Tales of the Tuckerverse:  Fame and Misfortune

by FreezAntix, Zero, and Tek

These are all tales of hijinks that Tucker has with his magical gizmo, which take place in what will be known from now on as the 'Tuckerverse'. You may want to read more of Tucker's tales from the beginning, or catch up on the latest chapter before continuing; the lead characters are introduced in the first story. There is also a chronological index to the series. [Ed.]

Authors' Note: We hope you've enjoyed the Clockwork and Tucker series' so far and hope you will continue to do so in the Tuckerverse!

 

Malibu State College, parking deck

               The parking deck was deserted, as it had been for nearly an hour now, being that the campus had been closed for nearly five hours. Derik Cooper sighed as he made his way from the concrete steps to his lonely parked BMW. He was dressed in a cheap two-piece gray suit and tie. A worn leather brief case was in his hand. A man in his late fifties, he had slight gut clearly visible through his thin suit. His black and gray hair was thinning, with just enough hair over the top for a decent comb over. The thinning hair was caused by the stress of his job. Derik was the Director of Athletics at MSC (Malibu State College).

               The college higher-ups had been pushing him to make something of their sports clubs ever since he had taken the position some five years ago. He had not been successful and they were constantly on his back for it. He often wondered why he had not been fired yet. In any case, he had some success with the school’s women’s soccer team when he had managed to recruit a handful of star players. The team had made it to the semi-finals last season and he hoped to do the same with them this season. In fact he had assurances from their coaches it would happen again. The problem, however, was eight miles west of Malibu. Decker State College had more money than MSC and at the moment had the better woman’s soccer team. That team was now the new defending champion.  MSC and DSC were both fighting for city funding and DSC seemed to be winning the battle. Both schools had weak athletic programs, so improving them was the key to winning the funding battle. If MSC lost that battle the school would have to close its doors within five years time. This risk was lower for DSC as they had prime real estate on the water, which was always a plus for that seventeen-year-old deciding on where he or she would spend their college years. MSC had all the risks in this case; a flawed athletic program would mean no funding and no funding would soon lead up to no school.

               "Not a good night, was it Mr. Cooper?" a voice called out from behind Derik.

               Opening his aging BMW and placing his worn brief case inside of his car, he wearily responded: "That’s not a way to greet your future employer, Coach King," Derik said, turning around to face an attractive blond. Diane King was dressed in a crisp black pants suit; she had her hair pulled back into business bun. Her clicking high-heels echoed through the deserted parking deck.

               "Are you offering me a job?" Diane asked with a smile as she approached Derik. Since leaving DSC a year ago, Diane King has not been able to find a job, especially in her native country of Canada. So desperate she returned to the states, hoping to find something. There was no way DSC would take her back with the other Division One schools in the area. However, MSC desperately needed a high quality woman’s soccer program though, so she tried them. Diane didn’t approach them empty-handed though, as she knew her reputation with the division was forever tarnished, thanks to DSC. Her gift offering worked, as it did open the athletic director’s eyes, but she wasn’t completely in yet.

               "Have you made any progress with your offer?" Derik asked her tiredly, withdrawing a cigar from his jacket and leaning on his car.

               "I’m still working on it… after seeing that match tonight. I was just wondering if you would reconsider my offer, I can…" Diane began to explain.

               "No," Derik interrupted biting the tip of his cigar off. Spitting it out, he continued, "I won’t even consider you officially until you make good on your end of the deal. As of right now I have never met you, Diane," he said lighting his cigar.

               Diane King was quiet for a moment and smiled smugly, "Of course; I was just making sure.  In the meantime I have talked to a few of the players, though, off the record, and they have agreed to jump over once you offer them the proposed scholarship packages."

               Derik took a few long puffs of his cigar before asking, "Are any of those players Katherine Vaughn or Mel Donavan?"

               "No…" began Diane, but she stopped upon seeing Derik begin to climb into his car."I do have their superstars Sunny Dakota and Justine Zimmerman!" she blurted. "You just have to contact them."

               "The back-up goal keeper and a freshmen defender; is that all you have?" Derik asked, closing his car door. "They just happen to be blonds, too… listen coach, I have to put my job on the line to even give you an interview. I want top players like you promised. Top. Players. Only then will I stick my neck out for you. Until you get them, stop meeting me like this; if you can’t, don’t come back here," Derik warned, starting up his car. "Good night, coach," he said before pulling away, leaving Diane King alone in the empty car park.

               "Asshole…" Diane grumbled, watching the man’s BMW disappear. She had no choice now, she thought. She was going to have to increase her presence, sweeten the deal, and even lie to get those girls to jump over. Even if it meant talking to those same girls she felt did not deserve to be starters. She was determined to become MSC’s soccer coach, as it would give her chance to play DSC and show them what they had lost. Most importantly, she wanted to build her invincible blond-haired, blue-eyed, superteam. Diane smiled at the thought she was so close to living her dream again.

 

The Raptor Nest

               It was also called The Nest by the locals and was by far the most popular sports bar in Malibu. The Raptor Nest was located in downtown Malibu, a few blocks away from Decker State College and was the place to be on the weekends and during sporting events. Inside, the main bar was situated in the center of the building. It was circular bar with six large flat screens suspended above and around it. Tables were arranged on elevated flooring around the bar so table patrons could have a good view of any of the mounted TVs. There were several other flat screens mounted around the establishment as well, typical of any sports bar. The main kitchen was located in the back and nearby the restrooms. The Nest was decorated in orange and white colors. DSC banners and flags proudly hung from the ceiling and walls. The sports bar also featured DSC sport memorabilia, such as jerseys and game balls.  Employees were dressed in orange polos and black bottoms, matching their surroundings.

               Being a Friday night, the place was filled past its capacity of one hundred and fifty patrons. It was loud, bustling, and reeked of cigarette smoke. There was not an empty chair or stool and many customers stood as they mingled. The numerous large flat screen monitors featured highlights of the night’s women’s soccer match. The game matched up the home crowd favorite’s Lady Raptors against the cross-town rival Malibu State College’s Lady Sharks. The Raptors won the match 9-1, the rival’s only score occurred when the Raptors pulled their star goalie Mel Donavan out as an act of mercy. Rookie and inexperienced goal keeper Sunny Dakota was unable to stop a Sharks’ offensive rush late in the game. Star striker and team captain Kat Vaughn scored five of the nine goals of the night, while her fellow striker Britney Summers scored twice and a goal was scored one each by Ayane Nakamura and midfielder Diane Cruz. The Lady Raptors moved up in their regular season standing with a record of two wins and zero losses.

               The entire team and coaches were all present at the bar along with a few of the cheerleaders. All were happily mingling with one another, talking about the game. They all held drinks in their hands though most simply had a soda, as most of the team was still under age. The girls were all dolled up for the evening and were dressed in trendy revealing club wear. The celebration was in full swing when the bar doors opened and two girls sauntered in. They were unnoticed by the partying crowd. One girl was a pale blond with green eyes. She was dressed in a black open-neck short-sleeved top and tight fitting form-fitting jeans tucked into knee-length high-heeled boots. The other girl was a shorthaired brunette with hazel eyes. She was dressed in a red top that showed off her decently sized bust and a leather miniskirt, which revealed her shapely legs standing tall on red high heels.

