Glad you could join us for the next volunteer episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Lieutenant Terrance of Bog had his orders: build an Alliance army to defeat General Hai. He’d spent yesterday with Ambassador Arturo, visiting every Freelands tribe except the bees, explaining the importance of the Alliance and signing up recruits.
The first meeting on their list was with the Communal Hierarchy of Wasps. The air at the overflowing Arena thrummed an anxious whine when their ancient leader stood before them, clearing his throat with a rasp of coughs and expectorations.
“We are not accustomed to working with other Freelands’ tribes,” the elderly wasp began, “but when times change, they demand we change our ways with them. The Massacre changed our times. The Rebels who attacked us and killed our unborn have attacked others, not only in the Freelands, but in the nearby kingdoms of Bog and Fen as well.”
A low hum ebbed through the gathering.
The ancient one coughed once and continued, “The Rebels’ fighting force is diverse and vicious. Alone, we have little hope of stopping them. Alone, we will lose our freedom, our future, and many in our tribe.”
Subdued silence descended on the crowd.
“We need help. We need our Freelands neighbors and our neighbors in Fen and Bog. Together we will be stronger than any tribe alone. Together we will be stronger than our enemy.”
Lieutenant Terrance scanned the middle of the audience to locate the individual who shouted, “How?”
“You’ve probably heard about the newly formed Alliance Council,” the Honored One replied. “I am proud to serve as this community’s Council delegate. I turn to Arturo, Freelands’ Ambassador to the Alliance, son of Miguel and Valeria, to share the details of our participation in this important new endeavor.”
The ancient wasp hobbled to a stump in the shade at the side of the Arena.
Arturo stood erect before his tribe. “Rebels made all of us victims of The Massacre. Every family lost unborn. Rebels stole part of our future to try to crush our spirits and leave us helpless against their evil violence. What do they want? They want us to fear them so completely we will allow them to take our home for themselves without a fight and rule over us as their slaves.”
The lieutenant spotted the wasp who called out, “How will we fight them?”
Arturo nodded, “After agreeing to a structure that ensures each tribe retains all the freedoms, rights, and traditions that are their birthrights as citizens of the Freelands, Alliance Council delegates from Bog, Fen, and the Freelands have agreed on a plan to fight the enemy together.”
The same voice countered, “But we don’t know anything about fighting wars!”
“That’s true,” Arturo agreed. “But we have friends who do know, and are ready to train us so we can defend our families and friends against the enemies of freedom.” He turned to the lieutenant.
Energy surged through the gathering.
“This is Lieutenant Terrance of the Knights of Service of the Kingdom of Bog. Their history documents their dedication to defending the right of their people to live free lives led by King Arnie the Former.”
“The former what?” yelled the persistent young wasp.
The lieutenant laughed as he took his place beside Arturo. “What’s your name?”
“Salomé Zion, if you really want to know,” she answered with a wag of her head and a flip of her wings.
“That’s a good question, Salomé Zion. I know he was formerly a Prince, but we all suspect there’s another story none of us have heard. If I ever learn it, I’ll certainly share it with you. Today, however, I’m here to invite you to join our fighting force. We will provide training and weaponry to all who sign up. If you want to commit to serving the cause in a non-combat capacity, you are welcome to serve on one of the army’s vital support crews.”
Everyone signed up. Most chose combat training. Those too young or too old to fight would gather food or run messages, serve as medics or battlefield cleanup and retrieval crews to take care of the fallen.
Hopeful did not mean unrealistic.
While the wasps volunteered in force, Lieutenant Terrance and Arturo took their leave to visit the burrowing voles. They had lost only one community member: little Chester, a victim of the Assassin himself.
“Do you have a sense of the voles’ willingness to fight?” the lieutenant asked Ambassador Arturo.
“They’re a shy people,” Arturo answered, “and their grief is still fresh. Immediately after Theo discovered Chester’s body, the entire community retreated underground. But Theo agreed to serve as their Council delegate. He’s quiet, and his tribe respects him. His participation strikes me as a positive sign, but they are not fighters.”
The lieutenant thought a moment. “I have a job in mind that they might find very appealing.”
To be continued. . .