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STARDOGS, part 3:

Nero to the Rescue

Some days later Alfie thought it was time to start some training.
'We need to remain alert, to keep fit and have an organised routine, so that we are ready for action if the need arises', he stated in hushed tones to Aurora and Hercules.
They were in the middle of the lawn, out of earshot of the adult earthdogs, but they looked around secretively every so often to make sure no-one was watching them.

Now Nero did not really like puppies - well they were okay as long as they did not play near him and disturb his rest. But three pups acting so furtively did not escape his notice so he kept his ears open while his eyes were closed. He heard the odd words ... ‘patrol..... weapons, mutter mutter, target practise, keep watch .... mumble, take turns’, etc etc. Nero had his suspicions and decided to keep watch himself.

Before lunch, while the other dogs slept, they started their patrols. Alfie led the way along the garden fence, marching along holding a stick. Aurora followed him clutching a big dandelion as she could not find a stick and Hercules marched behind, with a yoghurt pottle on his head for a protective helmet, which he figured may be a good idea and anyway he liked the almost empty yoghurt pottles that Stella gave them to play with. At first they whispered as they marched but as they warmed to the task, they got bolder and noisier.

‘Stardogs of Pyrtron
a phazer in our claw.
Courageously we boldly go
where no dogs gone before’, - they chanted as they marched.

‘Stardogs of Pyrtron
a ph..........’ ! Alfie stopped abruptly and the other two ran into him. They ended up in a sprawling puppy heap at the feet of Nero.

‘Stardogs eh’, he said gruffly. ‘I knew a Pyr stardog once. Met him at the Intergalactic Stardog conference on Dalmatia. I was a young ambassador then. We fought the Lupites together when they attacked Samoyia later that year. His name was Zyrax.’

‘Zyrax is our Uncle’ squeaked Alfie.
‘Is he now’, said Nero, looking at the three pups with renewed interest.’Hmmm, well, off you go and play. I doubt the Lupites will be looking for the three of you - not for a while anyway’, he grinned to himself as he stomped off to check on his sheep. Such enthusiasm ! Certainly the Lupites do not normally bother with small Stardog pups but he decided he would keep an eye out for signs of them.

The day passed uneventfully and the pups and adult dogs settled down in the kennels for the night. Alfie had not been asleep long when he heard noises. The wind was rising, the wooden building was creaking a bit in the gusts and the branches of trees were scratching against the windows. The earthdogs slept on, so Alfie tried to settle down but sleep eluded him. Soon, Hercules woke, then Aurora. The noise was increasing now and they looked at each other fearfully.

‘Lupites’, said Aurora. ‘I can smell them’
Alfie knew that Aurora had an exceptional sense of smell - a useful gift at times, but he asked ‘are you sure Rora?’
She nodded solemnly.
‘Yikes’ ! squeaked Herkie, ‘how can we fight them? We are only small puppies! Will the earthdogs help us’?
‘They cannot even hear the noise. The Lupites are using a blocking device like the Soundsorb barrier. And don’t forget they are invisible until they actually touch a solid surface, so neither we nor the earthdogs can see them. We have to rely on our senses and skills to fight them ourselves.
Most earthdogs are not equipped like we are’. Alfie tried to sound calm but he was shaking with fright.

The noise was now a sickening series of shrieks and wolfish howls, enough to curdle the blood of the bravest Stardog. The wind buffeted the kennel, tearing small branches off the trees and hurling them on the roof, against the windows. The Lupites were tearing at the door and walls with their claws. The pups stood in the furthest corner, facing the door, quaking with fear but determined to do their best. Aurora was already twitching her nose, hoping her ability to start or stop objects in motion might extend through the kennel wall. Using it at the party to start the toys in motion had been fun, but this .....!

‘Arm phazers’, shouted Alfie over the din. They raised their left front paws and tiny phazers became visible under their dewclaws. Hercules prayed that his aim would be true - this was no time to use a weapon as yet untried. So much for Alfie’s plans for target practise !

The door was groaning under the continued assault, when suddenly the noise outside changed. A deep throated roar was heard above the shrieking of the Lupites and the wind.

It began as a slow ominous rumble, which became a terrifying growl, then crescendoed into a raging, angry roar. The air boiled with the noise which spilled from some huge, very angry, powerful beast - but what - or who, the bewildered pups could not imagine. Aurora detected the smell of fear in the air outside the door.
Sounds of fierce fighting. Thuds, jaws snapping. Enraged bellowing and roaring.
The Lupite shrieking quickly changed to screams of fear, confusion and pain and the wind slowly subsided .... ...

Then silence.

The pups slowly lowered their paws and moved towards the door, at a loss to understand what had happened outside but realising that someone or something had stopped the Lupites.

‘It’s alright puppies, you can go back to sleep now. There were only two of them and I doubt they will return tonight’ said a familiar gruff voice.

Nero !! Relief spread over three little faces. The pups respectfully chimed a ‘thank you’ to Nero and crept into a puppy pile on their bed, thankful to have found an ally. Shivering a little, exhausted, they soon fell asleep.

Nero walked back to his bed beside the house door, a little stiff after his unexpected night’s work - he was not as young as he used to be. But he grinned to himself.
Life may be a bit more interesting around here now that the Stardog pups had arrived.......



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