front of the Billot Building and be recruiting. There also will be other entertainment there: music, food, games, and all that stuff. We’re encouraging all the students, especially if you’re a freshman, to attend and find something you’d enjoy.”
“Schuyler Adamson University Student Body Association.” Stacy handed Robert a flier. “Yeah, so, like, you a part of any clubs?”
“Uh, no. I’m a freshman,” Robert said as he let his mind wander. He was in front of the Wride Science Center which was on the far south end of campus. He would have assumed that if the cheerleaders were promoting school events they would have just stuck to the main central plaza around the Billot building. As he thought about it, he remembered seeing pairs of cheerleaders in front of the other buildings on campus as well. There were well over thirty buildings on campus. Could there even be sixty cheerleaders? There was no way Cheer Squad could be that big, could it? And how out-of-it had he been that he had practically ignored all the cute girls in tight, two-piece cheer outfits spread throughout campus?
“Then you should totally come! I’m sure there is a club just for you!”
Robert nodded. “You promoting this all over campus?”
Lily raised an eyebrow. “Well, we do promote all over campus. Why do you ask?”
Robert shrugged. “It’s just that I’ve seen cheerleaders in front of a lot of buildings today. I guess I didn’t think the cheer team would be that big.”
Stacy giggled. “Oh, well, yeah, I guess. Mostly we’re just trying to do a better job at promotion this year.”
“Cool.” Robert held up the flier as a sort of wave and started walking. “Thanks for the heads up. You’ll probably see me there.” Under his breath he added, “Assuming things go better with the other cheerleaders in town.”
“Great! Have a good day!”
As he rounded the corner, Robert heard Lily get in her own under-the-breath comment. “Try not to assault anyone else, moron.”
Robert shook his head. He was so out of it. Those two cheerleaders were really cute and he had been so wrapped up in his thoughts that he kicked a rock at them! He really needed to find a way to unwind. His thoughts drifted to that woman from Student Counseling who had called. What was her name? Ms. Kuhn? Ms. Cone? Ms. Cola? Maybe he did need counseling.
Robert chuckled to himself. Yeah. Right. What would he say? That he glowed a light blue after he got into a fight with a video game-woman hybrid? That he was rescued by vigilante super-cheerleader, and has a meeting with them tonight? That he’s stressed out because he, despite the super-heroines’ instructions, won’t come alone? No, that was ridiculous. If he wasn’t going to talk about it with his uncle there was no way he’d talk about to some random…
A pang of guilt stabbed at him. He probably should tell Uncle Taylor. It wasn’t like he didn’t deserve to know, but there was no way Uncle would believe him. Even if Uncle Taylor did, he’d get scared of his nephew being in a place that was relying on super-cheerleaders to defend the populace from hidden monsters. He’d want to drag him back to Deepwater.
Robert had to see this through. However, if he was going to make the plan work, he couldn’t be stressed out. That would tip off the Spirit Guard that something was up. He needed to relax. Robert made a left turn and headed down the hill, back to his dorm. He could afford to skip the first day of Technical Writing. It wasn’t like he was going to be using the have-to-deal-with-super-cheerleaders-drama card that often. A few rounds of PvP would settle him down, and if he put off his Physics homework until tomorrow, then he’d be nice and relaxed to deal with whatever it was the meeting with the Spirit Guard might bring.
Jodi sighed as she looked at her notes. In normal years, the Promotion Squad Cheerleaders would have handled passing out all the fliers on campus, but this year was different. Cammy decreed that the Pep Squad Cheerleaders would be helping out this year. The Peppers weren’t happy to be doing work clearly meant for Promoters, but Cammy had put them in their place. She always kept the other cheerleaders in their place. The Peppers agreed to help with the Club Week fliers. After all, Cammy would be handing out fliers too, and if Cammy wasn’t above doing it then they definitely weren’t above it.
That didn’t stop them from whining though, and as Cammy’s right hand girl, it was Jodi that had to deal with all their whining. She tried to placate them; Peppers were deployed near the high foot-traffic buildings and athletic facilities. Peppers would either get their fliers passed out quicker or get to flirt with the jocks. Their choice.
Meanwhile, the Promoters were sent out to the edges of the campus. All of the Peppers had finished passing out their fliers, reported to Jodi, whined about having to do promotions, and left. Several of the Promoters still had yet to report, and Jodi was anxious for them. Cammy was still hopping mad about the Skateboarding Club fiasco and was adamant they needed this Club Week to be the biggest one yet.
