Glad you could join us for the next ill-advised episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
“Fine!” Andre agreed, rolling his eyes. “Where are we going?”
“To the front,” Captain Sam tossed over her shoulder as she took off.
Reuben dashed to catch up with her. “You mean we’re gonna see some action?”
Bouncing in the air, Bram called, “Do we get to fight?”
“Knock it off!” Andre yelled. “This has nothing to do with us, that’s why we’re supposed to bring her home.”
Sam somersaulted backward to drop into the midst of her half-brother’s little gang. “You’re welcome to enlist. I can assign you a training officer so you’d have some hope of surviving.”
“What?” Reuben sneered. “We can already fight.”
“We’ve developed some advanced techniques,” Clifton pointed out. “You’d really need instruction.”
“Pffft,” Andre scoffed. “Forget that! What’s to know? You either knock the other guy out of the sky, or you sting him and die.”
“Yeah, I’m really good at the knocking part!” Bram crowed.
Shaking her head, Sam sped forward, slowing as the sounds of combat reached her. When the others caught up, she motioned them to land behind cover where they could observe unseen.
“So why are we hiding?” Andre taunted.
“My unit isn’t authorized to be here this shift. I just want you to see—”
Reuben guffawed. “Your guys look like they’re dancing.”
“I’ve seen enough,” Bram announced. “Who’s with me? Let’s go be heroes!”
“Wait!” Sam warned, grabbing Andre’s arm.
The others shot into the open where Arids Stingers surrounded them, stabbing Reuben and Bram dead before they could turn to engage, and shredding Lee’s wings so he dropped to the ground wailing.
Andre’s eyes went wide and his mouth fell open.
“Stay here,” Captain Sam ordered. “Clifton, with me.”
Racing toward Andre’s fallen friend, she took out two of the enemy with a double rolling slice as she dove to meet Clifton where he was pushing the wasp he’d killed off the bee they’d gone to save. Supporting the wounded youth between them, Sam and Clifton dragged him off the battlefield and back to their squad.
Pale and shaking, Andre stared at his friend. “What happened?”
“You saw what happened,” Sam accused him, “the same thing that happens to every moron who won’t take good advice.”
“How’s he supposed to get home?” Andre demanded. “What am I going to tell Mother?”
“He’ll stay with us. We have medics who can patch him up so eventually he’ll be able to fly well enough to do his job, but it’s gonna take time and hard work for him to get to that point.” Sam tried to rub the growing ache out of her temples. “As for Mother, tell her the truth. Tell her we need the Hiverarchy’s help because the enemy will keep pushing if they take Fen. No place will be safe if we don’t stop them here.”
“You can’t know that for sure,” Andre argued.
“Are you willing to risk everything on the hope that I’m wrong? You’ve seen what we’re up against.”
“Yeah, and I’ve also seen that you and your friends are completely insane. Who fights like that? Mother’s right. If we keep to ourselves, we can hold off any attack.”
“What happens when you’re out gathering? Do you think they’ll leave you alone then?”
His defiance struggled. “We— we’ll… we’ll negotiate a deal. What we do benefits everybody — they’d need us.”
Shaking her head, Sam explained. “They aren’t looking for collaborators, they’re looking for slaves.”
“So that’s when we’ll fight them in the open,” her half-brother said as he lifted off to leave.
“What chance will you have of beating them if you have to fight them by yourselves?” she yelled. “Help us now while we can still defeat them!”
“Good-bye, Samantha.” He looked from her to Lee and back. “I really hope you win.”
As Andre disappeared into the cloud-shrouded morning, Clifton frowned. “Do you think he’ll be back?”
Swatting the first raindrops from her face, Samantha huffed. “I have no idea.”
To be continued. . .