Night Dancer

By Jennifer Cleary

Author's Notes: This was inspired by a picture I drew in my sketch book one day and I thought it would be kewl if a really miserable, gothy (Goths rule!) girl was all magical-girl-ish and she has a raven. And these two girls that go to her school and chase her and stuff. Because well…you read this story and let me know what you think. Positive comments are welcomed! This is all told from the view point of the main character. Enjoy!

There I sat waiting for the bus to take me to school. I kicked a pebble out into the street to see if a car would run it over. I thought of Cherri and Kari as a large truck carrying concrete ran over it and sent it flying into a wall. Heh, If only I could really run them over with a concrete truck…

"Alison!" it was my mother. "Your forgot your lunch again!" Ugh. I hate her lunches. They're full of nutritious things like oranges. I hate oranges, they're too bright for my taste. My mother ran up to me full of smiles and sunshine like she walked out of the 1960's as a flower child. "Have a nice day!" she smiled at me. How I wished there was a thunderstorm right at that moment.  The bus pulled up and I grunted at my mother as a goodbye. How I wanted to say goodbye to her forever. But alas! I am cursed!

"Don't sit here, its saved!" a girl spat at me and put his backpack in the empty seat. I eventually made it to the rear of the bus and sat in my normal spot.

"Hey look, its Alison, what's up Alison?" one of the girls teased. I gave her a menacing look of detest and looked up at the ceiling. Gum and more gum. Don't these people know what a trash can is for?

"Alison!" the girl opened her mouth again. "Hey, Alison! I asked you what was up! Answer me already!" Felicia Copestone, quite possibly the most spoiled thing that considers itself human. She always has to show off how well she lives, how much she's a daddy's girl and how much money she has.

"Lots of gum." I answered Felicia sarcastically, pointing at the ceiling. "Want a piece?" I looked at Felicia, who had the best disgusted look on her face, I couldn't help but laugh my evil laugh.

"That's disgusting!" she cried as I pulled a piece from the ceiling and pretended to put it in my mouth.

"Mmmm! Minty! Sure you don't want any?" I offered pulling another piece from the ceiling and offering it to her. She stuck out her tongue in disgust and leaned out the window trying to induce any vomiting she could.

"Tasting you breakfast again? Wait…you don't eat!" I laughed again and slid down in my seat. It was a long bus ride to school and we still had 6 more stops… two of those stops involved picking up my two worst enemies: Cherri and Kari.

"Alison! Did you hear about what happened to Mr. Magnus?" the girl two seats in front of me, Meri Weaver asked energetically.

"He died a horrible, horrible death involving spikes and a laser cannon?"

"Nooo! He's going to be transferred to  another school!" I hated Mr. Magnus, the Physical Education teacher. He is absolutely sadistic, he yells at us to run around and again in circles until we collapse while he putts around on his little golf cart, then he tells us to run some more and then gripes about sitting around all day reading a book is a waste of time instead of running around. Sure…and the sky is a lime green on sunny days. Plus, whenever Cherri is in his class, he tells her to sort the equipment or fill up all the basketballs. I can see that he likes to play favorites. But just because your daughter attends the school you teach at doesn't mean you can let her do whatever she wants.

The bus ground to a halt as it went to the next stop and up the bus steps hopped none other than the only human that I'll even let get close to me that I don't want to murder bloodily: my best friend, Elaine Mainstead. She was her usual not so bright and cheery self, still pinning millions of safety pins to her blouse (the teachers tell her to take them off, but she pretends to not hear them, they eventually gave up), finally made her way through the obscene gestures and partial tripping to her usual seat, which was always in front of me with Kiki Bernstein, her mother's boyfriend's daughter.

"How are you this morning Elli?" Kiki asked with a bright smile on her face.

"Shove it, Kickie!" Elaine snapped. 'Kickie' was Elaine's nickname for Kiki because Kiki would always kick something when she was mad.

"Hey, Mainstead." Felicia piped up again. Doesn't she ever shut up? "Love the safety pins, maybe you should…"

"Pin your mouth shut?" Elaine retorted before Felicia could finish, wiggling a safety pin between her fingers at Felicia. That is why I like Elaine, she always has a good comeback and can warp people's sentences before they finish them. "Maybe I will…hold still, Felicia…" Elaine and I couldn't help but laugh as Felicia squirmed in her seat as Elaine reached for one of the biggest pins on her blouse. I whispered to Elaine that it still wasn't big enough. The bus screeched to a halt again, this time picking up one of the worst beings on the planet: Cherri Magnus. I hate her so much, it's not even funny. Let me explain:

One night about three months ago I was relaxing comfortably on the roof of my apartment building when two figures jumped down from the building next door, chasing a shadow of some kind. The shadow darted past me dropping something in my lap. One of the figures went after the shadow thing and the other stayed behind to question me.

"Where is the Chaos Jewel, Arcana?" I merely shrugged, I didn't know what she was talking about, seriously. "Where's the damn jewel?!" she grabbed my blouse, I panicked and not knowing what I was doing, somehow I flung her twenty feet across the roof.

"You messed with the wrong girl you…monster!" she stood up again and charged me. I threw up my arms in defense, somehow, blocking the attack with some kind of shield. "You are a very compatible foe, I'll be back soon, and I'll win." The figure threatened me and chased her apparent partner. I honestly don't know how I did that, but I became determined to find out how I did it, who this 'Arcana' was as well as find out what the Chaos Jewel was.

