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Fiction Fridays #16: The AJ Story, Chapter 15

OH MY GOODNESS, I’m so sorry, guys!! I forgot to post yesterday’s Fiction Friday! Anyway, here it is. I’m leaving out the table of contents this time, since it’s pretty easy to find the other ones with that search bar up there. ^^^

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“Wait!”
The voice made them all jump. There was no one in the room with them except Peck and Crashing. It sounded like there was someone downstairs. A familiar someone.
Flora, Juniper, and Lucky, respectively, ran down the stairs and back into the large banquet room.
“Greely?”
“I need to speak with Peck.”
They moved over as the massive wolf went up the crystalline stairs. The light reflecting off of the walls hit his stormy gray fur and made him appear to glow.
“Greely? May I ask what you are doing in my palace?” said Peck with a hint of a challenge. Peck was one of the most dangerous warriors in Jamaa: her pretty, small outward appearance belied her belligerent temperament. She wasn’t a Lucky, but she was an absolutely incredible warrior when she had to be.
Five minutes later, they came down, accompanied by Crashing Cutestar.
“What is it?” said Juniper nervously. She was too soon relieved for any more bad news.
“Juniper, Flora, Lucky!” squealed Crashing. “I get to stay with you!”
“She is dear to me,” said Peck, a half-smile on her lips. “But I think it is for the best that she stays with the ones she loves.”
“You have my permission, as well,” said Greely. “Normally, I wouldn’t allow anything other than a wolf to stay with my servants, but…”
“Greely, you’re getting soft,” said Lucky with a grin. “Thanks, you two. We were gonna miss her a lot.”
“Our pleasure,” said Peck graciously.
Scooter and Fauna had stayed down in the banquet room, making sure the leftovers didn’t go to waste. Fauna, it turned out, had a taste for garlic bread.
“Scooter!” called Peck. “You can stay with me. I’ll tell your parents. They’ll be overjoyed that their little Bravescout is safe and sound again.”
Scooter said a quick goodbye to Fauna, then hopped over to where her Alpha was standing.
“Ready to go, Fauna?” said Flora.
“Ready,” said the little penguin cheerfully.
“There’s something odd about that one,” muttered Greely to Peck. “Those eyes…”

