Change of Plan

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Photo credit: Ian Parker

Sunset now at their backs, King Arnie the Former of the Kingdom of Bog and his forces had stood ready since sunrise to meet the enemy. Across the vast expanse of nothing, nothing had moved but the clouds.

“How long shall we wait, your Greatness?” Lieutenant Terrence asked as heat waves shimmered above the sand.

Squinting, the King rubbed his chin and exhaled slowly through his nose. “Send Runners down the line and to the Allied Freelands’ and Arids’ Commanders. We’re in the wrong place.”

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According to Plan

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Photo credit: JAn Azrol

Sirehta and his companions escorted the General’s prisoners to the tunnel entrance west of the base. As grateful citizens, they disappeared one by one into the dark to return to freedom.

“What of Sini?” Sirehta asked his brother who had kept watch over her.

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His Story

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Photo credit: NicksMacro

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.

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Her Story

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Photo credit: Paul on Flickr

Sini and Viola watched Commander Torlax’s forces advance into the night until the vibrations in the ground faded to stillness.

Smiling, Viola picked up one of the Leftenant’s wings. “Tell me how you did this.”

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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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Sini

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Photo credit: Thomas Shahan

I should’ve left his damned wings behind. Sini kicked herself for giving in to that moment of triumph, that thrilling instant of complete domination. It isn’t like he could’ve put ’em back on. Yet ripping them off hadn’t been enough; she had to take them as a trophy. But I can’t leave ’em right here for those bastards to find.

Pulling the brush back to expose the tunnel mouth, she shuddered — not only to rid herself of the lingering sensations of grasping claws and strangulation, but also to steel herself for what she was about to do.

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Leftenant Chaz

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Photo credit: Rundstedt B. Rovillosos

Menace hung over The Arids, droning its way across the dying waste, closing in on the General’s War Council. Leftenant Chaz didn’t care that it was hours till sunrise; he and his squad flew whenever his uncle ordered.

Landing at the base entrance, the leftenant left his men to harangue the prisoners while he reported in.

“General Hai,” Chaz announced, interrupting a Council discussion, “we have prisoners. They need marking.” He turned his back and left.

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