After that night, I told Elaine what happened. She said the same thing happened to her about a week before. That day we made a pact: No matter what, we would stop this Arcana person and destroy this Chaos Jewel. We became Night Dancer and Twilight Spark.

After a few nights of patrolling of the city, Elaine and I came across the two figures we both saw. They told us to stay out of their way, but we ignored their threats and told them to screw off. That was a great night. After this whole choreographed bit of fancy twirls and ribbons, the two figures told us they were Cherry Angel and Flying Kiwi. What kind of names are those? I like mine, Night Dancer, it sounds like Necromancer. Twilight Spark is Elaine's name, she derived it like the when the twilight comes, there is that last spark of light that shines before the sun dips below the horizon.

"Well, well, if it isn't Kroger." Cherri sneered at me. Her pink hair is an atrocity. I'll dump a bucket of tar on it so I'll never have to see it again.

"Ally, want me to set it on fire?" Elaine whispered to me. She knew I hated Cherri's hair. Elaine is a witch, not the kind that are all old, green, wrinkly and fly on a broom. Elaine can really conjure things like fire and ice from thin air, watching it absolutely owns.

"Nah, wait until she has gallons of hairspray in it!" I whispered back. That would be funny, watching Cherri screaming and running around with her hair on fire.

Cherri went to her seat behind Felicia and waited for a smart-assed comment from me. I couldn't resist staying silent, just to torture her.

"Aren't you going to say something sarcastic today, Alison?"

"No," I shook my head. "CHERRI your HAIR doesn't LOOK like its usual ATROCITY today."

"Go jump in a lake." Cherri mumbled, I sniffed my arms.

"You're right I need a bath." I retorted. Mental games are so much fun. Felicia scooted closer to the outside of the bus as I sniffed my armpits and my feet as well. As I was busy pretending to smell my feet, the bus reached its final stop before continuing on to school, picking up three more girls. As it stopped, I hit my head on the back of Kiki and Elaine's seat. Ouch…maybe I should sue Kojak (he's the bus driver, who is incredibly bald, you could wax your table with his skull). Then the door opened and onto the yellow and rust express stepped the Prima Donna of Saint Joan's School for Girls, Kari Olsen. She is involved in everything from the theatre troupe to the volleyball team. I hope she loses her mind, then I'll get a good laugh, seeing her running around on that stage screaming something along the lines of "I'm Orange the Super Mouse!".

"Kari!" Cherri waved at her best friend. Ugh…these two (Cherri and Kari) are Cherry Angel and Flying Kiwi. Kari rushed up to Cherri and did that rich-woman kiss thing…I couldn't help but pretend to vomit. Elaine turned back to face me.

"You know what?" Elaine passed me a licorice stick, and munched on hers.

"You're going to get cavities!" Cherri looked at Elaine gnawing on her black licorice. After a few good chomps, she grinned a black chunky grin at Kari and Cherri.

"Do you hear that?" Elaine mocked, putting her hand to her ear, pretending to listen more closely. "Ally, do you hear anything?"

"Don't pretend like you can't hear me!" Cherri shouted, nearly making Kojak slam the brakes on the bus and throw her off. I glared at Kari who had been giggling her head off with Felicia. 

"Who's pretending?" I muttered to Elaine and Kiki, who burst into laughter.

"What are you laughing about?" Kari sneered. I hate her hair…it makes her look like she got her haircut from her mother's cookware.

"Nothing that you would understand," Elaine stuck her black tongue out at Kari, who then whipped out a copy of some book.

"See this?" Kari pointed at a picture of a giraffe, "You have its tongue."

"All the better to get those boys all over me!" Elaine smarted off, and chomped on another licorice stick. I think she has an addiction to those, I remember one year she made a sculpture completely out of licorice and taffy.

"Hmm…what should this years food art entry be made of?" Elaine put the licorice to her mouth as she thought. The bus hit a speed bump at the school's driveway and sent the licorice up into Elaine's glasses, smudging it with some black. She didn't notice at first until the door opened and Kari pointed at where Elaine's smudge was.

"You have a smudge on your glasses. Right there." Kari grabbed her purse (PRISS!) and joined the gaggle of giggles and into the school. Elaine slipped her glasses off and examined them.

"Dammit…I thought that anti-smudge stuff would work…" she complained and wiped the smudge on her skirt.

"That's attractive…" Kiki commented and slipped past.

"Ugh…another day…another waste of money…" I groaned as I nearly fell off the bus (as usual) and trudged my way to my locker. I can't believe my mother insists so much on a private school. I don't fit in here, and honestly, I really don't care one damn bit.

"Good luck on that test today!" Kari yelled to Cherri down the hall, who waved and went in the classroom. Why do I have to have a locker next to HER? I would rather have a locker next to the smelliest girl in the whole school, but I guess they wish to torture me for as long as they can while I'm here.

"Crap." I mumbled and slammed my locker shut.

"What are you 'crapping' about?" Kari asked bitterly.

"I was hoping my raven would come and peck your eyes out." I smiled at the thought. Lethe is my pet raven, gorgeous bird. Incredibly loyal and sometimes I think she understands my words.