               A waitress walked up to the two ladies, "Sorry, girls, the place is packed tonight so you’re gonna have to stand."

               "Where?" the blond asked looking around; she eyed some members of the soccer team by the bar jealously. "Let’s stand over there," she pointed, talking to her friend as the waitress had quickly left to attend to one of her tables.

               "Why not, it’s where the fun is," the brunette replied as the two girls made their way to the bar.

* * *

               "Here’s to Diane!" Chrissy Pak cheered, raising her drink, "To her first goal!" the other girls chanted in unison while raising their glasses.

               "Thanks guys!" Diane Cruz laughed, "I couldn’t have done it without Chrissy’s awesome assist though," she replied happily putting her arm around the faux redhead.

               "That was a fluke, chubs," the blond interjected as she pushed her way between Tess Vole and Diane. "Two tomato juices!" she then ordered from the bartender.

               Tess frowned at the girl, looking her up and down, "Deidre… what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be back at your own school?!" Deidre Howard was the Lady Sharks’ star midfielder and captain. She was also one of the few stars on the team. She had tripped as she chased after Diane, resulting in that Raptor score.

               "Hey she wasn’t talking to you!" the brunette shot back; "mind your own business."

               "Hey Olivia, you clean up nice!" Chrissy complimented, laughing. Olivia Daniels was a Shark striker who was a fairly decent player. Though she had scored the only goal for her team during the match, she had also eaten a vicious tackle from the Korean defender. The tackle sent her flat on her face, causing her nose to bleed rapidly.

               "You should have gotten a card for that, you bitch!" Olivia replied, stepping closer to Chrissy who was a bit more muscular looking in her orange dress than the fit but slender brunette.

               "Hey, who invited you guys?!" Diane shouted, pushing Olivia away from her friend.

               "Don’t touch her chubs!" Deidre yelled, stepping in front of the Hispanic midfielder. "If I didn’t trip…"

               "If you hadn't tripped, she still would have scored!" Mel Donavan finished for the blond. "Now what are you gonna do about it?" the tall Irish girl asked. She was dressed in black leather micro-dress that barely hid her voluptuous body. Her tattoos were visible and she stood an extra five inches, thanks to the spiked heels she was wearing. As intimidating as she was, she was also flanked by Ayane and Brit, dressed in similar party dresses. All three looked at the two rival players with threatening looks and crossed arms.

               "Hey! Stop!" Kat yelled, pushing through the crowd, followed by Coach Glenda Peyton. The two had been on the other side of the bar and witnessed the start of the whole situation. Reaching the group, she stepped between best friend, Mel, and her rival, Deidre Howard. "Guys – cool it!" she demanded.

               "Hey, hey, what’s going on here?" Glenda then demanded, eying her players and the two rival players sternly. "This better not become a fight or I’m calling your coach and benching your asses!" she yelled, looking at her players, who quickly dispersed except for Mel, who continued to give Deidre the evil eye. "Ms. Donavan, I don’t give a flying hoot that you’re the best goalie in the country; if you don’t beat it now, you'll be watching the next game in the stands." With that, Mel turned and joined her friends. Glenda then turned to the other two players not from her team. She was about to tell them something before Kat stopped her.

               "Hey Coach, don’t worry; I can take care of this, you can go back to your table," Kat assured.

               "No horseplay Vaughn, just because you’re hot shit doesn’t mean I won’t kick you off the team too," Glenda warned before turning and leaving.

               As soon as Glenda left, the team began to form around the two rival girls again. "Crap…" Kat muttered. "Let’s take this outside," she then said, grabbing both girls’ hands and leading them out.

               "Hey, what about our drinks, you stupid bitch!" Deidre protested.

               "Don’t worry about them; the drinks here suck anyway," Kat quickly replied with a smile.

               After some shoving and resisting from the two Sharks, they were outside the bar in the cool breeze out of the noise and away from any angry Raptors. "Christ, Deidre what the hell were you two thinking!? Starting crap like that with just the two of you?" Kat asked, putting her hands on her hips. Deidre had been Kat’s rival since their days playing in little league back in Rhode Island.

               "We didn’t start anything, it was your psycho team in there!" Deidre replied, gesturing back in the bar. She then looked down at Kat’s skirt and laughed, "Since when are you wearing skirts?" Kat was dressed in blue spaghetti top and a frilly white skirt, she stood in white heels. The getup was unusual for her as she never really dressed like a girl. "You trying to look like your hotcha sister?" Turning to Olivia, she explained, "Kat has a twin sister who just happens to be the prettier one," Olivia chuckled.

               "What the hell is wrong with you?!" Kat yelled. "I just saved your ass in there! Crashing our party by yourselves? What the hell?"

               "I told you we weren’t crashing; if we wanted to we would have rolled up with our team. We didn’t start anything either; it was all your little bitch squad. We came here to have a good time as the sports bar in east Malibu is closed already. What the hell is your problem, Kat!?" Deidre then yelled. "You were up freaking four points! You were already winning; why did you drive up the freaking score?! What did you want to prove!?"

               "Seriously… you’re bitching about that? We dropped Mel and you scored. San Diego West couldn’t even do that. I’m not going to say sorry, because we’re better than you. You didn’t get shut out and we could have done that, so don’t bitch to me about running up the damn score because you had the last twenty minutes to score on Dakota!" Deidre went silent and stared at Kat angrily. She knew the twin was right.

               "D, let’s roll…" Olivia said, grabbing her friend’s arm, "this place is lame." Both girls began to walk away down the alley between the bar and the next-door bakery to their car, which was parked in the back.

               "Hey!" Someone yelled from behind them. Both girls turned around as a brilliant flash ate them up. Olivia instantly froze with both arms holding Deidre's right arm. Her body was slightly twisted to the right and her legs were stopped in mid-stride. Olivia’s face held a surprised look, with lips agape and her dark eyes vacant. Deidre's body was frozen moving forward with her neck turned back towards the sound of the voice. Her legs were also posed in mid-stride. Her face held a frown with empty green eyes staring into the dark. "Say cheese!" Julie Vaughn laughed, running up to the pair. The other Vaughn was dressed identically to her sister, but with a black top and black heels. The magic Polaroid hung from her neck and dangled playfully as she made her way to the two stuck girls.  She waved the photograph in front of them like a flag.

               "Oh my God! Julie, what did you do?!" Kat yelled, following her sister down the ally, "They were leaving!"

               Julie had seen her sister leave with the two Sharks. She immediately got worried and followed, sneaking out of a service entrance that led into the side alley. There she crept up towards the front of the bar and heard everything. As soon as it was over, she snuck back into the side door and waited for the two rival players to pass her. She wasn’t going let them get away with talking to her sister like that and crashing the party. "Froze them fast; no one talks to you like that," Julie replied, waving her hands in front of Olivia and Deidre's blank faces.

               "They were leaving though; it was over and why do you have that?" Kat then asked, gesturing at the camera, then the two impromptu statues. She was getting annoyed. Recently she was beginning to notice her sister had that camera around with her a lot more. This was just insane. She suspected that Julie had it with her all time now after seeing this.

