When the Sky Caught Fire

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Chapter 6

As the sun rose the next morning, there was screaming heard. Ross sat up fast and almost headbutted Mosies on accident. The boy reared his head back and signed, I’ve been trying to wake you up for hours. He seemed excited and he signed again, The Chief of the tribe has pardoned us, he decided that we were not really a threat.

Ross blinked owlishly at his friend, unsure if he should smack him for waking him up that early or hug him for bringing good news. He sighed deeply, squinting at his friend as he attempted to make that decision in his mind. In the end he simply asked, Does he want to meet with all of us? Why would you scream to wake me up? That hurt my ears.

Mosies nodded in response and then dragged his friend into a standing position. Mosies responded to the second half of his question, Hearing people wake up faster if noise is involved. He handed Ross an egg sandwich that one of the ladies had handed him for Ross. Ross accepted the sandwich and they left the building they had been sleeping in. Mosies and Ross kept their hands silent as they walked to the meeting place. Storm was currently sitting across from the Chief and seemed to be in deep discussion with him, Marvin was standing next to her as they spoke with the man.

The chief looked at them sadly, “I apologize for how you were greeted when you arrived. I was visiting a sister tribe when you showed up. When I came back and heard about how you were treated, I was horrified. James is being dealt with currently, he had no business to be treating our guests like that. You came in peace and we attacked you. I apologize.” He was an older man, maybe in his 50s at the oldest. He was still lean for an older man and clearly took care of himself. His hair was black with streaks of white, indicating his age, “What would you like to know about us before we continue with our merging? When you are finished asking questions, we have a few of our own.”

Marvin was the first to speak up, “I have a question: Which tribes are these? I saw three or four different tribal flags and I’m curious as to which ones y’all are.” Marvin knew he was speaking before Storm, who the tribe thought was their leader, but Marvin was deathly curious. Plus, he knew Storm wouldn’t mind, she seemed to be drawing a blank when he spoke up.

“The Five Nations, Navajo, and Cherokee mainly. There are a few from other tribes, however, many of them have been chased away or assimilated with your white culture. Who you see here is what we assume are left of us. There is the one tribe in Florida, but they made for the wetlands as soon as it was announced that they needed to assimilate. As far as we know, they are still alive,” The chief, his name was Walking Wolf but he would go by his Sisterland name, which was known as Robert, “Also, I am surprised that you missed every five-nation flags.”

Marvin quickly corrected his previous mistake, “I knew that each of those tribes were part of the Five Nations, so I mentioned three or four others.” He felt like he needed to clarify that to avoid offending their host. There was a moment of silence before Storm spoke up.

“Is the fighting thing that Jim wanted us to do normal?” Storm asked as she glanced over her shoulder in time to see Jim disappear. She was curious about the angry young man but was also curious about the chief’s relationship to him. They seemed to be close, otherwise, Walking Wolf wouldn’t have trusted him with the task of watching the Nation.

The chief looked sheepish, “No. We do it to our enemies but usually only after we know for a fact they are our enemy. As far as Jim knew, you were not the enemy,” Walking Wolf sighed as he steepled his hands on the table, “The last time we held a fight, we were attacked. You did not attack us,” he then looked over at Mosies and Ross, asking, “Do either of you have any questions?”

Ross looked at Mosies and the boy shrugged, so Ross started, “Well, I was wondering what you are doing to resist the Sisterland other than hide in the mountains as if you are a defeated tribe?” Marvin interpreted this for Mosies who was staring at Ross as if he had grown an extra head. This was a look that Ross got a lot, the chief assumed.

The chief was taken aback, for a moment his mouth moved and no words came out. Then he sat back in his chair and laughed softly, “Where did they find you? If only we had young men in this village with a backbone such as yours. Well….” The chief paused, “Jim has a backbone but he uses it in the wrong way. We are unable to resist the Sisterland. We retreated in the mountains to get stronger and wait for the most opportune moment for our attack. We can’t do this alone, the Sisterland is such a large country with military bases everywhere. What about you, Ross? What were you doing to resist the Sisterland before you were recruited into this rebellion?”