"Oh, I'm sorry for you loss…" Kari smirked and left for her class. The first bell rang and I began to plod to my first class, all the way across the school…on the third floor. Slowly I made my way, barely making it in time for the second bell. I sat in my usual back of the room seat and waited for the teacher, who was always late because she likes to chatter in the teacher's lounge with the art teacher.

Virginia Dempsey, English Teacher for seniors at Saint Joan's. Young, ditzy and very preoccupied. She keeps ranting on about her upcoming wedding to some rich man who thinks she fell from that one place in the sky…heaven or whatnot.

"I'm sorry for being late class! Mr. Lee was telling me about how some of his students were having some pieces going to the art fair. "Miss Mainstead is having her usual tribute to licorice again this year." Dempsey added, making everyone turn around and stare at Elaine, who waved and put a smirk on her face that said: "I'm better at art than you."

"All right…last night you all had an assignment, would you please hand them to the front." Dempsey said, writing the next assignment on the marker board. Ugh…twenty pages from The Odyssey? She had got to be kidding. I started to raise my hand in complaint, but Dempsey knows me and my every move, especially when it comes to assignments. "Miss Kroger...don't start with me today. I'm not in the best of moods." She warned, and I put my hand down. It was falling asleep already. Elaine had been drawing safety pins on her notebook and some of the girls were already getting into the assignment. I really hate this class…Dempsey never lets us listen to the radio while we read, can some of us help it if we need background music to help us concentrate?

"Miss Dempsey?" it was the principal, goody, goody…"May I borrow one of your students for a moment?" Please don't let that student be me. PLEASE! I don't want to mess with this man.  Arthur Blue is a man too disgusting for words, I'd describe them, but I don't want to offend anyone, its that bad.

"Please don't it let it be me…" I prayed to whatever god was listening, it didn't matter who it was, it was probably the God of Misfortune or something because, Arthur Blue then motioned at me and Elaine to go with him. Dammit…I hate his little 'pep talks'. He's always trying to reform Elaine and me, and I personally think its not working. Of course I have to remember that Blue is an idiot, and actually thinks the pep talks are working. Oh, is he so  wrong.

"Miss Mainstead, Miss Kroger, please come with me to my office." Blue swept the air in a giant gesture out into the hall.

"This is lame." Elaine muttered to me as we gathered our stuff and I smiled, but only a little.

"Not just lame, super lame." I corrected Elaine, who smiled a little herself and we joined Blue out in the hall.

"Mr. Blue, please tell us this isn't a journey to one of your famous pep talks is it?" Elaine slumped over and trudged down the hallway with me, behind Blue.

"How wrong you are, girls." Blue said excitedly. Not a pep talk? Why do I have that feeling that he's going to bring in our parents and tell us that we've been expelled for unhappiness?

"Then why did you drag us away kicking and screaming away from The Odyssey and Miss Dempsey's wonderful English class?" I remarked sarcastically.

"You'll soon find out…" Blue teased. I hate a lot of things, but being teased by someone with higher authority really gets to me.

"You're not going to subject us to a public humiliation involving chocolate cake are you?" Elaine asked worriedly, faking the worry. Elaine certainly has a wild imagination. Her artwork does explain her creativity with marzipan and other sweet, moldable food. I scratched my head and thought. If we're going to be target dummies, I hope he's at the very least provided the proper attire for us. Giant black shirts with a big fat target on them that say clearly: TARGET DUMMY, but knowing how cheap this man is, he's most likely supplied us with paper-thin shirts from a local radio station I don't even listen to.

"You two have been doing fabulously well on your exams lately," Blue began as he escorted us in his office. Subjected to public humiliation, here we come…

"Well…" Elaine buffed her nails on a safety pin-less portion of her uniform, "That's a natural talent for the both of us."

"I figured you two needed a break from all the hustle and bustle of class work for a day, and I have decided with the assistance with your instructors, that you are free to do what you wish today."

"Miss Dempsey," Blue said again, causing the whole class to look back. Damn. That was merely my imagination catching up with me. "You left this in the faculty lounge." Blue held up Miss Dempsey's coffee mug, bedecked with little pink hearts, and a picture of Miss Dempsey and her fiancée on the side. I hate pink. Matter of fact, I hate a lot of things.

"Thank you Principal Blue." Miss Dempsey scurried to the door and took her mug. Elaine was still drawing safety pins, only now on her textbook cover, and I was trying to concentrate on the story, but my mind kept wandering to the idea that Arcana attended this very school. The other night she left a very obvious clue to her presence at St. Joan's, a copy of the program for the upcoming play the drama people were putting on. Arcana was obviously on either the cast or crew…but where to start. I really don't enjoy theatre, and the teacher is very insane. Edy, as she likes to be called (partly because she has an obsession with ice cream, and partly is because she likes to be on a first-name basis with all her students), has a tendency to do wild projects with her students. Once they had half the class re-enact a few scenes from The Rocky Horror Show in the cafeteria, getting toast whipped at them wasn't until the dining room scene. Another time they did the Time Warp from RHS in the student's lounge, in full costume. I think the woman has an obsession with that play.

"Ally," Elaine poked me as Principal Blue left the presence of the class and Miss Dempsey was dreaming over a bridal magazine, "What are we going to do about Arcana?"