               Julie picked up the camera, "I always have it," she simply replied. "You never know when someone might need it…"

               "Jules, are you crazy!? You can’t take that around with you, it’s dangerous! Something can happen."

               "Like what?" Julie asked dumbfounded as she played with Olivia’s hair.

               "Jesus, are you stupid!?" Kat asked angrily, "Listen I can’t talk about this right now, but I want you to unfreeze them and get that thing back home now!" Kat ordered.

               "But Kat…" Julie whined, "I’ll miss the rest of the party. Those two won’t know."

               "Julie do it now! I mean it! I’m not playing with you," Kat shot quickly, moving up to her sister and grabbing the strap of the camera, making Julie wince. "I mean it," she growled into her sister’s ear.

               "Kat where are you?" Mel Donavan called from the bar entrance.

               Kat gave Julie a final warning look and slapped her hard over the head. She then smiled and replied cheerfully, "I’m coming!"

               Julie let out a breath…"That was scary… why is she always doing that? We’re twins, for Christ sake," she mumbled, pulling out the Polaroid of the two soccer players. She was about to tear it up but then paused. "If I can’t enjoy the rest of this party, I’m gonna go elsewhere for fun. You guys want to come?" she asked playfully, looking at the two unmoving girls. "Of course you do; what else are you going to do?"

* * *

               "What did you do to those bitches?" Mel asked as they re-entered the bar.

               "Nothing… talked to them and they got wise and decided to just leave," Kat replied, walking with the Irish girl back to her table.

               "Just talk eh?" Mel asked with a smirk, "I know your temper, are you sure you just talked?"

               "Yeah, just talk; not all of us are violent like you," Kat remarked giving her friend a good-natured nudge, "now enough about them; let’s get back to the celebration!"

               Mel chuckled, "Whatever, while you were out talking to those bitches someone was looking for you."

               Kat stopped in her tracks and turned to her friend, "who?" she asked in surprise. Mel gestured to the other side of the bar. A dark haired young man waved at her. He was dressed in a clean orange polo with a white t-shirt under and a pair of dark denim jeans. "Chris?" she called out. Chris Picket was a friend of Ayane’s that Kat had met a few months back when she played a prank on Rachel and some of the cheerleaders. Chris worked as a security guard at the wax museum where the prank had taken place. Since then he and Kat had kept contact through the Internet. He had also been to few scrimmages as well, which was nice since few if any fans seldom came out for those games. There was an obvious connection between the two, but they just had not acted on it so far.

               As Chris made his way towards Kat, Mel leaned over and said, "He’s a cute one, if you ask me."

               "Mel, he’s coming over… go!" Kat urged, pushing her friend away. Mel laughed and reluctantly walked away.

               "Hey Kat," Chris greeted, reaching the blond, "just thought I come out to say hi and congrats on the latest win. Also wore my favorite polo for team spirit," he said pointing to his polo.

               "Thanks for coming!" Kat replied, "and thanks for the congrats, but it was a team effort."

               Chris was about to say something before a patron approached and asked if he knew where their waitress was. He smiled at the patron, "Sorry I don’t work here." Kat chuckled, noticing that he was dressed more or less like the staff. "Looks like this might have been a bad place to wear my polo with black jeans," he grinned, looking back at Kat. "I know it’s your party and all, but would you mind if we go somewhere quieter? I mean I’ll pay for you…"

               "Sure," Kat blurted out, "let me just tell my friends I’m going." Kat quickly pushed her way through the crowd and found the table where Mel and some of the other girls sat. "I’m going to head out with Chris; I’ll see you guys later," Kat said quickly. She had been waiting for this for a while but had been too chicken to ask Chris out herself. It was luck that he had come out and finally asked her since he didn’t go out much, thanks to his job as a night guard.

               "Yeah, no worries Kat; have fun," Mel encouraged. "Don’t forget to meet up with me and Coach Ronnie later, though. We have that issue we need to discuss," Mel added, with a sense of seriousness in her voice. Veronica Parker, former Raptor striker, had returned as an assistant coach. She wanted to talk to Mel and Kat, the two captains, about an issue regarding another former member of the Lady Raptors that was quickly becoming a problem.

               "Yeah, yeah, don’t worry about it; I’ll be there… we’re probably just going to grab a bite," Kat quickly replied, "I’ll see you then," she waved, turning to leave.

 

Down Town Malibu

               The shiny red Mercedes convertible with its top down cruised down the main strip of Malibu’s trendiest clubs. The sight of three attractive women riding in an expensive German car was not an uncommon one, especially along this particular road, so very few people paid them any attention. Had they known that two of the woman had not moved a muscle, blinked an eye, or even breathed in the last hour their degree of interest might have changed. Deidre Howard rode in the front passenger seat, shotgun; it was her Mercedes. The blond sat leaned back in the tan leather seat; her right arm bent at the elbow resting on the doorsill and her left hand was posed running through her blond hair. Her face held a wide smile with closed eyes. Sitting behind her was teammate Olivia Daniels. The brunette had been positioned to sit leaning heavily against the rear seat with her head thrown back over her hands. Olivia bore a close-lipped smile on her face with her blank brown eyes looking up vacantly at the night sky.

               After deciding to go out for some fun with her two frozen victims, Julie took the time to quickly search the two rival soccer players. She found the key to the Benz in Deidre’s pocket and got an idea. Ten minutes later both immobilized soccer players were placed and posed in the little red convertible coupe. Julie settling into the driver seat laughed at her two silent companions as she started up the car. "We’re going to have a blast!" she squealed, flooring the gas pedal.

               It had been nearly an hour since they left the bar and the “blast” that Julie had promised had not arrived. The blond cheerleader looked around as she cruised along the strip. All the clubs looked too crowded. She was also under twenty-one as well, so she really couldn’t get in if she had wanted to. According to the girl’s IDs, only Olivia was old enough to enter clubs, Deidre being Julie’s age. "How does Tuck manage to have fun with frozen people?" Julie muttered; all the places that she wanted to go she couldn’t get in to nor did she have any way that she could get her two frozen companions in. She smiled and looked at her mannequin-like passengers, "Looks like there was a major flaw to my plan, ladies," she chuckled and turned her attention back to the road.

               Not willing to give up that easily since she was missing the party with her real friends, Julie ventured off the main strip and entered the more silent side streets. There it was quieter, considering that what was around her were high priced condos and apartment buildings. The pedestrians on the streets were sparser too, compared to the main strip. There were some couples walking along on the sidewalks and few groups here and there. For the most part though, it was quite still. "Kind of dull here," Julie observed, looking around and then to her still passengers, "perfect for you two, though," she added with grin. "Just perfect," she said turning right down a side street. A sign at the corner of the street read: Eric Stone Memorial Park.

               As expected, Julie found the park deserted; she easily found a parking spot right at the park itself. There was an open area featuring playground equipment that was well lit. "Perfect," she giggled, turning off the car and climbing out. "Now, let’s have some fun," she said, going around the passenger side of the Mercedes and opening the door.

