Disclaimer: You know the drill; do I REALLY need to say it? Don't own and never will.
AN: First up, I am very sorry to have left you all waiting so long for an update to this fic. I've put up a poll on my profile as to which fic I should focus on finishing after I finish Swordmaster, so feel free to go over and vote.
"We won, we won, we won! Can you believe it, we actually won!" Hay Lin practically screeched as she bounced up and down with excitement, running up to and hugging each member of the team in turn. And a few random people working in the compound as well.
"We TOTALLY ROCKED!" Irma bellowed, sticking her two thumbs up and her eyes danced with amusement. "Oh yeah, we bad!"
"If you insist on being loud water-brain, be loud SOMEWHERE ELSE," Cornelia growled as she rubbed her head. "Some of us are still feeling it."
"Aww, does wittle Corny want me to wub it better?" Irma asked sarcastically with a twinkle in her eye and Cornelia glared.
"Don't call me Corny!" she snapped, before her expression softened and she gave Irma a predatory grin. "At least not until our celebrations…later," she finished. Irma licked her lips and gave Cornelia a predatory grin.
"Why wait Corny?" she challenged, before tackling the blonde girl and kissing and tickling every part of her she could reach. Giggling, Cornelia started to retaliate in kind and soon the two girls were wrestling on the ground. Taranee and Will rolled their eyes.
"Will you two get a room?" Will asked irritably. "I get you two are madly in love and have far too much chemistry going off to ignore one another, but the rest of us aren't so lucky."
"What's the matter Willster? Afraid of joining the dark side?" Irma asked sardonically, sitting up. "We have cookies you know."
"Tempting. But no thanks," Will replied slightly nervously as Irma smirked at her. Cornelia raised an eyebrow at her and turned Irma's face back towards her.
"Am I not good enough for you?" she pouted with mock hurt. Irma shrugged.
"You know me Corny, I thought I'd make things more…interesting," Irma replied and Cornelia raised an eyebrow once more.
"Interesting?" She asked with an amused look on her face. "Oh I'll show you interesting!"
"Oh yeah Corny?" Irma challenged and Cornelia smirked as she tackled Irma.
"Oh I can think of a few things," she replied and Taranee put her hand on Will's shoulder.
"I think we'd better go, before their chemistry becomes too much for them to handle," she whispered and Will nodded. Before they could leave however, a voice cut in across the courtyard that stopped everything.
"Congratulations girls, you've done very well" Serena boomed as she approached them. "All of the gaming boards are talking about you as one of the most promising new teams this year."
"Ohhh, that's really, really cool! Do you think we'll make it all the way to the top? Even earn our freedom?" Hay Lin asked as she bounced around and Will and Cornelia rolled their eyes.
"I don't think he's really going to let us go? We're too much of a political liability and Phobos is notorious for not granting ANYONE their freedom," Cornelia pointed out and for a moment, Hay Lin's smile dimmed slightly, before she brightened up again.
"Then we'll be the first!" she exclaimed brightly as she continued to bounce, looking hopefully at Serena. "We'll just have to be supergood!"
"Is that even a word Hay-Hay?" Irma asked as she looked up from the ground, but Hay Lin simply shrugged her shoulders dismissively.
"Phhft! Who cares? WE'LL be the first!" she exclaimed happily, her face alight with glee. "We can do it, right Mistress?"
Serena hesitated and thought for a moment. On one hand, Phobos was not a good man and he was notorious for holding a grudge. Then again, there was always the possibility that Phobos could be persuaded to grant their freedom. Or he could fail to survive the next assassination attempt; Princess Elyon was notorious for her kinder disposition than her brother.
"It's possible," she finally said, but Taranee frowned slightly as she noticed Serena's hesitation. Hay Lin on the other hand, didn't seem to notice and she kept bouncing around the courtyard, occasionally hugging random people.
"You have to love Hay-Hay, she's always so full of bounce," Irma said with a smile as she watched Hay Lin.
"Does that girl ever stop?" Will asked with a raised eyebrow and Irma shook her head.
"Of course not, she's our little Hay-Hay!" Irma replied, before turning her eyes back to Cornelia. "I think I should be focusing on the more…important things."
"Why do I put up with you?" Cornelia asked, rolling her eyes and she leaned forward and kissed Irma. "I think that's a good place to start."
Will and Taranee rolled their eyes and walked away.
"I THOUGHT YOU SAID THAT THEY WOULD LOSE!" Phobos bellowed angrily at a terrified young man.
"B-b-but Sire, I was sure that they would lose!" the man protested, his pale blue eyes fearful behind his glasses. "The Tennyson team are experienced and have always been victorious before, the odds were against them."
Phobos snorted in contempt and turned to face Lord Cedric.
"This could have been avoided if you had purchased the girl as ordered Cedric!" he shouted and Cedric bowed.
"My King, your sister had already ensured that the girl fell into Serena's hands. She would not sell the girl," Cedric replied. Phobos growled once more.
"Sire, with your sisters patronage, Madam Serena is difficult to apply pressure to," Cedric continued. "She is naturally defiant and with your sisters backing, she is even more difficult."
"Yes, my dear sister," Phobos began, his expression changing to one of amusement and curiosity. "Tell me, what do you know about the other members of the team?"
"The others? One of them is Yan Lin's granddaughter and two of the others are her friends. As for the dark-skinned one, I don't know about her," replied Cedric.
"Was the blond girl one of those friends?" Phobos pressed and Cedric frowned.
"Yes she was. She dared stand and look at me like I was her equal," Cedric growled in annoyance as he recalled the encounter.
"Well it seems I should pay these girls a visit," Phobos said conversationally. "It's been a while since I visited my dear baby sisters team."
"It should be…interesting to see what's managed to wash up on her shores," Phobos continued smoothly with a chuckle. "After all, she DID seem VERY interested in them."