"Infiltrate." I whispered.

"Infiltrate?" Elaine suddenly became confused.

"You know, go into someplace for a secret purpose, pretending to be interested in that specific place?"

"I know what infiltration is, but what are we infiltrating?"

"The drama department."

"Ladies, do I need to remind you that this is time for you to be quiet?" Miss Dempsey looked up from her magazine and scolded us. For someone so preoccupied with her own wedding, she certainly seems to have the time to yell at us.

"Sorry Miss Dempsey." Elaine apologized, rolling her eyes.

"Do it again, and you'll both land yourselves in detention." She warned us. Oh…no…my perfect record of having no detentions brutally mangled by a teacher with her head in the clouds. Watch out for those airliners, Miss Dempsey.

And so class then went on, Elaine holding her tongue till we had another period to chat together, which wasn't till lunch, guess we'd have to discuss our plan then. The bell for the end of first period rang and I grabbed my things to get to my next class, World History. For the last three weeks, the teacher has been out on maternity leave, and that meant one thing: substitute teacher. I don't exactly remember the sub's name, we just call him Slick, which makes him feel younger than his real age of 72. Who is still teaching at 72? My grandmother is 72 and she spends her days knitting and reminiscing about her younger days to the air. Maybe my mother should consider putting her in a old folk's home, but she wouldn't have it, my grandmother anyway, she's like a old mule, as she puts it, still alive and kicking.

"Class…" Slick started to calm all the girls down, with the exception of me, more or less calm. "I've been told that last night your regular teacher, Mrs. Woo, had her baby. Now don't get too excited, yet." The class was deadly silent. "Mrs. Woo had a baby boy, and won't be gracing us with her presence just yet, I've been told that I'll be teaching the class for the rest of the year." Simultaneous complaints then roused their way through the room. Some of the girls didn't like Slick, I don't know why. He is one of the coolest teachers around, he still wears sunglasses for crying out loud, and he really likes his job, unlike most of the teachers that the other girls like.

"Slick," I raised my hand, "Can we finish the movie already?" We had been watching some old movies Slick liked, the one we've been watching for the past few days is Seven Samurai, showing the class what Medieval Japan was compared to Medieval Europe.  Our next film was to be Camelot, for that comparison.

"You're enjoying the movie, Miss Kroger?" Slick handed some previously graded papers to the girl behind me.

            "Yeah." I nodded. It wasn't the plot…it wasn't the fact it was in Japan…there was swords! Swords mean bloodshed and I keep imagining those samurai impaling Cherri and Kari, over and over again.

"Seems like you and Miss Mainstead are actually enjoying this film. All the other girls find it disgusting and crude." Slick said in a low voice, only being heard by the few people who surrounded me.

"Then why did they sign up for this class?" I retorted, making Slick laugh.

"You have a point there, Miss Kroger." He handed more papers out and then turned out the lights for the movie. And there we sat for 45 minutes watching impalement after bloody impalement as those samurai defended the village. Some of the girls were complaining about the subtitles…maybe they don't like to read a movie. The ironic part is that they carry around those stupid magazines that tell them to dress alike and what is 'in style'. I hope those places go bankrupt, then I'll laugh. The bell rang and the class scampered into the hall for third period. I stopped by my locker, dropped off the crud from my last two classes and picked up nothing but a notebook and a pencil for the third, for doodling. Homeroom is probably the most useless class around. We sit there and watch the news and then we go to lunch. Thankfully we only have 6 periods of class per day. Elaine and I met up at our usual spot down in the cafeteria, me and my little brown bag full of yummy, yummy, not to mention healthy treats my mother brought to me. And I was looking forward to having a lunch consist of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Code Red. Curse her and her health-minded ways…

"Greetings, faire friend." Elaine bowed to me gracefully.

"Will you stop showing off and sit down?" I snapped, slamming my lunch on the table. We pulled our chairs out and sat, simultaneously; as we always do, to make the other girls avoid us.

"So, how do we plan on doing this infiltration?" Elaine opened her Funyuns and peered in the bag. "Why do they always manage to give me the dinky ones?" She held up a tiny ring of golden, corn-tastic goodness.

"Somehow they know who you are at the production plant." I said sarcastically, taking a side glance and saw Kiki coming our way.

"Oh, happy day." Elaine saw Kiki coming too when I pointed her out, Elaine sank in her seat, taking her lunch with her. Everyday, Elaine would bring a bag of chips and a bottle of soda. How she lives off that stuff is beyond me, but I shouldn't complain, after all…I had tofu rolls for lunch.

"Good morning!" Kiki called to us as she walked by. Thankfully, Kiki doesn't like to sit with us because she simply doesn't like what we talk about. Cherri and Kari strutted by. I was half-tempted to throw the orange rind at them…but I restrained myself with much difficulty.

"And so I say to him, 'forget it!' and he just left." Cherri described and Kari giggled. Oh the conversations of the stupid. How well I don't remember them. I smiled and they looked at me.

"What are you smiling about?" Cherri sneered. I really hate her hair, more than anything else.

"Just imagining your demise." I put on an evil grin and they walked away, almost crashing into another girl.

"You really like to drive people away." Elaine said through her Nacho Cheese Doritos, spraying a few crumbs on the table.

