Fiction Fridays #14: The AJ Story, Chapter 13

Hey, guys!! Here’s the next chapter of my awesome story! I hope you like it as much as I do! I still don’t have an official title for it, so if you have any ideas, I would LOVE to hear them in the comments. Thanks!!


The wolves had a hard-earned peaceful day the next morning. The wolf sisters were pooped, and they all slept in until ten o’ clock in the morning. Crashing’s five-year-old mind was a little overworked after two trips to other people’s house and the truth about her identity – well, some of it, anyway. Even Scooter was taking a day off. Only Fauna rose at the normal time that day.
When Juniper woke up, she had an awful headache. Blame it on the phantoms, she thought. She hoped Crashing hadn’t minded waiting so long for breakfast.
She took one look at her beautiful kitchen and nearly had a heart attack. The oven door was hanging open, there was what looked like pancake mix all over the counter, a bunch of eggs had broken in the sink, and someone had spilled milk all over the floor.
The penguin was frantically trying to wipe up the milk. “Sorry, Miss Spiritbird,” she said guiltily, and Juniper winced.
“No, it’s fine,” said the wolf quickly. “I just – er – ”
“But I made breakfast!” said Fauna brightly, abandoning her towel for a bowl sitting next to the stove. It had one decent pancake and a bunch more very lopsided ones. Juniper couldn’t help but smile at her pride in her breakfast.
“I’m sure it tastes great, Fauna.”
“Try it!” She put the bowl down and ran to the pantry, coming back with a bottle of syrup. She poured it into the bowl and stood with a bright look in her golden eyes. Juniper had no choice but to eat one.
They weren’t actually that bad. A little bland, maybe, but then Fauna was just a kid.
“They’re great, Fauna,” said Juniper with a smile.
Just after she said it, Flora and Lucky came into the room and stopped dead.
“I made breakfast!” said Fauna brightly, holding up one misshapen, syrup-covered pancake on a fork. Neither wolf replied.
It turned out there were enough pancakes for everyone. Even Lucky, who was firmly used to Juniper’s light, fluffy, perfectly circular pancakes, ate two with liberal helpings of maple syrup.
Later that day, Sparkle appeared at their door, crying and apologizing profusely. When Flora asked her what she was sorry for, she said she was sorry that she’d got Greely captured.
“What on earth do you mean?” said Lucky gruffly.
“If I hadn’t called you to get rid of the phantoms, they never would have wanted revenge and captured Lucky and Greely wouldn’t have had to rescue her!” bawled Sparkle. All three wolves promised that it was all forgiven, and shut the door in her face.
“Frankly, if she hadn’t told us, I wouldn’t have been able to figure out how they were connected at all,” muttered Juniper.
When they went to bed that night, Crashing was thinking about her excitement about her second acceptance ceremony. Now she felt a strange mixture of nostalgia and dread. She wondered if she was the only animal to have ever had three acceptance ceremonies.
Even with her late start to the day, she fell asleep before Flora came to tuck her in. The eldest wolf quietly closed the door and proceeded to her own bed.
Fauna couldn’t sleep. Fauna usually had trouble sleeping. She was a true night owl; she just felt like there was so much to do at night.
“Crashing,” she whispered, shaking the rabbit’s tiny pink shoulder. “Hey. Wake up.”
Crashing wouldn’t wake up. She kept snoozing on despite the penguin’s quiet calls.
Fauna sat back in her bed. She decided to lie down and try to go to sleep. When she finally managed to sink into sleep, she had a dream.
She was in a beautiful, ethereal place. It had a feeling of dizzying height, but Fauna had no problem with that. In fact, she felt right at home there.
She heard a deep voice behind her and turned around. She gasped, but it didn’t make a sound in her dream. It was Zios, in his golden magnificence, and he was speaking to another figure, this one a beautiful female – a penguin like herself.
“What will it be?” whispered the female. “The egg?”
“Even I don’t know that,” said Zios. The female smiled. “I guess you couldn’t say, ‘Zios knows’.”
Zios gave a hint of a smile. “I suppose not.” He took a deep breath. “I have made a decision.”
“What is it, my dear?”
Zios glowed with power, and Fauna was reminded irresistibly of a phantom, but one that brought benevolence instead of fear.
“Micah, my love,” he began. “You have my blessing. You will no longer be Micah, but Mira, my queen. The queen of the sky.”
“How – ” began Micah, but Fauna gasped as she began to glow like a torch as she changed shape. Her wings elongated, as did her legs and beak. In the blink of an eye, she was no longer a comparatively plain penguin, but a beautiful bird with a crest that shone like a sun and incredible white feathers that sparkled like opals.
“My love.” Zios embraced Mira and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “So beautiful.”
Mira turned her long, swanlike neck to look at their nest. It seemed to be made out of clouds. “What about our child?”
“That,” said Zios, “is yet to be discovered.”
Fauna opened her eyes with a start. It was still dark, but she could see the sun rising through the window. She wondered why she had that dream so often. It had nothing to do with her, or her thoughts.
Or did it?

