"Shell, in position."
"Fuse, in position, Talon."
"Scope, in position. Ready to move."
"Talon, in position," Talbot said, noticing the silhouettes of his comrades inching up to his left and right. They sat at the edge of wind-swept clearing, and could see the fires coming from Ardmis in the distance. The rest of the Ghosts had already activated camouflage, scattered loosely in a line formation, as Talbot crouched next to Snowfeather. "Are you ready?"
Snowfeather nodded. "I... I believe I am."
The Ghosts had their fair share of VIP protection missions, usually people who had no combat sense whatsoever, and this situation wasn't any different. "Just approach the town and act normal. If your uncle is really in town, then we'll need you to keep any doors open for us long enough for us to get through. Otherwise, if this really is a trap, we'll take out any hostiles, move you to safety, and immediately head north for Carseract... though I believe that our mission will be considerably more difficult without loyalist support."
"I understand, Captain... I'll do my best. Having been raised in the political court, I knew when to hold a face when I have to." He quickly breathed in and out, doing his best to rid himself of the jitters. "I won't fail you."
"I have faith you won't," Talbot said, tapping the young griffon on his shoulders. "We're ready to move when you are."
"Well, there's no use waiting any longer," Snowfeather said, his voice full of nervous confidence. "Let's get started."
With a nod, Talbot's form quickly turned transparent, leaving the background of rolling grasses in his place. Snowfeather steeled himself and prepared to begin the trek towards Ardmis. The profiles of guards wielding spears could be seen in the distance... either soldiers under military command, or loyalists put on watch by Scarclaw.
The Ghosts tailed him in a quickly-advancing crouch, their forms perfectly obscured by the darkness. Talbot was glad that the grass wasn't well-grown around here, otherwise the sight of four parting trails going through the fields would have raised a lot of immediate suspicion.
"Hey, you know... I just realized that their cities sound a lot like ours," Mendoza said. "I mean, really... Manehattan? Trottingham? Fillydelphia? Stalliongrad? And Las Pegasus? I can imagine some people going 'Earth, fuck yeah!' to know that our influence can stretch across portals."
"Operational silence, Fuse..." Pastor said. "...but, yeah, that's... pretty odd. We can debate similarities later, just shut your trap for now."
"Package is coming up on the town now," Talbot said. "Hold position, medium range, and observe." Talbot quickly tagged the guards: two standing at the town entrance, and two more armed with ranged bow-type weapons on the roofs on either side. "Targets are to be terminated at my signal if things get ugly." Four tracer lines found their sight on each of the guards... a synchronized kill would silently take them all out at once before the alert could be sounded.
The Ghosts had stopped just short of the town, holding position on the sides of the road, watching as Snowfeather walked down the road, his face and form having been dirtied a bit with the field that they'd traveled through. Hopefully, it would help appeal his case to the guards, depending on what sort of story the griffon had planned.
"Halt," they could hear. "Who goes there?"
"I am Scribe Snowfeather, of the Imperial Court. I am here on official business."
The guards looked at each other. "We received no notice about a scribe visiting."
"My father Quillfeather was in the Imperial Court... perhaps you've heard of him? I'm here to visit my uncle, Scarclaw."
Another exchanged glance. "Wait here." One of the guards turned away, entering a large building in the distance dressed with red banners, most likely an inn or a command post of some sorts. Snowfeather tentatively waited for his return as all the Ghosts save Talbot maintained their target locks on their respective guards.
The guard exited the building again, quickly looking around, before jogging to the town entrance. "You're sure you haven't been followed? General Scarclaw has been expecting you, on a letter from your father."
"I haven't been followed, trust me."
"Very well. Quickly, this way." Snowfeather quickly looked around again, and imperceptibly hesitated for a moment when looking back towards the road, before following the guard to the building.
"Confirm on allies, move forward, flank right. Avoid the road," Talbot said. He canceled the targets marked, and quickly maneuvered with the Ghosts, sneaking through some empty alleys behind some buildings on the right, avoiding the gaze of one of the tower guards, before proceeding through the town square.
"...been a real mess since things went down. Scarclaw will be glad that you're safe." The guard had slowed his procession, making some small talk with Snowfeather. "Quickly, inside the inn. Your uncle is waiting in the back room." The Ghosts quickened their crouched pace, catching up with the stairs as the flickering lantern outside the inn's door did little to reveal their forms.
The guard quickly held open the door, as Snowfeather slowly looked around.
