Magical Girl Policy- Chapter 32

“First of all,” Robynne complained, “What right do they have to know my hometown? I mean, doesn’t that just sound like stalker bait to you?”

Mal shrugged as she reclined on Robynne’s bed. “I mean, yeah, they could use that to try to SpaceLook stalk you but since you don’t have a SpaceLook page they aren’t really going to get anywhere with that. I wouldn’t let that bother you any.”

Robynne sighed and glanced back at her computer. “Okay, but telling them my major is stalker bait too.”

Mal nodded. “I agree. So maybe just… lie. Say ‘undecided’ or something. You’re a freshman so they can’t really complain about that. If Cammy biscuits about that just say your’e not sure what field of engineering you’re going into. Not like a shallow piece of work like her can really question that. From what Angela told me she hardly ever goes to class anyway.”

“Undecided,” Robynne mused with a nod. “I like that. Good thinking.” Robynne typed that up on the email Cammy had sent her. Upon Noriko’s suggestion they hadn’t used Robynne’s actual email address but one that the Hush Corps could monitor. Though she wasn’t fond of the address, deepwaterdarling@woohoo.org, it sounded innocent enough that no one would question that it was her actual address.

Mallory closed her eyes and nodded. “This is why you keep me around, Ace. To help you deal with the stupid stuff. And cheerleader profiles are definitely stupid stuff.”

“What am I going to put for dance/cheer experience?”

“Just say Spirit Guard,” Mallory chuckled.

Noriko lifted her head from her homework, though she did not turn her desk’s chair around. “Though I think you are joking Mallory, I still must insist that you do not write that down. May I instead suggest you keep it vague and say you took some ballet? Saying you had no dance experience at all would be very odd for someone on the Cheer Squad and would raise eyebrows.”

Mal leaned up on her elbows. “I don’t know. You sure it’s a good idea to advertise the ballet stuff? I mean, Robynne’s never done it in this body. Cheerleaders are the most likely to ask questions.”

Noriko shrugged. “That’s why we keep it vague. Robynne can say it was years ago and people won’t question that. It’s just to not look out of place with casual observers.”

Robynne sighed. “That works I guess… though for hobbies I’m pretty sure I’m expected to put more than gaming.”

“You do more than gaming,” Mal protested. “I mean, yeah, you and my brother are complete dorks but you at least were also into watching sports.”

Noriko nodded. “There is two. I perused the other cheerleaders and they usually had at least five. I think we can get away with four and just throw on either shopping or trying on new clothes for the fifth one.”

Robynne blinked. “Excuse me? That’s…” Robynne trailed off as she felt the scent of a fragrant lily rush into the living room. Angela must have been walking in via the Standridge Stones.

“Literally every cheerleader listed some form of shopping or trying on new clothes as a hobby.”

Mal blinked. “That can’t be true. At least Angela wouldn’t put something as dumb as shopping as one of her hobbies on a public profile.”

As if on cue Angela popped into Robynne and Noriko’s doorframe. She blushed a little and pushed her golden hair back. “Um, actually Mallory, I kind of did.”

Mal and Robynne both blinked in confusion. “What?”

Angela gave an embarrassed shrug. “Well, I mean, all the other girls did… and every girl likes shopping.” Angela gave Robynne a nervous look. “Present company excluded for obvious reasons.”

Robynne sighed and considered. Why did every girl like shopping? Then again, maybe it wasn’t just every girl. “As I think about it, everyone likes shopping. But only for what it is they like. Girls just have this strange, ritualistic pattern to shopping that takes longer than a football game and seem to take special care to not know what it is they are looking for. When I shop, it’s because I’m pretty sure I know what I want and I’m just selecting from a narrow band.”

Mallory nodded. “That’s a good way of putting it I think. So, what you going to put down then?”

Robynne glanced at Noriko. “Well, she says I need at least four beyond shopping… though I’m just going to put down ‘shopping for good deals’ as there is at least some bit of brain power to the sound of that.”

Noriko didn’t glance up from her desk. “It sticks out.”

“I’ve got hair redder than blood. Sticking out is something I can’t avoid. If I’m going to stick out I’d rather them not assume I’m a stereotype too.”

Noriko shrugged. “It is your profile. I’m just stressing that the best way to avoid attention is to fit in.”

Mal snorted. “I don’t think Ace here has ever been too good at that. Too much self-confidence and chronic heroics get in the way of that.” Mal paused. “Chronic heroics… that’s a good hobby. Put that down. Very unique.”

Robynne tried to shrug off the compliment, but she really did like that chronic heroics was her defining feature in Mal’s eyes. “I don’t think I can put that.”

“That’s a shame.”

“That is a shame,” Angela giggled. Then she snapped her fingers, “Oh, before I forget…” Angela trailed off and fished for something in her purse. She pulled out a crisp $20 bill and handed it to Mal. “There you go.”

Mal smiled and stuffed teh bill in her jean pocket, no doubt crumpling it. “Thanks.”

Robynne squinted. “Why did you just give her $20? Out of the blue?”

Angela shrugged. “Mallory’s a pretty great person. I think she deserves $20. Don’t you?”

Robynne stared blankly for a moment. “Um…”

Mal busted up laughing and Angela shook her head. “Utilities this month. I have been forgetting the past few days.”

“Ah,” Robynne said with a nod. Then she pursed her lips and nodded. “That was actually really funny. That’s a good line.”

Angela waved Robynne off. “I stole it from Vivian. She said something like that once. I don’t remember the specifics.”

“Noooo,” Mal lamented. “You just claim it. It was funny. And, frankly, that little goblin doesn’t need any more credit than she gets.”

Angela and Robynne chuckled at that. Robynne even swore she could see an amused shift in the body language of Noriko’s back. “I don’t think she’d like being called a goblin, Mallory.”

“And,” Mal said with a smirk, “I don’t care. What’s she going to do? Punch me in the kneecaps? Besides, she loves to dish out teasings, she better be prepared to take it… besides, she’s so tiny. She’s a goblin.”

Robynne sighed. “I’m only an inch or two taller than her.”

Mal waved her hand. “You’re more of a gnome or dwarf or… I don’t know, some other small creature thing that would be in your game or something.”

Robynne rolled her eyes. “I feel better already.”

Angela turned to face Robynne. “So, if you’re filling out your cheer bio I suspect things went well with Cammy?”

“Yeah… why didn’t you warn me about the stupid bio and photoshoot?”

Angela winced. “Yeah. Sorry. I should have mentioned that. I guess with all the other logistics I forgot about that. But it went well?”

“Mixed bag,” Noriko said from her desk.

Angela winced further. “Promotion duty?”

Robynne tilted her hand back and forth. “Kind of. I won’t have to do it but Cammy needs me to have assignments and show up on schools that day in uniform.”

Angela nodded. “I guess she felt she couldn’t keep the other Promoters at bay if she let you blatantly get out of it.”

“On the plus side,” Noriko mused, “Vivian isn’t allowed to get out of Promotion work so we’ll keep her out of the dorm more often.”

“I heard that,” Vivian shouted from the dorm’s other room. “And the goblin comment for the record!”

Mal smirked. “Go back under your bridge and mind your own business!”

“That’s trolls, you Philistine!” Vivian shouted back.

“Bah!” Mal countered. “They’re all the same to me.”

“That’s racist!” Vivian said with a giggle.

Angela smiled and turned back to Robynne. “I can help with that bio if you want. I mean, I’ve been around Cheerleaders for quite some time.”

Robynne gave a sigh of relief and slid her chair back. “I’ve literally only been around cheerleaders since the mall and I still don’t get all this. I’ll take all the help I can get.”

“Okay,” Angela said, taking a look at the application. “Let’s figure out how we can twist your victory over Day LaMode into the field for ‘Favorite Cheer Memory”… unless you have something else in mind.”

