Abrith Chaikin twisted, throwing most of her weight behind the strike. Her sword, Chance, sliced smoothly through the air and cut down an enemy warrior. The Glavendie fell to the ground, dead, or mortally wounded. Hopefully.

She turned again, slashing her sword toward another Glavendie. He parried and struck at her arm. She waited just a second too late to jerk out of the way, and muttered under her breath as the sword sliced into her arm. Annoyed, she ducked away from the attacker and swiped at the bloody line on her arm.

She knew what her mistake had been. She had been waiting for Lorr to come back her up.

Not that it would be happening any time soon.

Curse you, Flergin.

* * * * *

She was stiff when she woke up the next morning. She was also thirsty. Before she even changed her clothes- she'd fallen into bed with her clothes on when they got back to camp the night before- she got up and crawled out of the tent to go get a drink. As she was heading for the food tent, something bit her ankle.

She spun around. "Lorr!"

"Go see if Alania is all right, would you?" Lorcan snapped. The gahlandor was his usual size, a little larger than a rabbit, at the moment, but he still managed to sound like he was towering over Abi.

"Um, yeah, fine. Any specific reason?"

Lorr growled. "Were you paying any attention when you got back last night?"

"It was late. It was dark. I was half-asleep. I don't think I saw a thing but the way to my tent. What happened to Alania?"

"I don't know, I'm asking you. I heard something happened to her and Lexi. You better go find out."

"Why? Why can't you, lazy?"

Lorr huffed. "Because I also heard Crystell is mad as... you wouldn't get that simile... I don't know. Mad as anything."

Abi grinned. Crystell was Alania's gahlandor, and from what she'd heard since she'd joined this unit, the indigo-scale had a definite temper. "What? You scared?"

"Pssh... No, I'd just rather not have to face her, if I can help it."

"Fine," Abi said, wondering if maybe Lorr really was scared of the other gahlandor. "Fine. I'll go check on her. If Crystell snaps my arm off, on your head be it," she joked as she walked off.

* * * * *

Another girl grabbed Abi's arm just outside Alania's tent."I don't think you want to do that. Crystell's not in a good mood."

"And you're who, exactly?" Abi only realized how harsh that had sounded after it came out of her mouth. "Uh, I mean..."

"Yeah, you're one of the new ones, aren't you?" the girl said.

Abi at least recognized her, but she couldn't even think of her name. "Yeah," she told her. "Abrith Chaikin."

The other girl nodded. "Alexadri Wood. Call me Lexi," she said as she started leading Abi away from Alania's tent. "So, how about that battle yesterday. Are you all right?"

"Um... Yeah, I'll be fine. It's just this." Abi ran a finger down the new, thin red scar on the side of her left arm. "Got slashed. What about you?"

Lexi pulled her shirt down over her shoulder to show an arrow wound. "Plus my leg. Also my chest."

Abi bit her lip. "Ow. Sorry."

"I'll live. I'll be fine." She sighed, then winced. "Eventually."

"Hope it's soon. Scouts are saying Glavindies might try another offensive tomorrow."

"Yeah. Heard." Lexi sighed again, louder and more dramatically. "Not that it'll matter to me."


Lexi shook her head. "Cap' Flergin's decided he's giving me a 'rest' from battle."


"Months of rest. And knowing the Captain, who's to say he'll let me come back after that?" She rolled her eyes up to the sky and, still staring up there, added, "World forbid he just let me bring Hera into battles with me."

Abi gasped, then grinned. "You're a gahlandoric too?"

"Too? You mean you are?"

"His name's Lorcan."

"Mine's Hera. Oh, wait, I just said that. Anyway, if he would just let me bring her into battles instead of kicking me out for months on end..."

"I know, that is just so-" Abi decided against using that word. "By Chance, I hate that guy. I just wish... Well. Not happening."


Abi shrugged. "I was just wishing Corran was in charge here. Life would be so much better..."


"Oh, that's right. You never knew him. Corran- well, officially, Commander Malryan. He was head of my old unit. And he was way more flight than Flergin, let me tell you."

"Oh, were you..." Lexi trailed off, not sure if she wanted to go on with that.

"NO! Chance, Lexi. I mean, he was a great guy and all, and we were all really good friends, but... I mean, he was about my dad's age!" She paused. "Now, on the other hand, his second-in-command Penn..."


"Hey, he was cute!" It was so nice to just be girls again for a minute, Abi almost forgot what they were talking about.

Lexi reminded her. "So, Commander Malryan. Please tell me, if he was so cool, he let you take your gahlandors into battle?"

Abi had to laugh. "Lexi, he was a gahlandoric too!" Lexi's jaw practically hit the ground, and Abi laughed again. "Yeah. His was white-silver. A female. Named Neva."

"Flight! So, what happened to him?"

Abi had almost forgotten the end of the story. "He and Neva, you mean. They just... vanished. One day we got caught in an unfair battle and he started yelling at us to retreat and leading us off. We did, but when we got away we couldn't find him. No one asking if we were all right, no one insisting we get some rest, no gahlandor talking to Lorr. Nothing. We figure... well, they got them."

"Aw, that's... awful."

"We think he's probably alive. Neva... we're not so sure."

"Storm, Abrith, that's absolutely awful! I don't know what I'd do without Hera..." Lexi began.

Abi smiled. "It's fine. I guess," she replied. "But I... you know, I still miss him... A great commander, that was what he was." She paused, remembering Corran... the old unit... Penn... Wait. Wait, this is my chance. "Yeah," she went on, leaning closer to Lexi. "I've been thinking. I... I was going to try and find anyone here who might want to help me, and then maybe... Well, it's kind of a big risk, but-"

Lexi saw where this was going. "And go find him?"

"Yeah. Like I said, behind enemy lines... It would be really, really dangerous. But, would you maybe..." She took a deep breath and looked Lexi in the eyes. "Help me?"

"You mean, sneak out of camp and go looking for someone who's you-don't-even-know-where?"

It sounded horrible put that way. "Um, yes?"

Lexi grinned. "Love to. Sounds way better than sticking around here and losing battles without Hera."

"All right! So... Any ideas who we could take with us? You know everyone here better than I do. Um, and I was thinking we should probably take just gahlandorics, so we'll all have gahlandors to look out for us."

Lexi tipped her head back and thought. "Well, I'd say... Raven would be a good pick. Raven Iridetia, and her gahlandor Ashen. And Alania, definitely. That makes four of us. Is that good?"

"One more? If you can think of someone."

"Fine... Aliss. Alisdair Renaydi and her gahlandor Arian."

"Flight. Think we should go talk to them?... No, wait, wouldn't be a good idea. Flergin might hear. How about notes? Think you could get them to them?"

"Sure. What are we saying in them?"

"Um... Meet at a fire we'll have on the outside of camp. At midnight. For an important discussion."

"About how to get back at Flergin."

"No!" Abi yelled it a lot louder than she meant to, but instead of apologizing she hurried up and made her point. "Can't. We don't want to give them any clues what we're doing in case they don't come and try to tell on us."

"Fine. Midnight meeting, fire at edge of camp...destroy note after reading. I'll write two for Aliss and Raven."

"I'll do Alania's and get it to her."


"Fine." Abi shook her head. "I just can't believe we're really going to do this."

Lexi clapped her on the shoulder. "Believe it. Your Commander Malryan's not going to know what hit him."

Suddenly it occurred to Abi that she might actually want to be afraid of that...