Aug 8, 2005

HR, 37

Harlequin gulped.

"Come now," rasped the General. "I'm not that much bigger than Attila. At least you won't have to fight Hell over here." He nodded his head in the rottweiler's direction.

"General, this conflict isn't about me and a duel between the two of us would accomplish nothing. There are others who wish to live free of the Pack: countless inhabitants of the field behind me are with me, as is Peg, and Hubert." Harlequin paused dramatically before pointing to Homeless Tony. "And a human: Homeless Tony!" He shouted to Homeless in English: "You're with me, right, Tony?"

Homeless Tony's eyes were fixed nervously on the growling rottweiler, but responded with a weak "yeah." The General was amused.

"Quite a chipmunk; learned the human tongue, have you? And I suppose you think I'm frightened? Hmmm..." The General trailed off in mock thoughtfulness. "Tell me, Hell," he said to the rottweiler. "Are you frightened?" Hell's jaws were twisted in such a fierce snarl that his response was undiscernable. Harlequin did not think he was frightened.

Hell flexed into a leaping stance, suddenly; Homeless Tony jumped. The dogs laughed and circled him. Homeless Tony was wild-eyed; Hell rushed at him snarling. As Homeless backed away hastily, the General ran behind him and tripped him up. Already a little unbalanced, Homeless went down heavily, arms and legs kicking helplessly at the air. Overcome with panic, Homeless scrambled madly to his hands and knees, clawing at the cement of the sidewalk to get away.

He pushed himself to his feet and sprinted down the sidewalk and out of sight. The dogs gave token chase, but turned back quickly and trotted back towards Harlequin, grinning.

Harlequin watched, stunned, his mouth and eyes wide. Peg pecked at him harshly. "It's war time," she said. Harlequin shook himself out of his reverie.

"Quickly, back to the field!" he commanded, running nimbly back through the grass. He hopped over one of the squirrel's cleverly placed tripwires. He turned to shout a warning to Hubert, but before the words could excape his lips, one of Hubert's great drooping paws had caught on some string and he'd tumbled to the ground.

Harlequin arrived at the small dirt mound he'd previously designated as headquarter's. Humboldt and his mirror and Sergei were waiting with questioning looks. Peg landed behind him. Harlequin saw a few mice disappearing into holes by the south wall.

"They're afraid," explained Humboldt. "We still have a few brave ones."

"Good," said Harlequin, catching his breath. "Peg, I'm going to need your birds to drop all this nasty smelling stuff Homboldt's collected on the sidewalk. If the dogs can't smell us, we'll be able to evade them better. Humboldt run up their right now and set up the mirror to reflect the sun in their eyes when they come round the northwest corner. Hopefully that will distract them enough so they get tangled in the wires. Then, Peg, attack with your birds, and we'll do our best from the ground. Once Hubert gets here, we can operate the catapult."

The animals sped to do as they were bidden. The Pack was getting closer.

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