Flora, Juniper, Lucky, Crashing, and Fauna began their walk back home. Coral Canyons, where Peck’s palace was, wasn’t too close to their home, so it was a bit of a walk. They walked along the edge of Sarepia Forest, which led directly to their home.
“Crashing, what do you want to do when we get home?” said Fauna eagerly. “You can still play with me!”
Crashing and Fauna chatted vivaciously all the way to the residential side of Jamaa. They talked about everything they’d do together, now that they were staying for good. Fauna had no idea who her parents were, and sometime she’d have to either be adopted by a penguin or sent to Marco, but in the meantime she’d be staying with the wolves.
Juniper’s brow was creased as they neared their house.
“What?” said Lucky. “You look nervous.”
“Do you smell smoke?” said Juniper.
“I don’t smell anything,” said Fauna, tapping her beak. “Birds can’t smell.” Crashing giggled.
“No, I’m serious.”
“How much?” said Flora. “It could be a campfire, or it could be serious.”
“I don’t know. But there’s smoke.” Juniper looked around for any signs of a fire. “We need to hurry up and get home. It might be something bad, and we need to make sure it’s not a housefire.”
They jogged all the way to their house. “Look!” gasped Juniper.
Smoke was rising from the edge of Sarepia Forest. A bright flickering light was coming from the trees.
“Okay, there’s fire,” said Juniper, trying to sound as calm as possible. “We need to get down by the stream, but first we have to make sure everyone’s safe.”
“Everyone’s here,” said Lucky.
“Not everyone,” said Flora, her eyes wide. “It’s nearly midnight. Sparkle’s probably asleep.”
“You guys hurry down to the stream,” said Lucky. “I’ll get Sparkle.”
“Be safe,” said Juniper in a trembling voice as her golden sister ran down to the little cottage next to theirs.
“Do you think we’ll be okay?” said Fauna.
“We’ll be fine, honey,” Flora reassured her. “We’ll get down to the stream, and we’ll all be safe while we try to keep it back.”
“Do you see Lucky yet?” said Juniper once they were at the creek. She squinted. It was very dark.
“There!” A tall, fluffy black-and-green shape was following a smaller, lither gold one.
“Hurry!” called the blue wolf.
They all sat down on the bank of the river. Sparkle was shaking. Lucky didn’t look scared at all. She was shooting narrow glances at the encroaching light and fidgeting in the mud.
“We can’t just sit here!” she burst out after hardly thirty seconds.
“What can we do?” said Flora.
“Sparkle’s got a massive garden. Surely there’s a water hose somewhere!”
“There’s two on the back of the house,” said Sparkle timidly. “But be careful!”
“Careful is for cowards!” shouted Lucky, who was already halfway to Sparkle’s cottage.
“And that’s why my sister’s going to die young,” said Flora with a mix between fear and exasperation in her voice.
The fire was getting very close now. Lucky grabbed the end of the hose and ran toward the flames. She wasn’t going to let the fire get her neighbor’s house.
“Alright, guys, just stay here,” muttered Juniper. “Especially you, Crashing. And – FAUNA!”
The penguin had run away from the stream bank and was going toward where Lucky was blasting a hole in the wall of heat.
“Great Zios, Fauna! You’re going to get yourself killed!” Juniper screamed.
“Come on!” said Flora. “If an eight-year-old can stop it, we can, too. Sparkle, you stay here and watch Crashing.”
“With my life,” said Sparkle.
Flora and Juniper ran to join their sister. Flora grabbed the other hose, and Juniper grabbed the penguin.
“You are going to die if you try that!” said Juniper. “Come on. You’re going back with Sparkle and Crashing.”
“No! I want to help!”
“Fine, then! Go get your tail feathers burned off!” Of course, Fauna kept going.
“Lucky! Let me help!” Lucky tossed the water hose to Fauna, who caught it expertly and sprayed it at the fire.
“It’s too big,” said Flora. “We need help!”
Luckily for them, others had begun to notice the smoke rising from the forest. They could hear others shouting, see them pouring buckets of water onto the fire. “They’re getting it!” said Flora in relief.
The slight pause was all the heat needed. It surged forward and touched the side of Sparkle’s house.
“No!”
“Run!” cried Juniper. Even Lucky obeyed.
The four firefighters fled the scene as the fire engulfed the arctic wolf’s cottage. Flora looked behind her to make sure everyone had made it. Lucky, Juniper, and Fauna were running behind as fast as they could.
Let’s just hope it’s fast enough, prayed Flora.
“Ugh!”
“No! Fauna!” screamed Juniper.
Fauna tripped and fell, her face a picture of panic as she struggled to her feet. Juniper, Flora, and Lucky ran back to help their friend.
But it was too late.
Just as they began to run for the fallen animal, the flames surged forward and caught Fauna on the tail.

~~~

Thanks for reading!! So sorry I didn’t post this yesterday!!

Summer

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Fiction Fridays #15: The AJ Story, Chapter 14

Hey, guys! Here’s the next chapter of my book! It’s one of my favorites – I’m very proud of the way it’s written. Sorry about posting the last one last Thursday instead of Friday. At least this one’s on the right day.
If you haven’t read the previous chapters:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Without further ado, here’s the story!!

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Crashing had never been in Peck’s palace. Not that she remembered, anyway. She let out a little gasp when they reached the room where the gathering was being held. “This is awesome!” cried Fauna. She and Scooter were coming to the ceremony, too; Scooter was going to stay back with Crashing at Peck’s palace.