Crashing was ready for her ceremony. She would finally be what she was meant to be again, and everything would be okay. She got out of bed and went into the kitchen, which was already full of life as Lucky criticized Juniper’s porridge.
“It’s fine, I guess,” she said, putting her rear paws on the table. Flora had long since given up telling her to stop. “But it’s just oatmeal, right? Needs a big bang to it. Besides, it’s too sticky. I can’t talk with it in my mouth.” She shoveled a spoonful into her mouth and shrugged at Juniper. Her voice sounded weird with her mouth full. “Y’shee?”
“You eat this every time I make it,” said Juniper. “Besides, you’re not supposed to be able to talk with food in your mouth.”

The three wolves were a little more relaxed as they prepared Crashing for her third ceremony. Flora remembered the first one they’d attended with a pang: it had all felt so exiting, fresh, and new. Now there was an air of sadness as Juniper combed Crashing’s pale pink fur. The little rabbit knew exactly why: she wouldn’t be returning from Peck’s palace.
It was good-bye for the three wolf sisters.


Thanks so much for reading!! 🙂

Summer 😀

Update: Sorry, I accidentally posted this on Thursday!!! Oh well, you get it a day early, I guess. Whatever.


Fiction Fridays #13: The AJ Story, Chapter 12

Hey, guys!! Here’s the next chapter of my story!! I hope you like it as much as I do! 😀
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


All was silence for about ten seconds. Then Flora spoke in a trembling voice. “What does this mean?”
“She is cursed,” said Greely quietly. “She has two Alphas, but therefore she has none. I don’t even know if Zios will take her. She is growing more wolflike by the second, and I don’t know if there’s much we can do. We can try having Peck accept her again, but I have no idea what’s going to happen.”
Juniper was silently crying. Flora just stood looking stunned, and Lucky was still standing with her brows drawn. “Have you told Peck?” asked Flora. Greely didn’t reply. After a few seconds of silence, she smacked him on the foreleg. “You big meanie, you dual-accepted with another Alpha and didn’t even tell her.”
“Let’s go tell her now,” said Greely sheepishly. It was amazing how the pretty silver wolf in her navy fox hat could make the Wolf Alpha back down.
He must really like her, thought Juniper as she tried not to giggle.
Crashing was still playing happily downstairs, and even though she smiled cheerfully at them, all four avoided her gaze. The rabbit – now almost entirely a wolf – looked concerned as she pumped her legs hard to keep up with them.
“What is it, Flora?” she said. The tone of her voice almost made Flora cry.
“Honey, do – do you remember anything from before we found you?” Crashing furrowed her brow and looked out into the distance. “No.”
Flora took a deep breath. “You – you’re not a wolf, Crashing,” Flora said, and at last the little pup knew the truth. “You’re a rabbit.”
Crashing’s shoulders drooped, and Flora could see the surprise in her face. Juniper, who had been listening to the conversation, gently picked Crashing up and set her on her back. “There’ll be another acceptance ceremony. You can pretend none of this ever happened, and you can be a normal rabbit for your whole life.”
Crashing looked from Juniper to Flora to Lucky and looked indecisive. All of a sudden she gave all three wolves a huge hug.
“I can’t forget about you,” she cried as they embraced her, and the wolves knew they could never forget, either.