"Something wrong, kid?"
"Nothing, just... looking at the night sky again. Strange how I could end up here, of all places..." Talbot took the cue and quickly motioned for the Ghosts to move inside the inn, easily avoiding the awareness of the guard as the armored griffon stood nodding knowingly towards Snowfeather's situation. The four humans stood waiting in the darkness of the inn, watching the two griffons enter and quickly followed them to the back halls.
The lone innkeeper minded his own business, cleaning several glass mugs as a couple of other griffons sat playing cards at a corner table. Snowfeather and the guard walked down a dim hallway, stopping just short of a door. The hallway was thankfully spacious enough to allow the Ghosts to hug the walls while still leaving enough room to walk.
"Snowfeather!" Scarclaw said, ushering his nephew in with a wave of his claw. "Come in! It's been so long. How have you been?" Snowfeather entered as the guard bowed, closing the door, before walking down the hallway, past the Ghosts who now stacked up against the closed door.
"I've been fine, uncle. Actually, if you could just hold on for a moment..." Snowfeather opened the door again, checking to make sure the guard had left, before waiting a moment, paying close attention to the near-silent taps of the Ghosts' boots, before closing the door again behind him. "Anyway, I've been told by father that you've been leading the loyalist movement."
"Indeed," the grizzled former general said. "Many of the legions and the rest of the Imperial Guard joined up with me after the coup. I also received some Imperial Guard that arrived just this afternoon, after a successful escort with the royal family into Equestria. Ancestors bless those ponies, could always trust them in a pinch."
"Have you asked for help yet?" Snowfeather asked.
"Tar my feathers, absolutely not!" Scarclaw said, slamming his clenched claw into the table. "This is a griffon problem, and we'll settle this the griffon way! The Equestrians can keep all their ponies for the upcoming war. We griffons loyal to the crown will be waging our own here within the next fortnight!"
"Well, uncle..." Snowfeather said, looking around the seemingly empty room. "...what if the Equestrians sent help, after all?"
"Huh? What are you talking about, Snowfeather?"
Snowfeather dropped the mission map on the table, rolling it open for Scarclaw to examine. "The Equestrians have put forth a plan to terminate the generals, and perhaps stopping the war before it even begins. The only problem is that the locations of the generals are still unknown."
"That's a mighty risky plan, Snowfeather... but I like it. Why bother pulling feathers when we can just send the message straight to those traitors by gutting them directly where it hurts: themselves!" He looked at the scroll detailed along with it. "And I'll be damned, they even know how to pick their targets!" he laughed.
"Well, that's because it wasn't really the ponies that put forward this idea, uncle..." Snowfeather nervously began.
"I'm not sure I follow, Snow, what's going on?"
"The Equestrians have sent help, but not in the way you'd imagine." Talbot quickly recognized that it was almost his time to enter the spotlight. "They sent non-pony help, that is, to put the nail in the coffin before this war even begins. Captain Talbot, if you'd join us, please?"
There was a palpable silence for a moment.
"So... we all doin' this, or...?" Mendoza asked, slowly looking around the room at the scattered positions of Anvil Squad.
"Not our call," Raymond said. "But for discretion, I'd suggest that only one of us should do the talking. And we already know who should be doing it."
Talbot nodded, stepping into the light of the small room, revealing his form to the waiting Snowfeather and the now-shocked Scarclaw.
"Ancestors preserve us!" Scarclaw shouted, pulling out a crossbow from underneath the table. "What manner of creature are you?" He kept the crossbow trained on Talbot, who simply stood there, switching his sight between Snowfeather and the Ghost. "Snowfeather, what's the meaning of this?"
"Uncle, this is the help that the Equestrians sent us. This is Captain Talbot, of the Ghosts."
Scarclaw narrowed his eyes, sizing up the human. "Ghosts... I like that name." He collapsed the heavy crossbow, putting back under the table as Talbot noticed that the bolt was large enough to easily penetrate his armor. Griffon weaponry was most certainly not to be underestimated, even with their technological advantage. "So... what are you? You sure aren't any pony I've ever seen before."
"He's a human, uncle..." Snowfeather responded. "They're currently guests within Equestrian borders, at least until the Princesses find a way to help them return to where they came from."
"Not from around here, eh?" Scarclaw nodded. "Well, you can sure hold your own salt when it comes to planning, so you must be a seasoned soldier. Nice to know that another species can plan as well as we do. Stuck here until the whole situation gets fixed?"
