Several female voices cheer in thunderous unison, “Go, Paul!!”

    Now, it’s Fiona’s turn.  “On our right, we have the lovely ladies that are ready to show us they’re nobody’s shadow.  Heh heh, I made an Asteroid Boy pun.  Our three female warriors, our superheroines of the hereafter—”

    “But they’re not dead,” Ally interrupts.

    Fiona defends her wording successfully by reasoning, “Look around you, it can still work.  We have the mysterious KC MeyerZ, the dangerous Faye Worley and the explosive Nova G.  Which one of these three girls will be the winner of this competition?  Lady Duplica, care to go over the rules before we begin?”

    “Thank you, Lady Fiona,” says the master coordinator of this event.  “Your guidelines are simple.  It’s just a regular sparring free-for-all until you either give up or your nanos teleport you out as a way of telling your body, ‘Uh, you’re done pal.  Don’t die today.’  Oh, and don’t think that just because you’re the last guy and girl standing that it means you’re the winner.  We have a special stipulation for that final bout to make it perfectly safe as far as genders are concerned.  Our surprise will simply…overtake you.  Now…”  Duplica pauses and looks to the boys, then at the girls before finally saying the word,


    With all the drama and hard lessons about discipline and following God’s truth over peer pressure, suddenly switching to displaying their fighting skills to what seems like the entire universe is overwhelming at first, but getting into the familiarity of their favorite activity, these six warriors quickly remember what they’re about to do.  Now, they can relax and simply enjoy what they love doing almost every day after school, just horsing around…at the speed of sound…beating each other down, safely.

    And so, it begins.  Elf and Owan each subconsciously debate with the instinct to gang up on Paul now to prevent any unwanted surprises later or not ruin his day out of competitive habit.  The three girls hover in place, watching for someone to make the first move.  Gigi remembers what Kammy said earlier, as she also wonders if Kamron knew this was the final exam.  No matter what, if for nothing else than principle and character training, Gigi will take a surprise hit before she moves to make sure she’s not too hasty.  The two groups drown out the cheering adults the best they can, trying not to let the large scale of this military demonstration steal their rhythm.

    “That’s it,” says Elfie as he does what his battle wisdom tells him is the obvious best option, “It’s sink or swim, Paul.  Time to stand on your own!”

    Paul’s annoyed, but he saw this as the highest possibility in the boy’s strategy.  All he has to do is prove that he is competent for a few seconds, and maybe land a good enough shot or two in order to convince the boys to give up on the ambush tactic, and they should start to attack each other as security that neither of them gets an advantage from the other enduring more of Paul’s counterattacks than preferred.  But with Owan dashing in with intimidating force to join Elf’s already begun assault, this isn’t going to be so easy.

    While this starts, Kammy looks at Gigi, naturally seeing her as the prime target in the girl’s fray, but the other figure in the fight may actually prove to be the better option.  Kammy doesn’t like what she has to do, especially since she knows she’s going to have to endure fighting both the girls at once until she can buy some space for her and Gigi, but it’s a better opportunity than punching Gigi in the face and then hatching Kam’s idea.  “How to do this?” Kammy wonders as she reconsiders a way to scare Gigi away without actually invoking her temper just yet.

    Meanwhile, Faye has found the answer she’s looking for and merely counts down until Kamron’s indecisiveness lowers the gate.  “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” whispers Faye before flying forward and mocking with childish laughter, “You really are too simple, Kammy!”  Yeah, this is not the welcome Crystal wants to hear, but at least she’s not having to defend herself from Gigi just yet.

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