When the Smoke Cleared

Glad you could join us for the next smoky episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

Elliot 173
Photo/Image credit: 4ever.eu/S.T. Ranscht

The baked ground gave up its heat to The Arids’ twilight. Lucy, stretching her wings and easing the kinks from her neck with a slow head roll, righted herself atop the termite mound, and prepared to take off on the last leg of her journey.

“I’ll grab breakfast on the way,” she promised herself checking the sky for likely targets.

Approaching from opposite directions, Sheela and an owl Lady Lucy thought she recognized from the Dark of Night Aero Squadron were so close she decided to wait for them and hear Sheela’s report.

“Flyer First Class Gregor reporting for duty,” the owl announced as he landed atop the termite mound.

“Thank you, Flyer,” Sheela said. She turned to Lady Lucy’s left ear. “I’m glad you’re still here, ma’am. If the Stingers from the Freelands came back to The Arids, they must have crossed the border before I arrived. There has been a major movement of ground and air Stingers converging somewhere in the northwest, but I couldn’t pinpoint their destination without showing myself. I think you’ll have better success, Gregor. And the only movement I observed out of The Arids was a pair of frogs traveling south at a run.”

“Thank you, Flyer,” Gregor responded. “The Queen requests you report directly to your Captain.” He turned to Lady Lucy. “Your orders, ma’am?”

She raised an eyebrow. “My borders? Oh, they’re not my borders. You just carry on patrolling them. Leave the activity in the northwest to me.”

Scooping the air with her wings, the bat rose off the hill and set a course for the General Hai’s main base.

~~~

Lady Lucy glided over her destination as night erased the last of sunset. The General himself was directing an army of crawling and flying Stingers removing a rockslide from the cavern’s entrance. The smoke rising from his back hung over him in a blood red cloud.

So that’s why they’ve gathered. She circled lower to land as casually as she could. They’re not ready to march, so we still have time to expand our defenses. I need to get word to the Queen.

“Where have you been?” General Hai demanded as she landed to his right.

“Queen Lilian insisted I go with that upstart Prince of Bog. He met with one of your agents — some Stinger named Julius. Good thing I was there. I heard him turn traitor and share a little too much information about you, but I took care of him for you. And when I got to the Freelands, I led Anthony right to the Prince, but the Knights caught him.”

“Yet you didn’t report back to me immediately.”

Lucy swallowed and licked her lips. “Queen Lilian was expecting me. I didn’t want to arouse suspicion. Besides, I figured you had other spies there who would let you know what happened.”

He stared into her eyes, but said nothing. The red smoke around him thickened.

Then it parted.

Anthony, minus a claw, stepped through the haze. “Good evening, Lucy.”

A new tension straightened her spine. One eye twitched. “Oh good,” she said, “you escaped.”

General Hai frowned, surveying the activity in the hollow. “You’ve disappointed me, my Lady,” He looked away from her to their left. She followed his eyes, ready to take off at the first sign of trouble.

If it came from her hearing side.

Elliot 173a
Photo/Image credit: Shutterstock/S.T. Ranscht

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

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Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

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