Robynne smirked. “Angela, for once, I like where you’re going with this.”

* – * – *

Robynne was displeased. That wasn’t to say she wasn’t often displeased these days. Displeasure was an emotion that happened regularly when you started every day waking up with an unfamiliar weight on your chest. At this current moment though, she was surprised because the source of her displeasure wasn’t the all-too short skirt of her cheer uniform nor her midriff laid bare nor the top that was so tight it would be teasing every boy who saw her with the thought of what lay beneath. No what was displeasing her was her socks.

“Why does Tanya get to decide what socks I wear?” Robynne grumbled as she futzed with the tops of her thigh-high tube socks. “Every other girl I’ve seen wears the normal-length ones!”

Stacy didn’t look at Robynne but tapped her knuckle to her smiling lips as she considered the contents of a makeup kit that, to Robynne, looked more like a war chest. “The officers decide our socks for, like, our uniform based on our body types and stuff. Most of the time the shorter girls are assigned the thigh-highs; helps give the illusion of longer legs. Tanya’s short and stacked like you and she wears the thigh-highs so I think it’s, like, a smart look.” Stacy turned and gave a wink. “Plus it soooo teases the boys more by, like, drawing the eye to the hem of the skirt.”

Robynne sighed. Perhaps this was more of Fate’s cruel poetry; Robert’s girlfriend had always worn thigh high socks on her cheer uniform and he had loved every inch of them. Now that the sock was on the other foot, she wasn’t as enthused. “I couldn’t care any less ’bout what the boys are looking at. And I still don’t get why the officers pick my socks? They’re my legs, not theirs.”

Stacy shrugged, still happily rummaging through the sea of makeup that the case contained. “Branding, I guess. We, like, represent the school. Makes sense to me they’d be sure to, like, sure to have us looking our best.” Stacy pulled out two… disks of something out of the kit. “Now, to start I need to ask, do you want to, like, mask some of your paleness or would you prefer to play up your alabaster complexion some?”

Robynne blinked. “Um… wouldn’t paleness and alabaster complexion be the same thing?”

Stacy smirked. “Well that depends.”

“On what?”

Stacy giggled. “On how self-conscious you are. If you hate your complexion it’s paleness. If you’re confident in, like, literally your own skin then it’s alabaster.” Stacy giggled more at her observation and Robynne could not help but smile. Stacy didn’t have any aura yet her enthusiasm about whatever she did was infectious.

“What do you suggest, Stacy?”

“I was so totally hoping you’d ask that! I think we should play up your natural complexion. Your skin is just so, like, smooth and perfect I’d hate to try to improve too much on it! I’m thinking just a little bit of bronzing powder and blush to give a little more definition to your cheekbones.”

Robynne shrugged. “I’ll pretend to know what you’re talking about and say, ‘That sounds good.'”

Stacy cocked her head to the side. “Oh come on. You’re not that clueless on makeup.”

Truth be told, Robynne wasn’t that clueless about what she was talking about. She knew what blush was at least. She had lived with girls about a week now and had been a boyfriend long enough to at least understand something about a girl putting her face on. But Robynne didn’t want to encourage Stacy too much. “Stacy, I’m a Mechanical Engineering major who spends her free time gaming. I was raised by my uncle in the middle of Nowheresville. Trust me when I say that makeup is not something I ever did.”

Stacy’s entire body posture stiffened. “Not even for your yearbook pictures or prom?”

“I didn’t go to prom. And no, not for the yearbook either.” Robynne had to stifle a chuckle at the honesty of her answer. Of course Robert had never worn makeup in his yearbook photos. As for prom, well… Robert had no use for dances after the fiasco Evelyn had created.

Stacy stood there stunned for a moment. “No prom? But… but you’re gorgeous! How could you not have a date for prom?”

Robynne sighed. “I hate getting dressed up. I hate crowds. I hate dancing. Prom is not for people like me, Stacy.” Stacy stared at Robynne for a few seconds the same way Robynne felt one would stare at an alien. Robynne chuckled and shook her head. “You’re the expert here Stacy. You tell me what we should be putting on my face.”

Stacy glanced back down at the two disks in her hands. She pursed her lips and Robynne could nearly feel Stacy rebooting her brain from the crash Robynne had just caused. “Right.” The confusion on her face melted into an excited flurry of motions. She flipped the disk in her left hand back into her kit and pulled out a small box. “Right, then let’s, like, focus on a more subtle job on your face. You’ve got super smooth, but very pale skin…”

“I thought it was alabaster,” Robynne quipped.

“Don’t be a smart ass,” Stacy teased back. “If we cake on too much, it will, like, look bad.” She cracked open the case in her left hand hand and pulled a brush out. “I think we’ll use a stippling brush for this. That will limit how much we apply. For your color, I’m thinking we’ll use some, like, True Bronze Shimmer Powder by Surelle.” Stacy dipped the brush into the container and stirred the contents as if it were a whisk. Without any further warning, she lifted Robynne’s bangs and started applying it to the top of her forehead. “This should help reduce any sheen from the lighting and give you a nice glow.”

Robynne rolled her eyes. “Like a nightlight.”

Stacy giggled. “You’re such a pistol!”

With quick, yet smooth strokes of the brush Stacy quickly applied the bronzing powder. She closed the case and picked up a few other cases. “Now, I think for your blush we should, like, still keep it on the subtle side. Just a bit to give you some contrasting color. What do you think? Should we go with, like, Nightlife Pink or this shade of Peachy Keen I bought from the Valerie’s Vanity line last week. The Saturday Night Pink is by Vinx if you have a preference.”

“Preference?” Robynne asked incredulously. “I don’t know makeup so… I’m sorry. Did you say Valerie’s Vanity? Like, the women’s underwear store? They do makeup too?”

Stacy giggled but raised an eyebrow. “Of course they do! And it’s called a lingerie store, honey. You sound like my grandpa calling it a women’s underwear store.” Stacy pursed her lips and leaned back. “Wait, you’ve never been into a Valerie’s Vanity?”

“I reiterate,” Robynne insisted, “I grew up in the middle of nowhere… besides, the concept of a store like that in the middle of the mall. I don’t know. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of advertising to the world that I just bought some frilly underwear. Feels… strange.”

Stacy shook her head. “You’ve got a different take on things Robynne. But they sell more than just frilly stuff. Part of why I was so surprised was because I assumed you’d need to go to a specialty boutique to find a bra that properly fits you. I doubt All-Mart carries a lot of comfortable options for you.”

“I…” Stacy’s casual mention of Robynne’s bust size took her by surprise. Every other girl who had mentioned it did so hesitantly. Then again, every other girl who had mentioned it had known Robert’s past and had super-powers. Stacy had no idea Robynne had been a guy and hated her unwanted assets. Stacy thought Robynne was just another girl. Was this a subject girls didn’t mind discussing casually in private?

“Sorry,” Stacy apologized. “I didn’t mean to be so, like, blunt about it. I’m just… well, like, I’m in Fashion Design so the subject comes up a lot for me. I forget not everyone is comfortable talking about their bodies and stuff.”

Robynne gave a sigh of relief. That made more sense to her. Still, it was nice to hear someone talk about her bust size without coming up with a euphemism that somehow made it worse. “It’s fine. I suppose it just comes from being raised by a guy my whole life. This is not a subject we would discuss.”

“Ah, well, I guess that totally makes sense then.” She smiled shyly and held up the two disks of blush. “So, Saturday Night Pink by Vinx or Peachy Keen by Valerie’s Vanity?”

Robynne shrugged. “Again, I don’t have a clue. You need someone to calculate how much metal expands when heated up, I’m your guy. This isn’t my expertise. It’s yours. You tell me.” Stacy giggled and put down the disk of Peachy Keen. “And I don’t get how attaching the words ‘Saturday’ and ‘Night’ describe what shade of pink something is.”

