Fly Like a Penguin, Vol. 1, Chapter 32

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Hopper and Eudy finally make it to the Falklands and find their Rockhopper family in great danger from the caracara birds, all in fulfillment of the prophecies of long ago.

To read from the beginning, click here.

 

Chapter 32

The Falklands

On through the night and the next day they swam, and finally they could see the island as the sun was setting. They swam along the western shore of the island and around a point at the southwestern corner, and then began the final segment of the journey.
Once again they were tired and decided to rest awhile on shore. There wasn’t much beach to land on, but there were a lot of rocks. However, they popped out of the water and found a good place to rest with a view of the ocean to the south and a cliff at their back.
For the first time Hopper could say and know for sure, “This is home. I’m finally home.” Eudy had the same thoughts and feelings. They all had a hard time sleeping because of their excitement and their thoughts of the battle ahead. And there were birds flying continuously, back and forth, overhead. It seemed there were millions of them. Finally, due to their exhaustion, they were able to sleep.
The next morning they woke up ready to go again. After a quick breakfast they headed east and then slightly northeast as they approached the Rockhopper colony. Hopper was wondering things like, “What do they expect me to do?” and “Am I really the one they’re waiting for?” and “What am I going to do?” At the same time he was excited and very happy to be home at last.
Now they could see the other big island as they entered Falkland Sound. “Not much farther now!” said See. “Around the next point and we’ll be there.”
As they rounded the bend, Hopper was very excited and was straining his eyes for a better look at his home. He wasn’t sure why, but he climbed up on See’s back as they came within sight of the Rockhoppers.
Suddenly there were thousands of them along the top of the cliffs and on the cliff face and on the rocky shore, and they were shouting, “He’s here! He’s come! And he’s riding a seal! He’s really come!”
Hopper was astounded. He didn’t know what all the fuss was about, but he and Eudy popped out of the water onto the rocks at the base of the cliff and were instantly swarmed by Rockhoppers. See stayed in the water, watching and smiling.
“Look at his eyes!” shouted a penguin. “He has yellow eyes!”
“Yellow eyes! Yellow eyes!” the shout continued up the hill.
Hopper looked at Eudy and said, “Is there something wrong with yellow eyes? Hey, I guess all you others have beady red eyes, don’t you? I hope you don’t mind if I have yellow eyes.”
“I don’t mind, Hopper,” said Eudy. “Actually, I think they’re kind of nice.”
“Mind?” said another penguin. “Don’t you know? It means the time of terror from the sky is about to end. We’ll be able to live our lives without always looking up in the air for an attacker.”
“What does yellow eyes have to do with it?” asked Hopper.
“Don’t you know the prophecy of the great old Rockhopper, Cliffking, which he spoke before he died?

When the trouble comes from the skies
He of yellow crest and eyes
Swims from the north.
He will suddenly come forth
With his mate by his side
And a seal as his ride.
Soon the flying ones will flee
And the Falklands become free.

