Neighborhood Serenity

The sun shines though the chill in the air
Not a sound to be heard anywhere

 

Not a cloud in the blue sky so bright
Anticipating the stars of night

What could ruin such a lovely day
Shatter the peace and chase it away

Take this neighborhood serenity
Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, love Charlie

Please, sit anywhere.

 

L Squad Vignettes: Episode Three: Serialized Cereal

“What is cereal?” asked Hitch.

“It’s a breakfast food for kids or adults who are too lazy to cook for themselves,” said Abby. “It claims to be rich in vitamins and minerals but typically contains far too much sugar and should be classified as a dessert.”

“The place with all the sand?” asked Hitch.

“No, that’s a desert,” said Abby.

“What’s the difference?” asked Hitch.

“An S,” said Abby.

“Oh,” said Hitch.

“No, S,” said Charlie.

“You don’t know the difference between dessert and desert?” asked George.

“Yeah, I just like messing with Abby,” said Hitch.

Abby folded her arms and scowled.

“Are you done with this tomfoolery?” asked Captain Grek.

“Tomfoolery’s that bloke who always says, ‘Tomfoolery!’ in that bizarre accent of his,” said Charlie.

“Look who’s talking about bizarre accents,” said Kip.

“This happens to be the accent of Her Royal Highness, the Queen,” said Charlie.

“You are going to be late to the 3G office,” said Captain Grek.

“What’s with all the Gs?” asked Kip.

“It stands for Great Globs Of Goodness,” said Captain Grek.

“That’s why we’re the ones for this mission,” said Hitch. “We’re great and good.”

“And Kip’s kind of a glob,” said Charlie.

“I’m an eyeball, pooch,” said Kip.

“Whoa!” said Charlie. “Dog is fine. Canine is even better. Pooch is not a word that can be used by one who is not of the canine persuasion.”

“I thought mutt was the bad one,” said George.

“That one’s even worse,” said Charlie. “Those are not words that are spoken except by dogs on the street.”

“What do you know about being a dog on the street?” asked George.

“Yeah, Abby adopted you from a nice suburban house,” Kip added.

“Adopted?” asked Captain Grek. “I thought you were from Niibell.”

“She is,” said Abby. “She is. They’re just busting her tail. We all give each other a good ribbing… as bonding.”

“I could go for some good ribs right now,” said Charlie.

“There’s no time for ribbing or ribs,” said Captain Grek.

“What about just the bone?” asked Charlie.

“This cereal campaign is crucial,” said Captain Grek.

“It seems like we’re selling out,” said Abby. “Are you sure we want to use our images to influence kids to eat spoonfuls of colored sugar?”

“We are promoting positive alien/human relations,” said Captain Grek. “When a kid sees your faces on his or her box of morning breakfast cereal, they’ll think you’re cool and be more accepting of us as they grow. That feeling of acceptance will, in theory, spread to their parents.”

“So, we’re just going to be selling cereal?” asked Hitch. “I think we’re overqualified for this mission.”

“You’re just about perfectly qualified,” said Captain Grek. “Besides, America has never had a female cereal mascot. If this goes well, you could each get your own cereals, and Abby and Charlie could be pioneers.”

“It could turn into serialized cereal promotion,” said Charlie, always quick with her puns.

“Cereal pioneers?” asked Abby.

“Just don’t mess this up,” said Captain Grek.

An hour, twelve minutes, and thirty-four seconds later, Hitch and his squad were standing in front of a giant bowl of cereal. In reality, it was merely cardboard and foam, but it looked like a bowl of cereal… kind of.

“This looks delicious,” said Charlie.

“It’s cardboard,” said Leslie, the advertising executive in charge of their photo shoot.

“Yeah, I like to chew on cardboard,” said Charlie.

“What kind of alien are you?” asked Leslie, the advertising executive in charge of their photo shoot.

“I am a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,” said Charlie, proudly.

“Isn’t that a breed of dog?” asked Leslie, the… You know who she is. Dang it!

“She’s Niibellian,” said Abby. “She’s from Niibell. She’s just goofing around.”

“O.K.,” said Leslie. “Let’s all stop goofing around and stand in front of the bowl.”

They formed an oblong glob in front of the bowl. George and Hitch were facing the bowl. Abby was looking at the cameraman with a startled look on her face. Charlie sat off to the side and was scratching her ear with her back paw. Kip stood front and center and stared straight ahead.