Stacy grabbed a different brush and began filling the bristles with the pink hues of the other dish. “I think you’d look great in Saturday Night Pink myself. It’s more of a hot pink but with, like, some earthy undertones. Normally it’d be too much but we’re going to use juuuuuust a smidge. And, yes, like, I am the expert but one thing I strongly believe in as a designer is that it is your body. I want you to, like, like how you look. That’s more important than me or anyone else liking how you look.”

Robynne smiled appreciatively but pointed to the socks coming up to her mid-thigh. “Really? Because it seems Cammy disagrees.”

Stacy giggled and began touching up Robynne’s cheeks. “Well, to be fair, it was whichever officer was giving you your uniform. So really it’s Tanya that disagrees.” Stacy paused and cast a quick glance at the photoshoot behind her. Tanya hadn’t stopped her barrage of photos of Vivian. Stacy gave a sigh of relief and continued working on Robynne’s blush.

Robynne smirked. “Worried she’d hear you? Why are you scared of the officers?”

“I’m not scared. I’m just… I don’t want Tanya to get, like, the wrong impression of you and think, like, that you’re complaining or something.”

Robynne quirked an eyebrow at that. “You’re worried about her impression of me?”

Stacy shrugged. “Well, I mean, you did kind of tell off Cammy on Thursday during lunch.” Stacy looked away. “They kind of think you’re a bit stuck up from what I can tell.”

Robynne scoffed. “Projecting much? I didn’t want to do what Cammy wanted me to do and they obviously pressured you to set up a fake lunch with me so she could just so happen to walk in on us and pretend it wasn’t a setup. If they think I’m stuck up it’s only because I had the gall to not do what Cammy wanted me to do.”

Stacy bit her lip and regarded Robynne curiously. “If that’s the case, then why are you sitting here, wearing a cheer uniform, and, like, letting me apply makeup? I mean, like, you seemed rather dead-set against this, you know? What, like, changed your mind?”

Robynne sighed. Every other cheerleader wouldn’t have known about Cammy and Robynne’s pointed conversation. They would all assume Cammy had just won Robynne over like she did everyone else. But Stacy had seen it first hand and would need a more detailed story that didn’t include bribes, demands, and Student Association drama. “When I got home I told Vivian the story and she was super bummed out by it. She was a cheerleader throughout high school and had wanted to get on with the Squad here but missed tryouts. She convinced me it wouldn’t be all that bad plus,” Robynne added with a smile, “she said I could use a little socializing.”

Stacy smiled and nodded. “It’s not the worst plan.”

“Hey! You’re supposed to be on my side.”

Stacy smirked and went to work on Robynne’s other eyebrow. “I’m just saying.”

Robynne huffed and crossed her arms. “I socialize exactly as much as I want to. In fact I’m going to a social after this dumb photo shoot.”

Stacy giggled. “Don’t furrow your angry eyebrows so much. Makes it hard, like, to get the shape right. As for socializing , glad to hear it. Though we’ll get lots of practice when you do Promotion Squad stuff! Ooo! I hope they let us pair off a lot. Don’t tell my friend Lily I said this but she can be a bit, like, um, let’s say difficult to work with at times when it comes to promotions.”

Robynne sighed and relaxed her eyebrows. It was surprisingly difficult to talk and keep them still. She never had realized how much unconscious emotion you conveyed through that part of the body. She knew if she brought up Promotion Squad work and the fact she had cut a deal with Cammy to get out of it she wouldn’t be able to keep her eyebrows straight. She decided they’d talk about that later and just moved past those comments. “Anyway, Vivian got me thinking that I was friends with her and you so clearly I could get along with cheerleaders just fine. And Vivian seemed really bummed she didn’t get the chance to try out. So yesterday I hunted down Cammy, figuring that she really seemed to want me on the squad. So I simply just made Cammy a deal saying that if she wanted me she’d have to let Vivian on along with a few other things.”

Stacy beamed with pride. “So you mostly did it for Vivian? That is soooo kind of you! I never know what to expect from you, Robynne!”

Robynne nodded and took a page out of Cory’s book of humorous false modesty. “Yes, I am kind. Thanks for noticing.” Stacy responded to that by whipping out a pair of tweezers and ripping out an eyebrow hair. “Ow!”

“Oops. Sorry about that!” Stacy then erupted into a fit of giggles and proceeded to pluck a few more hairs.

“Ow! Is this really necessary?”

“This is your cheer photo! You have to look your best. Besides, every other girl goes through this at some point. Can’t have you, like, getting off just because you have the face of a supermodel.”

Robynne tried to roll her eyes while keeping her eyebrows frozen. Again, it was much harder than she would have guessed. “I’m not a supermodel.”

Stacy nodded in agreement. “Of course not. Supermodels have to fit in a very narrow definition of measurements. You’re easily half-a-foot too short for a supermodel. Plus your chest is too big. But you’re…”

Robynne coughed. “My chest is too big for modeling?”

Stacy nodded matter-of-factly. “Oh yeah. Modeling agencies are super stringent about all measurements. Height, chest, cup size, hips, waist, weight, shoe size, hair length… it’s more about cold, ruthless math, sister. I mean, there might be some lingerie catalogs that would use someone with your dimensions for…”

Robynne winced, “Stacy, please, forget I asked.”

Stacy giggled and put the tweezers back. “Regardless, yes, you don’t have the body for a supermodel, so few do, but you definitely have the face. Makeup companies would line up at your door to get you modeling their stuff. Your face is gorgeous! Especially your eyes! I would sooo, like, die if I had eyes that popped like yours. Speaking of…” She dove back into her makeup kit. “What are you thinking for eyeshadow? Normally I’d go a bit more muted, just a dark brown but with your color… you know, I’m, like, thinking that maybe we try something I just bought: a local, organic brand of eyeshadow that I think would work great.”

“Organic makeup?” Robynne snorted. “That’s a thing?”

Stacy nodded. “Oh yes. I mean, the organic fad is so totally overplayed, but, well, maybe I’m just a Nervous Nellie, but with stuff around my eyes… I don’t know. Makes sense to, like, go organic there, at least I think so.”

Robynne shrugged. “I guess I can see the logic behind that.”

“So yeah, like I said, it’s a local brand called Kessi-au Naturale. I’m thinking Violet Valor will be the perfect shade.”

“Violet Valor?” Robynne asked as Stacy opened up a compact filled with purple eyeshadow. “As in, like, the Spirit Guard Valor?” Robynne paused. Had she just used a superfluous “like” in a sentence? Donut, Stacy was rubbing off on her.

“Oh yeah!” Stacy said gleefully. “Kessi-au Naturale has a whole Spirit Guard series of eyeshadows. I mean, they’re local so, like, I think it’s really cool they make local references like that. Now close your eyes.”

As she shut her eyes, Robynne wondered if the rest of the Spirit Guard knew about this. The idea of local lines of makeup seemed like a complete waste of time to Robynne, but, then again, all makeup seemed like a waste of time so that wasn’t the best comparison. “I just want it on the record that the company name of Kessi-Au Naturale is cheesy as sin.”

Robynne felt the uncomfortable sensation of something pressing down on the other side of her eyelid. Sure, it was just the soft touch of a brush, but eyes were sensitive. It was hard not to flinch just a bit. “Cheesy as it may be, I’ve loved how Crimson Tenacity looks on me and it cleans off, like, so easy. It’s expensive, but I like supporting local, quality business.”

Robynne sighed and let Stacy work. “So, what are they all. Crimson Tenacity. Violet Valor… Pink Felicity and… Sunny Charity?”

