Emilio’s Puppy

Emilio took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself down.  He looked down at the remains of his case, and cursed.  Weeks of work, dozens of drawings, destroyed.  Cooper and his crew had been waiting for him just outside the building.  All four of them.  Andrew, Rylan, Lance, and Warren.  Goddamn it.  He hadn’t even done anything this time.  He brushed tears out of his eyes, and started home.

It was already getting dark.  Emilio shivered.  He didn’t care double back to the bus stop.  Too great a chance one of them was there.  Assholes.  Worst part was he’d been friends with Rylan and Lance once.  That had been years before high school.  Two years of college hadn’t grown them up any.  He sighed.  It was only about an hour walk, even in the cold.  He’d be fine.

Forty-five minutes later, he was cutting through the alley behind his family’s place.  He froze when he heard Rylan’s voice.  “Nah, I’ve got it.  See you in a bit.”

Slowly, he crept forward.  Rylan was near Emilio’s grandmother’s car, jimmying the lock open.  She had a bad habit of leaving things inside, such as her medication.  Rylan was…  Rylan was robbing his grandmother.  Emilio shook his head, then picked up a piece of wood.

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Ravens

Lawan moved her queen.  Her opponent countered with a knight, and Lawan prevented herself from smiling.  He was trying to set a trap for her.  She moved a bishop, preparing her counter offensive.  He shifted his own queen, and she poked his trap with her rook.  He blinked, then sighed.  She smiled then.  “Mine in two.”

“Another game?”  He raised an eyebrow and gave her an eager grin.

“Set up the board.”  She smiled.  Prisoner transport was normally one of her least favorite duties.  Moving violent and often hostile individuals from one section of the country to another was all too often a brutal task.  This time, though, she was transporting hostages rather than captives.  Still prisoners, but much more polite ones.

Mihail Argyris was the eldest of them at barely seventeen.  He was Prince Dimitar’s second son.  The heir apparent had been wounded in the fighting, and there was some question as to whether the man was even going to survive.  Mihail, however, was pleasant enough company, and he kept the younger ones in line.  It didn’t hurt that he’d taken an interest in the game when he’d seen her board.  After three weeks, he was getting good enough that she had to pay attention to the game.  He’d even managed to win the time she’d gotten distracted and misplayed.  It also didn’t hurt that he was very easy on the eyes.

With any luck, the fighting was over.  The rebellion had been short, and not particularly bloody.  Safiya had expressed the opinion that it was a political maneuver that had gone off the rails rather than a true revolt, and she had to admit there was some support for that position.  In any event, it had nearly been over before the Raven Guard had arrived on the field.  Aradal liked to grumble about being one of Sa-dia’s dominions, but throwing off the yoke might get their clothes mussed.

She moved her pawn, and he sat up straighter as he reached for his own piece.

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