Wish Carriers

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Liffon Foxglove, the youngest in the Foxglove line, travels to Greenbrook to become a Wish Carrier. Upon arriving, he finds his father, the famous Fens Foxglove, has gone missing on a very important mission. Where has he gone? It's up to the young hummingbird and his new friend Lissa Gentian to find out what's going on. What they find may even be a threat to the Carriers, let alone Greenbrook and perhaps all of Herald itself.

Please feel free to comment. I have divided the chapters up according to basic word count, so they are rather long. When I totally finish everything, it will probably look a bit nicer.

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9. Liffon's Escape

          Many of the new recruits left within a few hours after the council meeting. Soon the bunks were totally empty, save for the six friends. Liffon grew a little concerned, but didn't let it show. He had no intentions of going home, but he worried he would be left alone to deal with the problem himself, though he would never openly admit that.

          The days were plain and boring. The wheelbug mail service came and went, delivering news to and from home. With each new letter, another recruit left. Soon there were but a few remaining. Those that stayed included the buff-bellied twins Tic and Toc Saffron, the blue-throated Mellin Privet, and the violet-crowned Porri Poleminium.

          The twins intrigued Liffon. He asked them why the hadn't gone home yet; their answer both confused and surprised him.

          "We don't..." Tic said, but then paused as if waiting.

          “...plan to..." Toc said, seemingly continuing her brother's sentence.

          "...go home." Tic finished.

          Normally he would have just blinked a few times and frowned, then reply with something like "uh...okay." But this time, instead of walking away, he raised an eyebrow.

          "Sorry about that," Tic chuckled.

          "We tend to finish each other's sentences more..." Toc shrugged.

          "...than we mean to," the young male finished.

          Liffon cleared his throat. "Well, then why are you not going home?" he asked.

          "We would rather..."

          "...stay and help solve the problem."

          Liffon thought about their reply for a minute, then nodded. He admitted he wouldn't mind having others assist in the effort, and he made a not to acknowlege their efforts sometime in the future. While he didn't vocalize anything of the sort, he puffed up his feathers, hiding his gratefulness.

          "Well, don't come to me if you get eaten by a hawk," he said quietly.

          "Actually, if we get eaten, we would not be able to come to anyone," Toc responded matter-of-factly. Liffon was taken aback by the reply, but gave a small grin. At least there was someone with brains here. Perhaps him and Toc could become friends.

          "Friends? I don't know about that," he said, thinking aloud.

          "What's that?" Tic asked, tilting his head.

          "Oh nothing," Liffon replied.

          He didn't bother to ask anyone else if they were staying. He didn't really know why he even asked the twins. He supposed everyone had their own reason or another. Chatter in the hallways revealed some reasons to include loyalty or self-interest, but Liffon was too focused on his missing father to pay too much attention. That was the only explanation to what was happening, right?

          Though at first the cause of the disaster was unknown, reports had been circulating that it was indeed in connection with General Fens Foxgloves disappearance. Liffon's fears were confirmed with these reports. He remained quite calm and quiet about it, even when he overheard whispered conversations in the hallways.

          Lissa was beginning to grow concerned. She approached him one evening as he was resting on a leaf-covered limb of the bunk's tree and asked if he was alright.

          "I'm doing fine," he replied simply, not looking at her. The unspoken message she didn't fail to see was that he was more concerned than any of them.

          "We should try to do something," she suggested, nudging him.

          "I know," he said with a slight nod, finally looking at her. "I'm going to find my father."

          The reply surprised her, but his expression made it clear he was determined. She knew it was the right choice, but she stopped him anyway.

          "Don't you think we should talk with the others first before you go flying off by yourself," she suggested.

          "Why, so they can tell me its a bad idea?" Liffon snapped. He frowned, a little surprised at his own response. "I'm sorry," he finished.

          "I forgive you, but no," Lissa smiled. "They might want to help."

          "Help?" he looked at her, a little surprised.

