Glad you could join us for the next fictional episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
The absolute dark in Leftenant Chaz’s brain gave way to the starry dark of night. And pain. Pain in his shoulders. Pain in his—
“What the hell—?”
His wings were gone.
What happened? Clutching his head, he squeezed his eyes shut to sort out the confused images now swirling in his brain. Night raids. Captives. Flying home. A tearful young face begging to be mastered.
That’s right, he remembered, it fought back.
The thrill was always in the frantic struggle. The delicious screaming. The glory was in the final moment of ultimate supremacy But this time in that last, tortured breath he took before complete domination — what? — gasping, shrieking, blinding pain.
“The whore bit me and took my wings!” His agony and his eyes confirmed it.
Now what? He could never let anyone find out what really happened, but he was crippled, his prisoner had escaped, and he needed to be the first to tell his uncle.
Duggla was hungry and her patience was gone. “So what’s the plan?” she demanded.
General Hai’s head turned like a leaf on a slow stream. The rest of the eyes on the War Council followed.
“Madam Duggla?” the General asked, piercing her with an icy gaze.
She stared back thinking, I could snap him — any of them — out of the air whenever I wanted. The corners of her mouth twitched. “This Council has blathered on for days about how big its… army is. I’ve sat through report after report about how tough your Stingers are and how vicious your Flyers and Creepers are and how powerful we’re all going to be when we finally take over. So what are we waiting for?”
“General Hai!” Chaz called limping, wingless, into the chamber. “Uncle, I was ambushed!”
Hai rose to buzz a slow circle around the Leftenant. “Who did this to you? Where? How many?”
Chaz tried to follow his uncle’s progress without turning his head. “They came out of nowhere — a dozen or more — and grabbed my prisoner. I attacked and they fled. I pursued them toward Fen, but something knocked me to the ground and then someone knocked me out. I recovered and came directly here.”
“Fen? Leftenant…” Hai stopped, shook his head, and looked away from Chaz, “you… you guard the prisoners. The rest of you come with me to assemble the troops. We’ll invade from the North and East. No one is going to attack me in my own Kingdom.”
“But, General,” Octavio, the largest Spinner on the Council, pointed out, “that’s three times farther than going south to attack from the west.
General Hai hung for a moment longer with his back to the Spinner. His voice was low and even as he turned and glided toward Octavio, who took two sudden steps backward. “Yes, it is,” the General said, “but you heard the Leftenant. They ran home to Fen. They’ll be expecting swift retribution, and they’ll be watching for a western approach. They won’t expect us to attack from the opposite direction.”
“You’re right,” the Spinner agreed, his eyes downcast. “That’s brilliant.”
Duggla waited while the rest of the War Council flew after the General. She smirked as Chaz passed her on his way to the prisoners’ chamber. “Well, Flyboy — oh, I’m sorry — Boy, seems your assignment has changed. Need a little help in there?”
He glared at her. “I can still cut you, Crone.”
“Ya know, I’m not seein’ a bump on your head. But that,” she said pointing at his oozing wound, “that looks like a nasty bite. I’ll bet that hurt.” She laughed. “You’d better take care of it before it gets infected and falls off.”
Pushed over the edge, Leftenant Chaz charged at her, spinning to attack her flaccid belly, but Duggla was ready. Shooting her tongue out to spin the annoying little prick the other way, she plucked him off his feet, and swallowed him whole.
Her lips smacked as her tongue rubbed the taste left behind on the roof of her mouth. A little on the bitter side. Guess I’ll check the pantry for something sweeter. She headed for the prisoners.
A scraping, slithering sound at the main entrance stopped her. Slipping into in a shadowy corner, she watched three serpents making their way through the cavern.
Time to go, Madam Duggla decided. The instant the snakes disappeared into the back chamber, the Crone escaped into the dark.
To be continued. . .