“Nothing. I helped my father by keeping forbidden books in print, but otherwise, I did nothing. I was happy living in our beautiful prison cell doing what the government wanted. But they murdered my mother and father, they tortured kids and turned them into weapons, they have been hunting us for months. I have nothing to lose now,” Ross knew he had no business of accusing people of not doing anything, if anyone didn’t have a leg to stand on it was him.

Mosies raised his hand quickly and when the chief nodded he started signing, Marvin acting as his interpreter, If we were to take back the Sisterland, what would you want done first? What is the one thing you long for the most that we could give to you?

The chief stared at the Deaf boy long and hard before saying, “I would want our nations back. There are so few of us now, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have the land we had before back. Clearly, we can’t have the entire country like in the original days, but we could have the original land allotted to us. And the Navajos deserve their original land from the original days. Clearly, some of it is owned now. However, whatever can be done to restore the land for them would be a blessing. In short, we want our land back. Our beautiful lands and of course, our freedom.”

Ramona stumbled into the room a few seconds later with Abe close behind, the two looked frazzled and tired. Apparently, Jim had woken them up, deciding it was important for them to join the group. Walking Wolf had come to that conclusion when Jim came in after them, looking amused. Walking Wolf looked at his wife, who was sitting by the door, “Could you bring coffee for Ramona and Abe?” His wife opened her mouth to be sassy and he said, “Please?”

Winter huffed, “Sure, make the wife do it all. We are past all this! Woman’s Lib! Free Winter!” She left the tent while Walking Wolf stared after her. It was quiet in the tent for a moment before Jim started cracking up. Winter usually did something like this at least once a day, even if the request was reasonable. She liked to keep her husband on his toes.

Ramona yawned and gently pushed Jim out of the way, “Excuse me,” she approached the chief and asked quietly, “I know that Shadow, Froggy, and Molly are free and unchained, but I was wondering if Shadow has received any medical care yet? His wounds were pretty deep.”

“Yes, he has been in our medical tent since this morning. His wounds were already beginning to heal when our physicians started caring for him,” Walking Wolf smiled kindly at the young women before looking at Abe, “Is there anything you wish to ask me before I ask you questions? I have already answered questions about which Nations are in our tribe, if I have a backbone and where it might be, and what I would like from the liberation of the Sisterland.” As he finished his wife came in with two cups of coffee, handing it to Abe and Ramona. Winter chortled as she went and sat down again, picking up the knitting she had and continued making a scarf.

Abe chuckled, “Maybe you want to liberate your wife first,” this caused Winter to laugh, he had clearly gotten on her good side with that comment, “My question is, when would you want to attack the Queen and her minions? Where would you want to start?” He was curious about this because the Chief could want to attack anywhere. Any military base would be a good start, but they would need to attack the castle directly.

“We would want her to know we are coming. We need her to know we are coming because it would be a good scare tactic. She will catch us if we are sneaky but attacking in the open is something she won’t expect, she is good at espionage. We have caught spies in here before. So, I would suggest attacking a military base first, take over a government run propaganda station, and eventually attack the castle. We could only use the station once,” Walking Wolf tilted his head and asked, “Did you have an idea of what you would want to do?”

“I like your idea, but if she knows where we are, it will become easier for her to attack us. She isn’t unintelligent. I would attack the castle directly, but we would need diversions. However, you said you had questions for us first. We can discuss military tactics later,” Abe crossed his arms over his chest, waiting for the questions from the chief.

“My question is about your group as a whole, what do you represent? What is your goal for this rebellion?” The chief looked at the group as they all watched each other. Ross had a glint in his eye, indicating that the wheels were turning in his brain. Ramona was making motions at Ross to be silent, but the boy was purposely ignoring her.

“Well, I haven’t been informed about the overall purpose, but my goal is to stick a giant sword up the Queen’s royal….” Ross was interrupted by Ramona’s hand covering his mouth. Jim let loose a long, loud, laugh, his brain filling in the blanks. Walking Wolf allowed himself to half-smile, he decided that he liked Ross, he had more spunk than most people in the rebellion combined. Storm was good competition though.

