Bern, Rianne, Nico, David, Sakari, and Shavonne walked through the drizzle toward the Silver Arches subway station, stepping in and out of pools of bright light produced by the street lamps towering above them. It wouldn’t be long before Bern and Rianne split off from the rest to head home to Sable Heights. Nico told Sakari that their destination was Gravel Row – out toward the eastern end of the Green Line.

“What about you, Shavonne?” Sakari asked.

“Same as you guys,” she answered.

Nico explained, “Discovered three years ago that we lived two blocks away from each other.”

“Convenient, right?”

A short while later, the rain had stopped completely, and they arrived at Silver Arches’ high-rise shopping mall. The subway signs pointed to the basement.

Before they entered the building, Bern called out, “Hey, sis. Hold up.”

Rianne stopped, letting the others go on ahead.

Bern didn’t know how to ask this, so he just threw it out there. “I was thinking, before we crash tonight, I could teach you a few moves.”

“Moves?” Rianne asked.

“Fighting moves.”

Rianne silently waited for Bern to continue.

He explained, “I’d actually been thinking about it before all this happened. I know you’d rather avoid it. Mom and Dad sure wouldn’t like me doing this. But you know how our neighborhood can get sometimes. So, I wanna teach ya. I’d sleep better, ya know?”

Rianne smiled sadly and traced a seam in the concrete with her toe. Slowly, she responded, “Ordinarily, I’d say no. But if I really have to tomorrow, I wanna go in with some idea of how to do it. It’d help psych me up.”

“I don’t know about that. But I can show you how to hold your own, and some tricks to get out if it ain’t going your way.”

“Thanks, Bernie.”

Sh: Mia, I heard you mention Elyse earlier. Were you talking about Elyse Maurani? I figured with the lightning magic and all…

M: How did you know? You watch Arcane Pulsar too?

Sh: Yep.

R: I had no idea!

M: Wow! Small world.

Sh: I’m all caught up. Where are you two?

R: I was gonna watch the season finale tonight, but…

M: I just finished the Astral Storm Trials. Please no spoilers.

Sh: Okay. But we need to talk about Adam’s betrayal.

N: At 3am?

Sh: You’re in this chat?!

D: We all are.

Sa: Hello!!

Sh: How did you get in?

N: You put us in, remember? This was your idea.

B: Rianne! I can hear you laughing! Don’t make me come in there!

C: Votes in favor of making fan talk into a separate thread.

Nico likes this.

Bern likes this.

M: Note taken. Making fandom chat now.

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