It’s yet another peaceful day at Blueberry’s Forest.
While everyone else is busy, Pierre, Calvin, Tommy and Blueberry are sitting on Pierre’s veranda, sharing an atomica.
Pierre takes a hit, and passes it to Tommy.
“Thanks, Big P.”
“No problem, Tommy. Say, do you gentlemen want to know why I care about fluffies so much?”
The other three nod, so Pierre explains.
“It’s because I emphasize with them, you see. Think about it. I’m a cyborg. Partially organic, partially artificial. More of the latter than the former by now, if I must be frank.”
Pierre chuckles, and continues, stroking Blueberry.
“And then there’s fluffies. Although their bodies are 100% organic, their design is artificial. Their genome is artificially engineered, just as so much of my body is artificially made. And my first cybernetics were a necessity, gentlemen. I would have died long ago if a good friend had not replaced several of my body parts. So neither I nor fluffies asked to be what we are.”
Calvin is curious. Pierre’s never really talked about how he became a cyborg in the first place.
“So how did that happen, Doc?”
“It was a long time ago, Cal, and it’s a long story. The short version is that I was grievously injured by one of my many enemies, who, again frankly, got lucky. I passed out as a human, and woke up as a cyborg. My friend had to replace both of my arms and several of my internal organs. He didn’t want to do it, but he also didn’t want me to die.”
“Have I met this friend, Doc?”
Pierre sadly shakes his head.
“No. Unfortunately, he’s long dead. But he taught me so much. And the man who injured me, he’s dead too. He killed my friend later. I got revenge.”
Blueberry looks up at Pierre.
“But Piewwe am mowe of a sai-bowg nao, wite?”
“That’s right, Blueberry. I ended up replacing more and more of my body over the years. Usually it was because my original body parts were starting to fail me. I didn’t want to do it either, but there was the mission. Ensuring the continued survival of humans, and then, when you wonderful creatures came along, ensuring the continued survival of fluffies, too.”
“We mus suw-vive.”
And Pierre smiles back.
“Exactement. All of us. All who call this world home. There are people who think fluffies are worthless, because humans are so much stronger and smarter than fluffies. But by now, we’ve seen that there are beings who think the exact same way about humans. If we want mercy, we need to show mercy.”
“An fwuffies nu haf tu be week an dummeh.”
Pierre beams at Blueberry.
“C’est vrai, Blueberry! We’ve seen that by now too. You’re proof of that, as are all the fluffies we’ve taken under our wing at the School.”
The group turns to Rock, singlehoofedly pushing a cart of golden berries back to the Brownie Palace, not letting any berries spill out.
Pierre turns back to Blueberry.
“But right now, the hard truth is that fluffies are still tragically dependent on humans. Even ferals, who don’t often trust humans, are entirely dependent on any human they cross paths with showing them mercy. If any human a feral meets doesn’t show them mercy…”
“Den da fwuffy am fukked.”
Pierre nods sadly.
“Exactly. Umbra was right about that. But I have a dream. I dream that, one day, humans and fluffies will be truly equal. That fluffies won’t be kept as pets, or treated as vermin.”
“But fwuffies cud stiww hab hoomin daddehs an mummahs if dey wan it, wite Piewwe?”
“Of course! I want fluffies to be free to choose their own Way. If they wish to live with humans, or if they don’t, I want them to be free to decide for themselves, knowing that whichever choice they make is the right one.”
Calvin starts humming a few bars of Pass the Dutchie, and Tommy, apologising, passes the atomica to him.
Calvin takes a puff, passing it to Pierre.
“But for now, Doc, it’s best that we take care of fluffies. Hopefully, one day, fluffies will be able to take care of themselves. That’s my dream, Doc. My dream is that, one day, everyone will have the power to protect themselves. That the innocent won’t have to wait for a hero to save them, because they can save themselves. Because they can be heroes too. I want to live in a world full of heroes, Doc.”
Blueberry looks at the superhero, the cyborg, and the hippy, obviously feeling grateful.
“Caw, Bwuebewwy hewd am wucky dat hewd haf su manee gud hoomin fwends. Befowe Tommeh an Mawia fiwst shuwd upsies, a wot of udda hewds in da fowest aww went foweba sweepies. Dey went intu town, an did da howe hey dummeh hoomin, dis smawty wand nao, gib hewd sketties an git da fuk owt song an dancie. Gess how dat wowkt owt fow dem.”
The human trio doesn’t need to guess.
“Yeah. Dey nu come back. Dat am wai Bwuebewwy hewd neba puww dat shit. Bwuebewwy knu dam weww ecks-act-wee wut dat git fwuffies.”
Blueberry can remember the end of his past life much more vividly these days.
“Bwuebewwy, unwike manee udda smawties, knu dat Bwuebewwy nu am da biggest fishie in da pawnd.”
Pierre beams again at Blueberry, obviously proud.
“And that is why you are such a good smarty, Blueberry. Because you’re actually smart. Because you know when to fold. Because you actually care about your herd. You’ve come so far since your reincarnation, Blueberry. I know the full story. Our thin friends told me.”
“Su Piewwe knu abowt wut happund in Kwis Owdman gawden?”
Calvin smirks again.
“I knew about that, too, Big Blue. I saw the aftermath. It was the day I met Jude. I was taking Marley and Piccolo to the park, and we passed the place. The boys were still foals, so I tried not to let them see it. It was fuckin’ gruesome. I saw Chris and Leslie packing up, too. Chris got kicked out for that shit. And I saw the Death of Fluffies heading to the place not long before that, probably while Chris was doing it.”
“Bone Fwuff am awso gud fwend tu Bwuebewwy.”
“Hey, I’m friends with the Death of Humans. We’re an unusual family, aren’t we guys? But, I must say…”
Calvin smiles warmly.
“We’re an amazing family, too. Not just because all of us can do amazing things. But because we do amazing things. Because, no matter what powers any of us may have, we all also have the same power: love.”
The other three nod in agreement.
“Right on, man.”
“Twoo-ew wowds hab neba bin spo-kun, Caw.”
Then Calvin snaps his fingers, having remembered something.
“Oh! Speaking of Chris Oldman, you’re not gonna fucking believe what happened at the Inn the other day…”
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the woods, yet another group of Dutch sailors sneaks up on a lone dodo, who apparently broke out of the pen and got lost.
The sailors have learned by now not to go near the cabins.
They have not, however, learned to stay away from the dodos period.
They’re just as stupid as their quarry.
As the sailors close in, all of them salivating, the dodo turns to them.
And the dodo smiles.
Then the dodo turns into a hulking grizzly bear, with a sound like chicken nuggets in a blender.
The bear looks down at the now terrified sailors, and speaks to them, in a human voice.
“Bitch to be you right now.”
And then Paul Murphy, shapeshifter, roars and chases the sailors out of Blueberry’s Forest.