Leslie calmly walked over to the discombobulated mass of aliens. She gently took George by the shoulders and pulled him around to the left side. She did the same to Hitch but brought him to the right side. She positioned Abby and Charlie in the front. She took Kip around the left side and tucked Kip behind George.

“Am I going to be in the picture back here?” Kip asked.

“Brian’s the best,” said Leslie. “You can’t hide from his camera.” When she got back to her position behind Brian, the cameraman, she whispered, “Try to get as little of that weird eyeball thing as possible.”

“You won’t even know it’s there,” Brian said.

“Everyone say, ‘cheese,’” said Leslie.

“Whoa!” said Hitch.

“What?” asked Leslie.

“Cheese is highly revered on Zechisten,” said Abby. “’Cheese’ is not something one says lightly.”

“I’ll have some cheese,” said Charlie.

“What can we say that will make it look like you’re smiling?” asked Leslie.

“Fart,” said Charlie. “I always look like I’m smiling when I fart.”

“You are always smiling when you fart,” said Abby.

“Farts are funny,” said Charlie, “and it feels so nice to release that pressure.”

“All right, everyone say, ‘fart,’” Leslie said, disgustedly.

Everyone said, “Fart,” with a bit of a giggle.

Brian started snapping pictures. Leslie checked them on a screen behind Brian. In every picture, Charlie was looking away. In typical dog fashion, she would look at the camera until Brian snapped the photo. She would look away at the last second every time.

Charlie, you’re looking away in every picture,” said Leslie.

“No, I’m not,” Charlie argued.

“Yes, you are,” said Leslie. “Please, look at the camera the whole time.”

“I am,” said Charlie.

“I have the pictures in front of me,” said Leslie. “You look away every time.”

“We’ll have to agree to disagree,” said Charlie.

“No, we won’t,” said Leslie. “I have photographic evidence.”

“Those pictures have been doctored,” said Charlie.

“They were taken less than two minutes ago,” said Leslie.

Kip peeked out from behind George and the bowl. “How do I look in the pictures? I can’t see the camera from back there, which makes me a little concerned the camera can’t see me.”

“You look fine,” said Leslie. “Get back in position.”

“May I see the proofs?” Kip asked, moving toward Leslie.

“No!” said Leslie. “Uh… Just get back in position, please.”

Kip dejectedly turned back toward the bowl. In turning, Kip inadvertently knocked over a light stand. The light hit the floor with a loud clang sound.

Charlie jumped and started barking. She ran toward the fallen light stand, then ran away from it. She ran toward it, then away from it. Leslie stomped her feet and started yelling words that couldn’t possibly appear in an ad for cereal. Charlie turned and started running around the bowl, still barking.

Charlie, treat,” said Abby.

Charlie stopped. “Treat? Yes, please.”

In her hurry to get to Abby and the promise of a treat, Charlie ran into another light stand, knocking it over. The light fell on the cardboard bowl of cereal. The bulb broke, and the cardboard caught on fire.

Less than 10 minutes later, they were back in Grekquarters.

“It was a photo shoot,” said Captain Grek. “All you had to do was stand still for five minutes.”

“Does this mean we don’t get our cereal serial?” Charlie asked.

“This is not a time for puns,” said Captain Grek, flagitatedly.

“It’s always time for puns,” said Charlie.

L Squad Profile: Abby

Abby looks like Easter and smells like cotton candy. She’s small, pink, and yellow. There’s a white blaze down the middle of her face with two short swirly antennae on the top of her head. She’s fluffy and even has a white puffy cotton ball tail. To dwell on her physical attributes is to do a disservice to who she is. Other than being kind, sweet, caring, and helpful; Abby is a genius. Since a very young age, she has been tinkering with, creating, and inventing things.

Unfortunately, with great intelligence often comes great impatience. Abby has a hard time understanding why other people don’t understand things. She’s constantly correcting people’s grammar. She doesn’t do well with authority as she doesn’t like to be told what to do or when to do it. Those things, in spite of all her positive qualities, make it hard for others to work with her, which is what got her assigned to the L Squad under Hitch.

