Well, the dueling club is off to a smashing start—not that we had any doubt about that, especially given Noemi’s organizational flair (she really does have a lot in common with her Aunt Annina that way). Wonderful variety of characters here, and particularly fantastic to see an appearance by one of your original, classic OCs, the one and only Raissa Baiard Blayne, this time as a kickass grandma and battlemaster who bakes the best cookies ever—not in the least bit mutually exclusive! Plus, we get to meet Caleb Bridger in person; I really like him too, and I love how his exuberant goofballism (we know where he gets that! ) contrasts with both Ben’s overseriousness and Ronen’s unassuming nature. Caleb is truly watching out for his little sis, too; I wonder how much he knows about her crush on Smoldery Solo. And yes, about that Smoldery Solo... well, you do a great job making him a real piece of Seirous Jedi Work! What a stuck-up, disagreeable poser. I really can't describe him better than @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha did: Yes, pretty much! I want to kick him even just on the basis of his little “whatever it is you do” remark to Ronen, which seems so specifically aimed at Ronen’s self-effacing, self-conscious tendencies. But it doesn’t stop there: there’s something a little creepy in the way he near-obsessively gawks at Noemi while she’s dueling with Dhel, the way he talks to her afterward is just dripping with smarm (if that’s a word), and of course the bow—just what? . If you don't mind my comparing him to a character in one of my own stories, he seems cut from very much the same cloth as Porfozald Marballees. And Ro has to stand there and watch it all—and, as if that weren't enough, he gets to be squeed to about it by Noemi afterward! Aw man, I really do feel for him now—I did before, too, of course, but having to endure that kind of thing really is the bantha gleefully grinding into the ground the dust that it's just trampled Ronen into. Once again I just want to give the little fellow a big hug; his mix of feelings is totally understandable and believable here. Don't worry, Ro, you are not in the least bit a bad friend for not feeling happy for Noemi here—you have a very good reason for the way you feel, and a very good reason to Have a Bad Feeling about the whole matter. Nor do I blame you for going out into the wilderness and disappearing or heading home and slinking off to bed. (And I'm glad no one else was around to poke their noses or graspers into things, because that's so not what you need right now.) All that said... I think Noemi really is still concerned about Ronen, and I know she wasn't trying to make him feel horrible by sharing that Ben asked her out—she was just sharing the news with a friend. I'll hold out hope that those better impulses of hers win out... [face_fingers_crossed] Can't wait to see how this will all turn out! I fear a repulsortrainwreck of sorts may be in the offing on this upcoming Big Date, but the fact that Noemi's friendship toward Ro is still going strong gives me at least some home. Looking forward to more, as always!