“I agree with Ross,” Storm smirked then added, “I just want to show her that she can’t kill off a bunch of experiments and expect to get away with it. Our lives are worth living even if nobody wants us.” Her voice went low at the end, her eyes darkening with anger, “Lilly, Kay, Kat, Cathy, Cat, and Sally didn’t deserve to die. Four of them were pregnant with babies that would be turned into weapons if successful. The Queen knows what she has done and it is time for her to pay for it.”

Ramona sighed deeply, “I suppose I also agree with Ross. Most of us have the same goal of making the Queen pay for her crimes against humanity. I want justice, I want justice for the people of the Sisterland who have lived in terror since I can remember. The Queen is a terrorist yet directs the attention away from herself by pointing fingers at us. I am tired of it. And of course, she killed my family and most of my friends. I am tired.”

Mosies picked up his hands and signed, this time, Abe interpreted for him, While I want revenge for what the Queen has done, I have a great desire to see justice done. I want justice for the Deaf people she has persecuted and the Christians she has killed and imprisoned for not listening to her. I want a just and free country, I also want us to be called America again. And of course, I want justice for your people. We have wronged you for many centuries and I want to see it made right again. Or as right as we can make it.

The chief nodded, sensing that some of the others wouldn’t explain what they wanted in the independence of the country. Walking Wolf understood, sometimes people don’t know what they want. All they know is that oppression has gone on long enough and it’s time for that to end. He looked at his watch and then said, “We can discuss tactics during lunch, which should be arriving soon.” Nobody had noticed that Winter had quietly left to get the cooks around for lunch. When she came back she was followed by a young woman known as Autumn. Autumn was approximately sixteen years old, of Navajo decent, and had the same mischievous expression as Ross.

Walking Wolf introduced her, “This is my niece, Autumn. I have decided to send her with you, no matter where you go. Along with her cousin, who you’ve already met, Jim.” That explained to the Anomalies why Jim was still in the room. He would need to know whatever tactics that would happen, especially if he and his cousin were expected to protect each other.

Autumn served everyone’s food silently, observing the group. When everyone was given food, she decided to sit down next to Mosies because he seemed like the most normal person there. Mosies offered her a smile, returning to watching Marvin and Abe take turns interpreting for him, which Autumn found fascinating. She knew her tribe’s version of sign language but had never seen the Sisterland sign language. Some of the signs were similar, but most of them were so different that she didn’t even recognize them. Autumn was also Deaf but she could lipread and speak, which was how she differed from Mosies. However, they shared a culture which was rich and deep. Autumn had three cultures, Native Sisterland, Sisterland Deaf, and Native Sisterland Deaf.

Autumn verbalized to Mosies, unaware he couldn’t lipread, “How long have you been Deaf?” When Mosies looked puzzled then looked at Marvin, Autumn felt embarrassed. She would often forget that not all her Deaf comrades couldn’t read lips. The plan making was momentarily paused as Mosies answered.

I have been Deaf since birth. My mother had the German Measles, it’s rare now, but sometimes it still happens. So, because my mother was sick, I became Deaf. You? Mosies returned the question, his curiosity overwhelming him. The plans could wait for a few moments, he hadn’t been aware that this girl was Deaf, he had wondered because of how observant she was, but he wasn’t one hundred percent sure until now.

“I have been Deaf since I was ten. We were near an explosion and my ear drums were split. Since we are Native Sisterland, we were not allowed to go to a doctor, especially since we refused to register,” Autumn replied, Abe interpreting for his brother, “Which is why I can speak well, lipreading came later. I apologize for assuming that you could too.”

Mosies brushed off the apology with a smile, he knew that she hadn’t meant to be offensive, she was going by her own life experience. It wasn’t personal. He gestured at the chief to continue and the man started to talk again, Autumn watched her uncle intently, trying to pick up what he was saying. She didn’t really know the context so it was hit and miss as she tried to fill in what was being said. Autumn could tell that her uncle was answering questions about his plan, but she didn’t know what that was. Her eyes started to water as she watched his lips move, her brain becoming tired from trying to read lips.

