Commander Torlex

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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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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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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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Chloe

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The moon had set and still King Arnie was awake, conferring with the Knights and Officers, checking and double-checking the remaining supplies the army would take to The Arids, visiting with the soldiers drifting in the doldrums between preparation and action.

He knew the importance of high spirits.

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Back In Line

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“…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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Captain Avery

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Scaling the tree next door to the Captain’s, Drago Galadeen called, “Captain Avery, sir!”

snoring scimitar beak snapped shut, a pair of gleaming citron orbs snapped open, and the feathery face surrounding them swiveled two hundred and seventy degrees, searching for the call’s source.

“Who is it? What happened? Did they attack?” the owl asked, now as alert as if he’d known Drago was coming. “What are you doing over there, Galadeen?”

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