                     Despite not being particularly strong, Julie still managed to carry both Olivia and Deidre in one go, balancing their waists on her shoulders as she brought them to the seesaw, which seemed like an ideal place to start. "Lets see which of you two has the better center of gravity," laughed Julie as she carefully sat Deidre down on the lowered end, making sure to wrap the frozen soccer player's fingers around the handhold securely. Olivia was then placed on the other end, which proved a bit harder as Julie had to weigh down her end and then carefully pose the other girl properly. When her work was done Julie noticed a small weight shift after she'd stepped off, indicating that Deidre was slightly heavier than her teammate.

               "I guess high protein diets still give you a little extra mass," quipped Julie as she began to rock the seesaw from the middle, bouncing it back and forth like it would normally if two people were playing on it. It wasn't long before Deidre began to tip sideways but Olivia was also tipping back, making it unclear which would fall first. Finally after one hard bounce Deidre tumbled off sideways and hit the ground, possibly being hurt if not for the fact she was stiffly frozen.

               "One point for Ollie; lets take it to round two!" exclaimed Julie with glee, quickly dragging Deidre over to her friend and dragging them both on their backs to the swing set, where Julie once again got to work posing them in seated positions. Since the pair couldn't grip particularly hard on their own, Julie had to wrap their arms around the chains supporting the swings, ensuring neither would fall out too soon. "How high can you go?" asked Julie as she began to push, starting with a double but quickly moving to go back and forth as the human statues rocked back and forth. Once again initially there were no signs of resistance, only a lack of participation that prevented either from going higher than where Julie pushed them.

               Three minutes later it was Olivia that suddenly jolted from her seat, falling forward as she came back for another push and landing on her face. Julie quickly stopped Deidre and stood Olivia back up, laughing all the while. "It's a tie!" realized the cheerleader. "Okay, it looks like there's only one way to settle this: freeze tag!"

 

The Coffee Pot

               The small coffee shop was named The Coffee Pot and it sat at a street corner a mere two blocks away from the main entrance of DSC. It was a small shop that featured a large-paned window looking out onto the street. An oak finished coffee bar with brown leather topped stools occupied the center of the shop. Matching leather loungers and small coffee tables decorated the rest of the cozy small space. The shop was a favorite hang out spot among Raptors since it was open 24/7. It wasn’t uncommon to see students hunkered down at one of the many tables with a cup of coffee nearby and textbooks opened before them.  

               For Mel Donavan, it was the young late shift manger, Mark, which interested her the most about the 24/7 coffee shop. He was the latest manger to take over, as a DSC student had always traditionally held the spot. Like many before him, he was also a business major, working this internship as part of his major. Interns always worked the night shift since it was easy and gave them time to study. It was something simple and fun to do before heading out into the real world of the unknown.

               Although she and Veronica had come there to meet Kat later, Mel’s attention had been fixed mostly on the dark haired man behind the counter. Mel never had problems talking to boys when she was young, growing up, she seemed more at ease talking to them than being one of the girls. As of late, she always been oddly a bit nervous to talk to him; hell, the only reason she knew his name was because of his nametag. She sat there, stirring her coffee, resting her chin on her hand, daydreaming of him until Veronica interrupted her idyll.

               "Mel?" Veronica asked as she tapped the goalie’s shoulder, "are you listening to me?"

                "What, oh sorry Ronnie, what were you saying?" Mel replied, sighing, as she almost went back to staring at her crush.

               "Melody Donavan, are you crushing on that boy over there," Veronica replied in a sly voice, as she saw Mark look up from the textbook he was studying and smiled at Mel, who blushed a bit. She quickly looked down at her cup, stirring it again.

               "You need to go talk to the boy, girl. I think he likes you."

               "Yeah right; look, what were you talking about with King?" asked Mel as she finally got her head out of the clouds.

               "She's back, poking around, and has been bothering some of the other girls." Veronica said in a serious tone, taking another drink from her cup. After college Veronica had been hired as a high school gym teacher but quickly grew annoyed with her juvenile students and the run-down school environment. So she left her career and decided to take Coach Glenda Peyton’s offer for being a Raptor assistant coach. The pay was a lot lower but the company was much better. Everything had been fine until former head coach Diane King returned to the states, looking for a coaching gig and annoying her former players, trying to get them to jump ship to a rival school. She first attempted to do so during a practice earlier in the week. Glenda and the athletic director were able to stop her before anyone noticed though, and she was quickly escorted off the DSC campus. Now Veronica suspected that she was visiting the girls on the team individually. A few had come forward already and expressed their concerns. It was starting to become an annoying issue. An issue that needed the team to band together and for that, Kat, the captain, was needed to rally the girls. Even though Kat was the captain, Mel was the backbone of team, being the state’s number one goalie. Kat looked up to her and would listen to Mel for support. Veronica figured she would talk to both them about the situation and hopefully they could resolve it quietly.

               Before Mel could say something, the electric door chime buzzed, followed by clicking of heels on the tiled floor of the little coffee shop. Both women turned to see Diane King, clad in a black pants suit, walking towards them confidently. She stopped in front of the women's booth and sat at the bar across from them, placing a black brief case she had carried with her on the bar top.

               "Ms. Donavan." King greeted Mel, not bothering to acknowledge the other girl’s presence. The former coach crossed her legs on the stool and cleared her voice, "I have a proposal for you; care to hear?"

               "She's not interested..." Veronica started to say, frowning at the woman who had benched her for most of her college career.

               "I'm here to speak to real soccer players," Diane cut in, eying Veronica as if she was a lesser person. She then turned back to her target Mel, who was listed as one of the best female soccer players in the world and the best goalie in the state. "Ms. Donavan, I'm here to offer you a more worthy scholarship package that carries more benefits that are fitting to an athlete of your caliber. I’m talking about a free ride for the rest of your career. Luxury housing; a generous stipend; state of the art training facilities, the full VIP treatment!” Reaching into her brief case, King produced a leather bound binder with the MSC logo on the front of it. "With MSC, I assure you that you will be well taken care of; they know how to treat their star athletes.

               Diane placed the binder in front of Mel and opened it, laying a pen on the first page. "You will be in every game, doing what you do best, making a better name for yourself over at MSC," King assured. She would never admit that she was wrong to bench the Irish girl but she wouldn’t make the mistake twice. With Mel, her dream team would be unstoppable. Diane could always get the girl to dye her hair blonde as it was rave now. She planed to assemble her golden team of women, using MSC as her platform, built around Mel Donavan. Victory was hers if Mel signed on.

               Mel took a sip of her cold coffee, enjoying what she could of it before she poured the rest of it over Diane's binder.

               "What are you doing!" Diane exclaimed as she tried to dry off the binder before getting the rest of Mel's coffee splashed all over her suit, losing her composure, "What the hell are you doing, you stupid Mick!"

               "Stupid Mick am I? What the hell were you thinking?" Mel retorted, getting closer to the rattled blond, "Do I look so dense that I would sign up with you after you benched your best players for nearly a year without giving us a chance, even once?

               "Donavan..." Diane began, trying to regain her composure. She tried and she couldn’t do it. She just didn’t like the girl.