Peck was still drowsy when they arrived at her palace. It was a burrow-type thing carved into the side of Peregrine Peak, and the entire thing was inside an enormous geode. The walls and floor were made out of purplish crystal, and Peck’s bedroom looked like something from one of Flora’s bedtime stories.
Greely told Peck everything. To their surprise, Peck didn’t seem all that surprised about anything.
“Crashing Cutestar?” she said in an amazed voice. “You’ve changed so much.”
“She’s a wolf now,” said Greely darkly.
“We can re-accept her,” said Peck. “Everything will be fine.”
Greely didn’t seem so sure, but he decided to go with it. “Yes, we – ”
Then Peck turned on him. She stood up on the couch so that she could look him in the eye, and slapped him in the face.
“Agh – what – ?”
“You never told me? How long have you known, you big – ugly – ”
“Er, Peck,” began Juniper, wincing, but the comparatively small rabbit showed no signs of lightening up. She had to content herself with giving Lucky, who was bouncing up and down and pumping her fist, a withering glance.
“It will never happen again,” said Greely, looking very shocked as he gingerly rubbed the stinging spot on his face.
“It had better not,” hissed Peck. Then she looked back at Crashing, and her face cleared immediately. “You three have been taking good care of little Crashing. I thank all of you.”
“It was no problem,” said Juniper. “She was so much fun.”
The ceremony was scheduled for two days later, at six o’ clock just like the one they had attended. Flora and Juniper felt very stupid that they hadn’t noticed Crashing wasn’t a wolf. Lucky couldn’t care less.
They brought Fauna and Scooter home at about three o’ clock that day. They told them both Crashing’s story, and Scooter, who was a rabbit herself, couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed before.
“Flora, can I tell a story tonight?” asked Fauna before they went to bed.
“Sure, honey,” said Flora. She was very tired, anyway, between two trips to the Hive, that day’s revelation, and trying to keep Juniper’s wound from getting too nasty.
“Okay,” said Fauna, and thought for a moment about what story she was going to tell. “Once upon a time, there was a snow leopard named Julia. This was a real long time ago, so they all had different names.”
“Okay,” said Crashing.
“She was a super good warrior, and she wanted to start a place where young animals could learn how to fight.” She leaned in close to the rabbit-gone-wolf. “Here’s a hint. It was the battle camp.”
“Cool,” said Crashing in awe.
“So all the animals that wanted to fight came to Julia’s camp. And when the phantoms invaded for the first time, Julia ended up as the Snow Leopard Alpha.”
“Awesome!” said Crashing.
“But when she and her animals went to fight, Julia didn’t make it.”
“But her descendants still run the battle camp, and that’s why snow leopards always run the camp.”
“How do you know all that?” asked Flora. She was amazed that the penguin knew a story that even Flora considered obscure. Fauna thought about it for a minute. “I don’t know.”
“That’s a really old story,” said Crashing in awe. “Like… when the Alphas weren’t Alphas.”
“Exactly,” said Flora. She kissed both of them on the forehead. “Goodnight, you two. Sleep tight.” She closed the door and had her first night of peaceful sleep in two days.
They’d all had a rough time.


Thanks for reading!

Summer ❤ 😀

Fiction Fridays #12: The AJ Story, Chapter 11

Hey, guys!  Here’s the next chapter of my story!!  The AJ Story is not its official title; I’m still looking for one, but I can’t think of a good one.  If you have any suggestions, PLEASE post them in the comments!!

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


“What do you mean, she hasn’t come back?” cried Flora. They were standing on the edge of the plateau called Peregrine Peak on the edge of Coral Canyons. The view was beautiful, looking down on the wild forest outside Jamaa, but the three wolves and the panda had much more on their minds than the scenery.
“She was supposed to return an hour ago,” said Liza worriedly.
“Juniper’s worthless on patrol,” said Lucky with a scowl. “I’ll admit she’s a whole lot better than me in a lab, but you should have sent someone else. Or, better, never separated us in the first place.”
“All the more reason to search for her,” said Greely. “You said it yourself, Lucky, there’s far too much trouble an incompetent teenager could have gotten into out there. I’ll go find her myself, if you won’t.”
“I never said – ”
Greely had already disappeared. Flora had long suspected the Alphas had a means of teleporting, but perhaps he was just fast.
“’Incompetent teenager’,” murmured Lucky. “Do you think he meant me or Juniper?”
Flora almost laughed. “He would have to be one stupid Alpha to have known you for your whole life and think you were incompetent.”

