The next day, all T.A.P.S. students were in the gymnasium. Cheerleaders were welcoming all Rangers, with an impromptu routine. Romy and her best friend, Piper were leading their squad. Everyone was being entertained, they were watching from the Stadium bleachers. Hudson was dancing beside them, in his mascot uniform; the S3s were watching him closely. Romy loved to perform, she was destined to be an actress, CJ was there, and her hair was in a spiked, curly updo. She made faces whenever Sgt. Gainor casually looked at her. She made courteous faces whenever Zane casually looked her way.
The crowd cheered when they finished. They saluted and bowed; CJ rolled her eyes. Everyone retired to the main event; the Ranger Fair. CJ saw Will; he was in a different uniform. She ran over to him frantically.
"OMG! Ranger, you're like so amazing! And handsome! Can I FEEL your biceps?" she joked. He had a statuesque posture, like a soldier.
He chuckled. "Shut up, Ceej. But I DO appreciate the 'handsome' part."
"Just an observation. Nice new uniform by the way, shiny." She sat on a table next to him. "Um, there's somethin' we should talk about." She said.
Zane noticed how happy they were. He was standing by the Ranger booth.
[She likes Rangers, huh? ] He thought, and took a pamphlet. He hesitated and dropped it in the trash. [My time's already been taken up--how could I forget?]
He noticed Romy and Piper, walking over to them.
"Hey, Glitter Girl! I didn't know you were friends with Rangers." Romy expressed. She seemed more like herself, out of uniform. She loved spiked leather jackets and long flowing skirts. She wore boots, and lace blouses, to match her lace socks.
CJ hopped down. "Friends? Get out--he's like family! Will, this is my friend, Romy." CJ said, and Romy saluted him.
"Hi, Ranger Will! This is my FAMILY, Piper." She said. Piper Fuller had a bohemian look. She always wore her light brown hair pulled back.
Her earrings were usually always red, along with her bracelets. She always wore a blazer, with slacks and shredded tops.
"It's nice to meet you, two. Ro's told me lots. Sorry I'm not on the Committee, so we've never gotten introduced formally." Piper said, they all stopped when they heard a horn blow.
It was Hudson in his costume, minus his giant head; he avoided eye contact with Romy.
Vice Principal Bolton was with him along with Sgt. Gainor, Malcolm, and Kyle.
"Let the festivities commence!" Their Vice Principal said, everyone cheered and began to walk around.
"Okay, all TAPS students should be in there! She had on a school uniform, so she'll stand out!" Elise said to herself. She was searching for CJ, per Sebastian's orders. She wasn't supposed to be noticed; just a simple watcher.
Veer ties were dangerous things, so she had to be prepared, for anything. She entered the Stadium and panicked. No one was in uniform; there were no Grays, or Burgundys.
"Uh-oh! I...might be in trouble. Anne said she was homeless, so why is she so hard for me to spot!? This is perplexing! No one looks homeless," she noticed Hudson, he was out of his costume. ''Cept for him, unfortunately." She continued walking around.
"Excuse me, I'm sorry! Sorry. Please, excuse me!" She panicked some more .
[It's okay! I'll find her.] "I-It's too loud in here! I can't focus like this."
But, what if you don't? A female voice replied
[What--?] She thought and shook her head to concentrate. "This is hopeless. I'm sorry, Talbot. I failed." She began to run out the door. She fell against the door frame, due to an unexpected collision.
"I'm so sorry, you okay?" The boy asked. "I'm so clumsy sometimes..." he went on
Elise was mesmerized [He looks just like--]
"Kyle?" She asked out loud, he stopped and stared at her.
"E-ELLY?" He replied, wide-eyed.
Hours had passed, and Piper was suddenly missing. The search party began; Romy went with Zane, CJ with Will. "So, what'd you wanna talk about?" he asked.
"Huh? What do ya mean?" CJ asked.
"Earlier. You said you said we needed to talk, or something." he said
"Oh! Well, I met veers and YOU'VE been keeping a secret from me." She said proudly, and walked ahead, he ran after her.
Will was frustrated; CJ was always stubborn when it came to secrets, which is why he never kept anything from her; he didn't want the aggravation. He had her Holo-Cyl Receiver, her Simu-mage, her backpack, and her hands; she had a habit of finding distractions in moments like this. They were still searching for Piper, but stopped to talk.
"I SAID I was sorry about ten times! Come on, Ceej! Forgive me already!" he said
"My Pop says you can't rush forgiveness!" she said respectfully
"What the hell? Since when do YOU quote a Ranger?" he asked
"Since YOU started keepin' secrets! Don't you trust me!? I could've handled the truth!" she said, she sounded hurt.
