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Life was such a funny thing. It was like a rollercoaster, having highs and lows. The highs usually come right after you hit your lowest lows. Well, that's how life was supposed to be like. My rollercoaster was still going downwards, ready to deposit me into the deepest depths of hell. I started to grind my teeth slowly in frustration. 


"Are you ready?" Victoria asked with a smirk on her face. 


"Let me move my hands real quick." 


"I think you're grabbing it too hard." 


"I've never done this before, so I wouldn't know." 


"Relax a little and loosen your grip." 


"Like this?" 


"Yup. How does it feel?" 


"Much better." 


"Good. I hope you're ready to lose because I am the master of foosball." Victoria's lazy smirk only grew from her side of the foosball table. I had never played foosball, you needed friends for games such as these, and I'm pretty sure that I'm in the negatives when it came to friendships. 


"I'm sure you'll find that I'm a quick learner." I replied dryly with a sardonic smile on my face.  Victoria's hands hovering over the rubber handles of the bars that allow them to spin their 'soccer players'. Bouncing on her feet, Victoria looks confident in her skills. She took off her leather jacket and placed it on a chair near us. 


Based on her current actions and information I have previously gleaned during my research, Victoria's playstyle was obvious. 


I narrowed my eyes as she grabbed a coin, ready to flip it. 


Victoria's playstyle will be aggressive. Her fights that were circulating PHO and the local news would simply confirm my theory. She will attempt to land the first strike and take advantage of my confusion. 


"Heads or tails?" 


"Tails." I replied automatically, my eyes staring at the coin as it started flying upwards. Was I overthinking this? Perhaps, but I wasn't about to let Victoria win after all of that smack she talked up. 


How would I come on top in this battle? If I played defensively I would fall into her trap, allowing her to win. My only path to victory? 


Let's just say that the best defense is a strong offense. 




The game began as I anticipated, with Victoria playing aggressively as soon as the small ball came into play. Expecting me to shrink back from her assault, I did the opposite of what Victoria expected me to do. I met her aggressive play with my own, catching her off guard. I managed to score a point. 


"Have you played before?" Victoria raised an eyebrow. The ball came back into play as she struck, spinning her little foosball men. 


"Nope, I don't have any friends to come here with." The words came out of my mouth without thinking. Victoria's mouth formed an O, so I scored another point in her confusion after a small skirmish between our foossoldiers in the center. 


"Hey! That's cheating!" Cheating? Perhaps, but she never said that we were pausing in the middle of the game. 


"It's not my fault you were distracted." I smirked as the ball returned to the court, ready to be fought over in bloody combat. 


The game continued for a bit after that, with Victoria managing to score several times in a row, but they would have cost her greatly if this was a real battle. Sadly, my lack of actual experience with the game narrowly cost me the victory. 


I lost by one point. 


"I told you I was going to win." Victoria said as she happily ate an overpriced chocolate bar she bought from the concession stand. She gave me a sharp glare. "Are you a natural or something? I had to use five percent of my skill instead of the one I always use when playing against mortals." She started giggling. 


"I'm obviously a Thinker that can read your mind." I replied sardonically. Victoria started full out laughing with that. 


She wiped a tear from her eye. "I wish you were a Thinker, then you could tell me what my boyfriend is up to." She said it jokingly, but I didn't believe her tone. I had to pinch myself to stop me from smirking. 


We sat there in silence for a second, the sound of other kids skipping school as they played retro games filling the air. 


"You know, when I walked up to you, I was pretty sure that I was going to scare you away. Well, either that or ask me for my autograph." Victoria sighed as she finished her chocolate. "Don't get me wrong, being famous and all is pretty great, but sometimes I wish people saw me as more than just a hero, you know? 


Why was she talking to me about this? We just met a few hours ago. I gave her a glance out of the corner of my eye. She's holding onto the wrapper of the chocolate bar tightly. Is it stress from being a hero? Possibly burnout or something similar. Or was she just lonely despite the sea of people that most likely surrounded her? People trying to use her to get close to Panacea? 


"I can see why you want people to see you as more than just a hero." I said slowly, picking my words carefully. "You must have your own dreams under the costume." 


Victoria shrugged in return. "It is what it is." Her phone buzzed softly. Glancing at the notification, her eyes widened. "Ah shit, I forgot I needed to pick my sister up for lunch." 


She stood up and flashed me a large grin. "I had fun today, Taylor." She's giving me a real smile, not one of those 'public' smiles. 


"I did too." I stood up slowly as I pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose. 


"Can I have your phone number? We should do this again soon, Amy's pretty good at Pac-Man." She pointed over her shoulder towards the arcade machine with Pac-Man written on top. 


"I uh, don't have a cellphone, house rules and all that. I can only use the house phone." I scratched the back of my head. This was foreign territory for me. Even before Emma, I wasn't the most social of people. Even Thrawn had more friends than I had, Ar'alani, Eli, and Thalias immediately popped into mind. If Thrawn was a real person in some other world, did they miss him? Ziara, now known to the galaxy as Admiral Ar'alani, always had Thrawn's back no matter how insane his plans were. Poor girl must've had a crush on the former Grand Admiral since she never tried smashing his head against the wall with all of the trouble he caused. 


"Oh, one of those parents. Don't worry about it." Looking around for a piece of paper, Victoria ripped an old advertisement for some pizza place from the wall and pulled out a marker from her leather jacket's pocket. She wrote down her number on the back and handed it to me. "Don't sell the number to the paparazzi, it's annoying having to change phone numbers." 


"I won't." I pocketed the piece of paper. Victoria beamed and bowed dramatically as we started walking out. 


"Don't be a stranger my friend. I shall await your summons." Victoria gave me a mock salute and moved to leave, pausing at the last second. 


"You should really get some sleep. The corners of your eyes are red." 


I hate life. 



I finished my copy of Chaos Rising. I liked Ziara/Ar'alani's interactions with Thrawn. The insight into Chiss culture was refreshing, and I enjoyed the difference with the Unknown Regions. Time to start on Greater Good.