Crashing was having the time of her life. Scooter was great with kids, and never ran out of things for them to do, Fauna was tons of fun to play with, and LaSelle was one of the nicest animals she’d ever met. All in the magnificent Raccoon Alpha’s palace.
The house had four bedrooms, all with a walk-in closet, and had a giant ballroom-like room with a fountain that they couldn’t keep Fauna out of.
“Look at meeee!” the silvery penguin squealed as she jumped into the fountain from the third-floor balcony.
“Fauna, you’re going to hurt yourself,” admonished the Raccoon Alpha. Even though an ordinary eight-year-old would have been a splat on the polished marble tiles by then, Fauna seemed to have a great affinity from heights, and had even stuck a landing from the fifth floor.
“I thought penguins couldn’t fly,” said Scooter with a grin.
“Yeah, ‘cause penguins like to swim,” Crashing confirmed.
“Well, I don’t even have wings.” Scooter tweaked one of her own long white ears. “That’s the closest I got.”
Crashing was so small she could have been a rabbit, but she was looking more wolflike by the second. She had even learned to howl.
Fauna waddled out of the fountain, still dripping wet. Scooter could not get over the penguin’s odd look. She was silvery gray with pale golden streaks, but gray was not unusual; Flora herself had a light silvery pelt. It was her eyes that looked so abnormal. Instead of dark blue like Flora’s, they were a strange light yellow, like the color of the moon. They were very fractal-looking, with streaks of white and rimmed with tan.
“LaSelle, I like your palace,” said Fauna with her pretty smile.
“Oh, you poor dear, you’ve spent your whole life in that awful cell in the Hive,” crooned LaSelle. “You haven’t seen anything; I’m a minor Alpha. I hear Peck’s palace is beautiful, though, maybe you could check that out sometime.”
“It is,” sighed Scooter. “The whole – ”
LaSelle looked up as she heard a knocking sound. “I’ll be right back, then, dears, just let me get the door.”
She came back a minute later with none other than Flora Cottoncloud.
“Flora!” cried Crashing, bounding up from where she was talking to Scooter, Fauna, and LaSelle and giving the silver-and-purple wolf a hug.
“Hey, Crashing,” she said with a smile. “Are you having a good day?”
“Yeah!” cried the little wolf. “Are we going home now?”
“Not yet,” said Flora evasively. “We’re having some problems, but you can come back with us now. Greely’s fine, and we missed our little Cutestar.” She turned to the other animals. “Scooter and Fauna, you’re coming with us, too, of course. Peck’s unconscious – ”
“ – but she should wake up pretty soon, and we can get you placed, Scooter. Fauna, we may have to keep you for a little while, but I know you won’t mind.”
“Nope,” agreed Fauna.
“We can’t take you two with us right this second, but we’ll come back in a few hours.”
Flora and Lucky met back at Greely’s palace to wait for him. Crashing was playing in the big gathering room downstairs. Liza didn’t accompany them because she was still patrolling. Unfortunately, she didn’t know just how far gone the purpose of the patrols were.
Greely showed up ten minutes later with Juniper’s still form hanging limply from his jaws. With Flora’s squeal and Lucky’s hoarse shout, the two wolves ran over to where Greely had put down their fallen sister.
“Is she okay?” said Lucky hoarsely. There was a burnt hole in the back of her hood, and there was a purplish cut on her head. With a terrible feeling of déjà vu, she put her ear to the blue wolf’s chest and listened. She had a thrill of relief when she heard her little sister’s slow, shallow breathing.
“She’s okay,” said Flora, releasing a breath she didn’t know she had been holding.
“Let me wake her up,” said Greely, with an uncharacteristic air of awkwardness. Greely was usually a smooth creature, but he acted like there was something on his mind.
He disappeared for a minute or two, then returned with a bowlful of something sticky and grayish-green. Lucky gagged as he dripped a stream of the lumpy concoction into Juniper’s mouth. With a start, she awoke with a choking noise and sat up.
“Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, I – ”
“Juniper, what happened?” Greely growled. Juniper, still not fully herself, only panicked more at his deep-voiced demand.
“Phantoms!” she cried. “I’m so sorry, there was a hundred of them, there was nothing I could do – ”
“Phantoms got in?” said Flora, trying to keep her head. This could be worse than bad. This could be the start of one of the biggest wars in Jamaa’s history, besides the first Phantom Invasion when the Alphas fought alone.
“I tried,” she sobbed. “But they attacked me, and – I don’t know, I just blacked out.”
“It’s alright, Juniper, I doubt even Lucky could have held off a hundred phantoms,” said Flora, shooting Lucky a negative look as the golden wolf opened her mouth in indignation.
“We have to tell the other guards,” said Juniper, finally coming to her senses. “We need to – ”
“Wait,” said Greely. He slowly inhaled after he said it, like he’d been waiting to get out that single word for forever.
“What?” said Lucky impatiently. “Don’t you get – ”
“I understand what’s going on here, and don’t think you know it better,” he growled. “I fought in the first Phantom Invasion, and six Alphas died. But this is serious.”
Even Lucky shut up.
“I know how you may have missed it,” said Greely carefully. “Crashing was in horrible shape when you found her, and I understand that wound of hers made her face look different, and she couldn’t have told you herself. She believed she was what you thought she was, and she believed it with all her heart.
“What are you – ” said Flora, with a hint of defense for their adopted little sister in her voice.
“I didn’t know it myself until the acceptance ceremony. I didn’t know she hadn’t already been accepted, because I hadn’t accepted her myself.”
His brow creased as his face darkened. In the moody light inside the mountain, he looked dark and slightly menacing. “That’s where I made my mistake. When I gave her the second acceptance ceremony, not my mark but Peck’s appeared.”
“What are you saying?” gasped Juniper. Lucky hadn’t moved at all the whole time. She just stood there and looked offended, but just by her slight change of expression, her sisters knew she was listening.
“She is no wolf,” breathed Greely. “She’s one of Peck’s rabbits.”