          "Yeah, that's what friends do, right?" she chuckled.

          "Friends..." he mused, trailing off.

          "Hey Grumpybeak!" As if on signal, Larx called down the branch. "We've been looking for you!" She fluttered up to the pair, closely followed by the other three. "So what's going on? Is this really caused by the General being gone?"

          Liffon was annoyed she would even ask. It only played up his worries more.

          "I'm going to get some air," he said simply. Larx opened her beak to say "But we're outside," but he was gone before she could reply.

          Kiffy alighted next to Lissa where Liffon was just sitting and ruffled his feathers to fend off the cool evening air. He was about to speak when Larx asked him a question.

          "So, Kiffy," she said, alighting next to him. "Why are you staying? You could just go home like everybody else."

          "Well," Kiffy began, watching as Artemis and Cirrus came to land on the other side of Lissa. "I don't see any other choice."

          "Of course there's another choice," the big, burly black-chinned hummingbird protested. "There's plenty of other choices."

          "That's not what I meant," Kiffy explained to Cirrus. "I mean, running away from a problem is rather silly if you ask me. I would rather stay and help solve it any way I can." He shifted his weight to one leg, tucking the other into his down. "Especially if it's one this big."

           "Well, I'm staying simply for educational purposes," Artemis interjected, sticking her beak in the air.

          Larx nudged her and grinned. "Come on, the great Artemis Turnsol can do better than that," she encouraged.

          Larx blushed a little in embarrassment. "I suppose it's also to make myself stronger."

          "I can help you with that~" Cirrus winked.

          "Shush, featherbrain!" Larx barked, elbowing the larger humming bird.

          "What, I was just kidding!" Cirrus protested. He was genuinly hurt until Larx stuck her tongue out at him. "Oh, so it's going to be that way, is it?" He raised a wing as if to punch Larx, who promptly put up her own wings to gaurd against his assault.

          "Hey, featherhead," Lissa interrupted. "Why aren't you going home?"

          Cirrus, caught off guard by the insult, paused for a second. "Well, that's easy," he said, lowering his attempt at a fist. Larx seemed rather relieved, but grinned playfully anyway. "It's to protect the ladies, of course," he replied, puffing himself up.

          "Right! You just want to flirt with them all," Larx retorted. Cirrus gave a mock offended expression and Larx stuck her tounge out at him again. "I'm staying to protect 'the ladies' from you!" she added, playfully head-butting her larger friend.

          "Is that the only reason you are  staying?" Kiffy asked curiously.

          Larx paused mid-attack and looked up at the him. "Well, I might also be staying because I want to make things better," she admitted. "Plus you guys kind of grew on me."

          "Like a thistle burr?" Cirrus mockingly suggested.

          "Yeah, or a leech!" she added, flapping her wings at Cirrus. The bigger bird nearly fell off the branch at the surprise attack, but caught himself quickly.

          "Watch it!" he protested.

          "Or what?" Larx demanded.

          The pair was interrupted by the arrival of a familiar face. Liffon flapped lightly, landing on the branch next to Cirrus without a word.

          "Oh, hey!" Lissa said with a smile. "Are you feeling better?"

          "I guess," the young male ruby-throat replied, shrugging.

          "That doesn't sound very sure," Lissa said flapping over. She nudged him a little, hoping for a better response.

          "I don't know," he finally admitted. "I'm not sure what to do. I mean, my dad could be anywhere."

          Kiffy looked over at him, tilting his head. "Why don't we go look for him?"

          "You'd come with me?" Liffon blinked, genuinly in awe that someone he previously beat up in the bunks would offer.

          "Of course," the other bird replied.

          "Me, too!" Cirrus chimed in. "Procne knows you two need some muscles on the team."

          "And me, too," Larx nodded.

          "If course me," Artemis added. "I can't pass up this extremely educational opportunity.

          "Of course me," Lissa said with a grin. "I think it'll be fun. Plus who else is going to protect Liffon?"