"Yes... and we'd rather avoid having griffons marching in and start killing ponies on our watch, thank you very much."
"I can understand that... usually anybody on the losing side of a griffon war usually gets... well, I'm not going to go into details on that, but I can safely say that deciding to take action instead of letting things work themselves out is a good choice... especially considering how good griffons are at killing things."
Talbot gave a short chuckle. "I can relate."
"Yeah, it seems to be a soldier thing," Scarclaw said, noticing his nephew's confused look. "Now, to business. I see that you're going to stick a knife right in the generals' gullet, and you need information to help locate them. Picking Gale Whisper first was wise: he's a slimy bastard, hates being seen out in the open. Strongbeak put him in charge of information gathering on Equestrian military strength, and he's currently stationed at Carseract, from what I know, since it's really close to the border."
"Is his position as the intelligence branch of the griffon military that fearsome?"
"Is it? The minute you kill any other general, he'll have a million and one getaway plans thought up for himself and every other general. He's a shameful coward, and he thinks like one... so the first thing he always pays attention to when he walks into a room is the quickest way out. But... if you run him through before he even has a chance to react, then that cripples the generals on the actual presence of assassins, as well as killing one of the smarter generals in the Empire."
Talbot halted, thinking for a moment. "...does that mean that they're aware that there are assassins after them?"
Scarclaw shook his head, before turning around and dropping a tome and some papers on the table. "No, he's just a paranoid busybody like that. Before I even retired, he'd always been a jumpy one. Thought he might have had half a mind to just retire and go hide in some cave in the northern reaches somewhere, away from all us 'deceiving folk'."
"Great. A paranoid spook. This one should be interesting," Raymond said in a low whisper, only audible through the crosscom. "If he's half as good as Maynard was, we'll be in for one hell of a wild goose chase."
"So, if anything, that's where you want to start. I do have some groups hidden within the city, some even working within the magistrate's palace, which Whisper has taken over. Best bet's probably to look for clues inside, though I haven't really given many orders to my Carseract units because there really isn't anything to be had there. It's a straight-down hole in the ground with the strategic value to match."
There was a loud clamor from outside as off-duty guards poured in for their evening meal. The room was small and contained, but the sound of griffons loudly entering the inn could be heard through the door. Even more obvious was the smell of food being cooked, namely...
Raymond sniffed. "Meat."
"Uh-oh, looks like the lean mean killing machine is low on fuel," Mendoza joked.
"Fuse, zip it," Pastor said. And this was why you had a trusted second-in-command to keep the rest in line. It would have been extremely disorienting if Talbot had to reveal that there were four of them before they had to due to Mendoza's rambunctious antics.
"Is the city under lockdown?" Talbot asked.
"Nope. As far as things go, it only has a light military garrison within the palace, but otherwise, it's mostly just civilians. There have been some small riots in the past couple of weeks... a lot of the Empire had great trust in the Emperor, and despite the impressive show of might Strongbeak has displayed, allegiances hold more water than tradition."
"You mean Strongbeak rightfully has claim to the Emperor's throne?"
Scarclaw thought for a moment. "Sort of... it's a really old tradition, back when only the strong led the weak. Strongbeak's got some really loose reasoning for taking the throne, but I think he just wants to take back griffon lands and have them stay griffon lands."
"Can we count on having full loyalist support?"
"Damn straight you can! I don't know how human military tactics work, but you've got a good head on your shoulders, and this is one damn risky plan. High risk, high payoff. You pull this off correctly, and we might not even have to turn to civil war to end this. The loyalists stand with you, captain."
"And a final detail: is there a remote chance that we can rescue the Emperor somehow?"
Scarclaw pulled out a scroll, rolling it open on the table. "See this? These are the plans for the Bastion itself. Impenetrable through any normal means, even from above. The only way in is through the main gate, and that's heavily guarded by itself. Any supply wagons that come through are thoroughly searched, and even then, the prisons are secluded from the rest of the fortress. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but it's even more riskier than the plan you have at the moment."
"So that's a no, then." Talbot holstered his MR8, leaning over the table and looking over the map. "Can you provide us information on the generals as we take them out?"
"Indeed I can. My loyalist network can transfer information quicker than you can blink... it's a thing I sort of had instated during my command. Turns out a lot of loyalists still know how I give orders around here still," Scarclaw laughed. "I should probably amend the map a bit..." He picked up a quill, dotting it with ink and filling in around a dozen spots on the map. "There. Those spots are loyalist camps, hidden in the wilderness."