"It's a gift." I grinned and bit into the…tofu roll…ew. It was either that or I starve. Elaine is what people call a "Chip Nazi"; keeping all her food to herself or something like that.

"Now…what about our infiltration?" Elaine hunched over, her hair falling all over the place.

"It'll be tricky…Edy likes to be nosy about everything. Do you think we should have a third?" I said quickly, making Elaine lean back in confusion.

"A third?" a look of puzzlement came across her face.

"It would give us a little less work." I grinned. I can't help it! I'm lazy! Besides, another person would help if one of us were sick.

"I don't know…" Elaine scratched her chin, "What if they squeal on our whole operation?"

"I doubt it." I shook my head, "But how and who are we going to choose?"

"Pffft.. Forget that…nobody here isn't even qualified." Elaine waved her hand and tossed a Dorito in the air and caught it in her mouth. I slumped on the table and flicked the orange rind with my finger.

After lunch, the day was pretty much boring, with my well-timed comments to Cherri and Kari. No homework in biology or geometry. Don't laugh at me…they require those kind of classes, just like Phys. Ed (shudder). I got lazy in junior high, pretty much slacking off in math.

And so finally the last bell rang and I escaped to my locker as quickly as possible. Elaine is having me come over to her place so we can discuss her plan.

"Kroger!" Felicia yelled at me. "Kemps wants to see you in her office, post haste!"

"School is over, Felicia, your powers are useless against us!" Elaine yelled back at Felicia as she came over to my locker. I couldn't help but grin at the comment. I caught Felicia out of the corner of my eye, stomping away, obviously in a bit of rage. I may not be a medical genius…but I think she has some kind of disease, I call it "Prima Donna syndrome", and it is catching very quickly in this school. Felicia is the carrier monkey and all her little drama buddies are the secondary infectors.

"She has to get a reality check." Elaine leaned on the locker next to me.

"You need one too, Mainstead." Cherri and Kari sauntered up to us, obviously happy that Kemps wants us in her office.

"Shove it." I snarled and slammed my locker shut, making Kari jump.

"You should be more courteous than that, Alison."

"Who asked you?" I narrowed my eyes at Kari threateningly.

"Come on Kari, we don't have to waste our time with these losers."

"At least we don't deny it." Elaine stuck her tongue out at them, making them turn around and look at us furiously.

"How can we be losers?" Kari put her hands on her hips. Damn…her hair is short. I wonder if she got in a fight with a lawnmower and lost.

"Love to tell you…but we have an appointment…smell ya later!" Elaine bent down and then took off, I followed her all the way to the drama room. We leaned on the wall catching our breath when Edy Kemps came out and looked at us.

"Well…here's two member of our stage crew." Edy gestured at us and a few head peeked out the doorway to look at us.

"So…you like to wear black…" one of the girls muttered. She had dark red hair, trimmed up her ears, with a million or so earrings shimmering in her ears. Black is the best color in the world…so I like it…its one of the few things I do like. These people are kinda creepy…they dance around on the stage in leotards and sweats and make-up…

"Sorry…wrong place!" Elaine tried to get us out of the situation, but Edy only looked at us and then commenced to drag us inside the…Disney…painted….drama room.

"I don't know who signed us up…but I know I didn't!" I tried to convince Kemps…but I don't think she believed me.

"There's plenty of people that will do stage crew!" Felicia then cried out in protest, "Why do these two necessarily have to be on stage crew?!"

"We have incredibly busy schedules, Miss Kemps…I don't think we can squeeze in several shows!" Elaine protested, her attempts getting more and more desperate. "I have art shows and I have art…and I have the television!"

"Nonsense…you have plenty of time for television…that is what VCRs are for silly…now…sit." Edy practically shoved us in the door and seated us in the front row of desks. Gah…VCRs are useless…all that is ever on TV anymore is goddess-awful commercials with 'popular' stars on it.

"Well…we're officially screwed." I whispered to Elaine.

"Yep…" Elaine nodded in agreement while people scurried around the room. We watched each and every one of them for ten minutes before someone told us to go to the auditorium for a briefing on prop duties and the lectures on how to be stage crew. They've got to be kidding…absolute silence while lugging a 45-pound desk with one other person? I'm not exactly Ms. Universe you know.

"Well…meeting adjourned…any questions?" the girl who was obviously the stage manager clapped at the end of her lecture.

"What if this is completely involuntary, I know I didn't sign up for this job." I raised my hand.

"Well…we would love to have you participate anyway." The stage manager answered cheerfully. How anybody can be that naturally cheerful, is one thing I'll never know.

Elaine and I walked to her house. Her house is much better than my all white apartment. I draped my room in black fabric and tacked the window shut to keep the sunlight out…but I think my mother opens the window when I'm not home to let the bird smell out.

"So…who's on your list of suspects?" Elaine put her hands over her head in a stretch.

"Felicia and that stage manager girl." I replied, digging into my backpack for a Tootsie Roll.

"Mmph…same here…" Elaine stuffed a licorice stick in her mouth and chewed on it.

"Tonight at rehearsal…we'll find Arcana…"

"If Cherri and Kari show up…we'd be flushed down the porcelain pee hole."

"Exactly…so we have to bust her plan incognito." I nodded in agreement, pulling out the rogue Tootsie Roll that lay beneath my composition book.

