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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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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Pango

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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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I’ve Been Through the Desert

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Photo credit: 3DRivers
“Man, maybe we should give Sam and her mom some privacy to work out their feelings. What about those snake guys King Arnie sent to The Arids on a secret mission? How’s that going?” You might be thinking.
“All righty, then. Meanwhile, out in The Arids…” Me, accommodating as ever.

~~~

“I hear you’ve been looking for me.” Girdliz’s soft, fuzzy voice drifted down from the boulder through heat-shimmered air onto Sirehta’s back as he slithered past over the relentless dust of The Arids.

Raising his head… his neck… his body to cock an eye at the stony little lizard, the viper nodded like a drowsy sunflower in a summer breeze. “Yes. I understand you are no friend of the General.”

Scrunching his forehead to scrape its scales together, Girdliz jittered from foot to foot. “He’s scary,” he confided. “Scary and mean.”

“And your fear makes you helpless?” Sirehta asked.

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Drago Galadeen

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Elliot 183
Photo credit: Igor Siwnowicz

“If you know who I am,” Sirehta replied bringing his face close to the speaking crack in the wall, “you have the advantage. Come out and let yourself be seen. You will come to no harm.”

Two twitching antennae and a round little head poked out from the crevice. Locking eyes with the viper, the oversized hopper scaled the wall to rest on a protruding stone at the top, facing the snake full on.

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