Later he kidded Rafe about being beaten by Angel but Rafe wasn't in a good mood about it and changed the subject quickly.
"Hey you remember the dark haired girl that initiated you?", Rafe asked.
"Yeah, what about her?"
"Her name is Misty and she only needs one more fight".
"I already knew that. I was talking to Angel about her last week. I thought maybe you had something new about her".
"Not really but she is kind of fun to talk to. I wouldn't want to fight her though", Rafe joked. "Pretty soon babies will start challenging me and then I might win once in awhile."
"You will get your turn Rafe. Don't worry so much about it. Angel said you almost beat her."
"She did?" Rafe eyed him hopefully. "What else did she say?"
"I wasn't even supposed to say that", Tobal shrugged. "You were just feeling so down I thought I had to say something. I know I'm really going to have trouble fighting when it's my turn. Still
I try not to think about it any more than I need to."
"How long do you do guard duty for the initiations anyway?" He asked to change the subject.
"This is going to be my last month", Rafe said. "Then I'll get some other duty. Did you know we lost two Apprentices already this month?"
"What do you mean ‘Lost?", Tobal asked curiously. "I thought the medics looked out for all of us ."
"Oh, I don't mean they got lost in the woods or died", Rafe corrected. "I mean they got fed up and headed back to civilization before winter set in."
"People can leave?", Tobal asked in surprise.
"Sure", this is a voluntary program and you can leave anytime you want. There is nothing keeping you here except two hundred miles of wilderness. Remember New Seattle is only a hundred and fifty miles straight south of here. You can make that in three or four days pretty easy."
"I had forgotten all about that." Tobal said. "Do people take time off and go to the city once in awhile for fun?"
"It's not allowed", Rafe said. "If you get out of range of the air sleds and they can't monitor your med-alert bracelet you are considered to have quit the program and need to start all over from scratch. Each year someone finds that out the hard way. Most of the times a medic will stop you and give you a warning though."
Changing the subject Tobal asked, "How's Dirk doing anyway? I feel real bad about what happened last month at Melanie's initiation. I should have warned her or something."
"No, people aren't supposed to know what's going to happen. Dirk is doing fine and his wound is healing fine. That whole thing was just bad luck, that's all. Dirk's a good sport and taking it pretty well even though some of the kids are razzing him."
Circle that month was eventful, Tobal had never seen eight people get initiated at the same time. The initiations started early and they continued late into the night. Everyone was tired and the party didn't get going until well after midnight. After the initiations the drum circle began and it was party time. In all it was a good time and the night went by very fast. It was early August and the sight of naked bodies dancing wildly around the central fire was as intoxicating as the home brewed beer.