          The male ruby-throat frowned at the comment, but then smiled. He was surprised, but very glad he wasn't doing this alone.

          In fact, he was surprised how different a few days made him. When he and Lissa first met, Liffon was convinced he didn't need anyone, and now he was depending on the very kindness he pushed away. He felt something unfamiliar in his gut. Was this gratefulness?

          "Well then it's settled. We have to go and find General Fens, right?" Kiffy said, looking at the other five.

          "Right!" they all replied in unison, and for the first time since he'd arrived in Greenbrook, Liffon actually felt like he was part of something. It was a weird feeling, but it was a good one.

          The final call sounded from the council building. Since the disaster, a strict curfew had been enforced. Kestrel guards had been stationed around the complex in an effort to protect the last remaining wish energy stores, so if they weren't in the bunks within the next few minutes, they could all get in big trouble.

          The six chatted well into the evening, making plans to escape the complex the next night. They each packed a small bag of supplies, each including a bottle of emergency nectar and a spare lantern case to fill with fireflies if they needed some extra light. Liffon didn't forget his father's cap, even if it was a little too big and made it hard to see when flying.

          The next evening came at a snail's pace. The friends spent the day helping around the complex with various tasks to keep themselves busy. Finally, night came and they were ready.

          The final curfew call of the resident mockingbird echoed off the vacant walls of the recruit bunk. Only a few others were left besides the six, and they were already asleep.

          "Alright, It will be easier if we split into groups of two," Liffon explained. The others nodded in agreement. "I'll go with Lissa, Cirrus can go with Artemis, and Larx, go with Kiffy."

          "I don't think Cirrus should go with Artemis," Larx interjected.

          "Why not?" Cirrus hissed, seriously offended. "What do you think I'll do?"

          "Fine, Artemis, you go with Larx, and Kiffy with Cirrus," Lissa suggested. Cirrus puffed up in annoyance, but grudgingly agreed.

          "We'll meet where the path becomes bare," Liffon explained.

          "I hope that hawk isn't there this time," Artemis said quietly, nervous about the whole situation.

          "If it is, I'll kick its butt," Larx assured her.

          "Alright, see you in a bit," Liffon nodded. With that they were off, each taking a slightly different route.

          The night was a little chilly, and Kiffy puffed himself up to guard against the cold. He and Cirrus watched as the other two groups set off, the latter in a little bit of a fowl mood.

          "We better get going," Kiffy stated, looking at the larger bird.

          "Right," Cirrus nodded, clearly not in a talking mood.

          They took off and chose a route that passed under the main branches of the oak that held the bunks and the courtyard. There were no guards in sight, so the pair relaxed a little.

          "I hope we can find General Fens," Kiffy said, trying to start a conversation.

          "We will," Cirrus replied confidently.

          "How can you be so sure?" Kiffy asked, looking at the black-chinned male. "He could have gotten eaten!"

          "How can you be sure that he did?" Cirrus rebutted, not looking at his companion.

          "Touche," Kiffy grinned, admitting defeat.

          "Hey, I see youse guys!" a kestral guard shouted.

          "Oh crap!" Kiffy hissed.

          "You two betta get back to da bunks!" the guard commanded. The pair paused as the she approached. Her police cap looked a little too big for her; she adjusted it so she could get a good look at the pair. "Y'know dere's a strict cuhfew!"

          "Right, uh," Kiffy stuttered.

          "We were just going to the bathroom," Cirrus improvised.

          "Why d'ya need t'go dis far from da bunks fuh that?" she asked, perplexed. "Just take a poo on any ol' branch."

          "Well, that's a little more complicated than it should be," Cirrus explained. "Kiffy here is a little...poo-shy."

          "Nice try," the guard grinned. "Though, I do give yas points fuh creativity. Now get back t'the bunks!"

          "Well, we tried," Cirrus shrugged, turning to Kiffy. "Ready?"