Abby, short for Abberonia, is from the planet Yamfenn. When she was very young, Yamfenn was invaded by a party from XaXet lead by The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom’s father and brother; Aloysius LambaDambaBottom & Aloysius LambaDambaBottom, Jr. The ensuing war was basically a battle of tyrannosaurus versus rabbit. The Yamfennians were small and quick, which helped them evade their invaders, but hiding did nothing to fend off the aggressors and even less to drive them from their planet.

The only other advantages the Yamfennians had were far superior intellect and technology. They were not, however, a violent people, which may go a long way to explain why they were so technologically advanced. An inventory of all their technological inventions and innovations would show very little that could be used as a weapon and even less that would aid in an attempt to thwart such an enemy as the LambaDambaBottoms.

Being a resourceful people, with the ability to evade and hide from the XaXet invasion, gave them a fighting chance, or, at least, a hiding chance. While their civilizations crumbled and their cities burned down around them, the Yamfennians huddled together in small groups working diligently around the clock searching for some way to reclaim their world and save whatever was still salvageable.

It took a while for the peaceful Yamfennians to come up with a plan for war, but their intelligence and resourcefulness could not be suppressed. It was virtually impossible for the Yamfennians to design, build, test, and implement effective weapons in time to save their planet from enslavement. They did, however, find a way to hack into the XeXat’s equipment and use their own weapons against them. It worked like a charm, except, unlike a charm, which is really just a confidence booster for moral support, like Dumbo’s feather, this plan actually worked and was helpful. Unfortunately, for the Yamfennians, they made one teeny-tiny giant miscalculation.

Being a peaceful people, and having no knowledge of Earth, they hadn’t read The Art Of War and had never even heard of Sun Tzu. One particular rule would have been especially helpful. To paraphrase, “know your enemy and know yourself.” The Yamfennians knew themselves well. They knew all their strengths and weaknesses well enough to hide until they could formulate a legitimate plan. They came up with their plan and implemented it. It worked great. The Yamfennians had actually turned the tide and were on the verge of running the XaXets off Yamfenn. What they didn’t know was the depths of depravity to which the XaXets, specifically the LambaDambaBottoms, would sink in order to avert defeat.

The XaXet invaders would not be defeated by little pink furry creatures using their own weapons against them. Of course, not all of their weapons could be hacked and controlled. The Yamfennians could only control vehicles and weapons with computers and guidance systems. They could turn their ship around and fly them off the planet, but eventually, they would be out of range of the Yamfennians’ hack and could come right back. They could upload a virus into their fleet that would wipe out their controls, but that would be too Independence Day. Instead, the Yamfennians started firing on the ground troops and crashing the ships into the ground. The XaXets tried to manually override the Yamfennian hacks, but they were too complete in their control. Sensing defeat Aloysius LambaDambaBottom ordered the XaXets to start detonating their nuclear weapons by hand. Since the nuclear weapons had to be powered up, the Yamfennians had no knowledge of or control over them. On every remaining ship, soldiers turned on their nuclear weapons, manually tore open the hatches and started dropping the bombs. Within a matter of minutes, the entire planet was destroyed.

That was the first time Abby died. Not really. When the XaXet invaders first arrived she was one of a small group, mostly young children, who were sent off in a ship to the vacation/refugee planet of Nasga, which makes all the detail about the destruction of her home world pretty superfluous. Oh well. Now, we know what happened and, like G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” Except, in this case, we know most of the battle all the way to the tragic finale.

The pinnacle of the Yamfennians technology was their creation of artificial wormholes. They sent travelers through space and set up corresponding portals so they could basically warp around the universe. As their technology improved, they could find planets they believed could support life and send a portal out remotely as a rocket and it would expand automatically upon reaching its predetermined coordinates. Communication was easy as English is, obviously, the universal language of the universe. If they met with harsh conditions or hostile inhabitants, they could simply implode the portal rendering it useless.

By the time the XaXets reached Yamfenn, the Yamfennians had a virtual freeway of wormholes established. They could easily visit any one of a multitude of planets. Alliances and trade were established throughout the universe. Each portal, or warp, was set up within a few days travel of a friendly planet. It was one of these warps that Abby’s ship used to whisk her away to safety. The Yamfennians sent off a handful (Seriously? A handful? How many spaceships can one fit into one’s hand?) of these ships in different directions. More were planned, but the XaXets shut down that plan much sooner than the Yamfennians hoped.