"Oh yes. Very interested indeed," Phobos finished with a chuckle.
If there was one thing that virtually everyone in the rebel camp knew, it was that you NEVER interrupted Susan Vandom when she was reading the sports pages after a match. Not unless it was a matter of life or death and even then it had to be something that only she could deal with. So when Susan lowered her paper with a smile on her face, there was something of a collective sigh of relief.
"Good match Susan?" a tall man with short blond hair and moustache asked cheerfully and Susan smiled.
"Very good Dean, very good indeed. Seems my big sister has got a new celebrity team in the making. Goes by the name W.I.T.C.H if you can believe it," Susan replied with a smile. "Least that's the way the pundits seem to think. Anyway, how are our new recruits shaping up?"
Dean shrugged. "Well I wouldn't throw them into a straight battle, but they're coming along nicely. In a few weeks I think they'll be ready for their first battle."
"I hope so. I really hope so," Susan said as her expression turned grim. "Gods alone know we need the manpower."
"So you still plan to do it then?" he asked and Susan nodded. Dean Collins sighed. "And my objections?"
"I won't change my mind. It needs to be done and you know it."
"A lot of people are going to get hurt if you're wrong," Dean said with a shake of his head and Susan gave him a grim smile.
"A lot of more good people will get hurt if we don't," she replied. "We don't really have a choice."
"I hope you're right Susan, I really do."
"I think that makes two of us," Susan replied grimly. "It makes two of us."
Serena looked up as she saw a familiar carriage pull up outside the compound.
"How odd. I wasn't expecting Elyon until the end of the week. Wonder what's brought her here?" she said as she stood up from her desk. In truth Serena welcomed the distraction from running through the ledgers. It was dull work to say the least and not a job she relished. Swiftly rising to her feet, Serena walked to the front gate.
Caleb leapt off the carriage first, his eyes alertly scanning the surroundings. Elyon simply rolled her eyes and stepped out the carriage.
"Your majesty, we are honoured to have you here," Serena said as she bowed just outside the front gate. "Might I ask the reason for this pleasant surprise?"
"I'm here about your new team, the one that you call W.I.T.C.H," Elyon said with a flourish. Caleb looked at her with alarm.
"Your majesty, are you sure that's wise?" he asked and Elyon rolled her eyes.
"Caleb, I severely doubt that I'm in any serious danger here and certainly not from Team W.I.T.C.H."
"Only danger she's in comes from water-brains bad jokes!" a voice shouted through the gate and Elyon's face lit up.
"Cornelia!" she exclaimed as she ran up to her best friend and hugged her. "You have been a nightmare to find! If it hadn't been for your arena fight…"
"You wouldn't have found the coolest guys in Meridian," Irma finished with a smirk. "Pfft, you don't get rid of us that easily."
"As you can see, Irma is as respectful as ever," Cornelia added as she rolled her eyes. "But I know a way to shut her up."
"Oh,what's that Corny?" challenged Irma, a glint in her eye. Cornelia smirked and pulled Irma into a powerful kiss. When they finally pulled apart, Elyon was smirking.
"Took you two long enough," she said with a smirk. "I was wondering if you two would EVER get it on."
"Weeeeeee, it's Elyon!" squealed Hay Lin as she grabbed Elyon from behind, almost pulling her over. "Missed you!"
"I've missed you too Hay-Hay," Elyon replied with a smile, turning around to face her old friend. Her face turned serious and she looked Hay Lin in the eye.
"I'm sorry about your Grandma," she finished and for a moment Hay Lin's face was downcast.
"I'll see her again. In my memories and dreams and even in the afterlife!" replied Hay Lin with false bravado. "Anyway, how are you? How did you find us?"
"Sheer dumb luck," replied Elyon with a smile. "Saw you in the arena."
As the four girls sat there on the dusty ground of the compound and chatted away like a group of old friends, Will eyed Elyon's clothing speculatively. Caleb however noticed and glared at her.
"Don't even think about it," he warned and Will scowled.
"What good would it do to me to steal from her? I can't sell it or buy anything with it, so what would be the point?" she challenged. Caleb glared.
"You're a thief. You'll always be a thief, it's what you do," he replied and it was Will's turn to glare.
"I stole to survive," she snapped. "It was that or starve! But what would you know about starving?"
And with that last question, she stormed off to sit next to Taranee, where she proceeded to glare at Caleb, who glared back in turn.
"So do you think we might be able to get out of here now that Princess Elyon knows who we are?" she asked Taranee and Taranee shook her head.
"Only the King can grant arena slaves their freedom Will, remember?" Taranee pointed out, before switching her attention to Will and Caleb's glaring contest.
"You know, it's a good thing that looks can't kill or this entire compound would be on fire," she observed.
"Yeah, well he's an arrogant, stupid-"
"Caleb, it's time for us to leave," Elyon shouted as she stood up. Hugging her old friends in turn, Elyon promised to return.
"I'll see you all again soon, but duty calls," she promised.
"I'll hold you to that," Cornelia replied with a smirk as Elyon stepped into the carriage. Elyon laughed. It was good to see her old friends again.
"Will we be returning there in the future your majesty?" Caleb asked as the carriage moved away, his body tense with anger as he dwelt on his run in with that blasted redhead with beautiful eyes.
"Of course," Elyon replied. "I'm surprised you didn't recognise your old girlfriend Cornelia."
"Wait, Cornelia was there?" he asked in shock. He'd been so engaged by the redhead that he hadn't noticed his former girlfriend.
"Oh yes," Elyon replied with a smirk. "Of course with your newest girlfriend…"
As Caleb blushed red, Elyon laughed. Just because she was the nice one in the family, didn't mean that she couldn't have a bit of fun.