          "Ready fuh what?" the guard asked, raising an eyebrow.

          Without warning, the pair shot off into the night, rocketing toward their goal.

          "Hey! Youse guys get back here!" the guard demanded, but the pair was well out of hearing range. "Sound duh alarm!" she bellowed.

          She was answered by a loud siren call. The late-night shift mockingbird was not bored tonight.

          "So, why did you really stay?" Artemis asked her companion. They flew at an easy pace above trees. They both had decided this was the best idea to avoid most of the guards. But they couldn't go too high for fear of catching the attention of an owl or bat. While Carriers were respected and mostly left alone by predators, there still was occasional attacks, and that was the last thing the pair wanted to deal with.

          "You really want to know?" Larx raised an eyebrow.

          "Yeah, I'm curious," the other female replied.

          "Well, I kind of feel like you're my younger sister," Larx reluctantly admitted after a pause. "I feel like protecting you."

          Artemis flushed in embarassment. "Really?"

          "Yeah, plus I don't really trust Cirrus," she added with a chuckle.

          "Well, I'm glad I have an older sister," Artemis said.

          Larx blushed herself this time. If only you knew the truth, she thought.

          Their conversation was interrupted by the alarm blaring a warning.

          "Sounds like one of our crew was a little noisy!" Larx whispered. "Let's get going!" she added, picking up speed. Artemis followed suit, and they raced through the night.

          "What's that?" Liffon asked, startled by the loud noise."I had a feeling this would happen," Lissa said with a frown, picking up speed. "Cirrus has no concept of inconspicuousness." When Liffon gave her a questioning look, she answered him. "That's the alarm. Our hefty friend had a little bad luck with the guards."

          "Well, then we better hurry," he stated, picking up speed as well.

          Cirrus and Kiffy were they last to arrive at the appointed spot, a little worse for the ware. The landed on a nearby branch, picking twigs and leaves from their feathers.

          "It's about time!" Lissa said, a little concerned.

          "Hey, it's not my fault the guards decided to not let Kiffy take a poo!" Cirrus protested. Larx and Kiffy chuckled at his reply.

          "No time to waste," Liffon stated, hurriedly. "Let's go."

          And with that, the group of six young hummingbirds set off into the night, the sound of sirens behind them.          Many of the new recruits left within a few hours after the council meeting. Soon the bunks were totally empty, save for the six friends. Liffon grew a little concerned, but didn't let it show. He had no intentions of going home, but he worried he would be left alone to deal with the problem himself, though he would never openly admit that.

          The days were plain and boring. The wheelbug mail service came and went, delivering news to and from home. With each new letter, another recruit left. Soon there were but a few remaining. Those that stayed included the buff-bellied twins Tic and Toc Saffron, the blue-throated Mellin Privet, and the violet-crowned Porri Poleminium.

          The twins intrigued Liffon. He asked them why the hadn't gone home yet; their answer both confused and surprised him.

          "We don't..." Tic said, but then paused as if waiting.

          “...plan to..." Toc said, seemingly continuing her brother's sentence.

          "...go home." Tic finished.

          Normally he would have just blinked a few times and frowned, then reply with something like "uh...okay." But this time, instead of walking away, he raised an eyebrow.

          "Sorry about that," Tic chuckled.

          "We tend to finish each other's sentences more..." Toc shrugged.

          "...than we mean to," the young male finished.

          Liffon cleared his throat. "Well, then why are you not going home?" he asked.

          "We would rather..."

          "...stay and help solve the problem."

          Liffon thought about their reply for a minute, then nodded. He admitted he wouldn't mind having others assist in the effort, and he made a not to acknowlege their efforts sometime in the future. While he didn't vocalize anything of the sort, he puffed up his feathers, hiding his gratefulness.

          "Well, don't come to me if you get eaten by a hawk," he said quietly.