Thanks for reading! I hope you like my story! Stay tuned for the next chapter next week!!

Summer 🙂

Fiction Fridays #11: The AJ Story, Chapter 10

Hey, guys!! Here’s Chapter 10 of my story!! I hope you like it!!

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
It’s getting very hard to write the chapters out.


“GREELY!” screamed Flora again. This time no one tried to stop her, and all the eyes in the room, friendly or not, were instantly on her.
“Flora!” Greely shouted. The flames were climbing higher, and he tried to pull his rear paws up to avoid them.
“ANIMALS!” bellowed Sir Gilbert so loudly that a few of the weaker phantoms looked dazed. Lucky suddenly realized how horrible it must have been to face the massive tiger in battle. “ATTACK!”
Flora ran frantically toward Greely as her companions attacked the phantoms with everything they had. She went to the back of the pole, behind where the torch have been thrown, and used an arrow-tip to saw through the ropes binding the huge wolf to the pole.
“Greely, it’s me,” sobbed Flora. “Hold on!”
Flora was fast, but not fast enough. The last rope slipped to the floor just as the flame hit the pole. Greely fell onto all fours, but the top edge of the fire hit his back paw just as he bounded off.
“Greely, are you okay?” said Flora anxiously.
“I’m fine,” said Greely. He paused for a moment, then embraced her so tightly it would have hurt if she hadn’t been enjoying it so much. “You saved me,” he whispered.
She smiled a little. “I know,” she said back. Then she drew away. “We have to help Lucky and the others.”
“Let’s show those phantoms who’s really the warrior,” he replied, his amber eyes twinkling.
Greely, perhaps, fought harder than all the rest despite his burned paw. The others in the party, except Sir Gilbert, who merely grinned, whooped and shouted when they saw that Greely was free.
“We can go now,” shouted Flora.
“Where’s the fun in that?” said Lucky through gritted teeth. “I wanna – ”
“Retreat, animals,” called Flora before Lucky could continue. “We have what we came for. Fall back!”
They all ran out the door before the swarm of phantoms had enough time to follow them. Sir Gilbert heaved a boulder from the wall and put it in front of the door.
“The door opens outwards,” he grunted. “That should keep ‘em.”
Greely walked in silence with them up two floors, staring at his paws. Then he looked up.
“Thank you for saving me,” he growled to the three girls behind him. Sir Gilbert took no notice. “And you…” The big tiger looked around cockily. Greely gave him a withering look.
“I appreciate it,” he said finally.
“We have to get Peck,” said Flora to break the tension between the two huge warriors at the front of the group.
“What happened to Peck?” said Greely.
“Erm – we’re not sure,” said Flora. “There was a sweeper, and – ”
“The phantom searcher,” said Greely immediately. “Designed to keep intruders out of the bottom levels of the dungeons and to make them vulnerable so they can be caught.” An awkward silence followed his words.
“There she is,” said Flora. Her small form was tucked under the overhang of a boulder, still sleeping away. Greely picked her up, surprisingly gently, by the scruff of her neck and began to carry her.
“We can go now,” said Ruby, with something like wonder.
“You glad?” said Flora.
“No,” answered the rhino. “I just didn’t expect it to go by that fast.”
Juniper shivered as she walked up and down the border between Sarepia Forest and the wilderness. The familiar wood on one side clashed with the similar, yet somehow unfriendly forest on the other. Usually Juniper didn’t mind the eerie sounds of the forest, but in this unfamiliar territory it just sounded sinister. She pulled up short when she heard a hard rustling noise from the alien side of the forest.
“H – hello?” she said, trying and failing to sound brave. A small animal ran out and disappeared into Sarepia Forest. Juniper relaxed. It was just a lesser animal; one of the animals Zios had not granted with the intelligence that the inhabitants of Jamaa had.
Juniper was having a bad day already. Through the trees, she watched the sun clear the horizon as she nervously paced back and forth the Sarepia boundary. Juniper was a bit nervous and un-warrior-like at the best of times, but here, with a supposed invasion on the way, she was beside herself. Keeping her small dagger clutched tightly in her paws, she looked warily through the trees, eyes out for a glimpse of a dark tentacle or bright, malicious eye.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a dark shape slide from the wilderness into Sarepia Forest and felt her fur bristle. Her dagger clutched in her jaws, she raced after the shape that had just disappeared into the peaceful wood. Luckily, she reached it and got close enough to stab the knife through its back. It disintegrated into goop and splashed all over the ground.
She turned back in horror and gasped. It wasn’t alone. Dozens of the creatures were streaming over the border, speeding into the forest of her home and bringing with them a sense of darkness and fear.
“Stop!” cried Juniper, and instantly regretted her naïve mistake. One of the largest phantoms came soaring toward her. When she raised her small weapon, he batted her paw aside effortlessly and knocked her to the ground.
Juniper felt the tentacle collide with the back of her head, and her vision went black.


