Chapter Sixteen, Schemes

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Bennie sulked the next day after working off some of her pent-up frustration on the soccer field. It was the end of July, and soccer practice was pausing until school started, which only made her miserable, because she needed the outlet now more than ever.

How the heck was she supposed to convince her mom to let her train in Pelanca? She'd have to tell her the reason, which would only make her mom freak out all the more about how dangerous "the whole Guardian business" was and then she would prevent Bennie from training at all.

Is there any way I can actually get her to say yes?

Bennie groaned, sprawled on her floor under the ceiling fan, trying to cool down from the San Antonio summer heat, and her own anger.

Her phone rang. Bennie rolled over and pulled it out of her gym bag, checking the number.

"206? I don't recognize that area code," Bennie said to herself, lying back and watching the phone finish ringing, to see if the mystery caller left a message.

Even better, a text came through:

Hey Bennie it's Sean! I'm on Peter's phone because mine is dead. Call ASAP!

"Sorry, I didn't recognize the area code," Bennie said when she called back.

"That's because we're in Seattle," Sean said, laughing.

"Seattle?" Bennie said. "What are you doing in Seattle?"

"Peter lives in Seattle!" Sean replied. Bennie could hear Peter laughing in the background.

"Okay," Bennie said. "So it definitely made more sense to meet up in Pelanca the other night."

"Indeed," Sean said. "And that's sort of related to the reason we're calling. Peter and I are bored out of our brains and want to have an impromptu War Arts tournament, but we need more nerds. Gem doesn't play these games and while we have a couple of Pete's friends, here and online, we thought you might be interested.

"I've never played War Arts," Bennie said. "Not to mention I don't think my mom would appreciate me gallivanting off to Seattle."

"Just tell your mom you're going to your friend's house for the day!" Peter said. "We'll teach you how to play."

"That rhymed," a strange voice said from a distance. "Peter's a poet!"

"Shut up, Mason." Peter said, evidently over his shoulder, before turning back to the phone. "So how about it? Sean will come over and show you which way to Seattle from Pelanca and—"

"You guys!" Bennie said laughing. "I just got off soccer practice! I'm sweaty! I stink. And after I have my shower I'd have to blow dry my hair before I could go anywhere because it likes to frizz."

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