Chloe walked in the library with MarlinFan, Sweet Pea, and Tuscon. All four ladies were gussied up in flower hats and pearl necklaces. “Alright guys, we’re heading out. Wish us luck.”
Zack laughed. “You should take a bag.”
“For the candy. When you trick or treat, they give you candy.”
Chloe’s eyes narrowed. “I ought to kung—fu you.”
“Bring it on, mad hen!” Zack said. They beaked wrestled briefly, sending Chloe’s hat flying across the floor.
“My goodness!” Sweet Pea said. “Break it up!”
“No, just wait a minute,” Tiel Lover said. “It’ll pass.”
Sure enough, they wrestled for a few seconds, then backed away, staring at one another. Finally, Chloe picked up her hat and plopped it on her head. “You shouldn’t make fun of us. This is serious work.”
“Bring me back some tootsie rolls!” Zack shouted after the ladies as they walked out the door.
“What was that?” Penne asked.
“They’re brother and sister,” Coco said. “It happens all the time. They squabble, they make up, and then it’s over. Typical siblings.”
“The funny thing is that they aren’t really related,” Tiel Lover said. “They’re both adopted. But they acted so much like a brother and sister that their parronts just rolled with it.”
“She needs to save that spunk for later,” Zack said, returning to the large table in the center of the room, dominated by a table with a map of Anipal Land. “Plus, now she’ll be determined to make these negotiations work.” He tapped his head with his toe. “It’s all in the mind.”
“Very well, and now let’s turn to our battle strategy,” Jeff Musk said. “Zack, you said you had ideas.”
“I do,” Zack said. He turned to Coco and Penne. “You guys did great with the yarn bird defense in the Queen of Bavaria attack. They worked great with the cameras. I was wondering – do you think you could reconfigure them to move?”
“You mean like robots?” Coco said. “I think so.”
“It depends on how you want them to function,” Penne said. “Do you want them to be like the droid army on Star Wars or the Borg on Star Trek?”
“Star Wars, definitely,” Zack said. “We need the ability to communicate with them through a central command, but they also need to be able to adapt and fight independently.”
“The yarn overlay is important, too,” Jinx said. “These aliens seem to be slimy, so metal would slip right over them. The yarn needs to have some good traction to stop them.”
“We can do it,” Coco said. “I can work on the yarn exterior, and Penne can integrate the robotic parts.”
“What about weapons?” Penne asked. “I assume you want some way to stun them without harm.”
“Of course,” Zack said. “We don’t kill and try not to hurt in Anipal Land. This is about driving them out, not harming them.”
“That’s easy enough,” Penne said. “We can build your yarn-bot army.”
“Fantastic!” Zack said. “But they can’t do it all. We need troops on the ground, but I don’t think the battle strategies we used before will work on these aliens. Chloe and her girls can’t kung-fu them, and I don’t want to catapult keets at them with cans of whoop up.”
“Actually, I have an idea for that too,” Penne laid a paper on the table and unrolled it, showing a schematic for a phoenix. “When I heard about the impending danger, I remembered how Chloe and the girls used their kung-fu to ward off an invasion party. I think this might help. It’s a jauggernaut.”
“It looks like a phoenix,” Jinx said.
“It is. Basically, it’s a large robot, but it’s controlled by an individual anipal. We put Chloe and some of her choice hens in the command center with sensors attached to them. Their movements control the robot.”
“Like the ones in Pacific Rim,” Zack said.
Penne nodded. “But without the neural connection. The connections respond to movements. So Chloe and her top toops would be in here with us, safe and sound, while the phoenix jauggernaut does the whooping up.”
“I can do a synthetic feather overlay,” Coco said. “That way, these aliens would think they were dealing with a mythical creature for real. They’ll never know it’s a robot controlled from somewhere else.”
“You two are brilliant!” Zack said.
Coco and Penne blushed. “Aww, we just want to help our friends. This is a serious threat!”
“Yes it is,” Ninja Harine said, “and I have some ideas for lending help to the robots and jaugernauts.” He unrolled a parchment next to the phoenix, showing several schematics. “You will need some ground troops to assist the machines. Robots are good, but you need real anipals with organic brains out there to make decisions and react to changing conditions.”
“Agreed,” Jinx said. “I need to be out there with the army, but how? Those green goobers would squash us.”
Ninja Harine pointed to the top corner. “This is a special remote controlled airplane I configured for you. The controls have been rewired from the remotes to a control panel inside that responds to pecks and taps, with foot controls for direction. That way, you have an air attack without having to catapult or fly in yourself.”
“And these look like tanks,” Jeff Musk said, pointing to a graphic next to the airplane.
“They are,” Ninja Harine said. “That’s for the ground troops. Similar controls to work with the reptiles on the team. The tanks and planes will also be equipped with similar defenses as the robots.”
“This is great, guys,” Zack said. “You’re all such smart and talented anipals!”
“If Marlin Fan, Sweet Pea, and the girls are successful in their negotiations for more troops, then these aliens won’t know what hit them,” Tiel Lover said. “Their offence mixed with our defense will make us unbeatable!”
“Or unbelievable,” Jinx said, “but that works too.”
Zack stared out the window at the clear blue sky. “I hope it does.”