               "No! I don’t want to hear it anymore!" Mel grabbed the binder from Diane’s hand and stormed towards the door, shoving the leather binder into the trash can.

               "Good going Mel," Veronica cheered, standing up. Looking back at Diane who stood frowning with fists clenched, she added, “I’m not an expert… but I think she’s out…” Veronica said mockingly before following her friend. Outside, Mel stood with her arms crossed, taking deep breaths to regain her composure. “Mel, are you alright?” Veronica asked, coming to stand next to her friend.

               Mel grinned, “yeah… I’m fine it’s just that woman…” she replied gesturing back into the coffee shop, “… makes me lose it.” Inside they saw that coach King had settled down into one of the stools and was talking to Mark as if she was a regular customer. “I hate her; I really do.”

               “Yeah… me too,” Veronica agreed. She looked at her watch, “look, you have early practice tomorrow. I don’t think Kat is coming, so let’s call it a night?”

               Mel let out a sigh and looked around, hoping to see her friend show up at the last moment. No one came; the streets were deserted. “Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow, coach,” Mel said, walking towards her black Porsche 911 Turbo. The car had been a gift from her agent and it was worth at least double the price of her room and board at Decker State college.

               “See you later Mel,” Veronica said as she moved towards a blue Dodge Neon parked behind the sleek German sports car.

* * *

               Mel switched gears, up shifting slowly as she crossed the deserted intersection. The Porsche purred sexily as it slowly made its way down the quiet street. The Irish girl was fighting the need to speed; it was tempting to blow off some steam. Coach Peyton, however, didn’t allow any off the field horseplay during the season. If Mel got pulled over and the school found out, her season was done. So the four hundred plus horsepower sports car was reduced to driving at the posted speed limit on the deserted road. From the coffee shop it would only take Mel three minutes in a car to reach her off-campus condo but she decided to cruise around to cool down from her latest encounter with coach King.

               She was crossing by the park when something caught her eye. “What the hell?” she muttered, looking back over her shoulder to make sure her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her. Heading a short distance up the street, she pulled a quick U-turn and headed back, driving her car into the park’s lot. After locking her car she walked up just in time to see Olivia Daniels fall flat on her face as Julie stopped Deidre Howard from doing the same. The three women were standing out in the middle of a grassy field. If was clearly obvious that the Vaughn’s magic camera had done something to the two rival players. They were both stiff as a board and wobbled on the uneven surface. Mel couldn’t help but smile at the sight. She needed a good chuckle after her little ordeal with King.

               “Hey Kat, whatcha doing?” Mel asked innocently. The blond girl jumped in surprise, nearly knocking over Olivia again.

               “Hey M-Mel… for minute there I thought you were Kat,” Julie replied with a sigh of relief. "You wanna have some fun?"

               "Julie? For a second there I thought you were Kat," Mel realized as she walked up to the two frozen girls. Tapping Deidre's forehead, "so this is what happened to them."

               "Yeah, Kat told me to let them go, but I just couldn't let them just leave like that," Julie brushed off some the dirt from Olivia's face. "I really couldn’t let them walk away after all the things they said about Kat.   We took a little ride…"

               "No need to explain Julie, I understand, I would have done worse," Mel confessed with a sigh, looking at the two frozen rivals. They looked as if they were fashion mannequins rather than soccer players. "Anyways it can't be helped; they got big mouths and tiny brains,” Mel then said with a smile. “So, what kind fun are we going to have?"

               Julie smiled, seeing that the tall girl was going to join her. Playing with frozen people was always fun, but it was so much better with another moving person. It was something that she had picked up with Tucker. "Well… see those monkey bars?" the blond pointed to the blue monkey bars that sat off by themselves in the middle the park. Mel looked over and noted that the old piece of playground equipment had been there for a long time. All the newer stuff was together at the other end of the park.

               "Alright, I got Deidre; you get Olivia," Mel said as she hooked her arms under the frozen woman and began dragging her backwards. Her high-heeled boots left twin trails in the grass and dirt. Julie followed behind with a small grunt, dragging Olivia, making another set of heel marks. In the process however the frozen brunette lost both her red heels, rendering her feet bare and pointed as if she was still wearing them.

               The two stood up the frozen girls next to the monkey bars. Mel helped hold Olivia steady as Julie reposed the girl’s bare feet so she would be able to stand on her own. Mel poked at the unmoving brunette’s cheek after Julie was done and the girl stayed steady. She was always amazed at what the magic camera the Vaughn sisters had stumbled on nearly a year ago could do. Though she never really interacted with the camera’s victims, she always wondered what it would be like. She was starting to feel a sense of control over the two unmoving soccer players, and it was great feeling.

               "So how do you wanna do this, Julie?" Mel asked while inspecting the bars.

               "Let's see if we can hang them on the bars and maybe have a monkey bar war!" Julie said gleefully. She grabbed Olivia and slowly dragged her around, placing her under the bars. Mel watched with interest as Julie lifted the striker's arms as high as they could reach after standing her at attention. She then curled the frozen girl's fingers so that they would hook into place on the bars. Mel was eager to do the same to the rival team captain as she watched Julie work. She looked over at Deidre and smiled at the vacant look in the blonde’s face. The Irishwoman couldn’t wait.

               Olivia suddenly came crashing down to the ground as Julie lost her grip. "Crap…" Julie fumed, kneeling down to stand the brunette back up. Mel went around the bars and helped her get the unmoving brunette back up. After lifting the girl back into a standing position, Julie dusted her off once again. “I keep getting you dirty; sorry about that – well not really,” she said with a smile to the suspended girl. Olivia’s expression remained blank as her hazel eyes looked on emptily.

               Mel chuckled, “You keep on falling on your face,” she added patting the brunette on her stiff cheek. Looking over at Julie, “I lift, you take care of her fingers?” she suggested.

               “Good idea; thanks Mel,” Julie replied. “Wish you were here earlier. Should have seen how it was like moving them around. It’s easy at first but after a while, whew… it’s a work out.”

               “Gotcha,” Mel said with a laugh, picturing Julie at work, “On three?”

               With the help of Mel’s athletic arms and height Julie was able to mold the frozen girls’ hands into a tight vise-like grip on the bars. Even then the two frozen girls’ grip wasn’t strong enough and they crashed a few times before Mel came up with an idea. They rummaged through Deidre’s trunk and as expected found her soccer gear. Using her jersey, shorts, towel, and sports bra they were able to tie the suspended girls’ hands to the bar. The whole thing took nearly an hour but now both rivals now hung stiffly from the old monkey bars. Their feet were a good foot from the ground under them. Julie went to work on Olivia’s dirt-smudged face, molding it to have bright smile with wide eyes. Mel followed suit with Deidre, giving her wink and pulling her tongue out between her lips. Once they were done the two Raptors stepped back to admire their work. Both girls chuckled at the sight.

               “Not bad, Julie,” Mel said, brushing her palms together as she looked at the two hanging co-eds. They looked quite funny with their exaggerated expressions, but the overall scene looked boring. The two girls were more or less just hanging straight in a dead hang. “We need to do something else though to finish this,” Mel then suggested, rubbing her chin in thought.