Jodi spotted two cheerleaders approaching in the distance. They were easy to pick out with every other girls on campus dressed in business casual. The green and black skirt and top combo made every cheerleader stand out like a flower in a desert. Additionally, since Cammy’s policy was that only a 7 or above on the hotness scale could join the Cheer Team, it made each cheerleader an instant attention-getter.
Jodi squinted and recognized the pair were Lily and Stacy. Jodi liked Stacy a lot. Stacy was a real positive force and seemed to really enjoy being part of the Cheer Team. Most importantly, she seemed to like interacting with everyone on campus and pushing events. It was one of the reasons why Jodi had assigned Stacy to be in front of the Wride Science Center, which housed the Physics and Geology departments. The science buildings were always the hardest to push fliers at since the nerds seemed to be intimidated by the hot cheerleaders. You had to have Promoters who would practically chase them down to give out the fliers.
Jodi waved to them. “Stacy! Lily! How’d it go?”
Stacy held her hands out to display that they had passed out all their fliers. “Went great! I think we’ll really see more attendance from the Physics and Geology departments this year!”
Lily huffed. “Geology is fitting. I almost got hit in the face by some idiot kicking a rock!”
Jodi groaned. Lily was an 8 and, by Cammy’s rules, had a chance to be a Pepper in the future. While she loved getting to wear the uniform, Lily didn’t like the work. The last thing Jodi wanted was to deal with another high-maintenance Pepper next year. Jodi had hoped Stacy’s exuberance would rub off on Lily, but apparently her hopes were too much. “Someone kicked a rock at you?”
Stacy fidgeted. “Well, it was an accident. Besides, it wasn’t really that close to your face.”
Lily pouted. “Well he should have been more careful!”
Jodi rolled her eyes. “Well, you’re fine now. So tell me. You got the fliers out, what about the other goal? Did you find any 7’s in disguise?”
Lily was lazy, but she had a great eye for fashion. If anyone could find a nerd girl who was secretly a hottie, it was Lily. A few in disguise and even a few 7’s pure and simple but none of them were actually a part of the Physics or Geology departments. They were part of a Child Development lecture in one of the WSC’s lecture halls. Sorry, Jodi.”
Jodi’s shoulders sagged, but she nodded her head. “It was a long shot anyway, I guess.”
Stacy leaned in, her eyes inquisitive. “Why is Cammy looking for a hot nerd girl anyway?”
“That’s our business, Stacy. Don’t you worry about it.”
Jodi snapped to attention and spun around. “Cammy! I wasn’t expecting you back so soon!”
Cammy played with her violet curls with a smirk. “Got Leah and Wendy to take care of a few errands for me. I wanted to hear these reports myself.” As Cammy passed by, Jodi tried to hold back the pangs of jealousy she had whenever Cammy was around. Jodi was, by Cammy’s own words, a 9, and Cammy was very stingy with that number on the hotness scale. For Jodi’s entire life, she had always been the hottest girl she knew…
That was until she met Cammy. She had long, perfectly sculpted legs that went from the east coast to the west by way of the scenic route. As she walked, Cammy swayed with a rhythm that demanded men stare and take notes. The cheer uniform’s skirt hugged her wide hips perfectly. Every boy on campus would die for one chance to wrap their arms around her impossibly small waist. Her cheer top was immaculately fitted to give men the most teasing hints of the perfect breasts it contained. It was a body befitting Aphrodite herself.
While Cammy’s body was impressive, it was her face that Jodi admired most. The first thing everyone noticed was how it was framed by the curliest hair anyone had ever seen. The fact that Cammy was a violette on top of that only furthered its amazing look. Her lips were full and pursed out naturally, and her smile was practically electric, sending chills down any man’s spine. And her eyes. God her eyes were gorgeous! Blue as an ocean and just as deep. She was perfection.
However, the think Jodi wished she could copy was Cammy’s confidence. It was absolute. She knew what she wanted and never doubted herself. Every girl Jodi had ever met had some worry or some lingering vulnerability that nagged at them. Not Cammy. She was clever too. She always seemed to know exactly what to say and when to say it. People were clay in Cammy’s hands.
Cammy smiled down at Lily and casually leaned on her hip. Jodi could practically feel campus spin from all the heads turning to admire Cammy. “So no luck on the nerd girl front? That’s a shame.” Her voice was a smooth, husky tone that reminded Jodi of dark chocolate.
