Tobias Roote

Science Fiction Author

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The Tower Ravens

The black Raven flew down from the Tower ramparts to consult. An urgent message had been received, a tweet for help.

Birds in Maidenhead were being hunted and slaughtered by a cunning pair of cats. The danger to the local flock was approaching critical.

The hastily gathered War Council huddled on the central green and considered their response. “It would have to be quick,” the Leader said after lengthy discussion, “The Bird-world needs to see that Raven Governance is still strong and decisive.”

Cocking his black iridescent feathered head and eyeing up his chief Enforcer who was suddenly and inexplicably preening his plumage in an attempt to keep a low profile. The Leader's black beady glare fixed on him “You will go yourself” he declared, and that was that. Meeting over.

He waddled off to molest a tourist and rob him of his burger.

Although well fed by the Tower soldiers, he preferred to force himself on the visitors, giving them ample photo opportunities. 'The humans are getting too fat anyway,' he considered. 'The more I steal the better for them'.

The Enforcer watched him go, thinking 'If it wasn't for me that Old Crow's leadership would be hanging by a quill.' He sighed, tilting his head resignedly up at the London sky to get a bearing he launched his massive frame into the air and flew off  west.

As he flapped, gaining height, he pondered. Too often these days cats encroached onto scrub-land and undergrowth formerly providing a respite from their kind. With the cat flap now prevalent the problem had become critical in many areas.

Cats formerly bound to houses now roamed at will day and night, their territories expanding, threatening traditional nesting places of all birds. Something would have to change.

The Enforcer flew the shortest route 'as the crow flies'.  His large wingspan allowing him a leisurely cruising speed.

Arriving at the last known location of the cats in question he landed spritely on a long garage roof. Looking around he attempted to get his bearings.

Calling out to birds around him they soon gave him what he wanted, the block of flats at the top of the hill nearby was the source of the problem. There were two cats, a Siamese and a black Moggie.

He knew The Siamese would be hardest, 'deal with that one,' he decided, 'and the Moggie would head straight back to the sofa'.

His strategy in place he settled down on the edge of the garage roof to wait.

A short time later the Moggie came through a flap installed at the bottom of the apartment building. Scooting out until it was near the road, it then lay sprawled on the path cleaning its face with a paw while eyeing up any opportunities.

The Enforcer remained watchful. Being fastidiously economical with his efforts, he intended to 'kill two cats with one stone' and be back at the Tower in time for tea.

Not long afterwards the Siamese exited the same flap, taking a different route out, more indirect, he was watched by the Enforcer. The grey and white cat prowled like a true hunter, 'a worthy adversary' the Enforcer thought. 'Those claws could do serious mischief.'

The cats affected nonchalance did not fool the old Raven. He knew he had been observed.

They hadn't met a bird of his stature before, he was no plump sparrow, or juicy blackbird. Naturally protected with feathers armoured against attack and thick enough to deflect air-gun pellets, he knew he would win the day.

The lesson needed to be learned, and quickly. That meant maximising impact.

The huge Raven took off unexpectedly, causing the complacent cats to start in surprise, their paws splayed out ready to launch, run or defend. They looked up scowling and watched him avariciously as he flew around them deliberately becoming their solitary focus.

He swooped down on them forcing them to scatter. They bolted under the parked cars and yowled malevolently from their protection as the Enforcer alighted with a confident rustle of feathers, where they had sat moments before.

Rashly, the Siamese leaped out from under a wheel arch bounding straight for him. Claws extended as he howled a blood curdling attack on the now grounded Raven.

The Enforcer cackling heinously, leaped energetically into the air and spreading his wings just as the Siamese launched what was supposed to be a full-on attack. It missed him by a foot, 'close enough,' the Old Raven thought.

The thwarted Siamese arched his back sharply, howling furiously up at him. In response the old Raven dived, large beak and sharp claws extended, and in one deft move mounted the cat and pecked aggressively at his tender ears. Now, the cat howled, but in sheer panic.

Before it could roll over, the Enforcer launched into the air again directly off the Siamese' back, cawing as if laughing at them and increasing their frustration.

The Siamese crept back chastened to the underside of the vehicles, both hunters now cowering between the wheels never taking their eyes off him. The Raven reinforced his dominance by landed on the road and without a care stalked menacingly towards the cars and the skulking cats.

As he approached closer, the Moggie lost its nerve and made a lightening break for the cat-flap, flying through fast enough to set it spinning. The Raven didn't react, black beady eyes trained on the glowing embers of the Siamese three cars down.

The Enforcer was one car length away when the Siamese yowled long and malevolently, but rather than attacking the Raven, all pretence of hunter now gone, it flew after the Moggie. Leaping through the cat flap much the same as its companion.

Both subdued cats looked out dolefully at the Raven, now perched dominantly on the top step to the apartments, preening himself.

'Mission Accomplished' The Enforcer thought as he considered the possibility of getting back and stealing a burger for his supper.

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I write Space Opera SF and books that encourage the idea that a future world with AI is not necessarily a bleak place.

Copyright © 2013 Tobias Roote - Author. All Rights Reserved.