That night my mom drove us to the school after a super-healthy tofu and spinach dinner. I nearly gagged at the table as Elaine, my brother, my dad and I held up a sign with the name of the dish tonight

"Sorry, mom, your dinner has been voted off the table. See you again tomorrow night." My brother teased, I think he watches too many of those reality shows…why do those people stab each other in the back for cash? They'll just waste it in Vegas paying for something useless like a carrot. I don't know…my brain hurts from the smell.

Anyway…Elaine and I were dropped off at the school and we made our way to the auditorium and backstage; dressed in the stage crew standard uniform. I was half-tempted to snag my glow-in-the-dark letter stickers and put something like "Shooting Target" on the back of my sweatshirt…but I couldn't find them, unfortunately. We were ordered to begin setting up the first scene while the actors were rehearsing their lines around us. Felicia (the 'star' in her own mind) was lecturing us on how the prop was to be placed and acting as stage manager.

"Copestone! Do I tell you how to say your lines?" the stage manager, Holly barked. Felicia then slinked away grumbling about something.

"Very nice." I praised Holly.

"Well…she thinks she can own everything in sight. " Holly shrugged and then brought out the desk for the scene.

"No kidding." I mumbled and took my place back stage. Behind the stage supports were these little tiny pieces of glow tape, which one of the stage hands were charging with a flashlight. I bet that stuff won't even last a half hour. It certainly looks cheap.

"Um…who's that?" Elaine nudged me, gesturing toward a girl with short brown hair with some blonde highlights.

"No idea…just keep an eye out for someone who is acting strangely."

"They're all acting strangely."

"I meant other than the usual for them." I almost roared, I had to keep my voice in check because we were running a dress rehearsal. Apparently we have been "signed up" for this job for weeks and the crew hasn't been called till tonight.

"This is so boring." Elaine sighed and sat on the floor in a slump. And so the actors did their thing, and the crew did theirs.  After being lectured about how much the cast stunk and went home. The show was supposed to be on in a week and they have been supposedly "doing their best" to learn their cues, lines and blocking. I nearly fell asleep during half of the scenes.  The crew was dismissed after the lecture while the cast had to stay and work on their lines. I could have felt sorry for Felicia…but I didn't. My mom came and picked us up. It was a Friday, so Elaine stayed over. She would rather stay at my place anyway, her mother isn't too fond of her style and her habits, but my mom thinks she's perfect. That's a load of crap if I ever heard anything like that.

"Elaine, should we go on patrol tonight?" I blurted out suddenly while we were watching "Edward Scissorhands". Elaine's hand stopped reaching for the Doritos and she thought about it.

"I suppose…but…" Elaine sighed and I waited for her to finish. "Let's finish the movie, I love the end." She smiled, which was pretty rare for her to do really. I looked at Lethe, who looked anxious to get out into the night air. I've seen the movie a million times, I know how it ends, so I hit the stop button the on the remote, and we got into our costumes. I'll eat my father's hat if I ever have Elaine design my costumes ever again, and then I'll eat another hat for her costume.

My costume looks like a black tutu, only sad and saggy-looking, with a silvery skirt underneath. I like the sleeves, and the spikes, and the whip. I can whip things….heheheheheheheh. You kinda have to half-admit that Elaine actually did a pretty decent job for an amateur seamstress. She did both of our costumes, both from drawings that she had around for the longest time. She has a blue bodysuit with a cape and long, long boots. Love her headgear and the strap things she has on the boots.

"Ready!" Elaine bounced out of the closet, only because I'm the fastest person who can change. I raised my eyebrows at her sudden….bounciness.

"You actually want to go out on patrol?" I asked and she nodded enthusiastically. She wants to set Arcana on fire, and then point and laugh. Insane this one is I tell you.

She opened Lethe's cage and the window so we could crawl out. I locked my bedroom door and we made our way out to the roof, ala fire escape. I closed the black curtains and we shut the window, but just enough so Lethe could still get back inside.

"So where should we start?" Elaine asked. We've been doing this for two and a half months and still doesn't know where to start.

"We'll start in The Hills, there's lots of jewel collectors there. I'm sure we can find it there."

"Sounds like a plan." Another voice joined our conversation, "Glad I thought of it. See you two losers there, we hope." It was Cherry Angel and Flying Kiwi, a.k.a., Cherri and Kari.

"Don't you be taking our plans, you freaks!" Flying Kiwi hissed and they took off toward the east side of town before we had a chance to retaliate. Elaine was conjuring a fireball for the two of them, but I stopped her

"And don't stand in our way!" Cherry Angel yelled back at us.

"Why I outta…" Elaine clenched her fist, trying to keeping herself from causing my home to explode into tiny bits.

"Cool it." I smirked, "That was just to distract them. We're heading for Northside." Northside was where all the really, really wealthy people lived, and several of the suspects as well.

"Oh…I see…this is pretty personal isn't it?" Elaine smiled. She knows my dislike of the 'preps'. They taunt me because of my appearance. Can I help it if they all look like dorks in their little alligator shirts. I swear that alligator is thinking "Loser!" or something. We then took off, leaping to the next roof. Why don't we just drive? I don't have my license, Elaine doesn't either. Why don't we take the bus? A lot of people freak out when two chicks in strange costumes come on and act like any other normal person. A taxi? Hah! Can't afford one. So we leap from roof to roof, courtesy of a jumping spell Elaine put on our boots. Its cheap…what can I say?

