Welcome to the 77.78% true story of the Villareal family of Windenburg, a family that Definitely Does Not Have Any Secrets.
It was a balmy Saturday at the Windenburg pool, reeking of chlorine to cover up the smell of all the little kids peeing in it, and Luna’s heart felt like it wanted to explode out of her chest.
Sofia had just sleuthed out the identity of Luna’s mystery knight – the one she was crushing on, hard.
“Sofia– Sofia!” Luna was nearly hyperventilating when she found her friend. “Who is it? Who’s my knight??”
“Whoa girl, don’t be desperate,” said Sofia. Paragons were not desperate. If anything, people were supposed to be desperate for them.
“Oh my Watcher, Luna, ok. So, I overheard this lady in the bathroom talking about how her sister’s really into fantasy cosplay, like knights and stuff. Her sister is Yuki. Behr, from our grade.”
“Yuki… Behr?” repeated Luna, slowly. A girl? Her knight was a girl?
“Yep,” replied Sofia. “I mean, Yuki can pass as cute and stuff, but she’s a total dweeb and like, painfully shy.”
Luna hesitated. She was still not over the fact that her knight was a girl.
What was it that the ghost of Lady Mimsy had told her? Oh right, to keep an open mind, and that her prince might not seem like a prince at first. Well, maybe Lady Mimsy had known all along that the knight wasn’t a prince at all, but a prin-cess.
“Sure, Yuki’s a Misfit, but maybe we can teach her how to be a Paragon?” Sofia said, thinking. “You’d have to talk to her in person, though, to figure out if she’s good enough.”
“Ok, but how?” said Luna. “Obviously I can’t talk to her at school, people would see us together, and I’m not ready to commit to that.”
Sofia smirked. “Well, guess who also overheard that Yuki hangs out at the coffee shop downtown on Sundays…”
Luna squealed. She could finally meet her mystery knight! In person! Tomorrow! “Thank you! You’re the best, Sofia!”
“I know,” she replied. “Just promise me one thing, Luna – remember, she’s a dweeb, and you’re a Paragon. Don’t, like, commit social suicide for something as stupid as love.”
Max was bored.
He had already yelled playground insults at the other children at the pool, replaced the Paragons’ coffee beans with weevils, and even made an adult woman cry asking her if she was pregnant or just fat, and yet he felt utterly stultified.
He agreed with the Paragons about one thing – the people at the Windenburg community pool were peasants. Boring, insipid peasants. None of them brought him the joy that Lord Bernard’s ghost did; there was something so deeply satisfying about rankling that old fart.
He missed Bernard.
Someone swam up to him, and he begrudgingly faced her.
“Hey Max,” said Morgan, one of his fellow Renegades. “Can we talk?”
“Ugh, fine,” he sighed,
-and followed her out of the pool.
“What do you want?” he said. The worst part about running the Renegades was listening to their complaints.
“Well, it’s just that, the Renegades have been kinda unhappy,” began Morgan. “Some of us feel like you don’t really care about us–“
“We’re Renegades, we’re not supposed to care about anything,” interrupted Max.
“–yeah, ok, but we’re supposed to at least care about each other. When was the last time you asked how Ulrike and I are doing?”
“And Wolfgang? Something is up with Wolfgang. He keeps smiling.”
“It’s Wolfgang. He never smiles.”
Max stared silently, his nostrils flaring almost imperceptibly, and his next words were cold and dangerous. “Are you questioning my leadership?”
Morgan grimaced. “No, I’m just saying, we should be considerate of what people in our club are feeling–“
She gasped. Where did he learn such language??
“I’m the leader!” spat Max. “You all listen to me, ok?!”
Morgan was too shocked to reply.
Max stormed away, and Morgan was left behind, speechless and fuming.
Meanwhile, Luna took a lazy swim in the late afternoon, daydreaming about surprising her knight in person tomorrow. The sun was setting and everything in the pool was bathed in the warm pinkish-orange glow of golden hour.
At the other end of the pool, she spotted someone,
-and a mischievous thought popped into her mind out of nowhere.
She swam over stealthily and the Renegade didn’t even see her coming until it was too late.
“Hey!” shouted Wolfgang, right as Luna splashed him across the face.
“What the plum was that for?” he said, wiping the water out of his eyes.
Luna hesitated, realizing what a poor decision she’d made… although Wolfgang didn’t look that enraged, did he?
Ugh, no, what was she thinking, antagonizing a Renegade? She needed to stop, right now, before the situation got out of hand.
“We’re at a pool, what do you expect will happen?” The words slipped out of her mouth as if it wasn’t even connected to her brain.
“Touché.” He narrowed his eyes at her. “Do you want to know what I think?”
She bobbed in the water, not looking away from him, daring him… to do what exactly?
He splashed her back lightly and she squealed, even though she had been expecting it.
“That’s what I think!” he said with a chuckle.
“Ok!” she said, giggling and wiping the water from her face. “Point taken.”
They bobbed in the water together, chuckling softly. He was ok, she decided. For a Renegade.
But that’s when a voice echoed out from the edge of the pool.
Sergio was glaring daggers.
“Luna, did that Renegade just attack you?”