At last it’s here! Thanks for waiting. Here is the final part of our series about the two Parrots. There’s loads of action, lasers and flying feathers, as well as intellectual combat.
Story by Bertie.
Read by Richard.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.
At long last, I’m back with the conclusion to our most recent mini-saga about Astropup.
It’s been quite a while since we left you hanging over a cliff of suspense, and we apologise for the delay.
Astropup was away on a brief holiday in space, but he’s back now with the missing chapter. But before I hand you over to our canine raconteur, let’s remind ourselves where we were. Astropup’s friend, the Parrot Major, has become President of the World. Unfortunately an imposter parrot from another planet has switched places with him. The alien bird has locked up our own Parrot inside a feline spaceship while he rules as an evil dictator. Astropup and Marlow have attacked the spaceship, and rescued the Presidential Parrot. Now they are flying towards The Summer Palace and the President is bent on revenge. So, let me hand you over to Astropup.
Yes, that’s right Richard. I can’t forget how the Parrot was screeching that word: “Revenge! Revenge! Revenge!” at the top of his squawk box. I was barking with excitement because I could see The Summer Palace through the porthole, while Marlow was shouting: “Quiet everyone! I can’t hear myself think!” He was flying the feline craft rather unsteadily, partly because he was not used to the cat controls, and partly because we were being fired upon by robo dogs with lasers.
We came down on the lawn in front of the palace with a bump, and another bump, and yet another bump.
The firing against us continued. We could hear ripping and clanging noises as bits of the spaceship took hits.
“Oh no, there goes my left side mirror,” complained Marlow.” There was a loud “ping!” Marlow continued: “and that was the parking light. It wasn’t much use anyway.”
“Right everyone,” said the Parrot to the two of us, “time to get out and fight our way into the palace.”
“But that would be suicide,” said Marlow.
The Parrot pulled himself up straight and puffed out his chest before squawking:
“Do you mean to say you are not ready to lay down your life for your President?”
“No I’m not,” said Marlow. “If I pop my head out of this spaceship, a robo dog will shoot it off. What good will that do anyone?”
“It would be a glorious act of self sacrifice,” declared the Parrot.
“And stupidity,” said Marlow.
“Oh, that’s my job, then,” I said, as I rose to my feet. I might be a dumb animal, but I am loyal to the last. A good dog is always ready to lay down his life for his master’s.
“No Astropup!” shouted Marlow. He leapt over, grabbed my collar, and put me on a lead. It was years since I had been on one of those. The cats must have kept it lying around the spaceship for prisoners. I didn’t mind though. It’s kind of comforting for a dog to be led around the place, not having to think about where you are going.
“Don’t you recall, you’re man’s best friend, not a parrots?” he chided me.
There was an explosion and an unpleasant ripping sound as our ship took another direct hit.
“Well since you two cowards are unwilling to die for me, I had better do this job myself,” said the President.
“Don’t get yourself killed,” I woofed. “We went to so much trouble to save you!”
The Parrot looked me up and down with his beady little eyes, assessing the depths of my stupidity.
“It would be a senseless act indeed for me to give up my life,” he said. “The Universe needs a bird of genius. Marlow, you are familiar with the ship’s controls. I intend to project a giant image of myself onto the side of the palace and broadcast a message to the soldiers outside. Can you do that for me?”
“Well fortunately,” said Marlow, “I’ve got an app for that.” He started to talk technical gibberish, something about hooking his phone into the ship’s computer system by a wireless thingy called blue-whisker. Then he held his beloved phone out at arms-length and posed with the President as if for a selfie. “Smile,”he said, “your beak is already broadcasting.”
The Parrots beak could not form a smile of course. He always looked serious. Presidential, he would have said. He smoothed his feathers with his back claw. Marlow stepped aside, still filming the President with his phone as he addressed our attackers outside.
“Friends,” he said. “Fellow creatures, cease fire. Lay down your weapons. It is I, your President, the Premier Parrot of the world who commands you to do this. You are unwittingly lobbing bombs at your leader.”
“He’s like King Canute politely requesting the tide to stop coming in,” he said.
“Oh am I?” asked the Parrot, for the firing had gone quiet already.
“It’s just a lull,” said Marlow, with a bucket full of cold realism. “Just like everyone else, the robo dogs are probably confused about which Parrot they were fighting for, and which Parrot they are fighting against.”
“Exactly,” said the Parrot, “canine confusion is our friend.” There was almost affection in his voice as he hopped first onto my head, and then flew up into the scaffolding at the top of the spaceship. The ceiling had been designed by the cat people to resemble a sort of forest of branches, where cats could prowl, and birds could hop around. The poor little birdies were of course there as fresh food for the feline fiends on their long journeys. This ship had been captured by the robo dogs and their pirate parrot commander, who had then brought it to Earth and imprisoned our Presidential Parrot inside it, while their imposter parrot took his place on the top perch of the world. Well you knew all that anyway didn’t you, because you have been listening to my space stories, but I repeat it now just in case you might have forgotten.
Anyway, the Parrot hopped and fluttered around in the branches until he reached the very top of the ship where he opened a sort of emergency escape hatch. From there he made his exit, presumably onto the roof.
Marlow winced and closed his eyes. “Three, two, one, zap!” he said, in expectation of our friend’s sudden demise. But the zap did not zap. Instead we heard a sqwark along the lines of: “Come on up you yellow bellies. It’s a lovely day out here.”
