Rook Bartley has never been considered the "life of the party" at any time, but as the combat troops approaches her hometown, she grows more introspective by the minute. Her teammates notice her quite mood and try to bring her out of it, but Rook remains lost in bitter memories.
She remembers when she worked with another team, a gang of motorcycle riders called the Blue Angels. They were dedicated to helping others and spent most of their time fighting a rival group, the Red Snakes. Then the Angels were disbanded by a man Rook had believed to be her friend. Romy...the same man who refused to show at a designated rumble where Rook was mercilessly beaten by Red Snake warriors. Rook has not been home since that black time.
There's no putting off a return now. Rook rides into town to visit her family. Talking to her sister, Lily, she receives bad news. Since Rook's departure, the Snakes have had the run of the town. The gang wars are worse than ever. Romy and the Blue Angels have lost the desire to fight.
Bartley is not surprised. It's just what she expected from the coward who left her to be savaged by their enemy. Lily protests; it wasn't like that at all. She tells Rook that Romy and the Angels were ambushed the day of the rumble. It wasn't that they wouldn't help Rook – they couldn't help her. Romy was never a fighter like Rook anyway. He did what he could for as long as possible, but he was not cut from the same cloth as Rook Bartley.
While the truth does nor set Rook free, it puts a scab on a few open wounds and gives her the courage to make a new stand against the Red Snakes. She challenges their leader to a race – on a thin wooden beam more than fifteen stories high. Although he'd never admit it out loud, Rand has been concerned about Rook. He shows up in time to keep the race a fair one-on-one competition. Rook wins easily.
Afterwards, Rook and Rand stop to say goodbye to Lily. Rook is surprised to hear Rand met and spoke with her mother. "She said for you to stay well...that's all she wants," Rand explains. "She told me to tell you to just take care."
Rook is even more surprised when the woman appears, smiling from a distance. "And I always thought she was so ashamed of me for the way I behaved. I'm sorry for leaving, Mom. I love you so much...." Rook is unable to say what she feels out loud. As she rides away, the girl is lost in thought again, but they're the best thoughts she's known in a long time.
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