Stacy chuckled. “Fuschia Felicity and Golden Charity. I really like the Golden Charity. Yellow is a hard color to pull off for eyeshadow but they picked a really good shade. Plus I love the pun of Golden Charity. LIke, giving way gold or something. Very charitable.”

A realization occurred to Robynne. “Do you think they’ll make a line for the new one?”

Stacy gasped conspiratorily. “So you’ve heard those rumors too! Heard anything good? I heard her color was green! Can you believe that? Like, green? Really? That just doesn’t fit if you ask me. They should have, like, gone with blue. Preferably a sky blue.”

Robynne chuckled. Seemed like the Hush Corps had done a good job. It still amazed Robynne how, in the absence of actual news, rumors would fly regardless. “Green? Where did you hear that?”

“Just the word going around. You heard different?”

Robynne smirked and nearly shook her head, but stopped herself as she realized that would be a bad idea when makeup was being applied. “The rumor I heard was orange. Though I’m not sure if there was a fifth yet anyway. I mean, no images got out. I feel like we’d know if there was a fifth. But why would blue be so much better than green?”

Stacy scoffed. “Ugh, I hope you’re wrong about the orange thing. That would look even worse than green. But, anyway, they already got red and yellow covered. Blue would round out the primary colors. Seeing how all of them use white as their off-color on their uniforms, well, that pairs nicely with the primary colors. Plus, Valor’s purple, Tenacity’s red, and Felicity’s pink are all super vibrant. Charity’s yellow offsets that well so a sky blue would help balance out the look.”

“Yes. I’m sure the Spirit Guard are more worried about color coordination than fighting monsters.”

Stacy giggled again. “You don’t think so? Robynne, if they didn’t care about color coordination then why do they, like, fight monsters dressed as cheerleaders? I mean, seems to me if you are going out in those outfits then you clearly care about how you look. Unless you have a better theory.”

“I…” Robynne tried to come up with something. She failed. “That’s a fair point.”

Robynne heard the sound of wood clattering against wood. “I’m thinking we’ll do a cat’s eye look for your eyeshadow.”

“What does that mean?”

“Means I’m drawing it to a point. It will, like, help your eyes look a bit bigger. We definitely want to feature your finest assets.” Robynne was more than happy to have as much attention as possible put on her eyes. “Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. Spirit Guard. So, yeah, they totally care about color coordination. I mean, they’re cheerleaders after all! When we do finally get pictures of this new one, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts she, like, looks immaculate and takes care of how she looks. You’ll see.”

Robynne chuckled. “I don’t know. I think she might surprise you.”

Robynne felt Stacy finish with the pencil. “Open your eyes. We still need to get, like, your mascara and lipstick on.” Robynne did as instructed and was greeted with something approaching her eye. She instinctively jerked away before recognizing the oncoming object as a mascara brush. Robynne relaxed and let Stacy get back to work, though she still wasn’t comfortable. Something that close to her eye… it gave her the willies. “As for surprising me, Robynne, I think I, like, have a little more experience with cheerleaders than you. Trust me. Super or not, this new one will be just as rah-rah, school spirit, giggles, and pep in her step as any other normal cheerleader who isn’t you. All the others are. Why would this one be different. I think you, like, forget how much of an outlier you are. This new one is unlikely to be, like, similar to you.”

Robynne nodded with a bemused smile. “I suppose I’ll have to, like, yield to your experience.” There it was again. Like. Donut, Stacy’s turn of phrase was more insistent than Cammy’s aura! “Though I’m still unsure if she was really there. I mean, we still have no video evidence.”

“True enough,” Stacy agreed. “But it’s just, like, a lot more fun if she does exist.”

“Probably more fun for you than her, I’d wager.”

Stacy took a step back and admired your handiwork. “Hmmm. Now, I know you don’t normally wear makeup but I figured I’d ask to be, like, sure: do you have a preferred shade?”

“Not so much.”

Stacy nodded and fumbled through her kit. “Well, most people say redheads and scarlettes should avoid it, but I, like, think a hot pink would look fantastic on you. I’d really offset your eyes well. I have a shade called Bubblegum Cream by Vinx that–”

“Yeah, how about not pink?”

Stacy giggled. “I thought you didn’t have a preference.”

“My preference is not pink.”

Stacy rolled her eyes but put the tube she had found back. “Okay, well then if not pink what do you think about a wine-stained look? It goes great with any skin-tone.”

Robynne sighed. “I’d prefer no lipstick but, if we must, that sounds fine.”

“Of course we must,” Stacy insisted. “I didn’t, like, put your whole face together to skimp on the best part!” Stacy pulled a tube out and held it up triumphantly. “Now, just to warn you, this is Pinot Noir Fantasies by Valerie’s Vanity. Do you have a problem with that?”

“You mean outside of the ridiculous names that seem consistent with all makeup? Not really. Why do you ask?”

“Well, it’s like, Valerie’s Vanity. I just thought you might have issues with makeup from a,” Stacy paused and gave a wry grin, “women’s underwear store.”

Robynne sighed and shook her head. “And it being from a lingerie store makes it any better?”

“Yes,” Stacy insisted, “it does. Now act like I’m your boyfriend and pucker up for me.”

“Because that doesn’t sound weird at all.”

“Oh, shut up and make a kissy face for me. I want to get full coverage.”

Robynne shook her head and laughed. “Oh yeah. This is definitely the type of conversation I thought I’d be having today.” Robynne then groaned and, as instructed, puckered up. Stacy popped the cap off the lipstick and went to work. With a few smooth strokes of the brunette’s hand, Robynne felt the moist residue sticking to her lips. Strangely, it felt little different than lip balm. Robynne wasn’t sure what she had expected it to feel like exactly, just that she had kind of thought it’d feel more annoying than this.

Without a word Stacy fished out yet another pencil and traced the contours of Robynne’s lips. After she finished she took a step back, smiled, and put the pencil away. “Perfect! Robynne, I think you are, like, my best work yet! I mean, hard to screw up with your face but… wow! You look stunning!” She fished what looked like an index card out of the makeup kit and handed it to Robynne. “Here, bite this to get the excess.”

Robynne, having seen this on enough television shows and movies, did as instructed and the excess lipstick came off in a wine-stained pattern. “Thanks, I guess? Still think this was a bit overkill for a few photos.”

“No no no no no!” Stacy protested, hunting for something else in her kit. “Results like this are never wasted!” She yanked out a small hand mirror and held it up to Robynne. “Like, look for yourself!”

“I don’t…” Robynne trailed off as she saw her reflection. She had grown used to not recognizing herself in the mirror. It was a strange sensation watching someone who wasn’t you mimic everything you do. But the face reflected in this mirror… she was a cheerleader. Her face was immaculate and done up to the nines like a girl on prom night. The subtle touches of blush on her cheeks really did make her face look perkier. The eyeshadow and mascara combined to make her eyes look brighter and bigger than before. Combined with her dumbstruck expression, Robynne was forced to admit she looked as doe-eyed as any anime character. Her eyebrows were thinner thanks to Stacy’s use of tweezers, but fuller where she had left the hairs. The combined effort gave them a rounder shape that accented her eyes even more. And her lips… well… they really did look like something from a closeup on a model’s face in some magazine. “What?”

Stacy erupted into a fit of giggles. “Stunned speechless, I see. Maybe reconsidering your no-makeup stance? I’m telling you! You could totally be, like, doing some face modeling on the side if you wanted. Let me work some connections in the department and, like, I’m sure I could make something happen.”

Robynne shook her head and tried to think of something intelligible to say. “You do amazing work, Stacy. Really, but, like, this is too much of a hassle and makeup is expensive. Don’t expect too much from me.”

Stacy gave a wistful sigh. “That’s just life, isn’t it? The girl with the perfect face to do everything I’d want is the girl who wants nothing to do with it. Makes you wonder, like, what the universe was thinking.”

