Glad you could join us for the next antsy episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Beneath the Wildlands’ Hill, Commandant Marabunta sensed insistent vibrations in her sleep, and woke to bits of soil from the dormitory’s domed ceiling pelting onto her head.
“What the…?” The source was localized, stationary, and relatively small. Nothing to worry about, she concluded, but too annoying to ignore. Rousting herself from the comfort of her bed, she never even considered sending a scout.
Nighttime raids were rare, but she was familiar with starlight. Poking her head out of the sweltering snug of Inside into the cool open of Outside, it took her a moment to realize the blurry stars she saw were on the other side of a pair of glassy wings flittering above her.
The wings belonged to a handsome young wasp dancing like a rabbit on the side of the Hill.
“Are you insane? Knock it off!” she ordered.
Planting his feet beneath a regal bow, the wasp announced, “I am Ambassador Arturo from the Freelands, and Deputy Minister of the Alliance. On behalf of many free people, I’ve come to request your great Colony’s help in our urgent struggle to remain free. Do you have the authority to commit forces to our cause?”
“I have the authority to commit you to an eternally quiet place for the good of this Colony,” she offered.
“Please,” he begged, “innocent people are dying. We’re running out of time.”
“Very well,” the Commandant relented, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Sirehta didn’t hesitate to accept Sini’s request for assignment to the Viper Brotherhood. Her wings gave her the ability to see a broader view of the battlefield than any of the Brothers could. Her mental toughness rivaled that of battle-hardened veterans. Her resourcefulness was deep and cunning. And her drive was fueled by her hatred of oppression.
According to Sini’s map, they were beneath the trees inside the perimeter of the enemy’s northern encampment, at the end point of this, their latest tunnel. Breaking through the loam, Sirehta led his brothers to retrieve Allies taken prisoner, while Sini constructed yet another blind to camouflage their work. This one had to cover only the entrance to the passage.
Their larger projects waited for word that everyone else was ready.
Captain Sam stood before her new company beneath a canopy of stars. “Each of you is here because I chose you to be here. Most of you trained with me and understand what I expect. Those of you who trained with someone else might be wondering how you ended up with this bunch of misfits.” Laughter rumpled through the unit. “You’re here because you’re misfits, too. You don’t fit in a company that’s expected not to think. You don’t fit in a unit of sheep. You don’t fit anywhere you have to silently succumb to the will of one person.”
A voice rose from the back. “So this unit is run by committee?”
One corner of Sam’s mouth curved up as she folded her arms across her chest. “Salomé Zión, that’s an excellent question. No, not by committee. By mutual respect for each other and the structure of authority. We are a body. Each part of that body senses and shares information vital to the body’s health and well-being. I have been given authority to make decisions for this group, this body. I won’t make them in a vacuum. I expect each group member to take responsibility for keeping the body healthy and whole. Our goal is to win this war and survive. Ask questions, share knowledge, identify problems, create solutions.”
She looked out over the entire company. Many nodded, some turned to their neighbors with whispered comments. “If any of you would rather serve in a more traditional unit, let me know now and I’ll arrange your transfer, no hard feelings or recriminations.”
Silence blanketed the assembly until Salomé Zión’s voice rang out. “I am all in!” The crowd went wild.
To be continued. . .