Mosies had stopped watching his interpreter and was now watching Autumn struggle to follow her uncle. He raised his hand again, stopping the conversation. What he did next, proved why he was chosen to be an advocate for the Deaf in the Royal Court in the first place, Autumn needs an interpreter. It is unfair that she is unable to follow a conversation that is vital for survival. I understand what you are saying because of Marvin and my brother. She is picking up bits and pieces from lipreading, which is only visible 30% of the time. That means the other 70% she is missing. Please, before we continue, find her an interpreter. The way Mosies phrased the last bit was more of a command than a request.

The chief looked at his niece with sadness, he had forgotten about the fact that her hearing had been destroyed, “Of course.” He sent Jim out to find an interpreter for Autumn, when Jim came back it was with a boy that Autumn had grown up with. Trent pulled up a chair and sat to the side of Autumn, signing, Am I good here? When Autumn nodded in response, the plans continued.

“We can’t attack the castle directly because if we do, the entire army will be on us in seconds. We would need a distraction so that way a few can get into the castle and assassinate the Queen. Her children, however, should be off limits. They have not posed a threat to us and one of the boys has been giving rebellions information. We are one of the safe places if he ever feels threatened enough to escape,” The chief didn’t register the shock on the teenagers faces, they hadn’t known that the Queen’s son had been a primary source of information for most rebellions. Why would they? They had no contacts within the castle, not anymore anyway.

“If you can attack the castle, we can create the diversion,” Ramona replied, causing everyone to look at her, “The Queen is afraid, right? We need to build on that fear. She has seen Storm and knows we are after her, we have already successfully diverted her attention to us. All we need is all of her attention. What can we do to get that?”

The chief turned his attention to Storm, “I think you would be enough of a distraction. She found your particular group as a threat to her rule. While I am curious as to why, I think you would be enough of a distraction. What you need is a small army, if each of you had three or four people with you as you attacked areas of the castle, her forces would be divided. However, it wouldn’t be enough to overthrow her. We need a nationwide rebellion. Maybe if we start, others will follow us. We could use international aid, but we won’t get it. If we get it from anyone it will be the Scottish and Irish.”

Autumn quickly spoke before she could be drowned out, “We can get the aid of the Irish if we move quickly. The Queen hasn’t cut off communication from them yet, the Scottish will be harder to get ahold of, the communication access to them has already been blocked or bugged.”

“How do we get communication with the Irish? Can they get communication with the Scottish if we can get a message to them?” Abe spoke this time, his brain working fast. They needed allies but getting them would be the tricky part.

Quinn drew the boat up to shore silently, glancing at his intel that told him this was a safe place to dock. They had managed to slip past the Queen’s Navy and was hoping to have the same luck getting further inland. Quinn smirked, he seemed to be channeling the luck of the Irish that day. He was heading towards Walking Wolf’s base; the Irish lines had been tapped and the chief didn’t know yet. On his boat were fifty Irish soldiers and sixty Scottish. The fact that they had slipped by was remarkable.

They fled the ship quickly, running into the woods with their weapons ready. They also were armed with knives, daggers, and homemade weapons. The low, yet heavy, breathing of the group went unheard as they ran past guards, darting between the trees. Night had fallen hours ago and their main goal was to make it to the chief before the Royal Guard, who seemed to be going the same direction as them, only slower. There, of course, was the added benefit that Quinn and Co knew where they were going. The Royal Guard did not and were going by non-specific intel they had received.

Quinn would be considered a stereotype for either the Scottish or Irish, he had green eyes and red hair. While his eyes were green, they were a deep and almost forest like green. He was small for a man at five feet five inches and wiry. His friend, who was near him, was Scottish. Frank was his friend’s opposite, he was nearly six-foot-tall, had black hair, brown eyes, and would easily blend in as long as he didn’t open his mouth. He had a strong Scottish highland accent that would easily give him away. Quinn had the same problem with his Irish accent. Both of them would often play mute and allow people to act as interpreters for them. This helped disguise their accent most of the time, they had grown up and stayed in their respective countries while many of the people with them had attended school in England, so they could pass as an ally to the Sisterland.