A full on cheerleader giggle escaped Robynne’s mouth. Gummi how she hated that laugh. “Stacy, you have no idea how much I’ve wondered the exact same thing.”

A shout came from the greenscreen where the actual photoshoot was taking place. “Hey Stacy, is she ready to go yet? I’ve got things to do.” Tanya was apparently done with Vivian.

“Yeah!” Stacy said enthusiastically. “Just finished.”

Robynne sighed, stood up, and walked to the shoot. Tanya groaned as she cycled through a bunch of photos on the fanciest digital camera Robynne had ever seen. “I thought Cammy told you to, like, get all made up before you got here.”

Robynne rolled her eyes. Robynne hadn’t interacted much with the lime emerelde gossipmonger of the Cheer Squad but she could tell she’d never get along with her. Her voice had a whiney pinch to it that just screamed, “High maintenance.” She wore a low cut top designed to get her a lot of attention. Her makeup was done up nearly as much as Robynne’s. No doubt her “plans” were some trivial party where she could dance and flirt up a storm. It didn’t bug Robynne too much to annoy this girl. “Not that I can remember. Sorry.”

“You’re lucky,” Tanya lectured her, still not glancing up from camera, “lucky Cammy had the foresight to, like, have Stacy come along with her makeup kit.”

Robynne tried to put her hands into her pockets and give a sigh, only to be reminded that, in fact, a cheer uniform had no pockets. Just short skirts, bared midriffs, and socks that were annoyingly long. That agitated Robynne who opened her mouth to say something snarky. Luckily Vivian jumped in. “I’ll say she’s lucky! You look hot as sin, Rosy! Stacy, remind me to let you do my makeup next time!”

Stacy blushed as red as Robynne’s hair. “Oh stop.”

Tanya glanced up from her camera and her eyes bugged out in a mix of surprise and jealousy. “Oh damn… girl. You… you clean up well… good job Stacy.”

Stacy bounced on the balls of her heels excitedly. “Thanks Tanya. Always happy to help.”

Tanya huffed, glancing back and forth from Robynne’s face to her chest and back again, not bothering to hide her envy. Robynne wondered how often a girl as, apparently, shallow as Tanya ran into someone who could match her in the bust department. “Well… I… yeah, Stacy, did a really good job. Let’s try and get a move on with this though. Like, it’s Saturday night.”

“Amen,” Robynne agreed. The sooner they got done with this tripe the better. She walked onto the lime-green backdrop and towards Vivian who was walking off the set. Robynne really didn’t like that smirk on the diminutive girl’s face. Vivian had warned Robynne that in the presence of the rest of the Cheer Squad she’d have to play up the role of the stereotypical cheerleader so Cammy and her minions would assume it was only Robynne who they had to watch out for.

As soon as Robynne passed Vivian she felt the weight of Vivian’s hips suggestively bump into her own with a giggle. “You work that camera, hot stuff!”

“Hey!” Robynne could feel her face burn with blush. She didn’t like being touched and unexpected hip-bumping was definitely something she really wasn’t comfortable with. But Robynne guessed by Stacy and Tanya joining in Vivian’s giggling that such behavior wasn’t uncommon for cheerleaders.

Vivian took her place at Stacy’s side. “Seriously though. You did an amazing job on Robynne’s makeup! I can’t get her to hold still unless she’s staring at a computer screen. What is your secret?”

Robynne didn’t get a chance to listen to Stacy’s response as Tanya tossed two shiny piles of green, silver, and black at Robynne. “Catch, Rosy.”

Still blushing from Vivian’s unwanted contact, Robynne sighed as she deftly snatched the two pompoms in the air. “Can we please not make calling me Rosy a thing?”

The scarlette shot Vivian an accusatory glare but the girl was intently listening to Stacy say, “So Robynne tells me that you two are, like, going to some kind of social after this. What is it a…”

“Don’t get too attached to those, Rosy,” Tanya interrupted as she pointedly ignored Robynne’s request. “You only get pompoms once you make Pep Squad. You Promoters only have them for your shoot.”

Robynne sighed and failed to contain her snark. “Darn.”

Tanya let a long but quiet snort from her nostrils. “Let’s just start working through some poses. Turn your back to me, put your hands, like, behind you as if you’re shy, and face me.”

This was beyond stupid. Still, this was part of the gig. She reminded herself that Cammy could end up being a reincarnation of a dictator and that she had to be stopped. To do that she’d have to play Cammy’s games. She did as instructed and looked back over her shoulder at the camera.

Tanya held up the camera and adjusted the focus. “Okay. Now smile.”

“‘Kay.”

Tanya waited for a second. “Okay, um, not that. Your real smile.”

“I am smiling.”

“No. That’s not smiling. That’s the face you make when your mom tells you to be nice to the weird kid who smells like stale potato chips.”

Robynne frowned. She always had been bad at taking pictures. She had, for some reason, assumed it wouldn’t be a problem now that she was a girl. Robynne wasn’t sure why she had assumed that but, well, she had. She closed her eyes, tried to clear her mind, and focused. “Okay.” Then she flashed the best smile she could.

Tanya winced and put the camera down. “Stop. Stop. Stop. You’re making it worse.”

Robynne dropped her pose and groaned. “Seriously?”

Tanya shook her head and bit her lip. “How can a girl as smokin’ hot as you not know how to take a good photo? Seriously! You’re entire body is, like, total camera candy!”

“Camera candy?” Robynne growled. Robynne wanted to say more but Vivian jumped to Tanya’s side and shot Robynne a look that told her to cool her jets.

“Yeah,” Vivian said coolly, “Robynne’s not the most photogenic but I have something that might work. Robynne, get back into pose.”

Robynne took a deep breath. Camera candy. The nerve. Still, she couldn’t start getting flustered already. She had just barely started. Besides, Tanya had just made the same assumption that Robynne had: now that Robynne was an attractive female she would just know how to be photogenic. Robynne did as instructed and adopted the same, insipid pose she had before. Tanya gave Vivian a curious look but said nothing to stop her. It seemed that, in her short photoshoot, Vivian had gained the gossiper’s trust. How had she done that? Vivian nodded. “So, Robynne, tell me about that match of your boring game you were telling me about earlier.”

Where the honey was this going? “Aspect Realms. And I don’t see how that helps with this.”

“Just do it.”

Robynne groaned. “Well, the whole point is to gather one-hundred resources. Each control point gives you one resource every ten seconds. It was nearly tied with both teams in the high eighties. We had been fighting over the Well control point all game. So there were three Accords on the point but they were distracted by my tank. So I snuck up on their healer and I unleashed my Gale Strike on him to stun him and–”

“There!” Vivian said with a point. “Right there! Don’t move your face an inch! There’s your adorable, dorky smile!”

Robynne paused and was surprised to find that, yes, she was smiling. That sneaky little bundle of energy was too smart. In thinking about it she could feel her muscles start to twitch but she willed them to remain still. It was kind of humiliating to need to be tricked into it though. And how could a smile be dorky?

Tanya gave a sigh of relief and started snapping photos. “Okay. That’s right. Just hold it there. Hold it.” She moved around scarlette and Robynne swore she she flashed the at least a few dozen times. “No. Don’t lose it.” Robynne strained to keep all her attention on her face. This expression felt less labored than what she had been doing earlier. Was that why she was non-photogenic? When people told her to smile, was she just simply trying too hard?

“There we go,” Tanya said with some relief to her voice. “Okay, for this next pose, like, turn your left side to me.”

Robynne blinked. “Next pose? You just took, like, a hundred pictures.” Like again? Maybe hanging around the cheerleaders and their infuriating speaking tics was going to be more dangerous than Cammy. “Aren’t those enough?”

Tanya gave a genuine laugh. “You think one pose is enough? Wow, like, you really haven’t done this before have you?”

