“That’s ingenious!” Zack said. “You’re a real computer whiz, Bluto.”
“It’s my specialty. I love working with these networks and machines. The only bad thing is the hunting and pecking on these keyboards. Humans have a real advantage with thumbs and fingers and all.”
“Yes, human fingers are yummy. I love wrestling with mommy’s fingers.”
Bluto looked at Zack. “I meant typing. But yes, it is fun to bite human fingers. Especially when they poke at you.” He turned to study the cameras again. “I just hope we don’t have to turn that fun natured biting on the Queen of Bavaria’s.”
“Me too, but if they’re coming then we’ll see them now,” Zack said. “Thanks, Bluto!”
“How’s the surveillance coming along?” Chloe said, rolling a can in front of her.
“Very good. Bluto has us all set up.”
“Coco helped me get the yarn birds wired. She’s checking to make sure the cameras are hidden, but can still get a clear view of the fields around us.”
Chloe looked at the computer. “You’ve both done an excellent job.”
“Thanks, Miss Chloe. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to help Coco finish checking out the outer perimeter yarn birds. I’d like to work on their range.”
“Let us know if we can help,” Zack said as Bluto bowed and left the room.
“What do you have there, Chloe?” Zack asked, peering at the silver can.
“Ah yes, Sassy and Morty taught the ladies how to load these munitions cans. If the Queen of Bavaria’s attack, we can drop these cans on them.” Chloe’s cheek feathers stood up. “We call them cans of whoop up.”
“Did you test them?” Zack asked.
“We sure did. We dropped one next to some rabbits digging around our carrots. I never saw a bunny hop so fast in my life.”
“Excellent. Tell Sassy, Morty, and the ladies that they’re doing great.” Zack rubbed his chin with his foot. “How’s Lola? I understand she was shaken up over getting tangled in those weeds.”
“Lola’s fine. We got her all cleaned up. In fact, she helped us pack a lot of these cans,” Chloe said.
“But she’s just a baby!”
“Don’t count her out, big brother. She’s a smart cookie!”
“No, I didn’t mean that,” Zack said. “I just meant it’s a shame this is happening in her young days. She should be playing and having fun, not packing cans of whoop up.”
“All of the young birds are helping. They want to. They’ve learned a good work ethic here and enjoy doing their part. Don’t worry, Zack. They’ll be fine. We all will, if we work together. We’ll be enjoying days of fun and honing our specialty areas soon.”
“I know you’ll be glad to have your beauty studio open full time again. You must miss your yoga and meditation sessions with the girls.”
“Beauty and self maintenance isn’t my only specialty. You know that. I learned a lot in the aviary, and it looks like I’ll be using more of that skill set soon.”
“The Queen of Bavaria’s may regret that.”
Chloe’s cheeks seemed to flush a brighter orange. “They might.”
“Zack! Chloe! I’m glad you’re both here,” Killer parrot said, flying in the solar and landing gracefully next to the large map on the table.
“What did you see on your scouting mission, Killer?” Chloe asked.
“You were right. They’re building an army.” Killer pointed to several spots on the outer perimeter. “Here, here and here they’re establishing camps.”
“How?” Zack asked. “I thought the Queen of Bavaria’s were a small, isolated group. Have they joined forces with others in the outer regions?”
Killer gave a vigorous head bob. “They have squirrels and raccoons joining them, and my scouts say they’ve put out calls for a opossum garrison.”
“How many?” Chloe asked.
“I did several flyovers and only saw the three camps so far. The squirrels are on the west flank, the raccoons are on the east, and the Queen of Bavaria’s are in the center camp. Marlin has a group of ambassadors meeting the Queen of Bavaria’s. She took some of those yummy potato cakes that the ladies prepared for them. Hopefully, that will work.”
“I hope so,” Chloe said. “We hoped that they would be willing to join us peacefully if they saw that we’re willing to share food and space with them.”
“Space?” Zack asked.
“I told Marlin and Sweet Pea to offer them some of our outer perimeter territory,” Chloe said.
“Why? We don’t have deeds out here,” Zack said. “We live where we will and take shelter in the castle when we want or need to come indoors. Why did you offer them outer perimeter territory? What’s out there?”
“They’re a shy breed, and very secluded,” Chloe said. “Remember, I’ve dealt with them in the aviary. They want privacy. They wouldn’t be comfortable in the middle of everything here with the rest of us.”
Zack grunted. “I hope they aren’t offended by being offered territory on the outskirts. They might see it as an insult.”
“I understand that point of view,” Killer said, “but they don’t see things the same way we do. It’s going to take time for them to understand and adapt to our super-friendly culture. A step at a time is probably the best way to approach it.”
“When can we expect to hear back from Marlin?”
“Now,” Marlin said, stepping into the solar with Sweet Pea. Their feathers were mussed up and potato cake was splattered across their bellies and backs. .
“Oh no!” Chloe said, rushing to comfort her friend. “Marlin, what happened?”
“They never heard of potato cakes and didn’t want them, or the territory. They said they mean to root us all out so we won’t drive them to extinction.” Marlin’s feathers drooped.
“We tried, Chloe,” Sweet Pea said. “We tried to tell them that we wanted to help and share with them, but they’re convinced that we’re responsible for the decline in their numbers.”
“Why?” Zack asked.
“I don’t know,” Marlin said. “They wouldn’t tell us. They just said that too many of their kind had been drawn out and lost, and they’re going to do whatever it takes to protect the ones left. They turned the squirrels loose on us. We barely flew out of there ahead of them.”
“I’m sorry, Marlin and Sweet Pea,” Chloe said.
“You did your best,” Killer said. “You’re an excellent ambassadors. Don’t let this get you down.”
“Yes, you’re responsible for keeping all of us organized here. You both take good care of us, making sure everybody has enough space and food and all of the resources they need. We couldn’t ask for better birds.” Chloe hugged Marlin and Sweet Pea. “Come on. We saved you some potato cakes. Let’s get you both cleaned up and fed.” Chloe led the girls down the hallway to the preening and cleaning room.
“Well, that went badly,” Zack said. “What will we do now?”
“It looks like war is upon us,” Killer said. “We’d better organize.”
“Organize what? We’re a peaceful group. How can we stand against squirrels and raccoons? They’re bigger than us, and many of them have rabies.”
“Nothing is impossible, Zack. We can do it. We just need to mine our resources. This is a big land. Who do we know with a specialty in protection? Surely, some bird must be up to the challenge.”
“Yes, but who?” Zack asked.
Just then, the doors burst open. Zack and Killer turned to see a majestic green bird enter.
“I can do it,” Jinx said. He stepped inside, and behind him they saw the courtyard filled with parakeets, turtles, and bearded dragons as far as the eye could see. “I will be your champion.”
Coming up late week: Installment 3, the Battle Scene!