They approached the Chief’s camp and were surprised to see that they were already mobilizing to move. Quinn opened his mouth and spoke for the first time since they left port in Scotland, “Where is Chief Walking Wolf?” The older man stepped forward and Quinn said, “The Royal Guard are making their way here, they are slow moving but should be here by dawn.” His voice was calm, hiding the fact that he was panicking inside.

The chief nodded once and said, “We will all move, then. Quinn, this group here is the Anomalies. The larger group with them is mostly Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Please get acquainted with them as we finish breaking down camp.” He went back to organizing his tribe/s and now the process was hurried, not to the point of causing them to be unproductive, but they were moved faster.

Ramona and her group were packed and ready to move, so they were unsure of what to do next. Being told to get to know the Irish/Scottish group that came over was a good enough project, but none of them knew how to start the conversation. The resulting silence was awkward. Quinn was the first to break the silence, “What’s the plan?”

“We’re splitting up. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing are going with Marvin and Shadow to attack the east wing of the castle. Storm, the Experiments, Willy, Abe, Mosies, Ross and myself are attacking the front of the castle to provide a distraction for the Chief to attack the back. Autumn and Jim are also with us. Um, would you be willing to attack the west wing of the castle? If she is attacked on all sides, it will be harder for her to split up her troops,” Ramona answered his question completely, knowing that this information would be important if they were going to help them.

“Ten people are attacking the front?” Quinn raised his eyebrows skeptically, he found it hard to believe that ten people would be enough to distract the Queen, they could easily be put down, “Ten isn’t enough.”

Ramona sighed, exasperated, “Then what would you suggest?” She was tired and now they were on the run again, they had very little time to mobilize and now they were discussing already made plans with people she didn’t know nor respect.

Quinn bristled at her tone of voice, Frank, seeing this, intervened before his friend could make the mistake of opening his mouth, “Careful lass. I believe Quinn was going to suggest that we team up. With 120 of us, we should be enough of a threat for her to focus on us.” His accent was strong enough that Ramona needed to strain to understand him.

She timidly pointed her own issue out, “Um, I apologize. You are adorable and I love your accent, but I didn’t understand a word you said.” This caused uproarious laughter from both Quinn and Frank with some quiet laughter from the rest of the group. Ramona blushed bright red, red enough to match her hair before Quinn had mercy on her.

“With 120 of us and we team up, we should be enough of a distraction that the Queen focuses on us,” Quinn heard a branch crack behind him and he stiffened, he knew that wasn’t from his group who were absolutely still. Frank let his knife slide down to the hilt before he caught it and he heard one of the members say softly, “to your left.” Frank turned and threw the knife in a fluid motion, catching the Royal Guard in the throat. They were wrong, the guard had been closer. Ross quickly aimed his crossbow and dispatched another guard, this was all done silently.

Willy ran to warn the chief, Mosies and Abe close behind them. This was done per Storm’s instruction and she ran headfirst into the fray with no regard to her own safety. The army approaching them would be enough to wipe out the entire tribal nation and then some. The one hundred and twenty people standing in their way should have seemed like nothing to them.

Ross ducked and back up, accidentally running into Ramona as he avoided getting a sword to the throat. Ramona put a hand on Ross’s bent back and shot towards the swordsman with the pistol she was holding. The shot was direct and the man dropped like a lead weight. Ross moved out of Ramona’s way and she practically growled at him, “Try and stay alive, please.” She smacked his shoulder lightly, “Stay close to me.”

Ross found humor in that order, he was much taller than her. Of course, that also made her a smaller target. He followed the girl deeper into the woods, guarding her back as she darted between trees. Bark flew off the tree as a bullet rammed into it next to Ross’s head, he ducked and went behind Ramona, using his own body as a protective shield for Ramona. She looked up at him, unamused, “We want you alive, Printer. If you could allow me to decide when I want to die, that’d be great.”