          "Actually, if we get eaten, we would not be able to come to anyone," Toc responded matter-of-factly. Liffon was taken aback by the reply, but gave a small grin. At least there was someone with brains here. Perhaps him and Toc could become friends.

          "Friends? I don't know about that," he said, thinking aloud.

          "What's that?" Tic asked, tilting his head.

          "Oh nothing," Liffon replied.

          He didn't bother to ask anyone else if they were staying. He didn't really know why he even asked the twins. He supposed everyone had their own reason or another. Chatter in the hallways revealed some reasons to include loyalty or self-interest, but Liffon was too focused on his missing father to pay too much attention. That was the only explanation to what was happening, right?

          Though at first the cause of the disaster was unknown, reports had been circulating that it was indeed in connection with General Fens Foxgloves disappearance. Liffon's fears were confirmed with these reports. He remained quite calm and quiet about it, even when he overheard whispered conversations in the hallways.

          Lissa was beginning to grow concerned. She approached him one evening as he was resting on a leaf-covered limb of the bunk's tree and asked if he was alright.

          "I'm doing fine," he replied simply, not looking at her. The unspoken message she didn't fail to see was that he was more concerned than any of them.

          "We should try to do something," she suggested, nudging him.

          "I know," he said with a slight nod, finally looking at her. "I'm going to find my father."

          The reply surprised her, but his expression made it clear he was determined. She knew it was the right choice, but she stopped him anyway.

          "Don't you think we should talk with the others first before you go flying off by yourself," she suggested.

          "Why, so they can tell me its a bad idea?" Liffon snapped. He frowned, a little surprised at his own response. "I'm sorry," he finished.

          "I forgive you, but no," Lissa smiled. "They might want to help."

          "Help?" he looked at her, a little surprised.

          "Yeah, that's what friends do, right?" she chuckled.

          "Friends..." he mused, trailing off.

          "Hey Grumpybeak!" As if on signal, Larx called down the branch. "We've been looking for you!" She fluttered up to the pair, closely followed by the other three. "So what's going on? Is this really caused by the General being gone?"

          Liffon was annoyed she would even ask. It only played up his worries more.

          "I'm going to get some air," he said simply. Larx opened her beak to say "But we're outside," but he was gone before she could reply.

          Kiffy alighted next to Lissa where Liffon was just sitting and ruffled his feathers to fend off the cool evening air. He was about to speak when Larx asked him a question.

          "So, Kiffy," she said, alighting next to him. "Why are you staying? You could just go home like everybody else."

          "Well," Kiffy began, watching as Artemis and Cirrus came to land on the other side of Lissa. "I don't see any other choice."

          "Of course there's another choice," the big, burly black-chinned hummingbird protested. "There's plenty of other choices."

          "That's not what I meant," Kiffy explained to Cirrus. "I mean, running away from a problem is rather silly if you ask me. I would rather stay and help solve it any way I can." He shifted his weight to one leg, tucking the other into his down. "Especially if it's one this big."

           "Well, I'm staying simply for educational purposes," Artemis interjected, sticking her beak in the air.

          Larx nudged her and grinned. "Come on, the great Artemis Turnsol can do better than that," she encouraged.

          Larx blushed a little in embarrassment. "I suppose it's also to make myself stronger."

          "I can help you with that~" Cirrus winked.

          "Shush, featherbrain!" Larx barked, elbowing the larger humming bird.

          "What, I was just kidding!" Cirrus protested. He was genuinly hurt until Larx stuck her tongue out at him. "Oh, so it's going to be that way, is it?" He raised a wing as if to punch Larx, who promptly put up her own wings to gaurd against his assault.

          "Hey, featherhead," Lissa interrupted. "Why aren't you going home?"

          Cirrus, caught off guard by the insult, paused for a second. "Well, that's easy," he said, lowering his attempt at a fist. Larx seemed rather relieved, but grinned playfully anyway. "It's to protect the ladies, of course," he replied, puffing himself up.

