Jul 29, 2005

HR, 27

There were several white trash bags waiting outside the Chinese restaurant. Harlequin slit one open and began handing out the goodies. The mice got a heaping pile of fried rice; the squirrel gobbled cashew bits by the pawful; the birds dabbled in everything, taking special pleasure in a lone shrimp; Hubert chomped on sweet and sour meatballs; his passenger, the yellowjacket drone, occupied himself with the sauce that had dripped onto the ground.

The mice, especially, were not used to human food and many began to feel queasy, but overall the feast was a smashing success for Harlequin. The animals were full, happy and grateful and, best of all, ready to listen.

Harlequin, having just polished off a batch of egg foo yung, burped and began to speak.

"Friends, now that we have eaten, I've another item of business. I suppose you all know the Pack?" There were a few shudders. One mouse, emboldened by the meal and his taste of freedom, uttered a few loud curses on the Pack.

"We're going to have to deal with them sooner or later. As the vanquisher of Attila, I take responsibility for meeting with the General. I plan to reason with him: tell him what a good sort you creatures are, and how no beast should have the right to rule over us against our will. However," Harlequin raised his voice and gave it the most resolute rumble he could muster; "should he choose oppression over freedom, I say we'll be ready for him!"

Harlequin had hoped for cheers; he got a ferocious war squawk from Pegasus and a "hurray" from the emboldened mouse, but the rest gave him worried looks.

"I see your faces. I see the fear. A sensible fear, from sensible animals. Know this: your fears are unjustified. We have with us a powerful dog, formerly of the Pack: Hubert!" At this statement, Hubert chuckled nervously.

"We also have the finest warbird in the city: Pegasus!" Pegasus squawked proudly and hopped about fiercely. Harlequin turned his eyes to the sparrows and pigeons: "She can lead you to victory in battle over any of these runt dogs."

"Friends there is more. The crows have a great deal of human technology that would put the dogs to flight as soon as they caught wind of it. Great mechanical terrors, I tell you, at the tips of our claws. I know how to work them, I'll just need help from the mice and my good squirrel over there to deploy them."

"As if that weren't enough, we have a human! Homeless Tony, the man sleeping over there, is a friend of mine. I know the secret of human speech and he will help us. What dog would dare face a fully-grown human? I say 'no!' But I will need your help. Can I count on you as allies in this noble defense of this field?"

The mice conferred together; the squirrel looked on; the birds pecked at stray crumbs of food. Hubert ambled alongside Harlequin and told him what a foolish thing he was getting them all into. Finally, the mice came to some sort of agreement; an older one stepped forward from the group and spoke up.

"We mice feel that you're a strange creature, but that you mean well. So long as this human really is for you, we'll help in what ways we can."

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