Talbot scanned the revised map with his crosscom, uploading it to his squad. "Won't they be suspicious if they see us?"
"Just show them this," Scarclaw unhooked his sigil from his crimson cloak, sliding it across the table. The detail was a single castle-shaped block with a sword through it. "My old General of the Bastion sigil. Show that to them, and they'll know who you are. I'll notify my camps that non-pony help from Equestria has been sent, and let them know to let you in when they see that sigil."
"Can't you just fake a sigil?"
"Perhaps. But Strongbeak is a bit old-fashioned. He won't even think about sending any non-griffons to infiltrate the loyalists, that would just be too risky, and besides, he doesn't trust anything that's not a griffon, either. That's what makes this easier on us. You're not one of us, and you have a sigil. That would be more than enough good evidence to let you in... unless there are more of you. I don't expect you to bring an army, but are you going to take on all the generals by yourself?"
"No, I have my squad with me. We are four in total."
"I see. A strike team, huh? I had several of those under my command when we went to war with the dragons in the past. Nasty business, but dragons were never really one for creativity, just brute force. Makes it easy to sneak under their noses. Anyway, I'll prepare a supply caravan to exit Ardmis within the week, and we'll sneak you into Carseract. A hole in the ground it may be, it still has walls, and the gates are still guarded. The security will be lax, and they usually let caravans through easily enough. That will be your ticket in."
"Where will we be allowed to stay in here?"
"There are bedrooms in the basement, as well as the second floor. Which would you prefer?"
"There would be a nice vantage point on the second floor windows," Raymond said.
"Not to mention jumping out the windows is a pretty good getaway method if we get attacked..." Mendoza said. "Er, not that I'm expecting that we'll get attacked, it's just that I'm a little bit... jumpy around these griffons. Maybe I can scrounge up something to make some tripwire explosives..."
"Play nice, Fuse. We're here to make peace, not war. These guys aren't the enemy," Pastor interrupted.
"Yeah... peace at the end of a barrel," Raymond said, playing his usual card of dark humor.
"We'll take the second story bedrooms," Talbot said, ignoring the hushed side conversation going on in his ear. "Will there be any chance of other griffons entering?"
"Aside from the cleaner, who I'll tell to stay away from the rooms, no. Most of my soldiers here reside in the bunkhouse across the way, and only come here to take their meals. The innkeeper is actually one of my most trusted commanders from the Imperial Guard, and he usually keeps an eye towards any new arrivals to make sure they don't sneak in unnoticed."
"I see. Should we proceed upstairs, then?"
"You should. I'll have some food prepared for you, I'm sure it must have been a long trek if you've made your way here from Equestrian borders without transportation."
"Right, then." Talbot looked to Snowfeather. "Snowfeather, we'll see you upstairs."
"Of course, Captain. I'll be sure to bring some extra food along... do you eat meat, by any chance?"
"Say yes. Please say yes," Mendoza pleaded.
"Yes, we do eat meat. I would like to request that some extra be sent up along with the meal."
"This should be good..." Pastor sighed.
Raymond put his M107 down on the large bedroom dresser in the corner, checking the parts for any damage. "So, this is a nice place you got here, Snow. Real rustic. I like it," he said.
Snowfeather stood by the window, looking out at the group of guards being briefed by Scarclaw on the arrival of Equestrian help below. "Ardmis was always a nice town. My family often came here to visit because it was my uncle's hometown. Though it was different back then... there used to be ponies around here."
"Is that so?" Pastor said, closing the door as he entered. "Didn't figure ponies and griffons to get along all that well, what with the... well, cultural and dietary differences."
"We got along well enough. Ardmis was actually known for being a cooperative farming town, providing grains and wheat for Carseract and many other towns and cities in the Empire... well, it still is, but the ponies seem to have left. I wonder if it had anything to do with the coup..."
Talbot put his helmet on his bed, one of four beds within the room, that sat against the corner. "Undoubtedly, yes. My guess is either the griffons ferried them away to Equestria... or they handed them over to Strongbeak."
"I certainly hope it was the former. Judging by how many of the pony houses seem undamaged, I would guess that Strongbeak's soldiers did not break down their doors in the middle of the night. I will have to ask my uncle about that later. I believe the food should be finished by now, so I will return with them. There's a small manual lift at the end of the hallway, so I'll ferry the food up using that. Strange, I used to love playing hide-and-seek in that." He opened the door, peeking to make sure there wasn't anybody in the hall, before exiting quietly.