“Tough crap, princess,” Ross spat back, he clearly wasn’t in the listening mood. He tilted his head to the side as Ramona shot past his head and killed a Royal Guard. Quinn jumped out of the tree next to them, falling on a guard before slitting his throat. The blood spurt as Quinn did this, covering him in blood. He then threw the same knife, still covered in blood, into the leg of a Guard who was approaching. The guard fell with a cry and Quinn shot the guard, point blank, in the head. Quinn ripped the knife out of the man’s knee and then wiped it off on his pants. He looked at the two teenagers who were staring at him with shocked expressions.

His only explanation? “We don’t play around in Ireland,” Quinn twisted as a guard thrusted a sword at him. Quinn evaded the man expertly, pulling himself into the tree to escape. Ross took his pistol and killed the man so that way Quinn could escape.

Ramona grinned up at her redheaded friend, “You have gotten to be a better shot,” she patted him on the arm and then ducked out from under his arm. She sprinted across the woods, running just ahead of a volley of bullets that were after her. She dove behind a tree as the volley got too close for comfort.

Quinn dropped down on the other side of her with a smirk, “You’re crazier than me, and that’s hard to do.” He stayed in front of her and listened to the bullets, “If this is any indication, attacking the castle will be a bloodbath. Are you ready to accept that?”

“Right now, I say yes. I can’t promise that it will be the same later,” Ramona heard someone swear and silence, “What’s happening?” She asked quietly, “Our army isn’t dead, right?” She felt a moment of fear about the answer to that question. Ramona listened hard and then heard an insane giggle that was coming from Storm, “What’s she doing?”

Quinn’s mouth was hanging open as he watched the scene unfold in front of him, “Um. The Royal Guard is dead and she has the general.” He watched as Storm dug the knife into the man, whispering something to him, “She is torturing him. How long has she been unstable?”

“For a pretty long time,” Ramona dropped her head back on the tree as the man let out a scream, “I’m not looking until it’s over. She can be brutal,” she noticed that Quinn now was looking away from the scene unfolding and was focusing on a spot on the tree just above her head. Frank came over and looked at the two with an amused expression.

“Lass, your friend seems to be a bit touched in the head,” Frank looked back over at Storm as she slit the man’s throat, “She might have some anger issues.” Ramona rolled her eyes expressively; some anger issues was an understatement.

Storm said calmly, “You can come out now,” she was covered in blood, from head to foot. Storm rolled her head to take the kinks out of her neck. She looked over at Shadow who looked shell-shocked from what he had just seen, “I remember that man. He would visit the lady experiments and treat them like his personal whores. And yes, he remembered me.” Storm looked down at herself and then at Jim, who was staring at her with an expression of shock.

“I didn’t even see you move,” Jim practically whispered. Storm looked at the twenty bodies around her and looked impressed with herself. New abilities were showing themselves every day. Shadow had never reacted well to the experiments; his abilities were minimal at best. Storm didn’t react at first to the experiments, but as time went by they started to manifest. She was the most successful and the most dangerous, her body was a living weapon.

“To be fair, maybe half these guys were Froggy,” Storm said, amused. While she had moved fast, her speed would never catch the speed of the two Experiments. She watched as the two kids emerged from the woods quietly, going to stand by Storm. Shadow was also near them, but he wasn’t too close. His main goal in life was to keep Storm alive, this often caused him to be in the shadows, so to speak.

Quinn clapped his hands with enthusiasm, “Well, lets get going then. Gotta storm a castle before Her Royal Murderness finds out.” The group split up into the sections that would attack the castle. If they made it seem like a random siege, they had a possibility of surprising and overthrowing the guards. Quinn stood by the Anomalies with his army as he waited instructions. They were far away from the castle, this meant that they had to either walk (which could take a few months), use horses (still a few months), or a car (1-2 months). The Native Sisterland people were using their vehicles, which meant that they would probably arrive first. The Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Marvin, and Shadow were all discussing a plan, they had been given the few horses from the Native Sisterland people. They had also been given old-style wagons to travel in, this meant they would arrive after the Native Sisterland people.

Willy stood by Ross and looked up at Quinn, causing the young Irishman to look down at the kid in shock, “Um. You know that involving children isn’t exactly a good idea, correct?” He looked at the smaller group of the Anomalies, his eyebrows furrowing with thought and frustration. He hated it when rebellions involved children, “What about his childhood?”