As neither Marlow nor I had the gift of flight, we winched ourselves up to the ceiling via a sort of hammock – lift. Marlow very gingerly stuck his head out into the open, took a good look around at the robo dogs, and then heaved himself up onto the roof. From there he helped me up. You might have thought that my paws would slip and slide over the metal of a spaceship, but this one was of feline construction, and was covered in a soft sort of skin like the bark of a tree. Even my canine claws were able to get a partial grip. I looked around and saw our former attackers gazing back up at us. They were a mean looking bunch, armor-plated rottweilers most of them were. Marlow said:
“I’m not entirely clear if they are accepting us as their commanders, or their prisoners.”
Well there was only one way to find out. The back of the spaceship sloped off gently making a fine slide – and we slid to the bottom. A great brute of a robo dog bounded over to us with a laser gun slung around his neck… I braced myself, resisting my deeply dogged instinct which was to cower and submit to the bigger animal. But I stood firm on all four legs.. and the robo dog, well he halted before us and saluted.
“Phew,” I said.
“Phew for the time being,” whispered back Marlow.
We were escorted into the inner sanctum of the palace. After the rage of battle, it was a haven of peace, with little indoor trees, shrubs and fountains.
We found the other parrot sitting on his golden perch reading an electronic book that was set up on a lectern. As we came in he said, without looking up:
“I hope you have a good enough reason for disturbing my concentration. I am feeding my brain.”
“What are you reading?” asked our Parrot.
“Nietzsche,” came the reply. It was only then that he looked up from the philosophical tract written in German and said: “You!”
“Yes me,” said our bird. “And that proves that you are nothing but an interloper because I, the one true President of the World, detest Nietzsche.”
“Guards, cease that imposter parrot!” screeched the other one.
“No!” screamed our Parrot, “arrest that preposterous presidential impersonator.”
“You phony plumed personage!”
“You imperious pretender to the perch!”
“You incompetent complainer! vae victis! Woe to the conquered! to quote the Roman historian, Livy. Might makes Right. I am a far superior President to you!”
I can tell you now that our Parrot does not simply hop aside and allow another bird to out do him in flowery language or obscure quotations. He flapped his wings furiously and flew up to the ceiling speechifying as he went:
“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. – Abraham Lincoln”
And the bad parrot squawked:
“Einige werden posthum geboren – Some are born posthumously – Friedrich Nietzsche.”
A moment later they clashed, beak to beak. I’ve never seen such airborne pecking, picking and poking, slapping, scratching, and scraping, flapping, flitting, and flipping, all with great squarks, squeals, and shrieks. It was like the Battle of Britain I tell you, the Spitfire versus the Messerschmitt – see it’s catching, I was starting to extend my vocab and facts, just by being around those bird brains.
All of us on the ground, Marlow, the robo dog guards and I, stood with our necks craned and our eyes fixed on the fight. This is how it ended, with both of them falling to the ground. Thud! Thud! Two parrots lay unconscious on the floor. If it was confusing before, now it was impossible to say which was which.
“Does it matter who’s who if they are both dead?” asked Marlow.
“Dead,” I said. “That Parrot’s not dead, he’s just resting.”
“At last! A quotation I know!” exclaimed Marlow brightly: “Monty Python!”
“Was he a philosopher chappy?” I asked.
“Yes, he was, sort of,” said Marlow, as he knelt down and prodded one of the Parrots on his feathered chest. At first he did not move. “He’s still warm,” said Marlow. “Who would have thought it would end like this?” But it didn’t end there because he twitched a claw. And a few moments later the other parrot opened one eye.
Marlow turned to the robo dogs and said: “Take both these Parrots to the sick bay and guard them well.” The dogs stared back at him. After they were transformed into robo dogs, they got out of the habit of taking commands from a human.
“Er take them to the sick bay please,” said Marlow. “It’s for the best. We’ll find out which one is your commander-in-chief when they have both recovered from their fight.
Several days went past before the Parrots were well enough to take a truth test. At first it was uncomfortable living in the palace with the fierce robo dogs, but gradually they became used to taking orders from Marlow. The instinct to follow is deep in every dog, and every pack needs a leader.
When the time came, we visited the Parrots in separate rooms and put identical questions to them. This was not an exam in philosophy or physics, because no doubt both Parrots were equally able to excel in those sorts of subjects. We tested on a subject that only the true Parrot would be able to answer – Us.
Our questions were:
1. “What is Astropup’s real name?” I bet you don’t remember that either. Even I struggle to recall these days. But if you check back to the first chapter of my story, you will see that my real name is Bonzo.
2. “Who is Astropup’s owner?” Answer – Jenny, though I don’t see her as often as I would like these days. That reminds me, I must call her.
3. “What secret weapon did we deploy against the cat people when they landed on the moon?” Answer – cosmic fleas. See our story – The Revenge of the Parrot.
4. “Where did the Parrot and I first meet Marlow?” Answer – On the Planet of the Pirates.
5. “What is the Parrot’s rank in the Space Force?” Let’s face it, if he could not answer that question, he couldn’t possibly be the real Parrot.
The right Parrot, perversely, refused to answer the questions because they were too easy. The wrong parrot made a wild guess, but tried to sound convincing to the robo dogs, telling them that we were false pretenders, working with the bad guys, and that these were false questions.
We went back to our Parrot. “Go on, please,” I said, “for old times sake, and for the future of the world, tell us the answers.”
“All right then,” he said finally, and reeled them off.
“That’s him,” I said to the robo dogs. “He’s the real guy. Take the other one down to the cells.”
The robo dogs looked at us doubtfully. Should they believe us? It was all so confusing. Were we playing a trick on them?
“There will be double rations of biscuits when you’ve done it,” said Marlow.
“Woof Sir!” said the robo dog sergeant, and he barked at his platoon to hurry up and obey orders.
And that is how our Parrot, the true President, was restored to the Presidential Perch. That was not the end of the story, because the imposter had governed so badly, that the population of the world were fed up with parrots all together.