Thanks for reading! I hope you like my story as much as I had fun writing it!!

Summer 🙂

Fiction Fridays #9: The AJ Story, Chapter 8

Hey, guys! Here’s the new chapter of my story! I hope you like it, I worked hard on this!!
If you haven’t read the previous chapters, they’re at


It was a sleepless night for the wolf sisters. They woke up Scooter, told her to keep an eye on Crashing and Fauna, and went with Liza all the way to the Alpha Council House at the top of Mt. Shiveer at the edge of the mountains. It was almost eleven o’ clock when they finally reached the summit. Most of the other Alphas, looking ruffled and nervous, had already reached the top, and, to the wolves’ embarrassment, there didn’t seem to be any other non-Alpha animals there.
“Flora, Juniper, Lucky,” said a voice anxiously. They turned to see Peck, her violet eyes wide and her whiskers quivering. “I’m sorry to hear about Greely. I know you three are really close to him.”
“He’ll be okay,” Flora said, although it sounded rather like she was reassuring herself. “They’ll put a search party together, and we’ll find him no problem.”
“Flora, you know what this means,” whispered Juniper when everyone was out of earshot. “The Phantom King. He’s already got Greely. His plan’s working, and the other Alphas are doing exactly what he wants them to.”
Flora’s eyes widened. “We have to warn them,” she whispered. Juniper nodded.
Lucky was discussing battle plans in a low voice with Sir Gilbert. Sir Gilbert wasn’t Greely’s best friend – in fact, the two had a long history of consternation – but the huge tiger’s loyalty was unmatched, and there was no way he’d step down from helping his fellow Alpha.
“Got a plan?” he said to Lucky.
“Run in there, save Greely, and whip those phantoms’ big black butts,” she replied.
“Sounds good to me,” said Sir Gilbert.
“Attention!” called Liza from the end of the large table in the center of the room. All talk ceased, and everyone took a seat at the huge conference table. Flora, Juniper, and Lucky were able to share Greely’s empty seat, and it wasn’t that cramped, considering the size of the missing Alpha.
“Yesterday, Greely left Jamaa on one of his missions,” said Liza. “We weren’t worried until he didn’t return, and one Sparkle Wingedlily, an arctic wolf that was watching Miss Cutestar while Flora and Juniper went to the Hive to help Lucky, said he had set off for the Hive. He should have come back quickly, but he didn’t.”
Flora felt herself go cold. Greely was at the Hive. It wasn’t that she didn’t think he, Alpha, couldn’t take care of himself, but the Phantom Hive was dangerous to any animal, immortal or not. The Alphas’ immortality wasn’t absolute, after all; they would never die of old age or grow any older, but they could be killed in battle like a normal animal.
“Naturally, we will assemble a party of our best warriors to venture into the Hive and find him. It – ”
“Wait!” Juniper burst out. “While we were in the Hive, the Phantom King told us his plan. He was planning on capturing Greely, then, while we were all busy, leak the phantoms into Jamaa and take it from the inside out.”
All eyes turned to the blue wolf, and she blushed.
“What was his plan?” asked Liza softly.
So Juniper told them everything the Phantom King had said. When she finished, Sir Gilbert pushed his chair back and rose to his feet. “We must act,” he growled, and shouts of assent filled the room.
“Quiet!” shouted Liza. “This is indeed a bad situation, but we can’t rush into it. We have to leave a group behind to keep vigil over Jamaa’s borders and make sure the phantoms don’t infiltrate, and form a search party as well. Sir Gilbert, Peck, Ruby, Lucky, and Flora will search for Greely.”
