Glad you could join us for the next ripping episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Sunrise had arrived before night was done sleeping, and, although they were excited now, most of the recruits had shown up for roll call bleary-eyed and yawning. Not Sam. She’d been awake and ready before the last star faded.
Happy to be assigned to the same Stinging Fliers group as Queen Madalena’s daughter, Clifton thought he’d been eager to start training; Sam was rabid to begin. Clifton was pleased to be the victor in nine out of twelve partner exercises with twelve different partners; Sam never lost.
By mid-morning, their training officer, Sergeant Stubbs from Fen’s Hive Elite, asked her to help him demonstrate each new maneuver; by noon she was creating her own techniques.
Taking their lunch break together, Clifton and Sam fell into a discussion about the Ultimate Sacrifice. The Alliance army’s official policy discouraged suicide attacks unless absolutely necessary. Clifton thought this was eminently reasonable.
“But what’s the point of having a stinger if you aren’t going to use it?” Sam’s frustration mounted with each word.
“Where’s the sense in a fighting force killing itself off?” Clifton shot back.
“Look, I have an idea,” she confided, “and I want you to help me perfect it so I can show the sergeant.”
As she explained it to him, Clifton’s admiration grew. They flew off to a secluded spot to practice until it was time to return to the Meadow.
Lieutenant Terrence had arrived to observe the exercises.
“All right, Recruits!” the sergeant bellowed as he hovered before them. “I’ve given you basic defense tactics. It’s time to implement them. Each of you is going to have one chance to defend yourself against… me.”
An anxious murmur rippled through the trainees.
The first two would have been dead if Sergeant Stubbs had followed through.
I can’t do worse than that. Clifton flew forward, his heart racing. The sergeant came at him straight on, full force. Clifton waited till the last possible moment and lay his wings flat on his back to drop suddenly from his attacker’s path.
The sergeant circled back as Clifton returned to his place among the trainees.
“Well done, Recruit! Who’s next?”
Sam rose to face him.
Clifton’s pulse was still pounding from his own success, but his heartbeat surged even higher as his friend sped toward the sergeant while he darted at her. Almost nose to nose, Sam dove beneath him, venom sliding down her stinger, flipping all the way over in a somersault that would have sliced the sergeant’s belly open to poison him without ripping out her stinger — if she’d really meant it.
Eyes wide, Sergeant Stubbs took a moment to recover.
“In all my years, I have never seen that move, Recruit. You changed a simple defense into a killing attack that isn’t a one-and-done.” He turned to the lieutenant, “If you wouldn’t mind giving the rest of them a little hand-to-hand training, Sir, I’d like to have a private tutoring session with Killer over here — see if I can still master a new technique.”
“Happy to help out,” the lieutenant said, and striking a bizarre pose, he addressed the Trainees. “Combat is about more than mere artistry.”
To be continued. . .