We made it to the massive property to the north of downtown, it looked like a countryside than a suburb.

"I'll take the west, you take the east, meet here when you're done." I whispered to Elaine who nodded in agreement. We then leaped down to the street, knowing that there weren't going to be cars for hours. We've patrolled here before. I went to house just a little east of the one I searched the previous night, I held up my shard of the Master Ruby, Elaine had another piece. I think that Cherry Angel and Flying Kiwi have another of the shards each. How the Master Ruby was shattered I don't know…but it was definitely done on purpose for the Chaos Jewels.

I've heard that the Chaos Jewel is one of nine that exist in this world and when all gathered have immense power. The Master Ruby can negate the Chaos Jewels, which could destroy the world, so we have to get rid of them as soon as possible.  Once I got a letter on my bed after the first night from the Moonlighters Society, telling me about their organization. They also said that the Turmoil Jade was in the area, and they sent me the Master Ruby shard. Elaine got the same thing.  The letter was signed by an Elegant Devil. Strange name if you ask me, but I like it.

The ruby showed no response and I moved onto the next house across the street. There was a slight light inside the ruby, but I thought it was just the street lamp. I scratched my head a little, trying to figure out whether my eyes were playing tricks on me. So I walked closer to the house and the ruby emitted another light, but a little brighter. This might be the place. I looked for Elaine, she was crossing the street in the opposite direction and I tried to get her attention. She paid no mind, she was bent on that damn jewel in her hands. I threw a rock near her and then waved her to get down to my end of the street. She raced down and then we walked closer to the estate, I saw the name of the family on the gate: Copestone. No…not her…of all people…her, not Felicia…she's Arcana? Impossible…but she's an only child…and the fact that her mother is handicapped and her father is a man…

"Ally…do you really think that…?"

"It has to be…unless Arcana is friends with Copestone…" I mumbled. And we jumped over the fencing. The Master Rubies glowed brighter little by little as we approached the front door, careful not to be seen. I jumped up to see if the ruby glowed even brighter, which it did.

"Its on the second floor." I told Elaine as I came down.

"Dammit…how are we going to get in there without being arrested?" Elaine swore through clenched teeth. This was a tough situation. That Jade is in that house…and there are security devices all along the windows and doors…the only way to get inside is to actually…be invited…to Felicia's house…

"No. Impossible…" I whispered to myself.

"What?" Elaine looked at me with concern.

 "We have to be friends with Felicia to get that jewel…." I moaned and sank to my knees, accidentally triggering a laser that ran along the bushes, setting off an alarm. We both then took off as fast as we could because the cops were there in a matter of minutes. We sat on the roof of a nearby house in the shadows watching "Princess Felicia" cry about how someone wanted to take her jewelry. She was right, we were going to steal one of her jewels…that Turmoil Jade is in her house…we have to get it.

The next morning went as usual, bus, fall, class, lunch, more class and finally we went home. Elaine came to my place and we discussed how we can get to that Jade.

"This is a lot tougher than I thought…" Elaine sighed and flopped on the pillow that was on the floor. "Should we ask for some help?"

"You don't mean Cherri and Kari do you?" I whined. I'd rather eat dirt than work with those two.

"Well…first of all…they are friends with Copestone…" Elaine led on.

"They have the same motive as us, Elaine, they'll get the jewel before we do."

"Come on, Ally, let's at least give it a shot. I'll draw up the papers for a partnership." Elaine immediately went to my computer.

"What? A partnership?" I shouted, unplugging the computer, the screen snapped off. "Are you insane? I'm not working with those two if my existence depended upon it!"

"Its probably the only way…" Elaine calmly replied.

"Call them up…" I flopped down on my bed and looked at the ceiling as Elaine took out the student directory and called up Cherri and Kari.

"All right…what is it that you two losers want?" Cherri snubbed away the soda I offered her and took a sip of her bottled water.

"We found it." Elaine and I said simply and Kari dropped the cupcake my mom had baked.

"The Emperor's Jade?" Cherri stopped drinking her water and looked at me.

"Yeah…the Jade of Turmoil." I nodded solemnly.

"Good, we'll just go and get it then." Kari smirked and then chomped down on my mother's cupcake.

"Its not that simple, Kari." Elaine said, grabbing a handful of Doritos. I always manage to have junk food stashed around my room, even if it is past its expiration date. "The jade is inside one of the most secure houses in the city, it'll be nearly impossible for us to get inside."

"That's when you two come in. Felicia Copestone is Arcana, or so we think." I added as I lit some incense.  The flame burned the stick till I knew when to snuff it out and the room suddenly smelled like lavender.

"So what are we supposed to do?" Cherri asked, picking at her nails.

"You're both friends with Felicia, I have an idea." Elaine began. "We'll have to call a truce if we're going to execute this plan successfully."

"All right." Kari and Cherri said without enthusiasm.

"Good. Here's what we propose…" I began and then worked my way into each and every detail I could possibly think of.

