Hubba Hubba, Chirp, Tweet and Squeak were returning from a reconnaissance mission for Herio in The Burgeoning when...
"There are a slew of farmsteads, though," squeaked Chirp as he bounced along in a mad flutter to keep up. "One of them might put us up..."
"That's ground work," chirped Tweet. "We can't ask around from the air."
"Let's just go back now," said Hubba Hubba. "If that's all that's left, we're wasting time. I hate to think of another night of Herio's scorched beans, or nothing at all like last night."
"Couldn't be that bad," tweeted Squeak. "Those folks down there look pretty hard up. A little money would surely get us what we want..."
"Yea?" said Hubba Hubba. "And it could be right risky if they thought Herio was well-to-do. A young fellow by himself?" He clacked shut his beak with a shake of his head. "Someone might try to rob him...or worse!"
"Worse, master?" squeaked Chirp.
"Hey, I remember arrows and meat cleavers and ugly manners of all sorts out of people on the ground who weren't even penniless and desperate. And don't you dare call me master! Aren't we chums these days?"
"Oh I forgot, you being a crow and all..."
"Crow! Well, I can't hide from that, but reminders of the Ugleeuh days give me a headache..." And with that, he collapsed into a headlong fall.
"Hubba Hubba!" squeaked Chirp, diving madly after him. "What's wrong? Tweet! Squeak! Help!"
Hubba Hubba opened his eyes to find the ground shooting up to meet him. He began flapping furiously. "Help! Help! Help!" he cawed. "It's too late! Pebbles, I'm sorry!"
Without warning, something strange was under each of his wings. Suddenly he was seeing stars, bouncing and rolling to a rumpled stop in tall new grass.
"Oh, I hate being dead," he rattled. "Throb. Throb. Throb. That's my stinking head, but why are my wingpits doing it, too? Say! Why am I thinking?"
"It's not thinking, Hubba Hubba," squeaked Chirp, "It's just you. Now could you please lift your wing? Squeak and Tweet are under here!"
"So you ones are dead too, aye?" he said, letting out a yelp from moving his head to peer under his wing.
"Good grief no!" chirped Tweet, with a ruffle of his feathers. "We're not dead and neither are you!" He gave Hubba Hubba two or three one eyed inspections. "You sure have a knot on your knitty box. What the ding-dong blazes did you fly into up there?"
"I have no idea at all, but for some crazy reason it made me think of Ugleeuh..." And at that very instant he was yanked out of the grass by his neck.
"Hey!" crowed a stinky beefy boy with a hateful grip, as he sprang into a dancing pell-mell run through the grass. "I got him! I got him! I got him! I got him!"
Chirp, Tweet and Squeak shot into the air from where Hubba Hubba had fallen and watched in shock from the top of a big walnut tree as the stinky beefy boy made off with him through the grass. "They'll get away if we don't get moving!" squeaked Chirp as they all dove into the air.
"He'd never let someone make off with us!" tweeted Squeak.
"Let's keep up!" chirped Tweet.
"Hey!" squeaked Chirp. "Somebody tell me how we're going to save him from a grabby boy a thousand times bigger than we are. He'll pull our heads off!"
"Go for help!" chirped Tweet.
"And somebody still has to follow," tweeted Squeak.
"Someone needs to find Herio and bring him here, while the other two of us follow Hubba Hubba," squeaked Chirp. "When we see where the boy takes him, one of us comes back here and the other stays and watches...
"Yea," chirped Tweet. "And hope to the Pit he doesn't get et while we're at it!"
"Just for that, you go find Herio," squeaked Chirp.
Tweet gave a wide-eyed nod and shot away with a bouncing blur of wings.
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom