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It was noon at the Farmer’s Market, and the sun beamed down on the plaza’s many vendors. The Games for Everyone club were seated at their own booth, featuring several manga-style drawings juxtaposed with simple origami figures. Though Stacy and Oliver had on their regular clothes, Tori chose a sky blue shirt with a white skirt and matching leggings for this occasion.

“Sorry about my clothes, guys,” Oliver remarked about his faded brown coat and blue jeans. “I couldn’t find anything better.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Stacy responded. “Just bring a positive attitude!”

“That might be hard,” Oliver quipped. “We’ve been stuck here for hours and no one’s showed up!”

“Hey, would you rather be flipping fish n chips today?” Stacy retorted.

Oliver paused, cracking a small smile. “When you put it that way….”

He noticed Stacy staring longingly at the booth across the sidewalk. “Just don’t get too distracted, okay? We’re here to make money, not spend it.”

“But that penguin is so cute,” Stacy replied. She was getting restless as she wanted to check out the rest of the market.

Tori paid little attention to their conversation as she stared into space, dreading what people would think of her art. Suddenly, her eyes widened in surprise.

“I recognize that symbol,” Tori whispered.

Her eyes on transfixed on a girl rollerblading across the plaza, her skates decorated in red, green, and yellow stripes. In particular, she was interested in the jewel-like insignia on her back, which resembled a bird face with with wings flowing backwards from its eyes.

Oliver turned his head towards the girl. “I do too!” he concurred.

“Wait, what?” Stacy remarked quizzically.

Oliver was astonished. “You never heard of Cardcaptor Sakura, Stace?”

“I’ve heard of it. Just never watched it. Was like Yu-Gi-Oh?”

Oliver shook his head disapprovingly. “No, nothing like Yu-Gi-Oh.”

The girl skated towards the Games for Everyone booth, with wide-eyed excitement at seeing the art on display.

“Hi,” she greeted. “Wasn’t expecting to see an anime booth here. That’s some lovely art you’ve got there.”

Stacy beamed at seeing the first visitor they’ve got all morning. “Hi, my name is Stacy, and this is the work of our talented artist, Tori,” she explained as Tori blushed in embarrassment. “We’re selling arts and crafts to raise money so that Oliver here can go to university.”

Oliver was also recoiling at Stacy’s blunt revelations, but the girl smiled.

“I’m always interested in donating money to a good cause,” she replied, while turning to Tori. “Hey, you’re that dancing queen from the arcade, aren’t you?”

“You…recognize me?” Tori stuttered.

“Of course. I’ve never seen anyone so good at DDR before! And you draw manga art too? Wow, you’re really talented.”

Tori tried to catch her breath. This wasn’t the reaction she was expecting. “T-thank you!”

The girl extended her hand to a stunned Tori. “Name’s Cheryl.”

Tori returned the handshake. “That’s a lovely name, Cheryl,” she complimented.

“Thanks.”

Tori became inquisitive. “That symbol on your back…you’re a Cardcaptor Sakura fan, too?”

“Yep,” Cheryl answered. “I always wanted to learn to skate just like her.”

Cheryl gazed at a picture of a rainbow-coloured bird, primarily red, orange, and yellow, but with streaks of blue and green on her wings and tails. It resembled a golden pheasant, but with the tails and antenna crown of a peacock, and the feathers on her body looked like fish scales. In calligraphy, the drawing was signed春名鳥 in the bottom right corner.

Cheryl was intrigued. “This is really lovely.”

“It is, isn’t it? It’s a…” Stacy began, before interrupting herself. “Actually Tori, do you want to explain it?”

Tori looked like she’d rather be anywhere but here right now, but she took a deep breath.

“It’s a Ho-Oh,” she stated.

Cheryl was confused. “It doesn’t look like a Pokémon,” she remarked.

Tori paused, trying to gather her thoughts. “Well…” Tori explained. “The legend is a lot older than Pokémon. It represents the empress, and is said to only appear in times of peace and prosperity.”

“So Ash seeing Ho-Oh, it’s the same idea,” Oliver added.

“Interesting,” Cheryl responded. “But isn’t that the colour pattern of a male bird?”

“Yeah, that is pretty ironic,” Stacy quipped, smiling. “I’m still surprised at how dull female birds look in comparison.”

“Hey, they’re not dull,” Cheryl retorted. “They’re just not as fabulous as the guys.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to compete with those beauties,” Stacy concurred.

“In any case, I’d like a copy of Ho-Oh here. How much is it?”

“It’s by donation,” Stacy replied.

“Maybe…one dollar or something…?” Tori added.

Cheryl promptly slapped $10 on the counter. Tori and Oliver were astonished, but Stacy was ecstatic as she collected the money. “By the way,” she advertised. “Are you interested in joining the club?”

“A gaming club?” Cheryl replied ecstatically. “Of course I’d be interested. What are you about?”

“Nothing too complicated,” Stacy explained. “We’re just a bunch of geeks who love games. There’s no initiation or anything; just come as you are!”

“Any other events coming up?”

Stacy paused, nervously trying to come up with a response.

“Honestly, we’re kind of a work in progress,” Oliver remarked.

“I don’t mind,” Cheryl answered, as Stacy breathed a sigh of relief. “I’d love to be a part of it, and you guys seem pretty cool. When do you meet?”

“Our club meets every Monday at noon,” Oliver responded. “You can meet us in the commons area around that time.”

“Sounds great,” Cheryl agreed. “I’ll see you all at the club. Bye!”

The trio waved goodbye. “See you Monday!” Stacy cried out.

She skated off to explore more of the vendors as Stacy sorted the money into the till, Tori held her head low trying to avoid attention from other passer-byers, and Oliver stared into the distance. He was then distracted by a random thought.

“Come to think of it,” Oliver said. “I used to think Tori was a boy’s name.”

Tori promptly turned backwards from the counter, hiding her uncontrollably blushing face with her hands.

Oliver was confused. “What did I say?”

“It can go both ways,” Stacy replied disapprovingly. “And it doesn’t matter anyway.”

Upon hearing this, Oliver too blushed in embarrassment. “Sorry, Tori.”

—-

That Monday, Cheryl and Ren joined Stacy, Oliver, and Tori in their usual meeting spot.

“Glad you could make it this time,” Oliver greeted Ren.

“Hey, I did say I’d come at some point,” Ren answered.

“Hi Ren,” Stacy interjected. “You came just in time to meet our newest member.”

Cheryl introduced herself. “Hey Ren. My name’s Cheryl.”

“Hi Cheryl,” Ren greeted back. “You’re that cool skater chick, right.”

“Wait, how did you know that?” Cheryl asked, a bit flustered.

“Oliver told me.”

Oliver and Cheryl looked at each other, smiling in embarrassment.

“Say, I haven’t seen you around Pollock Secondary before,” Ren continued.

“My family moved here a while ago,” Cheryl responded. “I’m still getting settled in.”

“Well, let us know what we can do to make you feel welcome,” Stacy said cheerfully.

Cheryl was grateful for her offer. “Thanks. I really appreciate it. Everyone seems nice here so far. Say, how did the sale go?”

“We made 50 bucks!” Stacy replied, trying to stay optimistic.

“Half of which went towards the booth in the first place,” Oliver added dejectedly.

Tori had been very quiet up until this point. “You know,” she interjected. “It was just our first time doing this. Now that we have some experience, I’m sure we’ll be able to raise more money next time.”

“Tori’s right,” Cheryl added encouragingly. “And honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to see you guys at the Farmer’s Market. It made me feel more comfortable to know fellow nerds here.”

Stacy and Oliver smiled. “Thanks, you guys,” Stacy replied.

“I was feeling the same way,” Oliver added. “It was like, finally, someone our age!”

“I understand how you feel,” Cheryl responded.

Ren turned to Tori. “By the way, thanks again for the Chocobo.”

Tori smiled. “Glad you liked it. It was fun, seeing everyone so excited at the market.”

“But Tori,” Stacy interjected in surprise. “You looked like you couldn’t wait to get out of there!”

“I know,” Tori explained. “Being around so many people was scary at first. But looking back, it was fun! I’m glad that I came with you, and I hope to do it again some time!”

Stacy was touched. She admired how bright Tori’s face looked for a while, then turned back to Cheryl.

“So, what brings you to Cedar Grove?” she asked.

“Well, for one thing, it’s nice to get away from all that snow,” Cheryl responded. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yeah, but why here, of all places? Wouldn’t you rather be in the city?”

“Do I look like I’m made of money?”

“Point taken. But this place is so boring! Nothing ever happens here.”

“Really? Being close to the river and mountains is nothing?”

“Yeah, it looks nice, but all the houses look the same and people seem to only care about their lawns. Dad’s a good example of that.”

“Oh, I see. Still, I don’t think everyone is like that. I’ve met some pretty cool folk at the roller derby club, for instance.”

Stacy’s eyes widened and she leaned forward, intrigued by what she mentioned. “We have a roller derby club?” she exclaimed.

“Well, someone seems excited all of a sudden,” Cheryl replied cheekily.

“I’ve always wanted to try it out,” Stacy answered happily. “The idea of just us girls duking it out, sounds like a lot of fun. Where do I sign up?”

“Well, if you come down to the arena Wednesday night, they have a free drop-in session for newcomers to try out. But it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to work out and practice a lot, and expect a few bruises.”

“Deal! Say, how about we all go together as a club?”

“Even the boys?”

“What do you mean by that?” Oliver snapped.

“We’d like to play, too!” Ren added.

“Well,” Cheryl began nervously. “The Cedar Grove team is only accepting girls right now, since we don’t have a boys’ team.”

“Aw, that’s not fair,” Oliver protested.

Stacy then offered her input. “Can’t we let them play this one time?” she asked Cheryl. “It’s a drop-in session, after all, and it’ll be a fun experience for the club.”

“I too am curious to see how Oliver and Ren fare,” Cheryl concurred. “And I don’t recall any rule that says boys can’t play at all. So I think it’ll be fine. Just hope you boys are woman enough.”

“Yeah,” Stacy added, bemused. “If you think it’s just some cutesy sport, think again. Roller derby is a full contact sport, and we’re going to be pushing each other around a lot.”

“Sounds like an average day at the soccer field for me,” Oliver said.

“I’m used to eating grass, so I’m ready!” Ren added.

Stacy smiled. “Okay, so that’s four of us. What about you, Tori?”

“Um…” Tori stuttered. “I’m not sure if I can do this. I’m not good at sports. I can never keep up with everyone else in gym class.”

“Aw, c’mon,” Cheryl coaxed. “You’ll never know what it’s like until you try. You might surprise yourself.”

“Hmm….” Tori pondered. “Okay, I’m in, then!”

“Woo-hoo!” Stacy cheered. “We got a team! Now we just need to come up with names.”

“Aw, do we really need some cheesy nickname?” Oliver complained.

“Yes,” Cheryl snapped. “Where’s your sense of fun? I thought you said you were woman enough for this.”

Oliver sighed. “Fine. I’ll try to come up with something that isn’t too embarrassing….”

—-

“Sakura Bladerunner! Great to see you again!”

At the entrance to the Cedar Grove arena, a blonde girl in a white tank top featuring a bloody camellia on its back ran up and hugged Cheryl.

“Wait,” Stacy interjected, confused. “I still don’t get the name. We don’t use inline skates.”

“I know,” Cheryl responded. “But does Quadrunner sound as cool?”

“Kind of, actually,” Stacy answered. “But I see your point.”

“Good. Anyway, this is Sofia, who goes by the nickname Carmellia’s Kiss. She’s the leader of our local youth team, ‘The Beemobile.’”

The club members chuckled at the name while Sofia glanced at them warily. “Who are the guests?”

“We’re the Skater Nerds!” Stacy replied. “And I’m Freewheeler Jade!”

“Olly Riot!” Oliver chimed in excitedly, without a hint of embarrassment.

“Falcon…Jam!.” Ren added.

Tori just stared blankly as Sofia turned her attention to her.

“And what’s your derby name?” Sofia asked.

Tori blushed, too anxious to speak.

“C’mon Tori,” Stacy encouraged her.

“Ro…Ro…” Tori stuttered. “Rollerbee Gale!” she blurted out before hanging her head in shame.

Sofia paused, then lent a hand to Tori. “That’s not bad, actually.”

Tori looked up, still unable to say a word, but smiled at her, returning the handshake.

“We’re new to roller derby,” Stacy answered. “But it looks like a lot of fun. Do you think we can play a few games with you?”

Sofia sighed. “Just for fun, eh? I was hoping for someone more dedicated. But fine. Only because you’re Cheryl’s friends. Get changed, and we’ll meet back in the gym to see what you’re made of.”

—-

Stacy and Cheryl were in the change room, all dressed up in protective gear. Cheryl was wearing a pink tank top, with the Clow insignia on her back, and with a star on her helmet signifying her jammer role. In contrast, Stacy’s T-shirt was green and featured an Ox Talisman.

“Sofia didn’t look too happy to see us,” Stacy told Cheryl. “She probably thinks we’re a bunch of losers.”

“Don’t take it like that,” Cheryl consoled her. “She can be hard on newer players, but she just wants everyone to do their best. You just need to show that you have the spirit roller derby in you.”

“Spirit of roller derby?” Stacy repeated, puzzled. “Does that mean ‘believe in yourself’ or ‘never give up’ or something like that?”

“You’ll see when we’re out on the track,” Cheryl answered.

Stacy sighed. “I expected it to be something ambiguous.”

“I know, but you have no idea what roller derby is really like until you experience it first-hand.”

“I suppose. Well, I’ll just have to show Carmellia’s Kiss I’m no shrimp!”

“That’s what I like to hear!”

Cheryl then turned to a room with closed curtains.

“You okay there, Tori?” she asked.

“I think so,” Tori called back. “I just hope I look all right.”

“Well, come out and we’ll check,” Cheryl replied.

Tori opened the curtains. She was wearing a long sleeved blue shirt and black sweatpants underneath her protective gear.

After a quick examination, Cheryl declared, “You’re fine.”

—-

The boys joined the girls in the hallway outside the change rooms. Oliver was wearing a Neymar Jr. jersey while Ren had on a black T-shirt decorated with flames.

“Ready, guys?” Cheryl called out to her teammates.

Everyone nodded as they walked into the gym.

“Remember, do whatever you can to stop Carmellia’s Kiss from getting ahead.”

“She doesn’t look that tough,” Oliver scoffed. “We can take her, right, Ren? Stacy?”

“Indeed,” Stacy agreed. “I can’t wait.”

“Why’d they pick her as leader, anyway?” Ren asked Cheryl. “The other girls are bigger than her.”

“Don’t get cocky,” Cheryl retorted disapprovingly. “She may be little, but she’s always got tricks up her sleeve. ”

Sofia and her teammates were already gathered in front of a woman with the name “Eye of the Tiger Mom” blazed on her back. Stacy gasped while Cheryl glanced towards her, amused at her reaction.

“Auntie?”

“Hi, Stacy,” Aunt Zhao called out. “Didn’t know you were so interested in roller derby.”

“You…” Stacy stuttered. “You never told me you played on the local team!”

“That’s because we barely ever talk,” Stacy’s aunt retorted.

Stacy looked down. “Sorry about that,” she replied guiltily, before suddenly smiling. “But…Uncle’s an arcade veteran, you’re a roller derby star…my family’s so cool!”

Mrs. Zhao smiled. “Thought I was just some housewife, did you? Now you know my secret identity.”

Stacy paused for a while, rendered speechless in excitement. “We should play together some time! I can’t wait to see who else is here!”

“Well, you can find out later. Right now, it’s your turn to play, kids!”

Stacy nodded as the teams took their positions. Cheryl and Sofia skated to the starting line, while the rest of The Beemobile formed an arced wall in front of them. The Skater Nerds, seeing this tactic, followed suit in front of them.

“Okay, girls…and boys,” she announced. “I, Mrs. Zhao, will act as referee for these rounds so that no one gets hurt. Ready?”

A girl on the sidelines started up the music: Escape from the City by Crush 40.

“Wait, is this…” Ren stammered.

“Yep,” Cheryl interjected. “It was my turn to pick the music today. Gotta go fast!”

“You have good taste,” Ren whispered back as Mrs. Zhao blew her whistle to begin the game.

Carmellia’s Kiss and Sakura Bladerunner skated towards opposite ends of The Beemobile wall. A large skater named Lilly Ridebetter moved towards Bladerunner, trapping her at the edge of the track while Carmellia plowed ahead. Falcon Jam was on one side of the wall, and prepared to engage her, but she zig-zagged away from him towards Olly Riot on the other side. Blindsided, Olly rushed to stop her, inadvertently creating an opening for Carmellia to get through as she pushed him aside.

“Carmellia’s Kiss is now the lead jammer!” Mrs. Zhao called out.

“Dang it!” Olly yelled as he got up.

Sakura Bladerunner finally managed to shove aside Lilly Ridebetter as she passed in pursuit of Carmellia’s Kiss. The Beemobile started pursuing the Skater Nerds in an attempt to break up their wall formation just before Carmellia caught up to them. She took a hold of Quadrachromia Iridis’s hand, whipping forward to gain speed. Seeing Rollerbee Gale’s frightened expression, she rode right towards her, causing her to flinch and break her hold on Freewheeler Jade. Satisfied at passing the group, she tapped her hands twice on her hips as Mrs. Zhao blew the whistle, just as Sakura Bladerunner was catching up to The Beemobile.

“And Carmellia’s Kiss scores 4 points for The Beemobile!” Mrs. Zhao yelled.

“Wait, what?” Stacy cried.

“Didn’t you know?” Sofia responded, shaking her head. “The lead jammer can call off the round at any time.”

Stacy blushed. “…I knew that. Was just surprised, that’s all.”

“Sorry guys,” Tori told her team.

“It’s not your fault,” Cheryl replied as she caught up. “But you guys staying together allowed Sofie to pass you all at once.”

Stacy grimaced. “So we’ll just have to come up with a better plan.”

The next few jams were similarly unsuccessful for the Skater Nerds. Carmellia’s Kiss continued to use her feint technique to get ahead as lead jammer. This time, they tried using a zig-zag formation to throw her off, but she effortlessly slalomed past them.

“Another 4 points for The Beemobile!”

For their third jam, they tried staying closer together while being more aggressive. Freewheeler Jade began the pursuit, but Carmellia’s Kiss pulled away at the last second, causing Jade to trip and fall out of bounds. Olly Riot and Falcon Jam tried to trap her in a pincer formation, but she suddenly decelerated, causing them to crash into each other as she casually rolled by. That left Rollerbee Gale to fend for herself. She tried to face her head-on, but seeing her approach ever close was too much for her, and she once again flinched.

“Yet another 4 points for The Beemobile!”

Distraught, Stacy and the gang decided to take a break on the bench.

“This is harder than I thought,” Oliver complained to Cheryl.

“Yeah, girls are pretty tough, aren’t we?” Cheryl taunted.

“I spent hours watching roller derby videos online,” Stacy moaned. “But actually playing is something else. Sorry for letting you down, Cheryl. Maybe we’re not cut out for this.”

“You didn’t let me down,” Cheryl consoled her. “Regardless of how today went, it was fun to try this out with new friends.”

Sofia suddenly showed up at the bench. “So you’re just going to give up?” she demanded. “Fine. You wasted enough of our practice time.”

Stacy got up and stared angrily at her. “No way!” she cried as she turned to her teammates. “C’mon guys, we can’t go out looking like total losers!”

“But I’m tired,” Tori whined.

Ren and Oliver stood up along with Stacy. “Yeah, we’re not quitters!” Oliver added.

“Let’s go again, just one last time!” Ren demanded.

Sofia shrugged. “You can’t play with a woman down.”

Tori, not wanting to hold the team back, stood up as well. Sofia was mildly impressed at their determination.

“Okay, but this is your last chance.”

—-

Carmellia’s Kiss once again gained the advantage over Sakura Bladerunner. Her expression was confident that this jam would turn out just like any other.

We got to think of something, Freewheeler Jade thought, as they fled from the pursuit of the Beemobile.

Suddenly, Lilly Ridebetter noticed Sakura Bladerunner trailing closely behind Carmellia’s Kiss, and The Beemobile changed course towards their opposing jammer. Rollerbee Gale, who was lagging behind, noticed Carmellia coming towards her once again.

“Oh no, Tori!” Freewheeler Jade cried. Her two teammates rushed towards Rollerbee Gale as Carmellia’s Kiss once again put on a smirk, expecting to intimidate her once again.

She approached ever closer. Rollerbee Gale closed her eyes, fearing that she would let her team down yet again. She leaned towards Carmellia’s Kiss, and felt her body push against Carmellia’s. She suddenly felt a shoving force against her back, and felt her hands hit the floor. When she opened her eyes, Carmellia’s Kiss was staggered with a shocked expression on her face.

Sakura Bladerunner smiled. She was in the middle of a shoving match with Lilly Ridebetter, and seeing her teammates stop Carmellia gave her the confidence boost she needed to push her aside and glide past her. Carmellia’s Kiss, regaining her senses, frantically tapped her hands on her hips to stop the jam.

“One point to Skater Nerds!” Mrs. Zhao cried.

“We did it!” Ren yelled out.

“You did it, Tori,” Stacy told her.

Tori was stunned as she got up from the floor. “No, I didn’t,” she argued. “Cheryl scored the point, and you all helped stop Sofia. We all did it!”

Oliver smiled. “I’m just glad we didn’t get completely owned, that’s all.”

The Beemobile sans Sofia rolled towards the Skater Nerds to congratulate them on the game.

“Good game, all,” Lily complimented them.

“Yeah, that was quite an ending!” Iris added. “Never expected you to get the better of Sofia like that.”

Sofia stood there, mouth agape. Her expression then relaxed into a smile, as if she finally was allowed to take off a mask. Suddenly, the door opened, and a pack of women entered the gym.

“How did practice go, honey?” a woman in dreadlocks called out to Cheryl. Emblazoned on her tank was the title JJ Top.

“Awesome, mom!” she called out. “My new friends decided to join in today!”

“Oh, so we have new team members?” she responded.

“Not exactly, Jen,” Mrs. Zhao told her. “They just wanted to try it out for the experience.”

“Well, I say the more people interested in roller derby, the better,” contributed a woman calling herself Babylon Legs.

Tori gasped. “Ms. Rama?”

“Oh, hi, Tori,” Ms. Rama greeted with a smile.

Tori cringed. “I thought you were mad at me for doodling in class.”

Ms. Rama shrugged. “Whatever happens in school, stays in school.”

Sofia finally spoke up. “Still, Ms. Rama,” she began. “I thought you were unfair to Tori, singling her out in front of class like that.”

Ms. Rama sighed. “You’re right. I should have talked to her outside class. Teaching is such a stressful job. I know Tori’s having trouble with math, but I just don’t know what to do sometimes. I wish I had more time to spend with her one-on-one.”

“Really?” Mrs. Zhao asked, adding in a mocking tone, “I thought you were all lazy bums with two months paid vacation.”

Ms. Rama rolled her eyes. “Rob Smith, right? I can’t stand that guy.”

“Join the club,” Cheryl’s mom, Ms. Jackson concurred.

“Wait, you’re in the same year as Tori?” Stacy asked Sofia.

“Yep, we take most of our Grade 11 classes together,” she replied, smiling at Tori as the latter stared at her anxiously, upset that she didn’t have the courage to acknowledge this herself.

Stacy, Oliver, and Ren hung their heads, embarrassed to be outplayed by someone younger than them.

“Look, it doesn’t matter how old anyone is,” Cheryl told them. “It’s a sport for all ages. We have grandmas playing here too.”

“Everyone is welcome here,” her mother agreed. “After all, this town can get pretty boring sometimes, especially for us stay-at-home moms. Roller derby gives us a bit of excitement every once in a while.”

The three of them looked up at the women in the crowd. “That’s amazing!” Oliver commented.

Stacy looked around frantically. “Yeah! I never imagined people in this town could be so cool! It’s too bad I’m not good enough for the team. But Auntie, do you think we can play together some other time?”

Sofia walked towards her. “Say, you interested in joining The Beemobile?”

“Wait, what?” Stacy exclaimed. “But we sucked back there.”

“It’s your personality that matters most,” Sofia grinned. “And I like your enthusiasm. It doesn’t matter if you start off physically and technically weak. We can train that, but attitude is harder to fix. A lot of girls come in only interested in the glamour and chicken out when they realize all the hard work that goes into it.

“You mean you were just acting, to teach me a lesson about the spirit of roller derby?” Stacy asked, dumbfounded.

Sofia glared at Cheryl. “What did you tell her?” she snapped. Cheryl merely shrugged and chuckled.

“So, Freewheeler Jade,” Cheryl began. “It’s a lot of hard work, and a lot of strenuous exercise, but do you think you’re up for it?”

Stacy smiled. “You bet!” she yelled as she group hi-fived everyone on the team.

“What about us?” Ren asked.

Sofia glanced towards them. “We don’t get many boys singing up. Perhaps you could start a trend, recruit a bunch of other boys, and be the first male roller derby players in Cedar Grove!”

Oliver and Ren pondered, thinking about the sheer responsibility that would come with that. “Nah, we’re good,” Oliver answered sheepishly as Ren nodded.

“Alright, it’s jam time!” Mrs. Jackson called out to her teammates as they skated out to the rink to the tune of Like the Wind from Power Drift. The team called Skater Nerds for one day sat on the bench with The Beemobile, watching the adults in awe. Tori reached into her bag and got out her sketchbook to record the day’s events, starting with an image of her new friend riding the wind.

—-

“Dear Lydia,

Today was amazing! Our new friend and club member, Cheryl, invited us to play a few rounds of roller derby. We…kind of sucked, but at least we managed to score one point, so we’re not complete losers. And I never expected it, but my aunt was there, and so was Cheryl’s mom and Tori’s math teacher. It was like a secret society for the women of Cedar Grove!

And the news only gets better. I made the team! Turns out that they were just looking for someone with the right attitude, and I can learn to not suck. Eventually. I can’t wait to strap my quads on again.

I’m so happy to see our club expanding. Maybe I have what it takes after all!

Yours truly,

Freewheeler Jade, a.k.a. Stacy Nazarenko”

Stacy breathed a sigh of relief. It was pitch-black outside, but if being tired always felt this good, she could get used to it. She was ready to go to bed, when she received a reply.

“Hi Stacy,

Ooh, a roller derby chick. Sounds like someone that could help you put some muscle on J.

You have amazing friends. Someday, when we meet again, I hope I can meet Cheryl and the others.

Anyways, congratulations! It sounds like you’re getting the hang of the club. And I hope you enjoy roller derby. As fun as it looks, I could never get used to skating. Perhaps you and Cheryl could send me a potion with some of that attitude? It might help.

Love,

That Millennial Girl, Lydia Li

李雪芬”

Stacy chuckled. “Oh, Lydie. An attitude potion? You’re so silly sometimes.”

She then gazed at Lydia’s self-assigned nickname curiously. That Millennial Girl, she thought. What does she mean by that?

(next)

(table of contents)

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