"Ah! Not Sad Face, you know I hate THAT one." he winced, and hunched over.
"Peter punched you pretty hard, huh?" she asked casually, he frantically nodded.
"Well! I forgive you. He did what I was going to so, you're forgiven." she helped him up.
"Found her!" said Romy, she was with Piper, along with Zane.
"Ranger Will, this is my friend, Zane." She said, he was still hunched over
"Hey, you okay?" she asked.
"He's fine! Just a little tired." CJ said
"Great! I recommend coffee, let's get back to the Stadium then." Zane said, they all started walking back.
CJ and Will were falling behind.
"If it makes ya feel better, I kicked Peter in the leg. After I slapped him, I beat him up and thanked him for savin' me from this Fire Guy who wanted me dead fo--"
"What?! Are you okay? What happened!" Will was frantic.
Zane looked for them in the distance. "Another time, Mr. Ranger." she said
"I'm NOT droppin' this, Ceej!" he said, she smiled
"I don't expect you to!" she said and kissed him on the cheek, he smiled and saw Zane.
They walked toward him. "Sorry, bad injury." he said, Zane stayed focused on her.
"Sure, I-I get it." He said skeptically and walked behind them.
[Oh man! They're already together!] Zane thought.
Kyle walked outside with Elise on the grass. They laugh and reminisce over their memories. They talk about their lives now. "So, have you made your Choice yet?"
She was nervous, and thought of the right response.
"Um, well. I'm...still indecisive."
"Elly, it's only three choices. Personally, I prefer you not becoming one of those freaks."
"You mean, a Changer?"
He chuckled with annoyance. "Yes. Veers, Changers--whatever they want to call themselves."
She smiled weakly.
"You haven't changed at all, you know. What have you been up to lately?"
She flinched, thinking about her friends and powers. She changed the subject.
"Um, enough about me--tell me about you. What brings you back to Madje?"
"Well, it's always been home. And now, I 'm stationed here for the time being."
His words made her feel sad.
"So....you might be leaving."
"It's...possible. If it comes to that, then I'll just visit you at T.A.P.S. Maybe I'll take you outta class for the day."
She felt anxious, remembering that she wasn't really a student.
He grabbed her hand gently. "Come on. I'll take you home." She pulled away, thinking of CJ.
Kyle looked at her with concern. She smiled in apprehension.
"I-I mean, let's go back inside. So, y-you can help me with my Choice."
"Oh. Okay." They walk back together toward the school.
Once inside the gymnasium, all attention was focused on them.
[Oh no, they're staring at us! What do I do?] She thought, she looked up at him
"Don't be nervous. They're just curious 'cause you don't go to school here. So they don't know you." He whispered to her. They continued walking through the crowd.
Everyone started closing in, it was getting cramped. Vice Principal Bolton made another announcement for the Rangers to present; a drill team performance. She looked at him and shook her head.
"Sorry." He whispered and separated from her. Elise was the self-conscious, friendly kind.
She wasn't comfortable about being around a crowd of strangers, let alone the hovering Rangers.
They began their steps; Malcolm and Gainor were instructing them. Will, Kyle, along with the other Welcomers were marching. Will felt a little on edge when he saw Elise.
[Elise? Here's hopin' she'll manage.] He thought.
She felt a tiny relief when she noticed CJ across from her; she waved at her, enthusiastically.
"You know her?" Romy asked her, CJ noticed the girl. She was the same one from the cabin. She panicked and chose to lie instead.
"N-Nope, never seen her before."
Minutes later, refreshments were being served. Kyle was getting something for Elise. She was waiting patiently in the doorway, and CJ was still in her sight.
She noticed Sgt. Gainor walking her way; she straightened her posture, and pushed her hair behind her ears.
"Hello, Sergeant--G-Gainor!" she said nervously and saluted.
"At ease, Miss...?" he pressed.
"Hunter! Miss Hunter." She said
"Ah, so you're here with my newest Ranger, Kyle, aren't you?" he asked
"Oh! No, were just.....old friends." She said
[Don't panic! He's just asking me a question.] She thought.
"Childhood friends?" he asked.
"Yes! We've known each other for....years." She said.
"Have a good one, Miss Hunter." he said and shook her hand
"Um, you as well....Sergeant!" she said nervously, he walked away.
She stared suspiciously.
WOW, THAT WASN'T CREEPY AT ALL The voice expressed sarcastically