               “Yeah I think so too,” Julie added, looking at the scene her head tilted to one side thinking what could they do next. She was getting tired though and was drawing a blank. “I played with them too much already… we cruised around, played on the seesaw, swings and even tag. So I’m drawing a blank here. You did a great job with tying their hands, so do you have any ideas?”

               Mel smiled deviously, “I do,” she simply answered. She moved over to Deidre and opened the girl’s jeans and spread them apart. The blond had pair of red panties underneath. Mel then began to tug them southward.

               “Mel… I don’t know about this…” Julie muttered. For the first time of the night she was feeling a bit uncomfortable.

               “Oh come on Julie, it’ll be funny. We’re not going to do them and we’ll leave their knickers on too. It’s in the middle of the night too…” Mel assured, looking back at the blond as she stripped off Deidre’s boots, followed by her socks and jeans.

               “Fine,” Julie agreed, reluctantly moving over to Olivia as she began to tug off the girl’s skirt.

               Moments later Olivia hung there, dressed only in her strapless black bra and matching lacy panties. Deidre was in a white satin bra and red panties. They had to take her down to remove the top that she had on, then re-place her on the bars. Mel didn’t mind the extra work as she was having too much fun manipulating the two frozen women. Their full control over them was too great. Once they got the two rivals outer clothing off, they reposed the stiff girls. They now hung with their bare, sexy muscular legs wrapped around each other’s hips. The scene now looked like two Amazons dueling it out on the monkey bars, thanks to the scantily clad attire.

               "Wow, I didn't know this could be so much fun!" Mel said as she walked around the scene, running her hands over the two frozen women. This was the most fun Mel had had off the soccer field in a long time that wasn’t sex.

               "I know," Julie agreed, walking back to Mel. She had just taken all the clothing back to Deidre’s car. She now had her trusty camera hanging from her neck and held the Polaroid in her hands. “It’s getting late though,” she then added, looking at her watch, “you have an early practice tomorrow too, so we should probably call it a night.”

               Mel looked up at the dark sky above them. It didn’t feel that late, thanks to the park lights, but up at the sky she could tell it was late. “You’re right. I’m guessing you need a ride back?”

               Julie grinned, “Yeah, but first we should free them though,” she then said, gesturing at the two nearly naked soccer players.

               “Do we have to?” Mel said, half jokingly. She wouldn’t mind keeping Deidre frozen for a while. The mouthy blond captain had been too much fun to manipulate. She was like a life size doll but better since Mel knew who the girl was and the control was exhilarating, to say the least.

               “I wouldn’t mind keeping them this way too… but I know Deidre’s parents; they would be devastated if anything were to happen to her. Anyway let’s head over to your car; we can watch them from there and then make a quick getaway. It should be a good show,” Julie insisted, walking off.

               “Yeah, sounds good to me,” Mel agreed as she began to follow the blond. She looked back at the two frozen girls. It would be great to keep one of them, she thought before turning away. “They’re going to freak,” she added, catching up to Julie.

* * *

               Deidre and Olivia both let out a shriek of terror, realizing they were all the sudden suspended in mid-air from monkey bars. It was literally a heart beat; they were in an alley at one moment and hanging in the middle of a park the next. They quickly unwrapped their legs from one another and their shrieks turned into blood curling screams as they realized they were both nearly naked. Olivia began crying and muttering incoherently. Deidre was in tears but kept more together than her frantic teammate; she of course was team captain after all. She quickly began to wrestle with one wrist and in a moment was able to free her right hand. The bindings were tight enough to hang them there but with a little force they came loose easily. “Hold on Olivia,” she called out to her friend as she worked on her other hand. This one was easier and it came loose in a blink of an eye. The blond roughly fell to the ground, landing hard on her backside in the wood chips. She quickly sat back up, “Calm down Olivia!” she ordered as she went to work on the brunette’s hands.

               “What the hell happened!? How did we get here!? Olivia whined as her right hand fell free. She was then able to slightly stand tiptoe in her bare feet and balance herself as Deidre worked on the other hand. Soon she stumbled to the ground; Deidre kept her from falling.

               “Don’t worry about that. Let’s just get the hell out of here,” Deidre said as she gathered the clothing that acted as their bindings. She recognized it was all her soccer clothing so she figured her car must be close by.

               Olivia was covering her body and sobbing, “How?”

               “There,” the blond pointed spotting her red convertible parked nearby. Without a word both girls bolted towards the car. In the panic of the mad dash the two soccer players did not notice a darkened Porsche sitting nearby idling. Reaching the car, both girls were relived to find the keys and the rest of their clothing. They both jumped into the car. Deidre quickly started it and closed the top.

               “Let’s get out of here!” Olivia screamed as she pulled on her seat belt. She looked around quickly, making sure no one was watching. She saw no one, not even the Porsche that was indeed watching their every action thus far.

               “You don’t have to tell me,” Deidre replied, making sure the roof was secured and the tinted windows up. A moment later the little red car was burning out the lot and into the night.

               The Porsche stayed in the lot a bit longer. Sounds of laughter could be faintly heard coming from it. It was nearly ten minutes later when the laughter subsided and the German sports car slowly rolled out of the lot.       

* * *

               Kat felt a gentle hand brushing her hair back behind her ear and smiled, then greeted to the sensation of a soft kiss on her cheek. "Good morning, gorgeous," whispered Chris Picket, who was lying in bed next to the soccer star.

               "You know I've got an identical twin, right?" giggled Kat as she opened her eyes and took in the sight of Chris as he lay on his side, his head resting on his arms. Originally the plan had been for the pair to just hang out, grab some coffee and chat in spite of the palpable chemistry between the pair. That wasn’t what happened. Coffee had soon turned into pizza back at Chris's place, and before they knew it Julie was falling asleep on the couch. By then it was already in the wee hours of the morning; Chris had started to make up the hide-a-bed but before they knew it they were both under its covers, getting all formality out of the way.

               "And yet you're still the gorgeous one, funny huh?" grinned Chris, moving in for another kiss, this one on the lips. Kat happily returned the gesture and the pair then rolled, the blond on top and rubbing her newfound lover's chest.

               "See, you get me," sighed Kat happily, having always found the stigma of having a twin, a brainy one at that, who closely resembled her thanks to her own college profession of choice, very frustrating when it came to dating. Chris, however, was perhaps the fourth man she'd ever met to really be able to tell the two apart, the others being her high school ex, her father and Tucker Holmes.

               As Kat considered suggesting another go at what happened the previous night, Chris gently moved her hands from his chest. "Sorry, but I happen to know you have practice soon," he pointed out, looking a bit sheepish. "That's why I woke you up."

               "Wow, you really do get me," noted Kat, letting out a sad sigh but still smiling all the same, proceeding to quickly glance around. Chris's apartment was small, though not tiny, while his bathroom only had a shower booth and not a tub his bedroom still could hold a queen-sized bed and a full dresser, though his living room didn't have much room for anything other than his couch and TV set-up, his kitchen being the only area where there was a table as his computer desk shared a room with his storage, which was the extent of his living space. In spite of the tight fit, however, Chris did have some trendy photo prints on his walls as well as nice carpets; plus the location was really close to the museum he worked, so it was more or less ideal for a bachelor on a security guard's salary.

