"The first thing to do when looking for more than the first thing is to divide up," I said.
"Dividing divides down," Chevron corrected.
"The first thing to do is to split up," I tried.
"You mean split apart," the Ambassador corrected.
"The first thing to do is to break apart," I said. "What we should—"
"I'm sorry," Macie interjected. "But shouldn't we be more interested in fixing things at the moment, rather than breaking them?"
"Yes," I said. "You're very very right. Where did I lose my head?! We're not here to divide up or down, split up or apart, or break in any way, shape or form. We're here to fix—fix up and fix down, fix apart and together—but when we do it," I said "—we should do it apart!" They looked at me, agasp. "That way we cover more ground."
"Cover or uncover it?" Macie asked.
"Exactly." I turned from face to face and back again. This was the most decisive I had ever been in my entire life—and I couldn't decide what to do next. Lucky for me, the Ambassador decided otherwise:
"No," he said. "The Leader of the Dwellers and I will do as leaders do and lead the charge to everything. And then, we'll charge you for it."
"Charge us?!" Macie exclaimed. She was deeply offended with this injustice. "What are the charges?"
"For the words and the pages and the pepper, of course!" The Ambassador said—and said with gusto. He was making a bit of a performance of it, feeling like he was finally among equals with this Leader Dweller around. "You just sit tight and prepare to pay the price. The price...for spice. It's a pretty sweet deal."
"That tastes pretty rotten to me," Chevron said.
"Me, too." I mumbled.
"Me three," Chevron said. Though he was already one by this count.
"Me four," Macie added oddly (though four was even). "It might not be an even match, but mark my words Mr. Ambassador and Mr. Dweller-person, we will find those words and pages, we will find that pepper—and, more importantly, we will find the key to taking titanium levitation down for good and all. For Mapleton and Lincylum, for Dwellers and Taste Testers—for the whole island province!"
This rousing speech roused us to action—which consisted of Chevron and I dusting off our knees and grimacing a bit (but in a proud sort of way, I think). The Ambassador's reaction to all of this was to take a picture of us and laugh. Then he and the Leader of the Dwellers hunched over the photo on his phone and receded into the foliage.
"Well, that was rude," I said.
"Yeah, they didn't even share the picture with us." Chevron said.
But Macie was already on it. She had her phone out and was squeezing us all together for a selfie.
She grimaced. Chevron grinned. And I was looking the other way.
I couldn't believe my eyes.