          "Right! You just want to flirt with them all," Larx retorted. Cirrus gave a mock offended expression and Larx stuck her tounge out at him again. "I'm staying to protect 'the ladies' from you!" she added, playfully head-butting her larger friend.

          "Is that the only reason you are  staying?" Kiffy asked curiously.

          Larx paused mid-attack and looked up at the him. "Well, I might also be staying because I want to make things better," she admitted. "Plus you guys kind of grew on me."

          "Like a thistle burr?" Cirrus mockingly suggested.

          "Yeah, or a leech!" she added, flapping her wings at Cirrus. The bigger bird nearly fell off the branch at the surprise attack, but caught himself quickly.

          "Watch it!" he protested.

          "Or what?" Larx demanded.

          The pair was interrupted by the arrival of a familiar face. Liffon flapped lightly, landing on the branch next to Cirrus without a word.

          "Oh, hey!" Lissa said with a smile. "Are you feeling better?"

          "I guess," the young male ruby-throat replied, shrugging.

          "That doesn't sound very sure," Lissa said flapping over. She nudged him a little, hoping for a better response.

          "I don't know," he finally admitted. "I'm not sure what to do. I mean, my dad could be anywhere."

          Kiffy looked over at him, tilting his head. "Why don't we go look for him?"

          "You'd come with me?" Liffon blinked, genuinly in awe that someone he previously beat up in the bunks would offer.

          "Of course," the other bird replied.

          "Me, too!" Cirrus chimed in. "Procne knows you two need some muscles on the team."

          "And me, too," Larx nodded.

          "If course me," Artemis added. "I can't pass up this extremely educational opportunity.

          "Of course me," Lissa said with a grin. "I think it'll be fun. Plus who else is going to protect Liffon?"

          The male ruby-throat frowned at the comment, but then smiled. He was surprised, but very glad he wasn't doing this alone.

          In fact, he was surprised how different a few days made him. When he and Lissa first met, Liffon was convinced he didn't need anyone, and now he was depending on the very kindness he pushed away. He felt something unfamiliar in his gut. Was this gratefulness?

          "Well then it's settled. We have to go and find General Fens, right?" Kiffy said, looking at the other five.

          "Right!" they all replied in unison, and for the first time since he'd arrived in Greenbrook, Liffon actually felt like he was part of something. It was a weird feeling, but it was a good one.

          The final call sounded from the council building. Since the disaster, a strict curfew had been enforced. Kestrel guards had been stationed around the complex in an effort to protect the last remaining wish energy stores, so if they weren't in the bunks within the next few minutes, they could all get in big trouble.

          The six chatted well into the evening, making plans to escape the complex the next night. They each packed a small bag of supplies, each including a bottle of emergency nectar and a spare lantern case to fill with fireflies if they needed some extra light. Liffon didn't forget his father's cap, even if it was a little too big and made it hard to see when flying.

          The next evening came at a snail's pace. The friends spent the day helping around the complex with various tasks to keep themselves busy. Finally, night came and they were ready.

          The final curfew call of the resident mockingbird echoed off the vacant walls of the recruit bunk. Only a few others were left besides the six, and they were already asleep.

          "Alright, It will be easier if we split into groups of two," Liffon explained. The others nodded in agreement. "I'll go with Lissa, Cirrus can go with Artemis, and Larx, go with Kiffy."

          "I don't think Cirrus should go with Artemis," Larx interjected.

          "Why not?" Cirrus hissed, seriously offended. "What do you think I'll do?"

          "Fine, Artemis, you go with Larx, and Kiffy with Cirrus," Lissa suggested. Cirrus puffed up in annoyance, but grudgingly agreed.

          "We'll meet where the path becomes bare," Liffon explained.

          "I hope that hawk isn't there this time," Artemis said quietly, nervous about the whole situation.

          "If it is, I'll kick its butt," Larx assured her.

          "Alright, see you in a bit," Liffon nodded. With that they were off, each taking a slightly different route.