Robynne blinked. “You assumed I had?”

“Uh, doy, yes. I wouldn’t have laughed otherwise. I still can’t believe a girl like you wasn’t, like, in cheerleading in high school. Especially the small town you’re apparently from. Bet no other girl held a candle to you back home, huh?” Tanya cocked her head to the side, her eyes intensely inquisitive. Angela had said Tanya wasn’t just Cammy’s chief gossiper but also her social media expert. She would have been tasked with discovering as much as possible about Robynne and come up empty. Was that why she was being so prickly with Robynne? She didn’t trust someone she couldn’t dig up dirt on?

“You’d be surprised,” Robynne answered evasively. “So… another pose?” Robynne turned her left side Tanya as she had been instructed.

Tanya gave a disappointed sigh. “Yes. Another pose. Like that. Okay, put your left hand on your hip…” Robynne did as instructed and rested her pompom on her hip. “No, so, like, the back of your left hand where you’re just, like, holding the pompom in your fingers. Your hand should mostly be exposed.”

Robynne loosened her grip of the pompom and rested the back of her hand on her hips. “Like this?”

“Yeah, like that, but a little further back. Rest it on that spankable ass of yours.” Robynne let out a long, nasally sigh but, moved her wrist a bit further back and rested it more on her butt than her hips. Tanya smirked and nodded. Robynne really shouldn’t have let her see that calling her butt spankable bugged her. “Now, take your right and and hold it up to your head.” Robynne raised an eyebrow and did as instructed, holding the pompom up to her forehead. She was pretty sure this wasn’t what Tanya had in mind for this pose. “No, Rosy, like, to the right side, like you’re modeling…”

Robynne was not a fan of this pose. She, again, did as instructed anyway. It wasn’t prudent to fight Tanya on these poses. It was clear she’d be doing a metric ton of them and she’d be picking her photo from the best ones. “Eh, close enough. Okay now stick your right foot forward. Okay, now prop it up on your toes.” Robynne propped her foot on the end of her toe, like she had done back when she was taking ballet to improve her balance for football. “Er, but not like a ballerina. More like, more like on your toes like you were wearing an invisible heel.”

Robynne did as she was told. “This good?”

“Yeah.” Tanya looked through her camera. “Your leg might get a little tired holding your toe like that though. Sorry.”

If Tanya didn’t trust Robynne because she knew nothing about her, maybe it’d be wise to let something slip? Robynne wasn’t quite sure how to read this, but cheerleaders seemed a lot more open than normal people. Maybe dropping something about her that actually didn’t give away much would be good. She had implied she took ballet in her bio. Maybe she could drop a hint about how recent it was? It wasn’t like they wouldn’t assume it wasn’t recent what Fate had done with her thighs. They looked every bit as toned, if no more so, than all the ballerinas Robert had taken class with. “It’s okay. I took ballet up until a year ago. I have gotten used to standing on my toes.”

Tanya gave a smile like she had just discovered some grand secret. Looks like this had been a good thing to drop. “Ballet, huh? Didn’t think someone like you’d be into that in high school. Figured that part on your bio was long ago and you were just trying to, like, say something for dance..”

Robynne shrugged. “A girl has got to have her hobbies.”

Tanya smirked. “Indeed…” she pursed her lips. “Okay, now just arch your back more… no, more, don’t be shy about it. Thrust those sweater puppies out like you have something to show off.”

That elicited giggles from Stacy and Vivian but Robynne remained nonplussed. “Can we not accentuate my chest so much? Or call them sweater puppies?”

Tanya gave a giggle that just oozed with haughtiness. “Why not? I accentuate my chest.” Tanya thrust her chest out, her tight, low cut neckline exposing even more cleavage as she did so. “Gotten more than my share of free drinks doing so. You should try it out.”

Robynne tried to keep an even face. “I’m not even nineteen. I can’t drink for few years.”

Tanya gave a bemused snort. “Just keep hanging around Cammy and we can work on that for you. No point to life if it’s not fun, am I right?”

Robynne rolled her eyes and decided not to dignify her comment. That attitude was the exact party animal lifestyle Robynne both detested and abhorred. Instead, she just arched her back slightly. She was not going to “thrust those sweater puppies” but if she didn’t arch it at least a little she knew Tanya was likely to nag her about it and that would likely cause her to harp on the point even more. Then, she tried to smile, focussing on not trying so hard. “This good?”

Tanya giggled some more at her joke and Robynne’s non-response before nodding. “Much better than your first smiling attempt. Just relax, Rosy. A photoshoot is supposed to be fun.”

“Of course it is.”

Tanya continued to run Robynne through pose after pose. “Instead of her right hand on her head she held it out.” “Hold your foot to the side, thrust your hips and hold your pompom across your chest.” “Left hand around your right hip like you’re hugging yourself. Right hand behind your head. Legs apart and hips thrust forward.”

Then came the even more annoying action poses. Those made Robynne feel, well, stupid. “Hands high, and kick your left foot as high as you can… No, higher! Like you’re kicking a field goal and signalling that ‘It’s good’ at the same time!” “Okay, on this one just wave your pompoms over your head, bounce up and down, but alternate your feet… no… like, don’t hop on one foot. Just bounce from one foot to the other… okay, but each time you bounce you need to, like, thrust the non-bouncing knee in front of the other… well yeah but wiggle your hips more… Stacy! Show Robynne what I mean! See! Like that!”

Pose after pose Robynne did as instructed. Each one made her feel dumber than the last. After awhile, she stopped fully paying attention to what it was Tanya was asking her to do. She felt less silly going on autopilot and just posing herself like some sort of lifesize artist’s figurine that responded to vocal commands. Instead she started paying attention to Vivian and Stacy’s conversation to keep her mind off of how sore all this fake smiling was making her cheeks.

“…don’t know if I have the time. I still have to, like, help Tanya pick out which photos of yours we’ll do then then I have to, like, get the background work done. Besides, I don’t know any of that stuff and I’m not really dressed for a party.”

Vivian waved Stacy off. “It’s not some fancy, shmancy party. It’s just, like, a get together.” It made Robynne feel better to hear Vivian throwing ‘like’ around casually. It was nice to know it wasn’t just herself. The speech pattern was insidiously infectious. No wonder all cheerleaders seemed to speak the same. “You don’t need to know all that nerdy stuff. You just need to show up and have a good time. Robynne and I will be there, plus, like you were telling me all about those, like, outfits you’re making. Do you know how much scratch you could make by getting people to hire you to make their cosplay outfits and stuff?” Wait. Was Vivian trying to get Stacy to come to the social with them?

“Cosplay was just, like, dressing up as your favorite character, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“And, they, like, just do it for fun?”

“A few do, but most do it just for special events like big conventions and Halloween and stuff.”

Stacy rubbed her chin. “And they pay for this stuff?”

“As far as I can tell. A lot of them would like to dress up as other characters but it takes too much time for someone of their skill to do that so they pay someone like you who is faster and better.”

“How much would I charge?”

Vivian shrugged. “Would depend upon the outfit I assume. I mean, like, the formula is simple. Take your expenses and add on labor costs. Just depends how long it’d take for you to make the outfit and how much you, like, value your time.”

Stacy nodded. “Intriguing. And it would let me get some practice at dealing with clients. But I don’t know if I want to be, like, known as someone who just does costumes. I mean, I want to design my own…”

Robynne’s attention was again interrupted by Tanya. “Okay, this one will wear out your legs. That’s why we saved it for last. Jump high in the air, shake those pompoms and kick your legs behind you. Try to make a face like you’re having the best time ever and cheering the boys onto victory. Open mouth smiles this time.”

Robynne groaned. As if she couldn’t feel any dumber. Well, at least this was the last one of the day. Then she could finally go do something she wanted: play games, eat food, talk comics, and hang out with her people. Faking an hour with cheerleaders had been more tiring than she had anticipated. And this had only been two cheerleaders, one of which she liked. She was beginning to think she might have underestimated how difficult this could be.