“So don’t you see that you are that one who was foretold? You are the one to lead us to freedom.”
“Arg,” said Hopper.
The Rockhoppers invited Hopper and Eudy to come up to the colony at the top of the cliff. Hopper turned to See and asked him what he was going to do. He answered, “I think I’ll do some looking around and then get back to my family.”
“Thanks for everything, See. Hope to see you again before too long.”
“Bye, Hopper!”
The penguins all made their way to the top of the cliff. Hopper felt great, knowing he was home at last, but he knew something was missing to complete his happiness.
“Where are my parents?” he asked.
“Who are they?”
“Cliffidee and Cliffider.”
“Cliffidee and Cliffider! You’re the son of Cliffidee and Cliffider? That’s incredible!” All the Rockhoppers started shouting in amazement at this news.
“But can I see them?” shouted Hopper above the noise.
One penguin named Rockhurst approached Hopper nervously and told him, “Cliffidee was carried off by the birds a few weeks ago, and Cliffider was taken last night. I’m afraid, young Hopper, your parents are dead.”
Hopper was crushed. He had missed his mother by a few weeks and his dad by a day. His mind raced as he considered how he might have gotten here faster, if he hadn’t delayed in various places. If he hadn’t rested so long at the Jason Islands, maybe he could have at least seen his dad. He thought of what could have happened to speed up his trip so he could have seen his mother.
Then he remembered the penguins he saw on that island, especially the older female. Then he knew who she was, and his heart leaped in hope and almost joy. “They’re not dead!” he exclaimed. “I think I know where they are, and soon we’ll organize a rescue mission for them and all the others who have been taken.”
Rockhurst said, “ It’s true that we didn’t know where the birds took our friends, but we have tried following after them in the water, and we were like sitting penguins in the water. The birds would swoop down on us whenever we were on the surface. They poked us with their beaks. Some of us they carried off.”
“I can see that is a problem. It’s a two-day swim to get there,” said Hopper. “I can see there’s one thing we must do first.”
“What’s that?” they all asked.
“We need to look up and call for help.”
“Yeah!” they all agreed.
So the whole group of Rockhoppers looked up and called out in unison, “Helllllllllllllllllllp!”
Hopper had a few ideas to give them some time to come up with a better idea. Right now the birds were absent, but would probably be coming in for an attack soon. Hopper told them his first plan.
Before long a penguin at the northwestern corner of the colony shouted, “They’re coming!”
All the penguins lay down, some on their backs, some on their bellies, with their wings out. They all looked dead.
The birds approached, thousands of them, looking for more penguins to carry away. Soon they were all overhead, blocking the sun and making it seem like a cloudy day. They circled lower and lower. Then one of the caracaras shouted, “Hey, look at those penguins! What do you think happened to them?”
Another said, “We’d better go down and find out.”
Closer and closer they came, lower and lower. Suddenly, the penguins all popped up and shouted, “Boo!” The birds were frightened and confused, and flew away in a great hurry.
The Rockhoppers shouted, “Hooray!” and hopped around and laughed like they hadn’t done for a long, long time. They joked around, playing dead and suddenly awaking with a “Boo!”
Hopper and Eudy joined them in their celebration, and then finally, as night drew on, and everyone was beginning to settle down, Hopper raised his voice, saying, “You all know we’ve won a great victory today, but it was only a minor battle. The birds will regroup and return. Tomorrow we’ll start practicing for Plan number 2, which is also just a temporary measure to keep the birds away while we can be thinking of a more permanent solution to our problem. We still must come up with our final plan of attack to free our captives.”
The multitudes of penguins agreed and retired with joyful hearts. This was the first time since the war began that they’d really been united.
The next day Hopper divided up the flock into groups, each group having a leader. He took the leaders aside to teach each of them the accent of a different animal. Each leader then taught the voice to his group. Then the next time the birds attacked, they would hear voices of foxes, pumas, peccaries, raccoons, bears, and alligators. The caracaras would once again be frightened and confused. The penguins spent that whole day perfecting their imitations.
Hopper gave strict instructions that nobody was to go out alone, away from the flock. He sent out groups of penguins to the extremities of the island as lookouts. They were to return when any flocks of the caracaras were sighted.
About a week later the lookouts returned with the news of the approaching birds. “All right, everyone to your place!” said Hopper.
They all concealed themselves among the rocks. Some lay on the ground, looking dead. Soon the birds came overhead, circling somewhat warily. They came in closer, close enough to hear. Then the penguins started saying things like, “Aha, caracara lunch!” and “Ah, my fine feathered birds of prey, come dine with me today.” The birds were baffled and frightened, and once again they flew away.
The Rockhoppers had another day of celebration. The next day they were still rejoicing and laughing about their great victory, but toward the end of the day some were coming over to Hopper and Eudy, asking things like, “What’s next?” and “How are we going to rescue the others?”
All Hopper could say was, “I don’t know yet. We need to keep calling for help.” That night he and Eudy talked a long, long time, but they couldn’t think of any other clever tricks.
The next day he addressed the whole colony, “The second most important thing is to stay together and to be ready at any time for the caracaras. We scared them away, but they’ll be back. We must be ready to fight, and we must fight together. Anyone who goes out alone is easy prey for them. If we’re together, even though it will be hard, they can’t easily hurt us. But first of all, we need to call again on our Creator.”
So they all sang out in unison a long and loud, “Hellllllllllp!”

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