When Abby learned of the fate of her home world, she was predictably devastated. She withdrew from everyone and locked herself away with her inventions. Even the other Yamfennians couldn’t get through to her. Everyone she knew, everyone she loved was gone forever. She could never go home, because home, too, was gone.

Abby’s self-induced exile went on for years. She had as little contact with others as she could. Being a recluse gave Abby a lot of time to study and invent. Many of her inventions became staples in the heroic endeavors of the Refugee Alien Defenders, but that comes much later.

Abby’s anti-social behavior started to worry many of the inhabitants of Nasga. All of the other Yamfennian survivors recovered from their grief and went on to live happy productive lives. There were even new Yamfennians being born on Nasga. Abby was starting to be a major bummer on the little planet.

Sometimes the smallest things can change everything. Sometimes it takes an alien refugee whose pod malfunctioned rendering him lost in space after he inadvertently traveled through a wormhole and was thus destined to float aimlessly through space for all time or until a spaceship out for a cruise stumbles onto his drifting pod rescuing him and bringing him back safely to their planet to change everything.

When Hitch arrived Abby was assigned to get him oriented to his new surroundings. At first, she resented him for disrupting her tormented little world. After a while, she acquiesced to his charm and charisma. Don’t worry this isn’t some weird interspecies love story. That’s not what we’re doing here, besides Hitch likes green chicks. As Abby helped Hitch adjust to Nasga, they helped each other get over the loss of their respective worlds, even though it is still possible for Hitch to return to his world. The two slowly bonded and became virtually inseparable.

All her years in isolation made it very hard for Abby to be comfortable in public. Even as she tried to re-assimilate into society she had zero social grace. She leaned on her intelligence and Hitch as crutches. If ever Hitch wasn’t around, she withdrew and behaved in a very robotic manner. The people in her town were so happy that she was out and finally trying to shed her melancholy reclusive lifestyle that they embraced her, not literally, she wasn’t ready for that, and accepted her quirks. Unfortunately, for Abby, her tragedies weren’t over, yet.

It was a beautiful sunny day, with a mere four or five clouds in the sky, when the next tragedy struck the young life of Abberonia Smeltfeeld Starmonious. Abby was working on her latest invention, a device that would anthropomorphize animals, when Hitch dragged her away, literally, for a picnic with some friends. He tried to convince her that it was too nice of a day to be cooped up in her lab, working, but that didn’t work. They were at that picnic when the first bomb dropped.

The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom’s attack was on the other side of the planet, but the news spread quickly. 3T.G.L.D.B.’s power spread almost as quickly. He met with very little resistance and, as fear spread, gained support and momentum. The planet was his. His first official act was to change the name of the planet from Nasga to LambaBad. Next, he put all the residents of the planet to work. He split them into two groups, the native Nasgans became his personal subordinates now known as Lambads. He earned their loyalty through strength and fear. The rest of the residents, visitors, and immigrants, were forced into slavery.

For the first few months, the slaves were put to work digging mines and mining uranium. 3T.G.L.D.B. studied his new slaves very closely and started pulling out those with an aptitude for science and engineering. Within a few days, Abby was assigned to 3T.G.L.D.B.’s science department working on faster ships and better weapons. It was better than working in the mines, but she still detested it.

Among the projects in which Abby was involved was the invention of Lambots. Lambots are robot compliments to the Lambad army. They look a little like the Lambads, but more robotic. They hover and have built-in laser weapons, net launchers, sensors systems, and extendable arms. They were made to withstand heavy assaults. They were rigorously tested by the Lambads. If they failed the tests, the workers were punished and forced to fix the defects. The Lambots weren’t used for destruction as much as they were used for capturing and guarding the slaves.

The biggest of the projects was the construction of a super fleet. The scientists and engineers were ordered to create enormous motherships designed to conquer more planets. Each of these motherships held its own mini-fleet of smaller ships. The smaller ships weren’t designed for prolonged spaceflight. They were simply to be deployed in a planet’s orbit and descend like locusts. They were built for a small crew, but with heavy armor and weapons.

3T.G.L.D.B.’s aggressive mining and polluting soon turned the once lush planet into a desolate wasteland. As 3T.G.L.D.B. was preparing to evacuate and search for the next planet to conquer, the wormholes left by the Yamfennians made that too easy, a group of those formerly enslaved by 3T.G.L.D.B. started a clandestine revolt culminating in the commandeering one of the motherships the scientists were building for his fleet of world domination.

