Edward hurried as fast as he could; being late meant he wouldn’t get a chance to voice his opinion. Not that it mattered much. He wouldn’t have known about it at all if Bernice hadn’t told him first. He huffed. Just because he was old didn’t mean his voice didn’t count. Age should have nothing to do with it and these young ones just couldn’t figure that out.
“Sorry!” In his haste he hadn’t seen someone coming towards him and he almost knocked him over.
He reached the group a little late, but only missed the preliminaries.
“…. that will only anger her more, my dear Baron. Surely you know that.” Edward heard enough to know that they needed him. Badly.
“Why wasn’t I informed of this meeting?” He glared at each one in turn, ending on the Archduke Henry Bishop III. He liked him the least of all. These past six years working with him had been hell. “And why is it being held here instead of in the council room?”
“This meeting was called in haste and upon an emergency. I’m sure you have noticed the recent killings?” the Archduke peered down at him, his nose held slightly in the air.
“Of course I have. Only a dunce wouldn’t have noticed. Everyone is in a panic. Order has completely left our civilization.”
“We were discussing what should be done about it all. The Baron over here was just suggesting we gather all of our forces, recruit the younger ones, and attack tonight while they sleep. Would you like to explain your idea, Baron?”
“Absolutely.” The sound of his voice grated against Edward’s ears. “Due to the circumstances, it has been highly agreed that we are in the midst of an attack on our home front. War, dear Grand Duke. In true fashion of war, I think it would be best to gather as much strength as we can and drive them out by sheer force.” Edward could only stare. We would have to completely recruit at least three colonies to have even a chance. The Queen herself would have to fight.
“Impossible. We don’t have enough power to successfully accomplish that. Not even close.” He saw a few eye rolls. He pursed his lips. If he wanted them to take him seriously, he would have to choose his battles very carefully. He could tell that this one was absurd enough that no comment from him was necessary.
“Well I think it would work.”
“Don’t be silly Baron. Edward, unfortunately, is correct. We couldn’t possibly ever do that and be fortuitous. Our entire existence would be executed. We really just need to decide if it would be in our best interests to stay and hide or flee to a new location. Any thoughts?” The Archduke looked around to everyone, including Edward.
For a few minutes, no one said anything. Then the Count cleared his throat.
“I think we should flee. If we can’t fight, then why stay?”
“Hear, hear.” The Viscount and his wife both nodded their heads while the present Knights shook theirs, they were no doubt in agreeance with the Baron.
“If we flee, then where do we go?”
“Simple,” He had decided that it was time he spoke up. We go East. We travel East for a few days, two, maybe three, and settle there. We won’t travel too far, or at least not so far that we wear the Queen out, but it’s far enough away that I believe our current enemy will leave us be.” He didn’t dare mention the rest of his idea, he knew none of them would want to hear it.
“That’s too far. I don’t like the idea of fleeing at all. You know the Queen is expecting any day now. She cannot be moved for at least another week.”
Angry murmurs broke out after this. Edward listened intently. They seemed to be divided equally in half, with just the Baron and the two Knights wanting to fight. The ones who wanted to stay didn’t want to move the Queen or anyone else. They loved their home and couldn’t fathom moving for any reason at all, not even imminent death. The ones who wanted to leave, knew the dangers of moving, but also knew that certain death awaited them hear. The enemy only grew angrier the longer they stayed.
Edward watched the Archduke listen to every side that was given. He was curious as to what his decision would be. The Archduke stepped forward slightly and cleared his throat, he was ready to speak.
“I think it’s best to flee, just as the Grand Duke suggested. And I agree that we must do it now and to the East.”
“This is preposterous! What would he know about our current situation? In my opinion, he’s too old to be making these decisions and it has been well past his time to retire. If we follow any of his suggestions, then he will surely die.” Silence followed the Baron’s speech. The Archduke looked to Edward to see how he would react. Edward stared back at him, amused by the frown on his face.
“My dear Baron. It does not matter what decision we make, there is a very large chance I will die. I no longer can move as fast as any of the others and I am resigned to the possibility of my death. However, do not let my twelve years of age to deter you. I have been making very sound decisions for the entire ten years I have served under our precious Queen. Moving now saves lives. Staying for any length of time will bring upon the death of most, if not all, of our people. Even our Queen. If we fall, who will protect her.” The Baron stayed silent and looked down to examine his feet. Edward looked to the Archduke and gave him a small nod. He nodded back before turning to the rest of the crowd.
“It is decided then. We will take the proposal to the Queen, though I doubt she will argue much. She is a great Queen and knows the dangers we are facing. Although, I don’t think our Grand Duke is not finished with what is on his mind, is he?” All eyes turned to Edward. He cleared his throat with anxiety.
“Sacrifices.” Before he could even get anything else out, uproar broke out in the gathering. “Now hear me out,” Edward raised is voice above the rest. “I am not talking about everyone. Not even the majority. I’m only talking about a few of us. Volunteers. Then the volunteers attack as a diversion. The goal is to make it look like we’re fighting back while everyone else escapes safely.”
“Yes. Volunteers. Like me.” Edward raised his head proudly. Twelve years was a good life. A life well spent. The Archduke looked at him.
“And me.” Edward snapped his head to him, surprise surely showing on his face.
“I’ve lived a good life. I don’t feel right letting you go this alone. I shall stay behind with you.” Edward gently bowed his head is thankfulness. As they continued to discuss who would stay and how many others they would need, Edward noticed faint screaming coming from the distance and getting louder. He turned around as the screams suddenly became deafening. Big booms began to sound in the air.
From his spot on the corner of the wall, he saw her. The brat child was nowhere to be seen, thankfully, but her mother was worse. Fear ripped through his body as everyone else, except the Archduke, fled the scene, scurrying up the wall to the small hole as fast as they could. He held his ground with the Archduke by his side. They watched in horror together as others rushed past them, deafening screams in their ears. They watched as she grew nearer, an angry look of hatred upon her face. The ground trembled under them from the force of hundreds of their fellow ants fleeing. Edward turned to the Archduke one last time.
“I just wanted to say, even though we don’t usually see eye to eye on many things, I am happy I served under the Queen with you. Our disagreements have made me feel young and alive again.”
“I feel the same. Had we not come upon this predicament, I would have been very happy to serve out the rest of our time on Earth here with you.” They nodded to each other and as one unified body, moved rapidly towards the enemy. The mother, her expression clearly showing her feelings about them, pulled up a blue can with a black top.
“FOR FREEDOM!” Edward shouted out as tears ran down his bulbous face.
The mother sprayed the ants, killing first both the Grand Duke and his friend, the Archduke, then traveled the can up until she reached the hole where they were all coming in. When she had finished, she put the can down, grabbed her tube of caulk, filled the hole and smoothed it out.
Nodding her approval at the massacre, she grabbed her tools and walked off.
I bought my new home a few weeks ago. This past weeks ants have moved in. While I stood there watching them and plotting their death, this picture happened. They looked like they were in a meeting so I wrote this. Silver linings, right?