Commander Torlex

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Photo credit: animalpictures1.com

Sini followed Viola to the salty playa where the Nocturnals of the newly formed Arids’ branch of the Alliance Army stood ready to deploy south to join the Freelands’ forces.

“—and my brothers will continue to coordinate the Alliance’s covert missions while the forces of Bog engage the enemy from the west,” Cahret said. Nodding toward the dignified iguana on his left, he indicated the next speaker. “Commander Torlex of The Arids.”

The Commander raised his chin, accentuating his underbite. “We who live in The Arids are tough. Our lives are hard, but we don’t abandon our homeland looking for something easier. Our ancestors handed us a history filled with scarcity and endurance, strength and survival.” He scanned the faces in front of him.

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Pango

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Elliot 207
Photo credit: Nigel J. Dennis

Sirehta’s brothers had spread the word among The Arids’ disaffected residents of a meeting that might save their futures. Now the meeting place was crammed with silent creatures. Cahret rose from his coil to face those who had answered the call.

“You are here because you hate tyranny, yet you do not know how to stop a tyrant. Alone, you hide in your own defense, but you believe you are too weak and helpless to protect anyone else.”

Shifting beneath a hard skin of shining scalloped scales, a pointy-faced insectivore lumbered to her feet. “Each of us grows to become our own protector. We can’t be responsible for anyone else.”

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Just Another Chink In the Wall

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Photo credit: C. Rumarosa

Flying to hang in front of Sirehta, the General scraped a sparking red powder from his back with a rear leg, and said, “To seal your commitment, each of you will submit to marking. Allow me to demonstrate. Pietro!”

Scuttling forward, the little Stinger stopped directly below him. The wasp descended to press his foot against Pietro’s back which began to sizzle and steam, leaving a grooved scar. The General rose, scraping his back again. It was only then Sirehta noticed the youth’s carapace bore countless identical marks.

“Is this agreeable?” the wasp asked.

Sirehta waited for each of his brothers to nod in approval.

“It is,” he replied.

Lowering his head, he resisted his instinct to snatch the General out of the air, and accepted the searing pain without flinching.

So it was with each serpent.

Instructing Sirehta to remain behind, the General divided the viper force into pairs and sent each team in a different direction.

“Your first assignment is to scout to the edge of the Arids and rid the region of any who don’t belong here. Report back to me at dawn.”

“How are we to know which don’t belong?” Cahret asked.

“Residents are marked. Report back at dawn.” General Hai retreated to the cavern without a backward glance, followed by his loyal throng.

The General’s response chilled Sirehta’s blood. Alone, he watched his brothers blend into the night until a tiny voice coming from a chink in the wall caught his attention.

“Psst!” it insisted, “I know who you are.”

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Sworn

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Photo credit: Fallout

Incautious, the voices grew louder and more distinct the closer the vipers crept. Cahret slithered up the side of a coarse rock wall to peer over its horizon onto a bed of chattering Stingers.

“…but the bat should’ve been ours — we held her down,” one complained.

“Yeah,” another echoed, “what’d that old Crone do she should get it?”

“Not so loud!” the largest ordered. “You want the General to hear you whining? He’s not gonna keep her around forever, and after he’s done with her, who do you think’ll be feasting then?”

“So we’ll get the old bat in the end, huh?” the first one gloated. Shrieking laughter pierced the sky.

Cahret slipped over the rocks to call through the darkness. “Can you take us to your General?”

Below, a flurry of scurrying answered.

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