First Shift

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Photo credit: Alamy

Wind screamed past Captain Sam’s face, whipping tears from her eyes as she streaked toward the wasp bearing down on her an instant from stabbing death into her heart. She dropped, spun, and rolled, tearing sideways across his abdomen, so close to his weapon that she left it dangling and useless. She didn’t bother to look back; she knew he was done.

But where one fell, three more appeared.

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When the Storm Breaks

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Photo credit: S.T. Ranscht

“I remember the process you’re talking about, Arnie.” With her eyes closed, Queen Lilian gazed at the pointed end of a memory that still cut into her heart. “We haven’t used it since Mother died.” She opened her eyes and willed her face to smile.

King Arnie asked, “Could we use it for Randall?”

“Of course. We’ll prepare a work area tonight, and they can bring his body in the morning.”

“Thank you, Lilian.” The King looked at his feet. “I tried to keep him safe, and I failed.”

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Casualties

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Image credit: SD Zoo/Aussietrev/wallup.net/S.T. Ranscht

Bog’s army had arrived in time to help push General Hai’s troops back across Fen’s border, at least for the night. Now, at the end of a day filled with conferences, bad news, and tough decisions, Queen Lilian heard the same remorse in King Arnie’s apology that she’d expressed to Vernon earlier.

“No one saw it coming, Arnie.” she said. “What’s important is that Bog’s army is here now, and Commander Torlex has taken the Arids’ Alliance Army across the northwestern corner of Fen to cut through the enemy.”

“Torlex is a cagey one,” King Arnie confided. “He’s hinted he has a secret attack plan that’s going to take the General by surprise, but only his army knows what it is.”

“Do you trust him?” Lilian asked.

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Not the Only One

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Photo credit: RWS

As Barry and Trevor lifted Randall between them, a screeching alarm ripped across the sky which instantly filled with the raucous cries of every Flyer within earshot. Captain Avery of the Dark of Night Aero Squadron streaked from the woods, dropping to the ground when he saw the two Knights.

“Another one?” he asked. “The Eastern Guard is dead, too. An apparent Stinger attack.”

“Randall isn’t dead,” Trevor explained, “but we don’t know where to find Fen’s Healer.”

Taking a closer look at the prostrate frog, the owl said, “Take him to Princess Cassandra. Straight west, just beyond the Hive. I’d transport him myself, but I have to see the Queen.” He swept his wings out scooping gales of air to lift himself into the sky.

“I know where she lives,” Barry said. “Let’s go.”

To be continued. . .

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

Invaded

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Photo credit: Jayaram Jahgirdar

The urgent buzz of an approaching bee snatched Drago’s attention from the Crone’s trail. “Clifton!” he shouted as the Queen’s nephew shot past. “What are you doing here?”

Banking hard to reverse direction, Clifton dropped to hang in front of the Runner. “Drago — you’re all right! We were worried when we didn’t hear anything from Fen.”

“What do you mean, you haven’t heard anything? My shift is just starting, but two Runners went out yesterday. The first one should have reached you by last night.”

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Fen’s Send Off

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In the starlit Field surrounded by most of Fen’s civilian residents, Captain Harper presented Fen’s troops to Queen Lilian the Magnificent.

“— and each Captain has their unit’s assignment. Daylight Land and Light of Day Aero forces deploy at sunrise. Nocturnal Land, Dark of Night Aero, and Hive Elite forces will deploy immediately following the Queen’s address. Your Magnificence, your troops stand ready.”

Scanning the assembled army, the Queen hovered before them.

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Back In Line

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Photo credit: Brad Wilson

“…and I believe if we just position all our troops at the border, we will stop any hostile who dares to attempt to enter Fen on the ground or at the river as easily as we’ll stop them in the air, without mounting a full scale offensive,” Captain Avery concluded.

Smoothing the rough surface of her irritation with a smile, Queen Lilian waited to respond until the captain, blinking uncertainly, began shifting from foot to foot.

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