Stacy and Lily stared up at Cammy with awe. “We–we could go looking again, you know, if you want. I’m sure if we try a little harder…”
Cammy waved Stacy off the way someone would a younger sister. Jodi smiled. She didn’t know how Cammy did it, but everyone around her just wanted to impress her. It was just part of her charm. “No. You two have worked hard today. Especially given where Jodi assigned you. You two did great work. Go enjoy the rest of your day.”
Lily and Stacy grinned at one another, thanked Cammy, and scampered off like puppies happy they had pleased their owner. Cammy waved as they left, her smile as vibrant as the sun. Once the pair rounded the corner though, the smile vanished. “Jodi, please tell me some of the other pairs had better luck.”
Jodi shook her head, her blonde tresses fluttering about. “I’m afraid not.” Jodi really hated to disappoint her best friend like this. “A couple pairs found a girl that might meet your standards but in those cases the girls either were too shy to accept the offer or wouldn’t give them any contact information. Either way, we’re striking out here.”
Cammy groaned. “You’ve got to be kidding me! How can it be that we can’t find a SINGLE nerd girl who meets our needs for infiltration? There are over fifteen-thousand girls on campus! You’d think at least ONE would match our criteria!”
Jodi hated seeing Cammy upset like this. “Well, even if we can’t get someone to infiltrate them for us, we’ve done really well in promoting Club Week. Maybe we can just grow the Majority Clubs enough to make them not matter?”
Cammy bit her bottom lip. “I don’t like it.” She scanned the main campus square like a hawk looking for prey. “I don’t like it at all. I don’t want to have to rely on growing clubs that have been around the same size for nearly a decade.” She sighed and shrugged. “But, at this rate I might just need to rely on that.” Cammy grunted. “If only that little bitch Angela had just stayed in her place and not interfered.”
Jodi shuffled her feet uncomfortably. “We don’t have any proof that she was involved in the Skateboarding Club’s loss of university approval, Cams. She’s not magic.”
Cammy snorted. “Oh, she was involved, Jodi. That little bitch did it. I don’t know how, but she did it. I guarantee it!”
“Regardless,” Jodi tried to get the topic off of Angela, “we need to focus on the here and now. Four more groups still haven’t reported in and one of them was in front of the Chemistry building. Maybe we can find ourselves a Chemist girl who can meet our needs.”
“I hope so, Jodi.” Cammy pushed her hair out of her face. “Because these nerds could upset everything.”
It tasted awful. Why was Robert surprised? Had he ever had a good-tasting energy bar? He chastised himself for losing track of time while playing Aspect Realms. Had he paid attention to time, he would have just gotten food for free at the cafeteria. Instead he had to hurriedly grab something from the gas station and was now biting into a bitter brick of something that tasted nothing like the cookies and cream flavor it had promised. Cory and Eli had grabbed the taquitos off the rollers instead. Robert had scoffed at their choice initially, but now he felt like an idiot.
All three were silent with only the sound of the road and Cory’s playlist to accompany them. Robert would have preferred some classic rock, but he wasn’t going to complain when Cory was giving him a ride. Robert fidgeted nervously. This was a really dumb thing to do. Though none of them would discuss it, Robert knew Cory and Eli agreed with that assessment. They were going to defy the instructions of super-humans. The only person he had seen do that and win was Roger Urbane, The Merchant. But since The Merchant was a genius, billionaire, extra-planetary, black market kingpin from the pages of the Collider comics, Robert figured that example wouldn’t really help him at all.
Robert leaned back and adjusted the oversized headphones Cory had rigged up. The fiber-optic camera ran along the inside of the headband. Robert’s part of the plan was simple: he just had to walk up, listen to music, then take off his headphones when the Spirit Guard showed up. Resting the cable on his shoulders would give the perfect angle to get a clear picture of the Spirit Guard and what they were doing.
Though he knew it was dumb to disregard the orders of super-humans, Robert did feel the plan was a good one. Cory and Eli both thought Rob was being paranoid with how he went about setting it up, but he still felt it was the best plan they could have given the circumstances.
“We’re here,” Cory announced as he stopped in the vacant parking lot in front of the main gate to the park.
Eli turned around and faced Robert. “You ready for this?”
“Nope.” Robert zipped up his jacket as he stepped out of the car. “But I can’t let that stop me now.” Though it was still technically summer, the nights were getting colder and colder. Kessia City never got so cold it would snow or anything, but it did start to get rather cold during the nights. Robert shut the door and Eli cranked down the passenger-side window.