Abby was instrumental in the procuring of the ship. As one of the lead scientists on the project to present 3T.G.L.D.B. with a powerful fleet, she had access to all areas and computer systems. One day, not to be confused with two days or even Tuesdays, Abby was confronted by a large Wemeselsim leading a group of escapees turned rebels looking for weapons. They didn’t exchange any personal details, for security reasons, but it’s hard to hide one’s species.

Over the course of three plaros, which is a span of three days further explained in Kip’s bio, Abby recruited the other scientists and engineers, all of whom were ecstatic to help. They took it upon themselves to load the ship with all the technology they could squeeze aboard. The Wemeselsim in charge of freeing prisoners and the planned exodus sneaked people into the hangar and Abby had to hide them while waiting for the planned plaro of their escape. Abby placed a special request with the Wemeselsim to include her friend Hitch. He knew without Abby none of this would be possible and granted her request. The technology was much easier as it was all stored in close proximity to the ships. With each person they tried to sneak aboard, they ran a high risk of being exposed. If they were exposed, they would be immediately executed or, even worse, left behind on the dying planet to endure a slow, painful death.

The Wemeselsimian, named Grek, was unanimously named the captain of the ship. No scientist or engineer had any designs on command. They were happy to be included in the escape. Even the pilot had no desire to be captain. He just wanted to fly and fly fast.

Abby, along with the majority of the crew, went into stasis for the journey. They had all been through space voyages before and had no real need to be awake. If there were a need for any of them they could be safely awakened at any time. None of them had any idea they were pursued by a ship full of Lambads and Lambots, that they found an inhabitable planet, or that they crashed-landed on said planet. They learned a lot when the emergency system revived them from stasis and they found themselves in the tattered remains of the ship in which they traversed much of the known universe.

Slowly, over the years, the alien refugees grew to be tolerated by the inhabitants of Earth. For the first few years, they lived in quarantine to assure the refugees didn’t bring any new diseases to Earth that would lay waste to Earthlings. They didn’t seem too concerned about giving the aliens any diseases. Human governments and citizens had heated debates on whether or not the aliens should be kept in captivity or be allowed to be free. Eventually, they were allowed to roam free but were still far from being assimilated into human societies.

Captain Grek was one who wasn’t too upset about their segregation from the humans. He knew that if they survived the crash-landing there was a high probability the Lambads survived as well. He wanted to create an organization to protect their new planet from Lambads or any other invaders who might float down out of the sky. His first order of business was to start training all of the aliens for the possibility of external threats. He hoped that the Lambads being out from under the influence of The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom would revert to their peaceful origins, but he wasn’t going to count on it. He also didn’t trust the humans. Alien-human relations were tenuous and the human penchant for violence and destruction gave him reason to be wary.

During the testing for what became known as the Refugee Alien Defenders, or R.A.D., Abby tested extremely high in science and technology and very low in teamwork and social symmetry. Basically, she didn’t work well with others, so nobody else wanted her on their squad. Hitch, of course, was elated to add his best friend to his squad.

In the beginning, Abby spent a lot of time alone again. She was on a new planet surrounded by new people. This time she actually felt lonely. In the spirit of “when on Earth, do as the Earthlings do” she got a pet. She got an adorable little tri-colored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. She named her new little girl Charlie. She’s brilliant, but not very creative when it comes to names. She also neglected to realize that Charlie is a boy’s name. During her free time, she and Charlie went everywhere together, but she was still lonely. She wanted someone who could respond to her conversation, which reminded her of the invention she was working on right before the invasion. You know the one that anthropomorphizes animals. That means it gives the animals the ability to walk and talk like people, like the animals you might see in cartoons. She completed it and the rest is saved for Charlie’s bio.

L Squad Profile: Charlie, The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Tinker Bell was just a typical adorable tricolored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, not to be confused with the much smaller snub-nosed King Charles Spaniel, or, as often happens, the Cocker Spaniel. She is also occasionally confused with Jim Henson’s Muppets. It’s not common but it happens. She was not nearly as dainty as the name her breeders gave her would suggest. She was a small dog, destined not to exceed 20 pounds, though she was very curious and adventurous even as a puppy. She was the first in her litter to exhibit any signs of intelligence but was also prone to fits of wild exuberance and a slave to her spaniel nature. She often exhibited a strong prey drive and an overwhelming desire to chase things.

