“How did they get out?” asked brother Anopheles.

“Looks like they battered down the door,” Potts answered. He had just finished explaining to his temporary superior that he usually locked the chickens inside the coop every night.

“You could take them to a circus. I bet this would sell,” said Trenchwater.

“Shut up, Trenchwater.”

For a few seconds, Anopheles entertained the idea that perhaps the chickens had been trained and that this was all a joke. But who would train a bunch of chickens to form a sort of pyramid so that the highest one could peck at an attic door set in the eaves surrounding the courtyard of an ICAO monastery at 3:30 AM?

“What’s up there anyway?” Anopheles asked Potts.

“Never checked.”

“Well, clear the chickens away so we can see.”

“I . . . sir, I’m afraid to go near them.”

“Nonsense Potts! Here I’ll—” but as brother Anopheles stepped forward, two of the hens not involved in the tower flew at him aggressively and all three of the brethren stepped back toward the kitchen. Anopheles grew pale, his jaw was hanging slightly too as he regarded the scene. But then a hard glint came into his eye, the relevant passage of the Order’s multi volume manual flashed through his brain and his jaw set.

“Men,” he said, his voice rich with authority, “10:16,76 and B paragraph 19 of the twenty-second edition.”

Both of his brethren understood.

“Full Operational Deployment,” Anopheles snapped, and his companions cried, “Full Operational Deployment, sir!”

The chickens, however, paid no attention.

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