Robert plugged in the headphones to his phone and sighed. “Guys, I’m not sure about this.” Robert felt like someone was watching him, but then again, that was to be expected. That’s why they had come up with the plan.
Eli squinted. “What do you mean.”
“Your part in the plan. I think maybe we should cancel that.”
Cory clenched his teeth in a show of obvious frustration. Good. For this to work he really needed the duo to sell this and Cory was the better actor. “Cancel it? You’ve got to be joking! We spent all night on this plan! Trying to find the old software to get it to work on my laptop alone wasted more than an hour by itself!”
Robert sighed, hoping he wasn’t over-acting. “I know. I know. I just, you know, think it will be all right. I’ve got a good feeling about this now.”
Eli scoffed far more convincingly than Robert expected. “Oh, now you have a good feeling about it? We’ve spent the past two days telling you they’re trustworthy heroes. You don’t believe us then but now that we’ve done all this work you have a good feeling about it! Yeah, that makes sense.”
Robert shoved his hands in his jacket. “Look, I had a bad feeling at the arcade and it turned out bad. Now that I’m here I have a good feeling. I’m going to trust it.” He glanced down at his feet. “Besides, if something does go wrong,” he paused for dramatic effect, “I don’t want you two getting involved.”
“Dude,” Cory protested, “we know the risks going in. That was part of the plan!”
“None of us know the risks!” Robert worried that came across as too strong. Would his unseen audience, if there indeed was one, buy that? “We don’t know what I’m walking into.” Robert slouched his shoulders and pulled his headphones on. “So for that reason, the plan is off.” He didn’t like how awkward that last sentence came out.
Eli cut in. “So while you wait to see whatever it is the Spirit Guard need you for what are we supposed to do? Sit here and twiddle our thumbs?”
“Just,” Robert did his best to sound frustrated, “head back and have fun or something. I have no clue how long I’ll be.”
Cory huffed and turned his engine back on. “Sure, have fun while you go into negotiations blind. Sounds like a plan. A much better one than we came up with.” Eli shook his head and rolled the window up and the pair drove off in the direction of the dorm. Robert sighed and set his phone to his Creed of Charisma playlist; they were one of his uncle’s favorite bands. Phase one of the trio’s plan was now complete. Robert briefly pondered on why he thought of that as “phase one” when they hadn’t really outlined any phases to their plan.
Taking his focus away from Hollywood planning conventions, Robert turned and faced the hill. At the very top he could see the Standridge Circle vaguely lit by the light of a half-moon. It looked eerie out of the daylight. Something about how the stones almost seemed to faintly glow made it feel like something else was up there. Something unnatural.
Placing one foot in front of the other, Robert started the climb. For Robert, there was something up there: answers. He was finally going to find out what the entire scene at the arcade was all about.
Robert saw that the light inside the guard-post was still on. He crouched to the side of the window and snuck a peek inside. The guard’s face was planted firmly on the desk. Was he naturally asleep at his post, or did the Spirit Guard also have sleep-inducing abilities? The more curious part of him was tempted to see if he could wake up the guard to find out, but he knew to let sleeping guards lay.
The trail up the hill wasn’t steep, but it was long. Eli and Cory had, throughout their elementary school years, visited the Circle more than a few times and told him it took about ten minutes to climb from the parking lot. Robert felt the pit in his stomach grow deeper with each step. He tried to focus on his music, but it did little to ease his nerves.
This was the opposite of what he expected. Normally Robert felt more nervous before a decision and felt fine once the decision was made. It didn’t usually matter if the decision was good or bad, just that the decision was made–his mind was made up. Robert would meet the Spirit Guard at the Circle. So why were his hands still shaking in his pockets?
What would Uncle Taylor say when you have no idea what’s coming? He probably would have a little saying for it and everything. Robert had a few minutes before he expected Cory and Eli to give him a call. Maybe a talk with Uncle would help calm his nerves.
Robert’s music was interrupted by his uncle’s ringtone. Robert stopped in his tracks, pulled the phone from his pocket, and checked the caller ID just to be sure. “You have got to be kidding me.” He held the phone up to his mouth, leaving the headphones on, and answered the call. “You have one amazing sense of timing, Uncle.”
Robert’s ears filled with his uncle’s delightful chuckle. “What makes ya say that?”
“I was literally about to call you.”