               "If you want a bite before you go, I've got some juice and bread that can become toast, but I just ran out of eggs and peanut butter so all I can put on that is cherry jam," offered Chris, slowly sliding out from under Kat. "Oh, and you're welcome to use the shower, but I know how you are about germs."

               Kat just smiled wider as Chris mentioned her toiletry-related germ phobia. Once she'd read that the bathroom was one of the greatest spawning places for bacteria and she'd never forgotten it, even when told that other areas of the house might be worse. Due this fear, Kat avoided using public toilets, though if required she was fine with seat-covers, and likewise Kat avoided shared showers when she could. In the girl's locker room at the college Kat had called dibs on a specific shower and even did weekly tests to see if someone had messed with it. Kat's fear was a bit over the top, she knew, but it had stuck with her all the same. "I say again, you get me," grinned Kat, giving Chris another quick kiss before sliding off the bed to grab her clothes. "Rain-check on breakfast; I have a raisin bagel at home I need to eat or it'll go off, and I can never eat them later in the day. Still, if it wasn't for the rush, I wouldn't mind checking out the shower sometime..."

               "Not to be the one to openly talk about it, but I take it this means you're fine with, well, us?" asked Chris, sitting up properly.

               "I didn't just repeatedly tell you how much I like that you understand me as a way of saying, 'I don't want you seeing me naked ever again,'" laughed Kat.

* * *

               Kat always found happiness and peace while on the soccer pitch. This particular morning was different though; after a more than delightful night with her new boyfriend, she couldn’t take her mind off of him. She found herself missing goals, screwing up on kicks and passes. This caught the attention of her coaches and best friend Mel Donavan, who gave her a stern grilling that was normal for other players but not her. Kat didn’t mind though as she had something to look forward to off the field.

               Practice came and went as it always did. Kat was eager to find out what was Chris doing and see if they could hang out a little more. Chris having his own place was a plus, since Julie was home most of the time and even if she was with Tucker she still managed to show up unexpectedly in the dorm. She loved her sister to death but it would be nice if she had some alone time. So with the thought of spending the afternoon with Chris, Kat quickly showered in her designated shower that everyone knew to stay away from and returned to her locker. 

               She was surprised to see newly hired assistant coach Veronica Parker along with her best friend and co-captain Mel Donavan waiting for her. “Hey guys…” Kat greeted with an innocent wave as she moved past the two other women to her locker. “Sorry about practice, it was a long night,” she then explained as she set out her clean clothes.

               “Don’t worry about that, we all have our off days,” Veronica assured.

               “You, if anybody, needs more long nights,” Mel added with a smiled. “Don’t worry about that, we need to talk though.”

               “About?” Kat asked, hearing the concern in friend’s voice.

* * *

               Unfortunately Kat’s plans to seek out Chris for some afternoon fun were dashed. The topic that her friend wanted to talk about took precedence. It seemed that an enemy from their past, in the form of former Coach Diane King, had returned and the conservative blond was up to no good. Kat had seen the lady around a few times around campus but thought little of her or her presence. The program was doing so well under Coach Peyton that she knew they would never re-hire the former coach. According to Veronica, King didn’t want her previous job back; she was recruiting for the cross-town rivals. It seemed that she had some success with some of the younger players. Veronica and Glenda were able to change the girls’ minds however, but King was persistent. She was starting to work on the starters. Even though she was not successful yet, she kept at it.

               As Kat and Chris were having fun the night before, she learned that King had visited Mel and Veronica at the Coffee Pot when the two girls were waiting to meet her to talk about that very subject. King’s visit had been unsuccessful, but she seemed undeterred. She had paid a visit to Brit and Ayane’s place and even though the forward and defender had rejected her, she kept on trying, annoying the two roommates. They had had enough and wanted something done about it. Chrissy, Diane and Tess met with King that morning before practice. They weren’t happy that the troublesome woman was free to wander the training center, let alone the campus, bent on a recruiting quest.

               So now instead of having some more fun with Chris, Kat was gathered with her teammates in the team meeting room across the hall from their locker room. The whole team was not included in this emergency meeting; however it was just the core players, assistant coach Veronica Parker and Julie, who always came regardless of not actually being on the team. The core group included Chrissy, Mel, Britney, Ayane, Diane and Tess. They were more or less already showered and dressed in their street clothes, all waiting for an answer from their captain. They had just told her what King had been up to and now they waited for a plan. The problem was that Kat didn’t have one. In all honesty, her mind was elsewhere thinking about Chris, no matter how hard she tried to focus on the topic at hand. Veronica was really the only one with power in the group since she was an actual coach but she never really had a dominant type of personality so she naturally still looked up to Kat. She too waited for the blonde’s answer to the problem.

               Kat looked at the eager faces of her teammates, not sure what to say. She looked over at Mel who looked like she was in her own little world, too, deep in thought. Suddenly a smile crept over her face. “What’s up, Mel?” Kat asked her best friend.

               “I think I have an idea…” Mel replied, looking at Kat first then Julie who was sitting in the back of the room. “We could use the camera.” 

               "Whoa, what?!" Diane instantly exclaimed, and that was all anyone could make out before everyone else chimed in. Some practically screamed protests, looking at Mel like she'd just suggested murder. Others smiled, nodded and even applauded. Kat herself fired off a quick burst before realizing it was hard to understand anyone.

               "Ladies!" shouted Julie, surprising everyone and getting them to quiet down after nearly half a minute of aimless shouting. "Lets calm down for a second and hear Mel out. We can be judgmental after we hear the plan."

               "I don't need time for that," piped up Tess, but none the less everyone sat down so Mel could speak. Mel herself proceeded to walk and stand up next to Kat.

               "It's simple, really," explained Mel. "Diane King gave us her contact information. She’s staying at a hotel, so chances are she’s not even settled in. We just stake the place out and do a quick hit: pull up, flash, drag her into the car and be back at my place before anyone who saw anything would realize what just happened."

               "Okay, I have obvious comments, but I'll start with the easy one," announced Kat. "While it’s clear you want to be the one to hide her, how long do we hang onto her for?"

               "Well, she won't stop hounding us for the season, which is probably how long she had to recruit anyone, so probably until it’s no longer possible to get transfers," decided Mel, thinking realistically.

               "The problem is that includes the championship tournament," pointed out Chrissy. "Can we really justify taking away months of this woman's life? We saw what it did to Stillsville."

               "She's making our lives a living hell, I think a little time out would be good for her," piped up Ayane.  “Besides, it’s not like she’d be getting any older; in some way we’d be extending her life.”

               "People forget stuff at the hotel all the time," added Brit, though naturally she wasn’t sure how suspicious it would be if a person forgot all their stuff. "At worst I think the hotel will think she just skipped town to avoid paying her bill."

               "Alright, let me just recap here," offered Veronica, having not really spoken. "You're proposing we deal with King by freezing her solid with that magic camera of yours and keeping her hidden away until the next championship? That’s no small period of time; we're talking months."

