Captain Harper

Glad you could join us for the next reported episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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Photo credit: National Park Service

Captain Harper of Fen’s Hive Elite left The Arids the same way she’d arrived a week ago: hidden in plain sight among a cloud of desert bats. At the border, deepening dusk covered her departure from the colony to deliver her covert mission report to Queen Lilian.

The Queen granted her an immediate audience.

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Lost?

Glad you could join us for the next despairing episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…

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“What do you mean, ‘the Queen is gone’?” Sam’s cry traveled farther than she’d intended.

“She’s not in the Hiverarchy. She’s gone,” the elderly councillor repeated.

Unable to imagine why her mother would leave the security of home, Sam wanted answers. “When did she leave? Where did she go?”

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Old Scores

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Photo credit: Che Guebee

Queen Madalena lifted her chin. “You do remember me. Good. I know I’m not welcome here, so I’ll stay only a minute. I have to ask you about the war your people are stirring up in the Freelands. Why? Why bring your troubles to a region where people just want to live in peace?”

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Training the Troops

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“I’m pleased you’ll stay with us, Recruit,” the Ambassador said when Sam and Clifton reported back at dusk. Smiling, he added, “Be sure to let Sergeant Stubbs know before you retire or he won’t be able to sleep.”

~~~

The sergeant rousted them out of bed long before dawn, shouting, “Eyes open! Up and out! Survivors get breakfast at sunrise.”

“But how are we supposed to fight if we haven’t eaten first?” asked a cottontail named Jared, one of the plumper trainees.

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Now You Know

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Photo credit: Peter Bray

The few times Clifton had seen his aunt Lilian’s Innermost Chamber, it had been packed with advisors and attendants, and vibrating with activity. He wasn’t sure she had any place this spacious and quiet in the Hive back home that she could call her own.

Queen Madalena stood apart, warm but aloof. “Samantha tells me you’re from Fen, and Lilian’s nephew. How is she?”

“You know my aunt? I mean, she’s well, thank you. I… I’m just surprised you know her. Sam… Samantha didn’t mention the Hiverarchy had any contact with Fen.”

“We don’t,” Sam stated, fixing her mother with a stare that demanded an explanation.

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Queen Madalena

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Photo credit: Eric Tourneret

“Wait out here, Clifton. Let me talk to her first. And you —” Sam glowered at her half-brother, “you better hope she doesn’t make me stay here, because you aren’t gonna like me if I have to stay here.”

“What makes you think I like you anyway?” Andre retorted, but Clifton saw worry and a hint of doubt in his eyes as he left them at the entrance to the Innermost Chamber.

~~~

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Damage Control

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Dinner among the recruits was a noisy, energetic affair. Sharing stories about their training — their failures and their triumphs — brought laughs and complaints, taunts and praise. Their natures began to sort them into a team of leaders and followers.

As word of Sam’s prowess spread beyond the stinging Fliers to the other training groups, she became the most sought-out trainee in the Meadow.

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