"You're sure this is going to work?" Cherri asked critically that same night. The four of us were perched on the roof next door to Felicia's home, we started to time the guard's rounds as he passed under the window where we were to penetrate the home. Luckily, Kari seems to be some kind of expert of deactivating security devices and was doing that with a little computer with the signal leading directly to the main house.

"Now, how are we going to distract that guard?" Kari asked, snapping the computer shut. The security system fully shut down.

"I'll take care of that…" Cherri reached into her boots, pulling out a plethora of cherry bombs and a lighter. She carefully lit them one by one and threw them far enough to have the guard run to the sound and not hear us carefully make our way into the home.

Kari swung her little axe thing and let it fly and it hit the gutter. I then took my whip and grabbed the handle of the axe so that there was a line between the two homes.  Elaine was helping Cherri by throwing a few sparks of fire around the guard while Kari crossed. Cherri then stopped and crossed after Kari. They made it to the window and motioned for me to come next. I didn't need the line, so I detached the axe from the roof with my whip and bounced to the ground and then back up to the window. Elaine did the same thing, but was still throwing fireballs around the guard till she got inside.

"We'll break up into teams." I whispered, wrapping up my whip and holding it silently. "Each team will have a ruby shard and the first team to find it, signal us with the communicators you two have." I pointed at Kari and Cherri. "Then we bust out of here as fast as we can and destroy the jade."

"You've got a plan." Cherri nodded and grabbed my wrist, "You two check the basement and the first floor, and we'll check this floor and the attic." Kari and Elaine nodded and silently made their way down the nearby stairs.

"Good thing you had them check the basement and first floor, I'm not picking up anything yet." I looked at my ruby shard which was glowing very faintly.

"Guess I'm more useful than you thought." Cherri then suddenly straightened up like a pole. There was someone moving in one of the rooms down the hall

"Crud…and Kari's telling me that they're pretty close to it too…" Cherri whispered as we tried to find someplace to hide if the person came into the corridor. We saw a closet and concealed ourselves inside just before barely detectable steps padded by the door. That has to be Felicia, she's the only one here with enough guts to do things like steal the Emperor's Jade and shatter the Master Ruby.

"What are we gonna do?"

"Distract her." I said and then busted the door down, catching the other two completely by surprise.

"Don't worry, Kiwi, I'm okay." Cherri said to her comrade who was in the basement at the time.

"Hold it right there." I ordered and cracked my whip at the moving shadow in the hall. "You're not going anywhere, Arcana." I love this power trip I'm catching.

"Hmph…I've heard that you were on my trail, Night Dancer." A voice came from the shadow and the light clicked on, revealing a guy. "You've followed the clues very well."

"You know what? Just shut up." Cherry Angel finally chimed in after arguing with Kari on the communicator. "Now who the hell are you?"

"I'm the mastermind of this operation." The guy said, "My name is Froid, Arcana is merely my servant. Now I will use all the Chaos Jewels to conquer the world!"

What kind of name is Froid? And who exactly is Froid? Sounds like a Jerry Lewis word.

"Well, you're not a very good mastermind, are ya?" I smarted off. This guy was obviously an amateur. As I said that, I noticed his face turn exceedingly red.

"Now look what you've gone and done!" Cherri cried and Froid slapped Cherri to the ground.

"You'll never get the Turmoil Jade…" he threatened. Gasp…I'm so scared…

"What?" Cherri shouted into her communicator, "ND, let's get out of here!" Since when has she been calling me ND?

"Hate to leave the party so soon, Froidy-baby…but see ya!" I saluted and helped Cherri get out the window. Kari and Elaine blasted out the front door. I leaped to the grass and the four of us bolted out of the neighborhood.

"How are we going to destroy it?" Kari asked, we surrounded the jade as it sat on the floor of Elaine's garage.

"Smash it!"  Elaine reached for a sledge hammer and swung it at the jewel but it was protected by some kind of force.

"How about sending it to that Elegant Devil chick?" I suggested, but Elaine shook her head in disagreement.

"That creep Froid might get his grubby hands on it. I could conjure a spell to get rid of the protection." Elaine suggested instead, but Cherri and Kari shook their heads.

"That'll take a lot of time, especially since we don't have a lot to spare." Kari said. Just then, Lethe swooped down in on our little gathering with a scroll or something tied to her leg. I called the raven to my shoulder and Elaine untied the note.

" 'Use the rubies'?" Elaine read, confused by the note.

"There's something on you bird, Kroger." Cherri pointed out and on Lethe's neck were two tiny shards of the Master Ruby. I grabbed the cords that kept the pendants on Lethe.

"Well…now what?" Kari asked as I handed her one of the pendants.

"Close to the jade." Elaine knelt and held out her ruby. I did the same as well as Cherri and Kari. "Ready?" We all nodded in unison. Each of us then held out our hands over the jade and it started to crack and emit an intense green light. Then, in one giant explosion, it shattered and the shards flew in all directions. We shielded our eyes as the stone flew and then dissolved into thin air.

"That was one of the freakiest and the coolest things I've ever seen…" Cherri commented after the longest silence in the history of my existence.

"I still have goose bumps from that." Kari added and then we all laughed.

"I hate to interrupt, but you ladies are far from finished." A voice cackled from behind us. We turned around, but the person had disappeared.

Far from finished…does he mean what I think he meant?

Fin                   Created: 4/5/02         Finished: 9/24/02