          The night was a little chilly, and Kiffy puffed himself up to guard against the cold. He and Cirrus watched as the other two groups set off, the latter in a little bit of a fowl mood.

          "We better get going," Kiffy stated, looking at the larger bird.

          "Right," Cirrus nodded, clearly not in a talking mood.

          They took off and chose a route that passed under the main branches of the oak that held the bunks and the courtyard. There were no guards in sight, so the pair relaxed a little.

          "I hope we can find General Fens," Kiffy said, trying to start a conversation.

          "We will," Cirrus replied confidently.

          "How can you be so sure?" Kiffy asked, looking at the black-chinned male. "He could have gotten eaten!"

          "How can you be sure that he did?" Cirrus rebutted, not looking at his companion.

          "Touche," Kiffy grinned, admitting defeat.

          "Hey, I see youse guys!" a kestral guard shouted.

          "Oh crap!" Kiffy hissed.

          "You two betta get back to da bunks!" the guard commanded. The pair paused as the she approached. Her police cap looked a little too big for her; she adjusted it so she could get a good look at the pair. "Y'know dere's a strict cuhfew!"

          "Right, uh," Kiffy stuttered.

          "We were just going to the bathroom," Cirrus improvised.

          "Why d'ya need t'go dis far from da bunks fuh that?" she asked, perplexed. "Just take a poo on any ol' branch."

          "Well, that's a little more complicated than it should be," Cirrus explained. "Kiffy here is a little...poo-shy."

          "Nice try," the guard grinned. "Though, I do give yas points fuh creativity. Now get back t'the bunks!"

          "Well, we tried," Cirrus shrugged, turning to Kiffy. "Ready?"

          "Ready fuh what?" the guard asked, raising an eyebrow.

          Without warning, the pair shot off into the night, rocketing toward their goal.

          "Hey! Youse guys get back here!" the guard demanded, but the pair was well out of hearing range. "Sound duh alarm!" she bellowed.

          She was answered by a loud siren call. The late-night shift mockingbird was not bored tonight.

          "So, why did you really stay?" Artemis asked her companion. They flew at an easy pace above trees. They both had decided this was the best idea to avoid most of the guards. But they couldn't go too high for fear of catching the attention of an owl or bat. While Carriers were respected and mostly left alone by predators, there still was occasional attacks, and that was the last thing the pair wanted to deal with.

          "You really want to know?" Larx raised an eyebrow.

          "Yeah, I'm curious," the other female replied.

          "Well, I kind of feel like you're my younger sister," Larx reluctantly admitted after a pause. "I feel like protecting you."

          Artemis flushed in embarassment. "Really?"

          "Yeah, plus I don't really trust Cirrus," she added with a chuckle.

          "Well, I'm glad I have an older sister," Artemis said.

          Larx blushed herself this time. If only you knew the truth, she thought.

          Their conversation was interrupted by the alarm blaring a warning.

          "Sounds like one of our crew was a little noisy!" Larx whispered. "Let's get going!" she added, picking up speed. Artemis followed suit, and they raced through the night.

          "What's that?" Liffon asked, startled by the loud noise."I had a feeling this would happen," Lissa said with a frown, picking up speed. "Cirrus has no concept of inconspicuousness." When Liffon gave her a questioning look, she answered him. "That's the alarm. Our hefty friend had a little bad luck with the guards."

          "Well, then we better hurry," he stated, picking up speed as well.

          Cirrus and Kiffy were they last to arrive at the appointed spot, a little worse for the ware. The landed on a nearby branch, picking twigs and leaves from their feathers.

          "It's about time!" Lissa said, a little concerned.

          "Hey, it's not my fault the guards decided to not let Kiffy take a poo!" Cirrus protested. Larx and Kiffy chuckled at his reply.

          "No time to waste," Liffon stated, hurriedly. "Let's go."

          And with that, the group of six young hummingbirds set off into the night, the sound of sirens behind them.

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