Okay, so this chapter’s development was interesting. At first, it was only the photoshoot scene. The delay in the chapter coming out came when I sort of made an executive decision that this wasn’t enough. I had toyed with the idea of doing something with Robynne complaining about needing to have a cheer profile. Then the idea of Mal and Angela helping her came into my mind then, boom, I had a segment.

Part of the need for Mal and Angela was, I feel, the need to show that these girls are involved in helping Robynne. Vivian’s presence has been seen throughout the past few chapters but I worried that if we don’t see Mal and Angela it will sort of feel like Angela is using Robynne as sort of a fire-and-forget weapon at Cammy. I want people to see her involved and helping. Robynne isn’t some tool to Angela, she’s just the only real person who can sneak in and make this work. Now, had Angela been up front with the Spirit Guard from the start instead of being self-conscious Vivian could totally have snuck in at the start of the year, but Robynne doesn’t dwell on what SHOULD have been done so why should we?

Of special note in MY mind is Mal A) calling Vivian a goblin B) her general dismissive opinion on Robynne and her brother’s choice of hobbies. Vivian, like many people of her personality type, are a lot of fun to have around but can be annoying at times. Mal clearly enjoys Vivian but still feels the need to get a dig in. Given Mal’s statuesque physique makes making fun of Vivian’s lack of height an obvious choice and Vivian’s constantly needling definitely makes a goblin a the obvious comparison.

As to her general dismissive opinion on gaming, well, it’s been my observation that it’s quite natural for the elder siblings to view what their younger siblings do is dumb. If I played armchair psychologist, I’d say it has something to do with child development and the elder sibling, having recently come out of whatever growth period the younger sibling has, sort of views whatever that sibling likes as “kid stuff.” So, for Mal, who had no interest in gaming whatsoever, she sees gaming as something that is childish. The inclusion of Cory in most of those activities definitely didn’t help her opinion. But Robynne’s introduction does confuse the issue for Mal some as Robynne is the, to Mal anyway, never before seen case of someone who both liked/played sports AND is a total gamer.

To me, this is somewhat of a self-insert trait of myself into Robynne. I’m big into baseball but also big into nerdy things. I’ve had jocks who couldn’t get how I could waste my times with games and, sadly much more common, I have nerds who seem to feel some kind of shock that I would lower myself to watching sports. Something I’ve loved observing in life and get a lot of chances to do with Robynne is watch someone put another person in their mental boxes based upon what they know about that person, only for their mind to be blown when suddenly they find out the person does something outside of that box. “Paradigm shifting without a clutch” as Dogbert put it in one Dilbert comic.

One more note on the first scene was me really wanting to show that Angela IS trying to figure out how Robynne works. The fact that Angela is looking to spin Robynne’s moment of triumph against Day LaMode, her only real moment in cheer that Robynne could claim to enjoy, is a big step in the right direction.

Now, for the scene I actually wrote first, the photoshoot. First of all, I already have Grimay working on a picture for this scene (it will be our April pic of the month!) that I have a feeling is going to come out the best! And I’m super excited for it. While I’m a discovery writer there are certain scenes I have always known I would write and the picture that will be coming out in April… it’s one of those scenes.

I really enjoyed getting to show Stacy in her element. She loves makeup and fashion to death and getting to do Robynne’s makeup is something of a kid-at-a-candy-store moment for her. It’s very rare she gets to work with someone as pretty as Robynne and really see the pinnacle of what she can accomplish with makeup. I feel it’s sort of like a baseball batter in a cage vs an actual live pitcher. Sure you can practice in the cage but it’s only until you get a real pitcher where you find out what you’re really capable of.

Still hard for me to fathom that Stacy was sort of a throwaway character for me at the start. She really has taken on a life of her own and as I write her and Robynne in a scene together they really get to taking off in their conversations. I don’t even know how to describe WHY it feels they have chemistry together. Frankly the two don’t have a lot in common other than they are both just sincerely nice people. Well, and that they are now both cheerleaders. +1 thing in common!

But, yeah, I guess it’s just their sincere but non-judgemental natures. They both really live-and-let-live and can appreciate the differences of the other person… but yeah, I still that that really doesn’t nail it down. Well, glad I puzzled that out only to find I’m still not sure. XD

Tanya is, to Robynne, the embodiment of what is most detestable about Cammy’s Cheer Squad. Gossip-monger. Does things without questioning why. Really into partying. Bossy. Shallow. Has no problem flaunting what she has… encourages Robynne to do the same. Yeah. Basically, if Stacy is the positive anti-Robynne, Tanya is the true anti-Robynne. Wait…

That’s it! That’s why I like Robynne and Stacy! Stacy is a version of Robynne that, in a world where Robynne had been born female and actually raised by her mother, Robynne might have been! I’ve long felt that hobbies are sort of a reflection of your upbringing and that your true personality finds a way to shine. Stacy and Robynne both have that moral, live-and-let-live portion to their personality but they come from completely different backgrounds. Had Robynne not been born Robert and his cheerleader mother not died in that car crash, Robynne would have been a LOT like Stacy, just less outgoing! That’s the reason! Whew! Glad that’s figured out.

But boy wouldn’t THAT be a boring story? Robynne well-adjusted, no gender identity issues, and more than happy to join Cheer Squad? Where’s the fun in that? … actually… okay, that story still involves magical cheerleaders and Cammy intrigue as Robynne would oppose Cammy no matter the universe. Yeah, okay, that story might be good too. Gah! Now I’ve confused myself again!



11 thoughts on “Magical Girl Policy- Chapter 32”

  1. You do such a wonderful job of balancing Robynne’s awkwardness toward her current situation with her commitment to her team making a likable character. Love it.

  2. I agree with Sakuraelf. Robynne is so miserable with all of this nonsense Fate is putting her through, but she does such a good job putting up with it for the greater good. (The greater good!) She’s a saint!

  3. I’d forgotten Ang’s Aura looked like the smell of lilies.

    Freefall had a set of comics where they argued that shopping behaviour was linked to traditional Hunting and Gathering roles.

    Hunters know what they want, they go get it, and come back home.

    Gathers go out, find several instances of what they want, choose the “best,” get that and come back.

    It starts here, if you want to read it: http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff700/fv00697.htm

    Rob is totally a Dwarf. Kara is a Halfling, Ang is Human, Mal is ..hmmm… Dragonborn, maybe? Noriko is an Elf, Cory is a Kender…. Not totally sure about Eli, though I guess he’d be the same has his sister.

    Class A zettai ryouiki. Rob could probably manage to ascend to the exalted heights of Class S, if she wanted. She’s more Kuudere than Tsundere, granted, but I think she could pull it off.

    I’m wondering what Stacy’s Aura looks like now.

    Rob really needs to show Stacy that image manipulation the Hush Corps did of “younger Robynne” That would explain a lot to her about why Rob is kinda clueless about girl stuff.

    I will say that there are some hints that there’s something odd about Stacy. Not many people use Pistol anymore.

    I’m liking Rob and Stacy interacting. They’re so different but they do like each other.

    Honestly, the expansion of metal upon heating is one of those problems that can get weirdly complicated really quickly. If you know the final temperature it’s going to reach and you don’t care how long it took or the path the heat took through the metal, it isn’t hard. Alternately, if the piece of metal is a lot longer than it is wide or tall, there are 1 dimensional approximations that make things simpler. Anything else risks getting involved with a second degree differential equation.

    ….I totally want Rob and Stacy to get paired up for promotion work, so Rob actually has to go. That will be hilarious. (Sorry Rob). Stacy and Viv getting paired up would be nearly as good.