When Abby first saw Tinker Bell she was immediately smitten. Abby, being ever logical and rational, still took over an hour and a half to decide which puppy she wanted. The loneliness she carried around with her cried out to be squelched, so Abby, in a further attempt to assimilate to Earth and its customs, decided to indulge herself in the strange Earth ritual of owning another life form. At first, the thought was repulsive, but her solitude wore her down and she began researching pets. Throughout her research, she was drawn to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s flowing fur and calm demeanor. She continued to explore other species but kept returning to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She finally acquiesced to her growing desire and contacted a reputable breeder who could provide exemplary health and lineage records.

At first, the breeders were hesitant to sell one of their fine specimens to an alien. Abby initially neglected to inform them of her extraterrestrial status when she first called them. When she offered to repair a low hum their stereo was chronically making, they asked her to fix a laptop. After making quick work of a long list of technical repairs, the breeders hardly minded all the pink fur Abby left on their couch. As dog breeders, they were used to black, brown, and white fur interwoven with everything, but this pink fur was disconcerting. By the time all the repairs were done, the breeders had come to know Abby a little and had actually grown to like her. They decided she was the kind of person to whom they would feel comfortable selling a dog.

Abby finally got to meet all six members of the litter. She sat on the floor with them and they mobbed her, sniffing and licking and rubbing and crawling all over her. Abby was taken aback by the greeting she received. She was not remotely prepared for it. After a few moments of hesitation, she decided she liked being playfully mauled by these tiny creatures. Getting a pet was the right decision.

The first thing Abby did when she got Tinker Bell home was change her name to Charlie, Charlie the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She thought she was being clever. Sometimes even those who are geniuses can be banal when to attempting creativity. She also failed to realize that Charlie isn’t a girl’s name. From there she moved along to getting all her shots and starting training.

As mentioned above, Charlie was very smart. She took to her training like a bee takes to bumbling. I don’t know what that means, either. She learned quickly. Abby was so proud of her little Charlie Belle, she brought back the Bell when she learned that Charlie isn’t a girl’s name and added the extra ‘e’ to make it feminine instead of a potential surname. Charlie was so well behaved that Abby started bringing her to her squad training. When Captain Grek found out, he forbade it. Abby was so distraught that she nearly quit the Refugee Allied Defenders (R.A.D.). She started spending less time training with the R.A.D. and more time training Charlie.

Concerned with her repeated absences, Hitch came to Abby to find out what was happening. Abby explained and Hitch flexed his growing leadership skills. He told Abby how much the squad needed her and how important she was to the R.A.D., even if the others couldn’t see it. He promised that if she recommitted herself to the squad they could make Charlie their official squad mascot. Abby reluctantly agreed. Hitch was still her best friend and the only friend with whom she could actually communicate.

The new arrangement actually made Abby feel lonelier. She was spending more time away from Charlie as she was always training. As captain of a squad, Hitch had his new responsibilities, which kept them from doing all the fun things that made them friends back on Nasga. It didn’t matter that he dragged her away from her important work to go play. Abby was torn between her responsibilities to her squad and her responsibilities to Charlie. Her loneliness was steadily increasing.

One sleepless night, while lying in bed with Charlie curled up on her chest, Abby had an idea. She remembered an invention she was working on on Nasga. It was a machine that would imbue animals with Yamfennianesque qualities. If it worked, she could instill in an animal the ability to speak English, walk upright on two legs and hold things in its newly formulated hands. Said animal would be able to think and communicate like a Yamfennian. She could anthropomorphize Charlie. She jumped out of bed, which was terrifying for Charlie who was still on her chest before being flung onto the bed and subsequently bounced to the floor. After apologizing to and calming Charlie, Abby headed straight to her workshop and got to work.

