“What?” Solseir demanded. “I don’t have the training for that rank, much less the interest in it.”
Vitas half turned his head. “You have the most experience with the elixirs, both in dosing and taking them. Only an enlisted officer has the authority to dose elixirs to berserkers and healers; therefore, you were promoted.”
“You’re making me dose healers too? I don’t know anything about that.”
“No,” said the lavender haired man. “As your captain, I will give River her elixir myself. I know your promotion is highly irregular, but those are our orders from the High Command.”
One of the elves in the seat across from him looked him up and down as if he weren’t sure that he would be able to handle dosing him. Privately, Solseir agreed with him. His brother, Talisin, had been an enlisted officer, and had always warned Solseir away from trying to attain his rank, whatever it had been. After his death, Solseir had run away from the military as fast as they would let him.
Now that he looked at the elf across from him more closely he could see the tiny berserker emblem embroidered right above his rank insignia on his chest. His name patch read Goldsong, one of the five remaining families that still produced the occasional berserker.
Goldsong crossed his arms over his chest and shrugged at him. His frame seemed far too tiny to withstand the elixirs needed to turn him into a berserker.
“At least you get better pay,” he said in a woman’s dulcet tones, and Solseir realized his mistake. She was a female elf. No wonder she had seemed so small. Her lip curled the longer he stared at her, and her tone had implied that she didn’t think he deserved it. He closed his mouth and looked away.
Solseir agreed with her, but he bit his tongue to keep his retort behind his teeth. He wouldn’t live to spend his pay; what did it matter? Causing discord in his unit would only make the last days of his life more miserable than the orcs and goblins would.
“Lay off him, Cenerihn,” the elven male on her left said. His name patch read Goldsong as well, and his eyes shone with a bit of hero worship. Just what he needed.
The male elf next to him sighed and turned to look out the windshield. His name patch read Darkarrow. He was from the family that had originally developed the berserker elixir.
“Hi, Sole,” Joe said cheerfully, leaning out around River to wave at him. “Remember me?”
Solseir’s eyes bugged out at the berserker emblem on his uniform. “Hi, Joe.” His mouth went dry. A human berserker? How was that possible?
Vitas caught his eye and shrugged at him, but even the Silverwyrm wasn’t corrupt enough to not look uncomfortable. “Pilot program. Some of them have a little elven blood.” As if that was supposed to make it better.
“That’s me,” a human woman said, running her hands through her short red hair. Her name patch said Vetrovs.
“I’m going to be sick,” Solseir announced.
River shoved a bucket in his lap and held it for him. Her other hand held his hair out of the way as if used to people vomiting around her. Someone groaned in disgust, but he ignored it, emptying his stomach. When he finished, he slumped over the bucket, dizzy.
“Done?” River asked after a moment, and he nodded.
She took it from him and snapped a lid on the bucket, producing a red plastic biohazard bag from a pocket. She shook out the bag and placed the container in it, tying it into a knot. Her foot kicked open a compartment under her seat, and she stowed the whole thing in the small chamber, closing it with another kick.
“Want some water? Maybe some gum?” River asked.
“I have some ginger candy,” Joe offered. “It might help.”
His stomach grumbled at the thought of food. “Thanks,” Solseir said.
River grabbed the baggie of candy and set it on his lap, and then opened a bottle of water to let him rinse his mouth.
“Here, I’ll take your IV out now.” She snapped a blue nitrile glove onto each hand and opened a package of gauze.
Solseir looked away when she pulled off the dressing. She tugged at the site, but her fingers were gentle.
“Pressure here, please. Hold your arm up for a moment. Thank you.”
“Oh, you’re done?”
The captain grinned at him over his shoulder. “River is my favorite phlebotomist.”
She favored the captain with a sweet smile. Her hands never stopped moving, winding a tan bandage around his arm.
“Who is that?” Solseir asked, keeping his voice low just in case he was supposed to know.
“Captain Fehan Sunfalcon,” River replied, and the captain glanced back again.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I just assume that everyone knows me.”
“That’s because you’re arrogant, sir,” Vitas said without missing a beat, and Fehan chuckled.
“I like how you added the ‘sir’ at the end of that.”
He shrugged one shoulder. “You outrank me, sir.”
“Eh, give it time. One of my four remaining siblings will probably do something stupid, get killed, and then you can take their place this time, instead of me.”
“Don’t say things like that,” Vitas said sharply, and then added, “sir.”
“Don’t mind me, Vitas. I’m still angry at Rebael for inconveniencing me by dying. When I die, the first thing I’m going to do is hunt his happy ass down and punch him in the face. I never wanted to take his place.”
Fehan’s young face had yet to settle into the ageless, stern visage of Joreikal Sunfalcon, but now that his bloodline had been pointed out, Solseir could see the resemblance. His eyes were the same shape and molten gold color, and his nose was a perfect carbon copy of his father’s.
Vitas Silverwyrm’s presence made a lot more sense. Rumors said that they had grown up together, after all. In any case, it seemed as though Solseir was stuck traveling with Vitas for the time being.
H.O.R.D.E.: Or What Not to Do When You’re Drafted by the Elves by Erin Cofran is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
First draft chapters are posted here. Revised chapters will be posted on my Write On by Kindle profile, which you can find here. If you like this story I have other works you might enjoy as well.
Any resemblance of the characters in this fictional story to real people is purely coincidental and most likely unintentional. There might be pop culture references from here that I borrow to use in my world, but that’s it.