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Stephanie Long

“I told you not to hook up with her,” says Simon Yu (#0).

“I didn’t,” says Stephanie Long, in a protest so weak that buzzards immediately begin circling above her in the instinctive belief that something is about to die.

“Just don’t let Imani Rhodes (#17) find out,” says Simon.

“Nobody got stabbed, Simon,” says Stephanie Long, carefully examining a watch with a radium dial. (This is her job, by the way: she buys antiques.)

“That’s the third one you’ve looked at,” he says. “Do you specialize in phosphorescent kitsch?”

“I specialize,” says Stephanie Long, “in things that can kill you.”

Stephanie Long

You have to be in good shape to Magnajoust, of course, but you don’t need the traditional athletic form. Miguel Sebanon (#8) is only 5’4″. He and the other rogue back (Carol Tolliver, #41) derive a distinct advantage from their low centers of gravity.

Gravity, like peripheral vision, matters in Electric Magnajoust. This is why Imani Rhodes (#17) makes them hold flashcards to either side of her as she stares intently straight ahead.

“You look ridiculous,” Stephanie Long informs her.

“I’ve almost got it,” Imani Rhodes insists.

“The previews are starting,” Simon Yu groans.

“Zero!” says Imani Rhodes. “Shit, six?”

Simon Yu

Lucie Corner’s back the following week, so they throw a receiveoff (or possibly a sendon; signs are unclear) to welcome her. You get traded a lot in Electric Magnajoust if you’re in it for the money.

Imani Rhodes (#17) has never been traded.

“Don’t do it,” Simon Yu tells Stephanie Long, as they lie on the roof with their feet in the window.

“I’m not,” protests Stephanie Long.

“Don’t hook up with Lucie Corner,” says Simon Yu. “She’ll wring you out, Stephanie Long. Stop coming to her parties. I mean it.”

Which shows how much Simon Yu (#0) knows about women.

Stephanie Long

Stephanie Long doesn’t actually play Electric Magnajoust; she just hangs out with most of the Stone City Thunders. This is why she’s at Lucie Corner’s goodbye party, leaning on a molded archway frame as Miguel Sebanon (#8) holds forth about the consequences of the inbound tangent rule, when she becomes aware of someone beside her.

“Are you listening to him?” asks Imani Rhodes, who came after all. “You didn’t even watch the game.”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t like to hear about it,” she says.

Imani Rhodes snorts.

“Don’t you?”

“Talking about Joust,” says Imani Rhodes, “is like buildings about dancing.”

Simon Yu

The locker room of St. Avarice Arena is cramped and fluorescent, floored with a queasy peachlike material. There’s only one room. It’s a coed sport.

It’s hard to care about mere nudity when you’re preparing for Electric Magnajoust.

Simon Yu (#0) restraps his neodymium footbrakes, worried that they might be wobbling, and also that Imani Rhodes (#17) isn’t speaking to Lucie Corner (#30).

“At least stop by her sendoff,” he says.

Imani Rhodes shakes her head. “Game tape to watch.”

“Electric Magnajoust isn’t everything,” says Simon Yu quietly.

“Yes,” says Imani Rhodes, “it is,” steps onto the launch rail, and vanishes.