The named animals stood up. The huge tiger, rabbit, rhino, and two wolves, all great warriors, promised they would give everything they could, and wasted no time in leaving for the Hive.
“That leaves the matter of security,” continued the panda. “Cosmo, Graham, Juniper, and I will watch the land borders. Harper and Marco can take the waterways.”
Harper and Marco were the Seal and Penguin Alphas, respectively. “On it,” said Harper, throwing Liza the finger-gun. Juniper quietly rolled her eyes.
“And Crashing?” she asked hesitantly. “I’m sorry, but I can’t just leave her alone. We’ve got a little penguin and a rabbit, too.”
Liza raised her eyebrows at the last part, but said, “They can stay with LaSelle while you do your duties as guard.” The glamorous raccoon rose from the table. “I’ll take very good care of your little ones, Miss Spiritbird.”
“Thanks,” said Juniper. She gave LaSelle her address so she could pick them up, then left with her Alpha helpers to organize a watch over Jamaa.
Meanwhile, the search party was about to reach the bottom of Mt. Shiveer. It was a much faster journey downhill, and with their long legs and Alpha speed, they almost halved the time it took to get down.
Sir Gilbert shook the dirt and snow out of his fur once they’d reached the bottom. “It’s about an hour’s journey to the Hive,” he said in his bass voice. “We should arrive just after midnight. You all ready?”
“Ready as ever,” said Flora, digging her claws into the rocks beneath her.
With the affirmative from everyone else in the party, the second leg of their journey began. Huge stony mountains loomed at them from all sides, towering above their heads, making even the Alphas seem miniscule by comparison.
“I’m almost glad we got here,” said Peck once they’d reached the Hive. “Those mountains looked too sinister. I bet they were crawling with phantoms.”
“Well, get ready for more,” growled Ruby. She tossed her head from side to side, then smashed her horn through a rock by the entrance. “I’m waiting for whatever those phantoms throw at us.”
So they all went inside the Hive. Lucky bowed her head and quickened her pace as her fur stood on end at the sight of a bloodstained patch just inside the mouth. She tried not to think about Little and her terrible, if brave, death.
“Keep your guard up,” whispered Sir Gilbert, whose head was scraping against the roof of the tunnel. More than once he’d hit it on a rock and said some extremely rude things to the ceiling.
“We’re getting close,” said Flora. “I know where we are.”
After five more minutes of narrow, winding tunnels, Flora spotted the sign that marked the entrance of the dungeons. She crouched low, and motioned her companions to do the same. One phantom drifted from one side of the corridor to the other, guarding the doorway, but the search party wasn’t nervous in the least.
“Here we go,” said Ruby, a daring smile spreading across her sharp features. Flora couldn’t help thinking that she was among a group of Luckies.
“On your mark,” muttered Sir Gilbert.
“Get set…” Despite Peck’s size, she managed to look like a fierce enemy.
“GO!” shouted the rhino.
The phantom never had a chance against all five of them. With one slash of Ruby’s claw-sharp horn, he was nothing but a pile of goop on the ground.
But the worst was yet to come.


Thanks for reading! I still don’t have a good title for this story, so if you have any suggestions, PLEASE put them in the comments!!

Summer 🙂