TITLE: Ellis in Kibblestan
GENRE: MG Fantasy
"We are the Voyagers, campers of goodwill.
The vulture is our symbol, but we never eat roadkill.
We always stick together, our loyalty is high.
As long as we're united, like vultures we will fly!"
— Vulture Voyager Theme Song
The group of boys laughed as they hollered the words around the afternoon campfire, but Ellis' lips barely moved. He should have been happy. His troop had taken first place at the Vulture Voyager Survival Games. He'd passed all his wilderness exams. And he'd proudly received the Regurgitating Raptor Patch to sew on his Vulture Vest that proved he was no longer a fifth-grade Fledgling—he'd flown up to full Vulture rank. But instead of enjoying the campout's closing ceremony, he stomped off toward his tent, kicking up gravel along the way.
This campout was even more important than the one in second grade when he had graduated from the humiliating Egg rank. He was now a Vulture. It was a big deal. A way big deal. And Dad should have been here to see it, like all the other dads.
But he wasn't. He had to work. Again.
Ellis trudged up the sloping ground toward the blue tent he shared with his best friend, Colin. It was zipped tightly shut, but that didn't muffle his dachshund's lonely whimpers coming from inside.
Oh Philecia. He wouldn't have to lock her up like this if she'd just act like a normal dog, instead of some freakazoid.