At last Avalon began to warm up. It had been a long hard winter. Never had rain been so uplifting. It certainly brought out the romantic in Winston.
It was a good thing that the rain was welcome because it rained nonstop for a week.
Gamora celebrated by testing for her green belt in Sim Fu.
Then going back inside to play video games with her father.
As soon as she was safe from hypothermia, Victoria returned to the dive site she had scouted during the winter.
She couldn’t wait to get beneath the water and discover what might be hidden there.
It was nothing like diving at Isla Paradiso. It was cloudy and raining above, so the light was dim. Visibility was further reduced by debris from the ocean floor that were stirred up by recent rainstorms.
The low visibility led to a close encounter of terrifying proportions. It was all Victoria could do to control her breathing as the enormous shark swam by close enough to brush its fin against her leg.
But at last she found her way through underwater boulders to a place of clearer water.
At last. This place looked promising. She was able to collect a few rare shells, but there was so much more to explore.
She returned from her dive to a secluded beach. The rain had not let up.
She took a few moments, standing in the chilling rain, to watch the beautiful herd of wild horses on the beach.
They weren’t terribly happy to see her, though.
Then it started to hail, and both human and animal ran for cover.
She hadn’t found much on her first exploratory dive, but Manu was pleased. Exotic shells weren’t as valuable as antiquities, but he had a market for them.
As she stepped out of the Arcane Institute, she heard a sort of roaring, chanting sound. She followed it toward the fortress of Camelot down the street.
It turned out there was some sort of protest going on.
A protest about jellyfish?
Curious, Victoria drifted through the palace gate, where she saw a familiar face.
“Roderick?” she said. “What are you doing here?”
“Vickie! Oh, hi!” Roderick set his sign down against the wall. “Fancy meeting you here!”
“What is all this?” Victoria said.
“You didn’t know?” Roderick said in surprise. “I was sure I told you. I’m the president of the local chapter of Avalon Tree Huggers. We march every month. This month is about invasive Pirate Jellyfish destroying our reefs.”
Victoria was aghast. “There are jellyfish destroying our reefs?”
“We’re almost completely sure Angelina saw one at the beach last Thursday.”
“Wow,” Victoria said. “I didn’t know you were such an activist.”
Roderick shrugged. “I don’t like to sit around waiting for things to happen. If I care about something, I get involved.”
“I’d never thought about it that way,” Victoria admitted. Was she just waiting around for life to happen to her?
Her thoughts were cut short by the sound of keyboard music. “Rod, I think your protest is over,” she said.
Celebrity songwriter Mickie Jameson had started an impromptu concert in the Camelot courtyard. Everyone clustered around him. There wasn’t a sign in sight.
“Wow,” Roderick said. “I guess that’s it for today’s protest.”
Victoria held out her hand. “Well, at least it stopped raining.”
Roderick was staring at her.
Victoria flushed. “What??”
“Come with me to dinner,” Roderick said.
Victoria’s eyes widened. “Are you asking me out on a date?”
Roderick’s lips twisted tauntingly. “Does it matter? Will you come?”
“All right! I will!”
“Follow me!” he cried and set off at a run.
“Hey!” she called from behind. “No fair!”
“Are you done killing that boss?” Gamora asked Sawyer. “I have an idea.”
“Don’t distract me!” Sawyer snapped. “10 more damage!”
“I finished reading the time traveling guidebook,” Gamora said. “I’ve planned my first time, and I’m ready to leave.”
“What?” Sawyer said, looking away from the screen for a moment. “Noo! He killed me! This is your fault!”
Sawyer stood up. “You’re planning to travel in time?” he demanded. “That is incredibly dangerous. You’re still a minor and should not be taking that sort of risk.”
“This is my project,” Gamora reminded him. “I have the guidebook. I’m pretty sure you can’t stop me.”
“Besides, there’s the possibility to study exotic future lifeforms and possibly aliens!”
“You make a persuasive argument,” Sawyer said. “But I’m coming with you.”
“Are you kidding?” Gamora said. “Of course you’re coming with me.”
“Wow,” Victoria said. “All of a sudden the weather is gorgeous. I never thought the rain would clear.”
“See what I mean?” Roderick said. “You have to seize the moment.”
“And this is delicious!”
“So long as you don’t order what he’s having!”
“Oh, there’s Uncle Chaim!” Victoria said.
“He looks like he’s on duty, so we can’t chat. But you should really meet him. He’s a wonderful guy. I think he’s going to be Chief of Police someday.”
“You have a pretty amazing family,” Roderick said. “I like watching you talk about them.”
“You mean listen to me, right?” Victoria said.
“No, I meant watch. Your face just lights up.”
“Oh, see that lady?” Roderick said.
“She’s Sam Pistachio. You wouldn’t believe it to look at her, but she plays a mean guitar. I’ve heard her play down at the park.”
“She’s also insane, I think.”
They lingered over their meal and talked about their new life after high school. At last, Victoria stood up. “I have to get home,” she said. “It’s late, and I think we’re both tired.”
“Thank you for a wonderful evening, Rod.”
“Anytime,” Roderick said. “I mean anytime. You can call me any time.”
“Maybe I will,” Victoria said. “You’re so spontaneous. I like that.”
And she blew him a kiss.
“Wow, Vickie,” Roderick said. “If you could bottle that up and sell it, you’d make millions. I’m serious. Call me.”
They said farewell. Victoria watched him walk away and wondered.
Here we finally see how Roderick grew up. He turned out hot!