“Aw shoot, wish I would’ve waited.”
“Why is that?”
“I love gettin’ phone calls from ya. Makes me feel important. What were you gunna call me ’bout?”
“Uh,” Robert staggered for an answer, “just, wanting to relieve some stress I guess.”
“Robert, ya only been up to college for two days now. What could you be stressing about?”
He wanted to tell his uncle, but he couldn’t just talk about it openly. He’d think he was crazy. So he’d just tweek the story. “Oh, just meeting up with some girls for a project I have.”
“Wow. Second day and ya already got group projects?”
“Well, more like a presentation. We just, uh, you know, trying to get ahead.”
“Yur gettin’ ahead and yur stressin’ ’bout it? Why?”
“Well, I let the girls in my group do all the research themselves,” Robert lied. “And they are about to tell me their results. I’m just nervous about who these girls are. Don’t really know them that well, sort of assigned to me, so I don’t know how good their research will be.”
“Well why didn’t ya get involved with the research yourself?”
Robert sighed. “Well, it was something that they sort of took it upon themselves.” It wasn’t a total lie. “You know, before I even really got in touch with them.”
“Ah, then these girls really got after it then, sounds like.”
Robert, thinking of their dramatic entrance into the arcade, chuckled. “That they did Uncle.” He scratched the back of his neck. “Anyway, it turns out this presentation is going to be really important. To my grade, I mean. Yet, I have no idea if it’ll work out. I’ve sort of been put in this position without doing anything to get into it.”
“Well, here’s how I see it.” Robert could practically hear his uncle scratching at his beard as he thought. “It’s as the ol’ sayin’ goes: there ain’t no use in cryin’ over milk that hasn’t been spilled yet.”
Robert chuckled. “I’m pretty sure that’s not how the old saying goes.”
“But,” his uncle countered, “it is a good sayin’, Robert. So ya been put in a group with sum girls ya don’t know and they went off and started without ya. While ya didn’t ask fer it, it’s where ya are, and worryin’ ’bout it ain’t gonna do ya a lick o’ good. Worryin’ is what people do when they can’t think o’ any other way to settle their minds. They think if they worry enough they’ll be prepared for a situation. But awl their worryin’ won’t amount to a hill a beans. The only way to prepare is to actually do something. To actually prepare. You going to this meeting unprepared? Ya do sum research of your own?”
Robert smiled, thinking of the camera hidden in the headphones and Cory and Eli setting up elsewhere. “Yeah Uncle. I’ve prepared for this meeting the best I can.”
“Then don’t worry.” Uncle Taylor’s voice was as calm as a summer’s breeze. “I’ve seen you turn lemons into lemonade on more than one occasion. You’ll do it again.” The pit in Robert’s stomach seemed to fade with his uncle’s praise.
Once he reached the top of the hill, Robert dimmed the light of the phone. The Standridge Circle was a lot wider than he anticipated, though the stones were shorter than he imagined. They reached into the air with each one just barely taller than himself. The stones became narrower at the top and leaned inward slightly. In the dark of the night, the stone silhouettes looked like fingers mocking the sky.
There was no sign of the Spirit Guard.
“Thanks, Uncle.” Robert took a deep breath and stepped into the Circle. He was immediately blown away by center stone. It was a few heads taller than Robert and carved into a near perfect sphere. How many tons must this thing way? How on earth did any culture make this and move it before the use of modern tools?
“Don’t mention it. I’m always here for you.”
“I know.” Robert sighed contently. “You always have been. Thanks.”
Something moved in the corner of Robert’s vision; a shadow beyond the edge of the stones stepped forward. He saw a curvaceous figure approaching. Definitely not one of the security guards.
Robert’s phone beeped, letting him know Eli was calling. First his Uncle and now Eli. What was it with people Robert knew and their impeccable timing with phone calls? “Hey Uncle, I have to go, I’m getting another call.”
“No problem, Robert. Good luck with your presentation.”
“Thanks, though I hope I don’t need it.”
“Me too. Love you.”
“Love you too. Bye.”
As Spirit Guard Valor marched into the Circle Robert clicked his phone to switch it to Cory and Eli. He quickly shoved it in his pocket to give the duo the sound-feed they’d need for this recording. To the Spirit Guard, it would just look like he hung up on his Uncle and no one was listening in. Robert took off his headphones and hung them around his neck. He tilted them back a bit to make sure Cory’s camera was centered on Valor. He prayed she couldn’t see the fiber-optic lens in the pale light.
