Please note, I have never, and will never ever, go skydiving. It’s why I write. I’ll let my characters jump out of perfectly good planes, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it in real life.

Also, meet Colonel Albert von Douchebag everyone! He’s a jerk, like most of the military guys that I write about.

Also also, this sprint is tied back to this one from Friday.

The Colonel grinned madly, his overcoat flowing behind him as he walked in to the barn.

“Why Anya Kerran,” he said, his voice echoing throughout the empty barn, “it seems we meet again.” A look of shock came over Lady Ajam as she clutched Abbas tightly to herself. Hidalgo growled lowly as Colonel Albert approached the pair, curling his lips back to reveal his sharp teeth.

“It seems we do indeed,” Anya called back to him over Hidalgo’s growls, “I would caution you against coming any closer, Colonel; Hidalgo is not very fond of you if you remember.”

“Oh I remember,” Colonel Albert said, rubbing his wrist to still the phantom pain. “I won’t be making that mistake again.”

“I should hope not,” Anya said, putting the saddle on Hidalgo’s back, “I sure would hate for you to lose another overcoat.” The smile dimmed from the Colonel’s face. “And have to buy a whole new uniform,” she added, tightening the saddle’s strap around Hidalgo’s midsection, “y’know, the tailor made kind, because the army does a terrible job at sizing, sewing, and almost everything else.” The smile was almost completely gone from Albert’s face by the time Anya stood up again. “I would suggest you back up, Colonel,” Anya warned him, untying the reigns from the stall door, “Hidalgo likes a wide berth when leaving the barn.”

The Colonel stepped to one side, his back pressed against a nearby stall door as Anya led Hidalgo towards the barn entrance. As their path’s crossed, Hidalgo made a point to snarl and bare his teeth at the Colonel, his ears flat and his tail swishing angrily.

“Quit,” Anya shushed him and gave a hard tug on the reigns. Hidalgo snarled with smug satisfaction, holding his head a little bit higher as they walked out of the barn. “Pay attention,” Anya ordered Abbas as she mounted Hidalgo, “a horse and rider have to work together as one, whether it be on the ground or in the air.”

“Air?” Abbas repeated quickly as Anya adjusted her goggles and tightened the helmet strap around her chin. “Horses can’t fly.”

“Horses can’t,” Anya patted Hidalgo on the neck, “but hadesus aren’t normal horses.” with a click of her tongue and a sharp nudge of her heels, Hidalgo and Anya set off for a nearby paddock. Jumping the fence, Anya quickly urged Hidalgo into a gallop and just before they reached the other end, Hidalgo took flight, his massive wings materializing on either side of the saddle. Their take off was sloppy, brushing the tops of the nearby trees as they gained altitude, disrupting some of the local birds.

“My bad!” Anya yelled at the birds as they squawked angrily at her, trying to peck at Hidalgo’s backside. With a flick of his tail, Hidalgo sent the birds away. “Thanks buddy,” Anya rubbed his neck, and Hidalgo responded with a gentle nicker. “Let’s tear up some of these clouds!” With a mighty roar, Hidalgo charged forward towards the group of low flying clouds. Bursting through the first one, Hidalgo let out a burst of flame to decimate one of the smaller clouds. The pair plowed through several more clouds, and decimated the remains as they charged higher into the sky.

Feeling the air growing thinner as they rose, Anya halted Hidalgo’s rise at the highest point she could stand. They were thousands of feet above the Governor’s mansion and grounds; all the buildings looked like small toys, and Anya could barely make out the figures on the ground below. Hidalgo made several lazy circles in the sky as Anya plotted her next move.

“I want to try something,” Anya told him, loosening the stirrups from around her feet, “I want you to try and catch me.” Hidalgo’s ears immediately perked up with interest, a look of surprise in his eyes. “I know you can do it,” Anya said, “but please don’t let me die.” Hidalgo snorted irritably as Anya pushed him forward, following the road towards town. “I didn’t say I don’t trust you!” She shot back, freeing her feet from the stirrups. “Just don’t let me fall to the ground with a mighty splat.” Hidalgo snorted again as Anya moved to sit side saddle, her feet dangling freely over his side.

She watched the clouds pass beneath her feet for a few seconds, contemplating her own life and the meaning of her existence. “See you in a few, I guess!” she said loudly and slid off the side. Closing her eyes, the deafening sound of wind rushing past her filled her ears, the stinging sensation of thousands of feet passing by and hitting her in the face.


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