               "Yes, but think about how she treated her best players like crap, put down Glenda and is now harassing us to the point where we could possibly get a restraining order invoked.  I think it’s a lot easier than going through a legal battle that would take our attention away from practice," declared Mel, getting nods of understanding from essentially everyone, though not necessarily agreement.

               "As much as I hate to be democratic about using the thing," sighed Kat, nodding at Julie, "We should just put this to a vote." As Kat continued to speak Julie produced the fabled camera from her bag and walked towards the front of the room, getting glances from everyone as she did.

               "Which part, the whole plan, or just using the camera on her?" asked Brit unhelpfully. "I mean, hiding her at Mel's? We’re sure?"

               "Hey, it was my idea," pointed out the goalie as Julie arrived up front, placing the camera down to face the room and standing next to Kat. Mel also appeared to decide to give the twins room and moved to sit back down in her seat.

               "Right then, all against this plan?" asked Kat, at which point she raised her hand. Tess, Chrissy and Diane mirrored her, all of them uneasy about the length of time involved with the plan. Since all the girls had participated in camera hijinks in the past, just its use wasn't the issue.

               "Okay, and all for it?" Kat then asked, and to her surprise four hands were raised. Ayane and Brit weren't a big shock, both having clearly wanted to abuse the camera in the past, were it not in their control. Mel also naturally raised her hand, this being her plan. The surprise fourth hand was Veronica's, who despite being a coach was apparently okay with it.

               "Okay, that's five against four in favor of not doing it," declared Kat, but as the words left her mouth she saw that everyone wasn't looking at her, but to her right where Julie was standing. Suddenly realizing she hadn't seen how her sister had voted, Kat turned to see Julie with her hand raised.

               "I think you've got that backwards," pointed out Brit, sounding almost mocking.

               "Julie, what are you doing?" asked Kat, stunned. In response Julie sighed and faced her sister, leaning forward and, in a surprisingly sneaky move, put her hands down on the front table so that her fingers triggered the camera flash. Light filled the room and immediately the other seven that weren't twins were frozen in place. Turning for a moment to look Kat saw Mel leaning back in her seat, a grin on her face. Ayane and Brit, still joined at the hip, had their arms crossed and were also grinning, their eyes on Julie. Veronica still had her right hand raised, her own expression clearly a bit troubled, her decision no doubt a difficult one. Chrissy, Tess and Diane all had their mouths open, their eyes wide as they looked at Julie.

               "Sorry, but I had a feeling you were going to chew me out and I figured you didn't want everyone to see that, since I really don't," explained Julie with a shrug as the photo of the frozen seven hit the floor.

               "This is exactly what I've been telling you!" screamed Kat, unable to contain herself. "Do you remember why we took the camera in the first place? It was to get petty revenge on the A-squad for ditching us and we ran a risk the entire time! Every time we use the camera we need to think long and hard about it! We can't just spontaneously freeze our teammates so we can have a private talk, never mind turning my old coach into a human statue for potentially months!"

               "The same coach that you froze at the tournament last year!" Julie screamed back, clearly not about to back down on her stance. "That woman is a nightmare, Kat! She's harassing your team and you couldn't think of a plan, but Mel did, and it can work! The only other thing that was even brought up was a restraining order, and that could take too long to get! We need an instant solution and this is it!"

               "I know she's a problem, but there could be dire ramifications!" hissed Kat, the sisters getting right in each other's faces. "People might miss her, think she's been kidnapped, which she will have been I should add! We could get into serious trouble!"

               "You want to talk about ramifications?" spat Julie, now quieter but no less angry. "Just now, without looking, you assumed I voted with you. We're twins, Kat, but we don't think alike. I'm technically older but you treat me like I'm a kid, always trying to stop me from making my own decisions. You even warned me against going after Tucker so soon after his break-up with his girlfriend and you know what? We're in love! You need to start trusting me!"

               "Crap..." breathed Kat, leaning back, tears starting to form in her eyes as Julie's words hit home. "The trust card..."

               "Yeah, the trust card," repeated Julie, tears of her own starting to form. "We're sisters, we're twins, but we aren't totally alike, Kat. Now more than ever you need to realize this, especially since in the not too distant future we might not be living together anymore."

               "It's true..." nodded Kat, blinking back tears, "My sister's in love and a genius... and I still don't think you're a responsible person. I..."

               "It's okay," offered Julie, moving to hug her sibling. "Mom's not here, and you always wanted to be like her. You're just focusing your energy on the wrong person."

               "Yeah," agreed Kat, hugging her sister. The two stood there for some time, their tableau of silent and frozen stiff friends watching, though not observing.

* * *

               "So how long do you think it'll take those three to get over you changing your vote, even though you didn't need to?" asked Mel from the driver's seat of the Ford sedan they had rented for the task. Kat and Julie sat in the back with the camera at the ready. The three women were wearing dark-blues, having originally wanted to wear black until Mel pointed out that shades of blue worked better for stealthy night work since in spite of the sky essentially being black it was still technically blue. Of course, the argument was made that stealth clothing wasn't even necessary as they were in a car, but the three had gotten into the spirit of what they were calling a commando raid.

               "A while, unfortunately," sighed Kat, shaking her head. "That's probably the first time I've come off that fickle. Of course, you guys didn't hear Julie's arguments."

               "As sweet at that vote-change was, it really was a bad idea in retrospect," pointed out Julie with a grin, Kat's face going ashen.

               "Well, as long as you thought it was sweet," mused Kat, now regretting her decision. Tess had made it perfectly clear she hated the plan, really worried about police going looking for King, while Chrissy and Diane just thought it was cruel when there were legal ways to deal with their problem. Having Kat siding with the plan after initially voting against it had really hurt Kat's reputation in the eyes of those three girls.

               "Speaking of sweet, look down the block," pointed out Mel. Glancing out the front window of the vehicle the trio saw Diane King, standing just around the corner a block from the hotel. It was late out and a weekday. The streets were deserted. “The coast looks clear,” Mel added looking around. Aside from the hotel a block away most the other buildings on the block were businesses and they were long closed for the day. The street they were on was a side street as well, so traffic was nonexistent that the moment.

               "No backing out now, let’s do this," declared Julie and with that the car suddenly jumped forward, Mel putting it in gear and moving forward after idling for nearly five minutes. Like lightning the car was beside Diane, who wasn't even looking as she was stretching out against a streetlight pole dressed in warm up pants and sweatshirt ensemble, her hair up under a baseball hat. She had been out for her daily nightly run. The former coach had less than a second to look up before the camera flash went off and froze her in place. The car doors then opened and the helpless Diane King was dragged inside, the doors then slamming shut as the car immediately sped off.

               "Well, I have to say this feels really satisfying," breathed Kat as the frozen from of King lay on her lap as well as her sister's. The two sisters quickly arranged it so the stiff blond was seated between them. Julie arranged her face to a blank look as Kat slipped on a pair of sunglasses over the blonde’s vacant blue eyes. "So what are you doing to do with her at your place?" She then asked poking Diane on the cheek with her index finger.

               "I was thinking key rack, maybe a foot stool," laughed Mel as they drove off towards her place.

 

The Conclusion?


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