Chapter Eighteen, Dark Decisions

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Hey Sean, feel free to pick me up tonight for training

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Hey Sean, feel free to pick me up tonight for training. It's a go. :)

Bennie cringed as she sent the text. She felt massively guilty about lying to the Guardians, as well as going behind her mom's back, and she also hated the thought of what might happen when it all came out, if it did before she managed to actually get permission from her mom. But she didn't know what else to do. She needed to train, and not in three years when she as eighteen and could legally speak for herself, but now, before the world got any worse.

Sean showed up to get her shortly after Sandra went to bed, and if he doubted Bennie's text about training in Pelanca being "a go" he said nothing, preferring to joke about whether or not they should seek permission from her about their forays to Washington.

"Let's leave that at the 'forgiveness rather than permission' status for now!" Bennie said, sweating a little.

"Don't want to push your luck?" Sean grinned, then transformed and flew them to Pelanca.

Perce and Gem both looked delighted to see Bennie accompanying Sean.

"She gave in?" Perce said.

"Mom never 'gives in,'" Bennie rolled her eyes. "But she gets the concept of me being safer here."

"I'm glad," Perce smiled and Bennie felt a knot form in her stomach.

The knot didn't last long though, as she fell back into training and remembered how much she loved it, especially now she got to work alongside Rachel, Peter and their classmates.

"Bennie I don't think you've lost a thing on your shotgun technique since I last saw you," Perce said when he checked her progress. "Have you been practicing?"

"Not as much as I would like," Bennie said, pleased. "I mean, I can't do much when I can only practice in my room at 3am. I'm glad I didn't lose anything!"

"Muscle memory is awesome when it works," Perce grinned. "I'll start you on some new drills tomorrow and tonight we'll just refine this one. You're still spraying a little wide."

"Hey Perseus," Peter called over from where he was learning new diamond formations from some blueprints Hugh, the dwarf who supplied Peter's stones, had drafted. "Do you think you could teach Bennie how to use that fire to make me extra diamonds from coal?"

"Diamonds don't actually come from coal," Fleta said, handing him some more designs.

"Not to mention you'd need pressure," Rachel said. "Bennie doesn't make earthquakes or control tectonic movement."

"Is that a power?" Bennie asked.

"Not that I know of," Perce said. "I guess if Peter teams with other types of stone shifters you might get something like an earthquake, but I don't think anyone could cause a true tectonic shift."

"Not to mention you can hardly find enough stone shifters in a generation to mentally move mountains," Peter said.

"So no moving mountains outside of faith," Bennie grinned, "But I could make a mean barbecue."

"Ew!" Jinx and Gem said in unison.

"I could make kabobs!" Bennie protested. "If you don't want meat!"

"Ok, I really want to see this now!" Rachel said, and they all laughed.

"Well I do have vegetables at my place," Fleta said.

"And we are in a park," Perce looked at Bennie with a twinkle in his eye.

"Are you guys serious?" Bennie said.

Fifteen minutes after they finished training Bennie found herself actually learning how to grill vegetables with her flames at the picnic area in the park. Peter worked beside her at the table, chopping the vegetables with his diamond knife, while the rest of the gang scrambled to find plates, napkins, and drinks.

"Well at least we know we can survive in the wilderness if we don't have matches," Bennie said to him when he apologized for accidentally setting her up into making everyone a late dinner.

"You make the fire, I'll catch the game?" He waved his knife at her and she grinned, but it faded when she remembered that he had used the same blade to fight an evil creature, just like she had used her own.

"What?" Peter noticed her smile disappear.

"Remember earlier, you said you had to fight with a fellow Guardian in front of your friends?"

"Oh yeah," Peter's face fell.

"Am I allowed to ask what happened?"

"Yeah it's not really secret I guess," Peter went back to chopping vegetables. "The original portal I took to Pelanca was compromised by a turned Guardian. None of us knew until the one I helped was ambushed as he came through. There's not usually any action in my area; I'm the only local Guardian, but this guy had been hopscotching along the West Coast trying to shake his assailants after his cover was blown, but they beat him to the portal at that point. I was just hanging out by my school one minute, and the next this—I don't actually know what it was—this thing—was killing one of us, and I had to act fast."

Peter wouldn't look at her.

"Killing isn't the same in real life as it is in computer and video games."

"Don't I know it," Bennie said, turning the first set of kabobs over and blasting them with her flames. "Even when you get that you had no choice, you still feel a little darker inside."

"Yeah, darker," Peter looked back at Bennie, and she gave him a reassuring nod.

"So who should we test the first kabobs on?" She said, the grins returning to both their faces.


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