The members of the Center and Inner Circles arrive. The crowd inside makes Neil uneasy, so they take the meeting onto the deck outside.
“Cynthia had her trial by fire,” Maribelle Casey said quietly. “After we lost Cliff…. It’s been hard on all of us. We need you, Neil. All of us are counting on you.”
“Thanks, Maribelle, but that doesn’t help a lot knowing,” Neil laughed nervously. “Hell, I’ve had an entire platoon rely on me for direction, bombs going off, taken heavy fire—and I wasn’t nearly as scared then as I am right now.”
“If I may,” Claude said, stepping forward. “I think that just our Circle needs to spend some time together today. Let’s go to the ritual grounds, get to know one another. We’ll go over the ritual with Neil. The rest of you can go over your parts here. We’ll meet at Cynthia’s house just…
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