"Oh, boy, griffon cuisine," Mendoza said. "Man, this has been a real wild ride, huh? Ponies and griffons and dragons and talking unicorns and all that stuff."
"Like I said, don't be all shocked now. It could have been worse." Pastor's avid reading habit, especially towards science fiction and horror novels, had shown him that things could, indeed, be much worse.
"Too bad this won't be going down in the records," Talbot laughed.
"We're essentially taking down seven generals. Seven. Sheesh, if command believed us, I think we'd be looking at a nifty promotion here," Mendoza said, sitting down at the small dining table in the center of the room. He gave a glance at the chair, noting that it was slightly larger than human standards, probably for griffons.
There was a knock on the door.
"It's unlocked," Talbot said.
"Cart's in the way," Snowfeather said. "The food is here."
Pastor moved over, opening the door with his left hand while leaving his right on his pistol holster. Snowfeather wheeled in a simple cart loaded with many dishes on two separate levels. The presence of spit-roasted meat immediately drew the attention of Raymond.
"Now that's nice," he said.
"First dibs, too," Snowfeather said. "I put some extra on there, like you requested." The group began moving the plates to the dinner table as Raymond wore a smile on his face while Mendoza hopped around with the plates like a giddy schoolgirl.
Mendoza salivated over the meal. "Wow, look at all that. They got bread, eggs, meat..." He picked up a small yellow block and sniffed it. "...cheese, and potatoes. Real nice." It took less than a moment for him to dig in, followed by Raymond. "Oh, man," he mumbled with a mouth full of food. "Is this what you guys eat all the time?"
Snowfeather nodded. "Indeed it is. Much of this meal is par for the course in a griffon meal." He looked to Talbot. "Is your kind always so... ravenous?"
"Only when they're hungry," Talbot informed. "We're normally much more... amiable... when we're not irritated, naturally."
Mendoza was loudly enjoying his fourth serving of food now, still accompanied by Raymond as they completely cleaned off the plates to a much-surprised Snowfeather. The tension was lessened by Mendoza's rather carefree attitude, and the sheer intimidation factor of Raymond's naturally hostile disposition had no bearing on the dinner's conversation.
"Don't let good ol' Scope here fool you, Snow," Mendoza said, taking a bite of eggs. "He's a nice guy... when it matters, anyway."
"And you can never shut your own mouth even if your life depended on it, Fuse."
"What can I say? I'm explosive in personality, as well as my interests. But, you, my good friend, if you had things your way, you'd be able to stare things to death with that glare you walk around with." He mockingly scrunched his face, waving his arms around comically. "Ohoho, look at me, I'm the Angry Woodsman!" Raymond merely smiled, shaking his head as he continued eating his food. Snowfeather had to give a laugh as Mendoza continued his caricature of the marksman.
Talbot stood near the window, peeking out into the night, his view partially obscured by the boarded-up windows, most likely installed for safety. The loyalists were having a large bonfire party in the courtyard, while the moon could be seen rising in the horizon... and on the left, there sat large fields of wheat, slightly moving in the wind, the staple crop of Ardmis' agriculture.
"So..." Pastor said, walking up beside him, and away from Mendoza, who was now regaling Snowfeather with his tale of how he accidentally set part of his barracks at the fort on fire with his fireworks. "...showtime in less than a week. Any ideas on what we'll do?"
Talbot made no move, lost in thought as the glow from the bonfire outside shined into the room. "I'm positively sure that going out in full force before we've located him is a bad idea. We wait, we get our information from Scarclaw, and then we move on that. Whisper will definitely have lieutenants, griffons that he relays his orders to, and know where he might be hiding: that's what we're trying to move on."
"The messengers, huh? I've dealt with his type before."
"Your time at Meade coming back to you?" Talbot said, referencing Pastor's dossier. The Lieutenant had training as an NSA field operative before, and had worked with Third Echelon on a few occasions. He was an intel specialist, but such skills weren't needed in the Ghosts, and Pastor had always been US Army before the NSA, so the career path was obvious. "I know how Third used their 'enhanced' interrogation techniques... and though I'd rather avoid it, we might have to use it here. I don't expect griffons to be particularly easy to break."
