“And . . . throw!” Cloudpepper called loudly.
She was somewhat disappointed by the results. Only four out of the fifteen pinecones used as targets actually exploded, but she realized that several of the other stones thrown by her group of snipers had flown within a feather-length of their respective targets. Of the four pinecones that did hit targets, the flea-bitten gray trainer knew who had hit them. Two were hit by Star and herself. One was hit by the youngest member of her group but a surprisingly good shot, a palomino pinto yearling named Pringlefeather. She snorted in amusement as she thought of the name, but she had to admit that the youngster was a capable sniper and warrior. And the final exploded target was probably hit by Copperfern, given his boisterous celebration that he had hit something.
She glared at him, her expression and next words only half joking. “Trees and training are not at all good places for shenanigans like this! You could break the tree if you aren’t careful!”
The three-year-old red roan stallion looked away, embarrassed. “Sorry,” he said.
Cloudpepper could see that he meant it, so she apologized as well. Copperfern’s green wings perked up in a soothed gesture. Seeing it, she decided not to focus on him for any longer.
She flew down from the hoof-holds that the elders of Sun Herd had built and landed in the small clearing at the base of the trees. When she was sure she had the attention of her snipers, she started talking.
“This won’t do!” she started. “We may have a war footing here, and four out of fifteen isn’t good enough! We are improving, but we’ve got a long way to go to even mediocrity!”
Pringlefeather raised his wing. “What’s mediocrity?” he asked.
“It pretty much means average,” Cloudpepper said. Going back to her previous spiel, she continued, “Now, I’m not trying to be insulting here--” she noticed a few skeptical expressions, so she amended her statement “-- or very insulting, maybe, but we need to improve our game, and the only way to do that is practice. Right?”
“Right!” shouted the others in answer.
“Then let’s keep going!” Cloudpepper said. She flew back to her hoofholds and started directing more volleys.