    I’m liking how much we’re learning about Stacy here. She might come off as an eager puppy a fair amount of the time, but she’s clearly intelligent and quite good at her chosen area of expertise.

    I hope Stacy can help Rob feel more comfortable in her own skin eventually.

    I keep saying just because it’s “organic” doesn’t make it good. I could mix Whale poop, lead, and deadly nightshade into a paint and call it “organic.”

    I dunno, I think Rob might look better in Azure Serenity.

    I wonder how they get pictures of the Spirit Guard anyway. Does the Hush Corps leave a few at times or do they just miss some occasionally?

    One of things that more people need to accept is that you need to know something about a particular field before the things they do in that field make sense and that it can be hard to tell if something is easy or hard without experience. Like, you can’t just make something out of whatever. Material choice is usually critically important when designing something.

    I think that, once Rob starts to really accept just how much the principles of fashion and psychology underlie empathokinetics, that it all makes sense but the design principles are just very different from what she’s used to, I think she’ll feel better about the magic. She might end up pumping Stacy for basic info on color theory and such.

    “…So, wait, painting it red really does make it go faster?”

    Superfluous likes tend to show up in my speech too. One of the hazards of living through the time when that was a thing.

    For the record, I think Serenity probably does look immaculate and everything. Stacy’s call on her personality is dead wrong though.

    Also, I’m betting that the next monster attack is going to indicate that the Spirit Guard is going to need to practice working together. They’re going to need to find a secluded location and get Noriko to pretend to be a monster while they all take on their Spirit Guard forms and practice team coordination.

    Rob, just because Tanya looks flighty doesn’t mean she is. And dismissing wasting time just because the other person isn’t “using it right” is a jerkish thing to do. How do you feel when other people try to force you away from your “silly games” to do something social?

    “Ok, now stand with your back towards us, stick your ass out and twist around while sticking your chest out.”

    Intriguing sounds weird coming out of Stacy’s mouth. Not entirely sure why.

    And starting on costumes can be a good way to practice doing other outfits. It also lets you get all stylized and everything.

  4. Robynne needs to take ballet again or just practice it as a GIRL this time. The girls need to protect their image by legally securing rights to their likenesses, uniforms, color and pattern schemes. Then issue licences.

    You are nicely exploring Robynne’s psyche. I like the general direction you are taking the story.

  5. I love the dialogue in MGP! The whole trolls/goblins conversation was funny enough that I had to actively stifle laughter to keep from looking crazy at work. That, and the whole conversation with Stacy kept me smiling the whole way through this chapter.

  6. Attempting to legally secure rights to the Spirit Guard’s likenesses is tricky. What they’re doing is actively illegal so any party taking responsibility for them would be potentially liable for any number of lawsuits, criminal charges, etc. They might be able to hire a lawyer to find them some loopholes or at least a forgiving judge, but I think they generate more local goodwill this way, which will be useful if that legal battle ever happens.

  7. I was exactly the same as Annie. This chapter had me smiling from start to finish, and many times I had to stifle laughter and my guaranteed-goofy smile so I didn’t look crazy at work. And being in an engineering job, random laughter is rare and suspicious. But I can never resist the call of a new chapter.~

    The dialogue is, once again, just amazing. It flows so well, and had me fighting laughter. I remember you saying that you had originally written Stacy as a one-off character, but I love how you’ve found ways to keep her in the story. She and Robynne seem like such unusual friends, but it’s so satisfying to see them get along. Not to mention very funny.

    Props on the cosplay angle, I hadn’t considered that. I *so* look forward to the reactions of the three cheerleaders showing up to the SFEERS social. Oh, and the reactions to Robynne’s makeup! Going to be soooo good.

    Oh, the superfluous”likes.” I grew up when that was a major thing, so I remember being infected by that speech pattern even as a boy. Hell, I know that even today the occasional extra “like” still works its way into my speech.

  8. More comments wanted, you say? Happy to oblige!

    I agree, including Mal and Angela was a good choice. While I never thought Angela would use Robynne as a “fire and forget” weapon, it completely fits Angela’s personality to be hyper-involved. So it just feels right for her to be there as much as she can be. And Mal, well, you can tell she’s having fun with all this. She makes it much more entertaining.

    I enjoy that Robynne’s nicknames are both sticking (Mal with using Ace, and Viv/Tanya using Rosy). It annoys me when other authors create nicknames for characters and then they never use them after their introduction. Or at least super rarely. So I very much enjoy seeing it happen consistently.

    Vivian *is* a goblin, no question. They can be rather fond of mischief, so quite fitting. I suppose Robynne would be a fantasy-style Dwarf, not only because she’s short but because of being a mechanical engineer. If Dwarves existed in contemporary or futuristic fantasy, they would totally be metallurgical and mechanical engineers.

    Mal being against gaming, while Eli being into it, doesn’t necessarily have to be a brother/sister thing. (Being an only child, I have no perspective on it anyway.) But what I noticed growing up is the huge difference in how “nerd culture” is treated depending on what age group you are a part of. In my age group and class, I was bullied and ostracized for being into nerd stuff… and no girl my age would be into gaming, and would always look down on it. But only a few years younger than me and I noticed a big shift… it wasn’t as bad to be a nerd, and more girls were openly into it. So if Mal is the last of an older age group, while Corey and Eli are part of that younger group, that difference in how they look at nerd stuff and gaming could wildly diverge based on that alone.

    Heh, I never thought about Stacy is what Robynne would have been like if she had been born female and raised by her parents. She’s so smart, I still kind of imagined her doing her own thing. But now that you mention it, that does make a great deal of sense as to why they get along so well. Which actually takes me to a point I’ve been mulling over for a while. Apart from the point of making a good story great, or that it’s for our amusement, I’ve been mulling over why Fate would have Robynne be born as Robert and then force him to have his sex swapped.

    Your comment that Robynne would essentially be Stacy if she had been born female and raised by her parents points to exactly what I’ve thinking. Mainly that as an attractive girl in contemporary society, Fate knew Robynne wouldn’t learn the personality traits or pick up the knowledge or ways of thinking that the Spirit Guard would need. For all its faults, it sounds like even in the final days of the Ardentia Empire their society was much more gender equal. Fate knew Spirit Guard Serenity had to be female (and attractive according to Vivian’s theories), but wouldn’t match the Shrine Maiden’s way of thinking if raised as Robynne, which would thus weaken the connection to her past life. Not to mention, the Spirit Guard have a range of personalities and skill sets aside from their superpowers. If Robynne had ended up like Stacy, she wouldn’t have had as unique an outlook or skillset that she brings to the team now.

    Robynne was able to grasp the mechanics of how Day LaMode fought, and how to beat her, because of Robert’s considerable gaming experience. She’s far more analytical, knowledgeable about science, and strategic than the other girls… skills her life experience as Robert allowed her to cultivate. She would still have had the capability to cultivate those skills, but it could be argued that Fate foresaw it wouldn’t be happening. Most of the other Spirit Guard seem to be content to let things develop as they will, relying on their past lives to see them through… but any day now I expect Robynne to bring up that the lack of teamwork is ultimately what nearly got Tenacity killed by Day LaMode. She knows all about the importance of teamwork from her time in the Mayhem Templar… so I expect her to push for training, specifically that which focuses on their ability to work together as a team.

  9. Totally loving the story so far. But please, can you fix the chapter 31’s next-page-link? until now i have not been even aware the chapter 32 even existed due to the link redirecting to chapter 31 again and again.

  10. “Sweater Puppies? Please, these are full grown hounds thank you very much” cupping and lifting her breasts as she snarks at Tanya.

    I soooo wanted to see that in there. 😉

  11. Okay, I have just, like, have one problem with this dialogue. In previous scenes with Stacy, she was never a, like, Valley Girl with all the likes.

    Wil

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