Pastor looked out the window with him. "I doubt I'll need to. Leaders like Whisper usually have subordinates much like themselves working for them: all sleazy and cowardly. If we pick our targets right, we might be able to get one to spill the beans without even having to fire a shot. The more dedicated and resilient soldiers would most likely serve under Red Talon or Strongbeak himself. I don't think Whisper is well-known within the griffon military for his ability to inspire troops."
"I can understand that..." Talbot sighed. "It's like we're chasing after Maynard all over again."
"I'm sure he's having a laugh from the other side... speaking of which, what happened to his body?" Pastor asked.
"I spoke with the Princess about it... his remains were cremated, at my behest. No use keeping a body around for God knows how long just so we can drop the damn thing in front of the brass, especially since we only had to report whether or not we had him dead or alive. We have Harvey, and the rest of the science team back in Fortaleza, and that's all we need."
"And about the whole NSA thing..." Pastor said, looking over at the conversing trio at the table. "...they don't know about that, do they?"
Talbot shook his head. "Not unless you want them to. I know that Scope's got a bit of beef with some agents from the other alphabet agencies, but Fuse is clean. The worst he might do is crack a bad joke or two about it."
"I think we can do without that, thank you very much." Pastor pulled out his modified binoculars, cross-linked with his visor to tag any visual or audio information that reaches within its scope of view. "I still got a few gadgets... hope they'll come in use."
"I wasn't aware you still had access to your old kit. What did you bring?"
"Just these binoculars and a visual detection system with calibrated magnetic viewfinder. Don't expect to use them much, but they have greater intensity and range than our magnetic goggles do. On top of that, the detection system's completely automated with local uplink to my crosscom. I usually set them up on hills and tall buildings, and it paints any hostiles within its view on our crosscoms."
"Impressive. Figures that Third Echelon keeps running around with the new equipment... That, uh... detection system could come in use. How large is the device?"
"They don't have active camouflage, so I guess there's that, at least. The D-kit's about as big as a 6-count egg box. Comes with its own tripod, too, so it's essentially a set-and-forget surveillance device."
"Handy. Anything else I should know about?"
"No, sir, that just about covers it. Unless you want to know about those fancy sonar goggles that Third Echelon is running around with now..."
Talbot looked away as there was another knock on the door, which Snowfeather answered. He moved out of the way as Scarclaw came in, sitting down at the table and helping himself to a piece of leg roast.
"I see you've all settled in nicely. How's the cuisine?" he laughed, taking a huge bite of meat. He stopped for a moment, eyeing the other three Ghosts, before returning to his meal.
"If you griffons cook like this every day, I'm not sure if I want to leave," Mendoza said, with an affirmative nod from Raymond. "Thanks for the hospitality. I mean, eating vegetarian to not step on any of the ponies' goodwill is nice and all, but sometimes, the good old diet just comes a-knockin' and you just have to eat the good stuff again."
"Heh, I hear that," Scarclaw laughed. "Sure beats the feathers out of eating hardtack every single day."
"Probably not better than our own military rations..." Mendoza chuckled.
"Well, we can stand in solidarity on that issue." Scawclaw poked into another piece of meat with his claws, bringing it back to his plate. "Anyway, I have news for you Ghosts..." He looked around the table. "We have a supply caravan carrying wheat that's due in Carseract in several days' time. We can hide you in one of the general supply wagons, and bring you to our hideout in the city. From there, I'll have my units provide you with the information you need."
"Sounds good," Talbot said, walking forward. "With any luck, we can take down Whisper within the next week or two, and then we can move on to our other targets."
"I wouldn't put it past you four. Carseract's a dead-end hole... keep searching, and you'll eventually find what you're looking for." He popped the last of his leg roast meat into his mouth. "Well, I have some administrative duties to attend to. Running a resistance movement can be a pain in the wing sometimes, but I guess that's just par for the course. I'll see you all later."
"Good night, uncle," Snowfeather said, as his uncle approached the door.
"Night, Snow," Scarclaw said. "Your bunk is down the hall. Don't stay up too late, alright? My book collection's in my office downstairs if you want to read." He left the room without any further words.
"Captain, Ghosts," Snowfeather nodded. "I'll be taking my leave now. A good night to you all." He followed his uncle out, closing the door. The sound of steps going down the hall indicated that he'd moved to his room.
"Good kid. Shame about what happened to his family..." Mendoza said.
"I guess it's a good thing we'll be returning the favor with interest," Raymond said.
"Right, then," Talbot said. "Prep, check, double-check. Make sure we're all good to go before we ship out."
Strongbeak's little council of generals would find itself minus one in the coming weeks...