There was an enormous, intricate gold chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and its light sent blinding lights ricocheting all over the crystal walls. It had the exact same atmosphere as the ceremony at Greely’s palace; everyone was enjoying themselves and flocking around the little rabbit that acted like a wolf.
“Wow, that one’s gotta be, like, ten pounds,” snickered Lucky at a rabbit that was getting food from the banquet table.
“Be nice, Lucky, you aren’t too light yourself,” admonished Flora.
“Ah, yeah, but that’s just my awesome muscles.”
“Have you seen Juniper lately?”
“You’re just changing the subject because you don’t want to admit I’m cooler than you.”
“No, I’m serious. I haven’t seen her in ten minutes.”
Lucky looked around quickly. “I don’t see her. I’m gonna go get some more carrot cake.”
“There!” Flora spotted her by the side of the room, speaking to someone that was obscured by an arctic wolf’s tail. “Who’s that she’s talking to?”
“Dunno,” said Lucky dispassionately. “I really have got to tell Peck how good her stuffing is.”
Flora walked a little closer to the blue wolf. She was talking to…
…a rhino, smiling as Juniper said something Flora didn’t quite catch.
“Hey, June,” said Flora. Juniper jumped. “Hey, Flora. Where’d you come from?”
“I was just watching you. Who’s this?”
“Mighty Rockyrobot,” said the rhino. “Your friend here is a nice girl, ma’am.”
“Sister.” Flora studied Mighty through narrowed eyes. “Hey, Juniper. Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Sure.” She followed her big sister over by the table, where Lucky was stuffing her face with pecan pie.
“You like that rhino,” said Flora, her voice determinedly calm. Juniper blushed furiously. “So what if I – you didn’t freak out like this when Lucky started mooning over that arctic wolf!”
“No offense to Miss Shyclaws, but that arctic wolf never would have liked her back. Mighty obviously think’s you’re special. Is he nice?”
“Very!” Juniper was being more aggressive with her big sister than she ever would have been against a phantom.
“Alright, I guess. You just… just tell me if he ever treats you badly, okay?”
“I will,” said Juniper grudgingly. Then she trotted off to where Mighty was standing, waiting for her.
“What’s her deal?” said Lucky.
“You’ve got a pecan in your teeth,” said Flora, hardly taking her eyes off of Juniper’s and Mighty’s animated conversation.
“Mmm. Good stuff. Gone now, so what’s her deal?”
“Nothing. I’ll tell you later, okay?”
“Alrighty.” The wolf went off to find some more food.

“Yeah, that was my sister,” said Juniper gloomily. “I’ve lived with my sisters since I was five. The phantoms destroyed our village when we were just kids.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Mighty. “Er – not you living with your sisters. The phantoms burning down the village.” Juniper laughed.
“Yeah. I love both of them, but Flora’s a little protective, and Lucky just doesn’t get it sometimes.” She grinned slyly. “She was acting like a six-year-old with her first crush about an arctic wolf at Crashing’s first ceremony.”
Mighty rolled his eyes. “I’m the youngest of five, so I know what that’s like.” Juniper giggled. “I’m three years older than Lucky, but Flora’s twenty-one and I’m only nineteen.”
“Twenty.” Mighty glanced at Juniper’s silver paw. “Uh – I don’t want to sound rude – ”
“No, it’s fine,” said Juniper quickly. “I don’t care.”
“What happened?”
Juniper grimaced. “Long and slightly stupid story. My eight-year-old sister disobeyed a direct order, left battle camp, went into a fight, and I deserted the field hospital to protect her. Naturally, Lucky’s the last person that needs protection, so I came off worse on that one.” She moved her silver paw a little. “It still hurts sometimes, but I’ve gotten used to it.”
Mighty liked Juniper a lot. Sure, she looked kind of funny with one metal paw, but she was one of the nicest people she ever met. They talked all night, and the conversation never got boring. Juniper told him about the BOOMseed testing, her sisters, finding Crashing, and he found every one of her stories
interesting.
But Mighty knew they could never be together. She was a wolf, for goodness’ sake. Especially one that close to Greely. There was no way he’d ever let her be more than friends with him.
All they could do was wish.

“Crashing,” called Peck once most of the guests had cleared out. “I’ve got to go,” said Juniper regretfully to Mighty. They had exchanged addresses so they could send each other letters.
“Goodbye!” he said earnestly as she ran to join her sisters walking up the staircases to Peck’s quarters.
“We love you, Crashing, no matter what you are,” whispered Flora in the little bunny’s ears. Lucky pulled her close in a big hug. “I love you, my little bunnybug.”
Juniper, who was still thinking about Mighty, kissed her on the cheek and just murmured, “Goodbye.”
Crashing went through the balanced oaken door and disappeared for a few minutes. When she came out, she was their old Crashing again – Crashing the rabbit. She was carrying herself differently, somehow, but if she had prowled one paw in front of the other like the real wolves, the three sisters could see how she could make a convincing canine.
“It worked,” said Peck in relief. “You’re alright!” She hugged the rabbit tightly. “I remember your parents, little one. They were both every bit as good-looking and good-hearted as you.”
“I guess this is goodbye, then,” said Flora. The silence felt heavy, as if the air had turned to stone.
“I guess so.” Peck’s pretty face looked genuinely sorry for them. “Thank you so much for taking such good care of little Crashing, even if it didn’t have the greatest… effects.”
“Goodbye, honey,” said Juniper, kissed Crashing one last time on the forehead, and they turned to leave.

~~~

Thanks for reading! I hope you like it!!

Summer 😀