Benito

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Photo credit: Jason M. Hogle

Now it’s Vernon’s turn.

~~~

Buoyed by the verdant glow, Vernon’s voice drew them into Fen’s past. “Since Fen’s beginning, its people have been free. Each citizen may pursue education, bond with whomever they love, and aspire to any job regardless of their ancestry. Even in the Hive, where everyone is born a Royal, they are free to leave for love or other occupations.

“Young adults wishing to serve the Queen hoped to be called to join the Suns of Glory. In times of peace, they worked to keep it; in times of war they fought to win it back. Princess Lilian and her closest friend, the accomplished and beguiling Persephone, received the Call.

“Princess Lilian was betrothed to a devoted young soldier of the Hive, but Persephone resisted the pursuit of many hopeful suitors. Only the Princess knew Persephone’s heart: ‘I’ll know my love when I find him, but I know I won’t find him in Fen.’

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Vernon

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Photo credit: loboclerk

Rushed back into the bower, Cassandra strained her eye stalks and stretched on tiptoe to see beyond a wall of drones six drones deep that blocked her from leaving. Beyond that protection, the Hive Elite waged a vicious air battle against the renegade wasps.

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Reign Clouds Gather

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Photo credit: Joel Sartore

“Elliot! Elliot where are you?” Cassandra’s voice enticed him from his shell, the slow extension of his eyes preceding the wary exposure of his throat. The troops had passed, but the shock of their ferocious faces still tingled.

“I’m here!” he called, returning the way he’d come to find his love and Queen Lilian searching through the grass for him.

“Your Magnificence, where are the Suns of Glory?” he asked, “I was hoping to see them.”

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Fleet of Foot, Swift of Wing

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Photo credit: Alan Vernon

“I’ll dispatch two nocturnal corps tonight, one land and one aero squadron,” Queen Lilian promised.

“Aero squadron?” Elliot wondered.

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Queen Lilian

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Photo credit: Mark Berkery

Bowing so low her nose touched the ground, Duggla the Crone’s show of respect bordered on the obsequious. “You summoned me, your Greatness? How may this humble old woman serve her King?”

Rolling his eyes, King Arnie dismissed Duggla’s escort and waited. When the crone straightened up to look at him, she wore a lopsided, snarky grin.

“Madam Duggla, the Kingdom has further need of your assistance.”

“What is it now?” she sneered. “It’s almost sunset. I need my sleep.”

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Two Sides to Every Story

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Photo credit: Matt Cole

“Bog is indebted to you, brave Master Barry.” said the King. “As of this moment, I name you Apprentice Knight with all the responsibilities and privileges attached to being a Knightling among the Knights of Service.” King Arnie clasped Barry’s hand and saluted him. “Lieutenant Terrance will take personal charge of your training. Who knows? Someday you might end up with his job!”

“Tank youse, your Greatness! I won’t let youse down.” Barry saluted the lieutenant. “What’s my first assignment, sir?”

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