Willy gave a cynical laugh that caught the attention of everyone, including his guardian, “What childhood? My mom and dad are dead, they were killed by the Sisterland Guard. Susan, the Brail printer and Luke were both killed by the Sisterland guard. The Queen stole everything from me. Everything but the God I believe in and the Bible verses I memorized.” When he finished he looked old, his face showed experience in life that surpassed his years, then he looked over at Storm before saying, “In war children are always involved. But it’s up to you to decide how we’re involved, we can be victims or we can be warriors. You don’t need to put us on the front lines but you can involve us in some way,” Willy proved, again, that he was unusually articulate for his age. He had remembered what Storm had said earlier than built on it. Then he decided to joke, “But we also can’t all climb fences that are electric.” He had a small twinkle in his eye that caused Storm to laugh. She still couldn’t believe that she had done that, the fact it had worked had been amazing.

Quinn had no idea what he was talking about though, so he didn’t ask. It was an inside joke and he was sure he’d see the amazing abilities the experiments had eventually. Quinn pulled aside the people he deemed were the leaders: Storm and Ramona. He said quietly, “We need a way to get to the castle, which means we need to move 120 people. It’s still winter. We could use snowboards to get partway down, but when we reach the bottom we need a more effective way to transport ourselves.”

Storm struggled with a straight face, “I would love to see 120 people learn how to ride snowboards. I don’t even know how to ride a snowboard,” she started laughing, “If we could kill the Guard with laughter, that’d be the way to do it. One massive slap-stick comedy. I can see the headlines now: Come Watch The 120 Comedians in How to Ride a Snowboard: The Wrong Way.” Quinn raised his eyebrows as Storm was practically falling over with laughter, she was clearly amusing herself.

“Are you done?” Quinn asked as he watched Storm double over with laughter. When she clearly wasn’t done he looked at Ramona, “Do you have a better idea?” Storm wiped away the tears from her laughter as Quinn questioned Ramona.

“Well, maybe sleds? Sled dogs?” Ramona suggested non-convincingly. Quinn looked very unimpressed with that suggestion and Ramona put her hands on her hips, the sass rising out of her like a creature that had been in hibernation for centuries, “No, I don’t have a better suggestion. But losing some of our men to stupidity doesn’t seem like a brilliant idea either.”

Frank wandered over to join them, drawn by the sound of sass. He stopped by his friend, asking, “What are you talking about?” He crossed his arms over his chest, standing in a relaxed position, raising his eyebrows when Ramona glared at him, “Easy, it’s just a question.” Frank was surprised that she had been able to understand him this time, but she was starting to get used to the new accents.

“We are discussing how to get back down the mountainous area,” Storm replied as she tied her shoes. Sometime during the exchange, she had noticed that her boots were untied, which could cause an embarrassing accident, “So far, we have Sled, Sled dogs, and Snowboards. Skiing should be added to that list.”

Frank had an amused expression and looked at the path that the Native Sisterland people were making, “Or we could follow them on the path they are clearing.” He knew that the only issue with that would be that they were all in one place. In order for the Deaf to get to the castle on horses, they would need to follow the Native Sisterland. That was risky, they didn’t need to add the last 120.

“No, that wouldn’t be a good idea. Putting us all in the same area is like making us sitting ducks,” Storm replied, suddenly serious, “I would rather try and learn to snowboard.” She suddenly walked away, causing the small group to look at each other, perplexed.

“I don’t try and pretended to know the mind of Storm,” Ramona offered to Frank and Quinn. She watched as Storm came back, “The Native Sisterland chief says that we can use the snowboards and skies that they have. Looks like we are learning ultimate sports. Call the presses, we have a comedy!”

“I’m not sure if I hate you or love you most of the time,” Ramona sighed deeply, rubbing her hands over her face, “I like the idea of control. Both things you mentioned have a slight lack of control.” She turned and walked away, deciding she should announce it to the group. The moment she did, Ross started laughing, thinking she was joking.