Following a few failed experiments, which lead to an enormous rat, a turtle that failed to grow or gain any noticeable intelligence, but loved pizza, an ant who would only communicate via Twitter, among various other mutations, Abby was ready to try it on Charlie. Abby closed her eyes, crossed her fingers, rubbed her foot, that’s considered good luck on Yamfenn, aimed the beam from her machine at Charlie and pressed the button. The smell of smoke and burning hair arose in the workshop. Terrified, Abby opened her eyes, but couldn’t see anything through the cloud of smoke. After a brief pause, she heard a cough. Abby frantically swatted at the cloud of smoke attempting to get it to dissipate. From somewhere in the cloud she heard, “I’m glad I didn’t end up like those other blokes.” Elated, Abby ran into the cloud of smoke, found Charlie and wrapped her arms around her.

It worked. Abby had actually created a device that could anthropomorphize an animal. Charlie was now officially a sentient being. Well, she was already a sentient being. She was a… a… a person. She could now walk upright on her hind legs. She had hands instead of paws. Well, they were hand shaped paws. She could talk. Most importantly her intelligence level was now Yamfennianesque. She wasn’t as smart as Abby, but she would make a serviceable assistant and a friend.

There was one side-effect that Abby would have to fix if she ever attempted to anthropomorphize anything again. Charlie developed a disturbing affinity for puns. Abby wasn’t sure if it was something in Charlie’s nature, something caused by the device, or something Charlie picked up watching television. She was sure she was going to have to train it out of her.

In the morning, after staying up all night talking to Charlie, Abby called Hitch. She had to share this amazing news with her best friend. Now, she had two best friends and she wanted them to be best friends. Hitch was amazed and speechless. It’s a good thing Charlie could talk now or the conversation would have run quite dull. After Abby explained everything to him, Hitch panicked. He told her that she had to keep this a secret. If anyone ever found out, she would be in big trouble and her invention would be confiscated.

Abby explained that she went a different route. She hacked into R.A.D.’s computer system and enrolled Charlie into R.A.D. Hitch could only slap his forehead. Abby went on to explain that she retroactively added Charlie to the manifest of their escape ship as a passenger, so it would appear as if she had been with them since Nasga. Anyone who doubted her legitimacy need only check the records. Charlie was now a refugee Niibellian from the planet Niibell. Abby had to hope nobody did further research because it wouldn’t take much to learn that Niibell doesn’t actually exist. She couldn’t find a planet that was home to anthropomorphic dogs, so she made one up.

When Hitch assured her that someone would notice a new member of their squad Abby reminded him that no one outside the squad pays any attention to them. They’ve been deemed the dregs of R.A.D. and no one on any other squad even acknowledged them, except to taunt them. Abby’s recent inner turmoil and withdrawal made the L Squad’s performance drop even further, leading them to be labeled ‘hopeless.’ They could easily sneak in a new member without anybody outside the squad noticing. They only had to tell the squad. If anybody did notice they would all vouch for her and direct them to the records, which would support their assertion that she’s always been there. Hitch grudgingly agreed, but only because they were best friends who had traversed the universe together. Abby did save his life by sneaking him aboard their escape ship. The least he could do was let her have a dog.

Charlie’s training revealed that her transition to a fully anthropomorphic Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was not so full after all. While most of her intended transformations were amazingly realized, she did retain some of her natural instincts. Her spaniel instincts remained intact. All her training was still liable to be overridden by irrational spurts of excitement. She still loved chasing things and would often streak away after something, usually a rabbit, which Abby found disturbing.

Even when the L Squad was eventually sent out into the world for their, often mundane, missions, Charlie would have to be kept on a leash, which Charlie resented. She frequently tried to talk Abby out of making her wear her leash, but every time Abby relented Charlie would run off and end up in trouble. That only made more trouble for the squad, which got into enough trouble before the addition of Charlie. Now, Charlie’s leash is omnipresent on every mission unless she is given a specific task and it’s better for the mission that she is released.

If Charlie weren’t anthropomorphic and lived in your time this is what she might look like (Photos Courtesy Of Lavender Cavaliers):

This is what Charlie might look like if she had a different life and was on a bed with her Aunt Holly Rose and Uncle Paxton:
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If she were on a log with her Aunt Holly Rose & Uncle Gizmo:
Dogs

On the beach:
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If her tongue were hanging to the side:
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If she were Wilson from Home Improvement:
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If she were forced to play dress-up as an elf and not happy about it:
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If she were forced to dress-up like Santa Chuck:
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If she had a stick (or a stick blaster as in The L Squad: Phase Two):
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(She looks kind of savage in this one.)

If she were babysitting:
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