Robert breathed in deeply as he saw the other three Spirit Guard file in behind Valor. He was amazed at how, even though there wasn’t much light, Valor’s blonde hair still seemed to shimmer in the moonlight. “Who was that you were talking to?”
Robert shrugged. “My uncle called me.”
“You didn’t tell him about our meeting did you?”
“Naw, he’s not from around here. Even if I had, he’d think I was crazy for claiming to have a meeting with super-hero cheerleaders at a spooky historic sight.”
Valor smiled and glanced up at the sky. “Spooky? I find it rather enchanting the way the moon reflects her light off the stones.”
Robert waved his hand. “To each their own. It is beautiful, but in a haunting kind of way, if you ask me.”
“But we didn’t really ask you though,” Spirit Guard Felicity giggled.
Spirit Guard Tenacity, who was over a foot taller than Felicity, had to lean down to elbow her. “Not really the time for that.”
After she pushed some of her blue hair from her eyes, Spirit Guard Charity’s smiled. “We’re glad to see you sent away your two friends.”
Robert smirked. “I thought I felt someone watching me in the parking lot.”
Valor raised an impressed eyebrow. “You sensed us? I must say, you seem to be very good at that.” She turned to Charity. “Could you give us a little bit of light? As much as I like the moonlit conversation, I think everyone would be at more ease if we could see everyone’s faces.”
Charity nodded and clapped her pompoms together. Her bow immediately formed and she pulled back an imaginary nock. She let go and a golden arrow of pure lot shot into the ground between Robert and the Spirit Guard. It bathed the Standridge Circle in light.
“Huh.” Robert leaned down and picked up a discarded stick. He prodded the seemingly immaterial arrow only to find that the stick passed straight through it. He waved the stick a few more times, finding the arrow maintained its shape. “Amazing. How does it work?”
Charity shrugged. “It’s part of my magic.”
Robert snorted. “So then I was right. You are using tools that you yourselves didn’t develop.” He knew Cory and Eli were rolling their eyes.
Valor squinted her eyes. “What do you mean?”
Robert stood back up and dusted his knee off. “If you all knew the principles behind how this arrow was made, you’d be able to explain it. But you can’t. That means you didn’t develop these weapons. Someone else made them for you.”
Tenacity pursed her lips out; Robert could see she was trying to hide that she was impressed. “Or we could understand how our magic works and we just don’t think we should tell you how.”
“Maybe. But If you knew how this so-called magic works,” Robert said, thinking aloud, “then I would think you would have known what me glowing around Polygal meant. Or what that symbol on my forehead meant.”
Felicity let out a whistle. “You’re quite the thinking man, Robby.”
Robert tried to shrug nonchalantly but had trouble hiding his smirk. It was hard to prevent his ego from getting to big when the compliments came from girls this attractive. He almost chuckled at the thought of Cory and Eli having to listen to this. He could already imagine Cory decrying how it would be impossible to live with Rob after this. “I try. But I am quite curious about the glowing stuff so let’s get on to the heart of this. What did it all mean?”
Valor cleared her throat. “Well Robert, you’re right about one thing: we are not yet experts in the field of our abilities. For that same reason, we weren’t one-hundred percent certain what your glowing meant. So we had to contact an expert in the field.”
Robert laughed. “Expert in the field? Do you cheerleaders have a phone number you can just call for this stuff?”
Valor grinned. “Something like that. Regardless, we brought her.”
“Really? Where is she?”
An amused woman’s voice answered Robert’s question. “Right behind you, Mr. Dreese.”
Robert spun around, but the only thing behind him was the Standridge Stone. Oddly enough, that woman’s voice sounded kind of familiar. He glanced up to the top of the stone and met the eyes of who had been speaking.
“My name is Kunapipi, and may I just say, it’s my a pleasure to finally meet you.” Standing on top of the stone, talking in a voice as clear as a bell, stood what looked to be a miniature kangaroo.
“What the hell?”
Okay, so we’ve finally gotten here. The big meeting at the Standridge Circle. I loved describing the Standridge Circle. I decided to combine the monolithic circles you saw in druidic culture with the large stone spheres they’ve found in Costa Rica. The stones that they have found aren’t as big as the one described in the story but, hey, what’s the point of writing something fantastic if you don’t embellish a little? I guess I just like the idea of the large stone in the center of the circle. I also just love the image of all these standing stones leaning towards the larger stone sphere in the center.