“Look, we can’t do that. I will die,” Ross realized she was serious and he gaped at her, “Are you kidding?! I can barely walk without tripping over my feet! I am supposed to get on a board or two boards and expect to gracefully fly down a hill? If I do any flying it will be off a cliff!” He looked down at Willy who was laughing, “What?”

“You’re a drama queen,” Willy answered, laughing again. Ross could be very dramatic, which had been proven by past events. Willy skipped up to Storm, Quinn, and Frank, chattering excitedly about learning how to Ski or snowboard. Ross was glad that one of them was excited, because he certainly wasn’t.

When all the boards and skis had been gathered, they started to get ready to go. Willy was the first one on a snowboard that fit him perfectly. He was bundled up because Ramona wanted him to be warm. Winter was nearing an end, but they didn’t want to get any kind of sickness. Frank held on to Storm as she got unto the snowboard. The two groups had come to an agreement: everyone on snowboards would go first, everyone on skis would go next. Simply because Skis were slightly easier to do on your own while the snowboarders needed a little help getting started, especially since most of them were new at it. The snowboarders would have unloaded weapons, mainly consisting of swords, daggers, and clubs. These weapons would keep them alive in a pinch, the daggers would be irretrievable, so everybody was expected to carry an extra weapon.

The people on snowboards consisted of Storm, Froggy, Molly, Willy, Quinn, and 60 of the troops. Skis consisted of Ross, Ramona, Abe, Mosies, Frank and the remaining troops. Sending the experiments first was a strategy on their part, if the stronger people went first, they could guard the weaker who were coming behind. The only problem was Willy, but the child was unusually resourceful.

Storm rolled her neck and got the kinks out of it before she prepped herself for going downhill at a breakneck speed, “Okay guys, who’s ready to kill the guards with the power of comedy?” She grinned at the people around her. She got uproarious laughter from the international part of the army and nervous laughter from the Anomalies, “Oh, come on! Where is your sense of adventure!”

“It ran away with my sense of humor,” Froggy muttered under his breath, feeling his heart pounding at an unusual speed. He took deep breaths to try and calm himself, he had never done this before. They were trained to be soldiers, not professional snowboarders. Willy became so excited that he pushed his snowboard off the edge and squealed as he went down the hill at breakneck speed. Moments later the entire army followed. Many of them didn’t manage to stay on their feet, they fell often, which meant that they often looked like abominable snow monsters.

Frank helped get Ross on the skis and was curious how the boy had managed to live thus far. He was very nervous and his own caution seemed to give him trouble. He was so cautious that he would hurt himself. As an example, Frank had gotten Ross up already four times, which didn’t bode well for the trip down the mountain. Frank sighed as Ross seemed to finally get the balance right, “Are ye done now?” The Scotsman’s patience was being tried, he very much wanted to throttle the crazy American, but he was restraining himself.

“I guess we’ll see, yeah?” Ross replied, laughing nervously. He slowly pushed himself to the edge and looked down, “I’m not so sure about this.” He knew he didn’t really have a choice, so he gently pushed himself off the edge. He somehow managed to stay on his feet as he careened towards the bottom, screeching like a paradactyl as he went. Ramona followed soon after, deciding that if he could do it, she could do it too. This allowed the others who were uncertain to follow, with Mosies and Abe in the group.

The skiers were soon quieter than the snowboarders who were laughing maniacally. The skiers were so focused on staying upright that even if the royal guards were next to them, they probably wouldn’t notice. At the bottom of the hill they saw that only a couple people were missing and that Ross was being smacked lightly with the ski pole by Storm. It became apparent that they had ended up in a tangle of limbs, which was why Storm was currently teasing Ross.

Mosies raised his eyebrows as he watched Ross flail. The boy was attempting to remove himself from the apparatus called Skis. Mosies signed to him, will you be okay? He laughed as he signed, trying to feel some type of sympathy.

The guns, which had been left at the bottom of the hill by the Native Sisterlands, were passed around the small military. Ross looked at the pistol he had then at Ramona, who seemed to be in deep conversation with Mosies. Ross shook his head and then put it in the holster that was given to him. Only a few people were using holsters because they needed to be able to get to them without hurting themselves and others.

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