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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Dawn Meetings

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The Golden Hour of morning was Lilian’s favorite time of day. “Vernon, my love, do you want to go with me to the Field for breakfast?”

Rolling out of bed, Vernon took her hand. “Nothing would please me more, my beautiful Lili, but the Alliance army trainers are coming home tomorrow and the Captain of the Hive Elite requested a dawn meeting this morning to coordinate our land and air forces’ next move. Then there’s a Runner’s report. How about brunch immediately afterward?”

“How is it the Queen’s Liaison is busier than the Queen?” she asked, arching an eyebrow.

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Taking Control

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Photo credit: Steven Falk

The days that followed were full. Clifton and Sam spent their mornings training stinging Fliers, and their afternoons being trained by Bog’s Knights and Fen’s Aero Squadrons in other forms of combat, weaponry, and tactics. After dinner, they met with other recruits who had created new moves, and worked into the night perfecting those skills so they could teach them the next morning.

The Sergeant joined them for breakfast each day.

“You’ve done good work,” he said between bites at the end of the week. “These green volunteers have become a real army. I’ll be proud to serve with all of you when the call comes, but for now, the trainers from Bog and Fen are going home. You’ll be working with the Freelands Forces, keeping them sharp, ready for what’s ahead.”

“Thanks, Sarge. We couldn’t have done it without you,” Clifton said. “It was genius to tap Sam’s gifts.”

“A sign of leadership is recognizing leadership in others. I suspect Killer’s even better at that than I am,” the Sergeant allowed.

“What makes you think so, Sarge?” Sam asked.

“You saw it in Clif, didn’t you?” he laughed.

Clifton felt the compliment and took the ribbing with a grin.

Kýrios the Most Revered, Queen Madalena’s eldest councillor, landed on the grass beside them.

Still smiling, Sam greeted him. “Kýrios! What brings you to the Meadow?”

Glaring at the three of them in turn to stop on Sam’s face, he said, “The Queen is gone.”

To be continued. . .

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

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, “Open your eyes! Up and out! Breakfast waits for all of you who survive till 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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Photo credit: Stephane Mahe

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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