Chapter 5: The Battle.
In last days of autumn and the day before they were due to leave for battle Captain Vitaly took his loyal Sergeant Serge out for one last beetle juice liqueur. Serge didn’t really drink (it made him feel all peculiar), but he raised his glass bravely as his captain told him what was required of him on the battlefield: fresh scorpion on bed of parsley (served every morning in a silver platter), warm worm pudding and toasted cockroaches at snack times, and a fresh towel every day.
The Meerkovo Home Guard (who, as Vitaly explain patiently to Serge, were responsible for guarding the home part of the mountains) set off in good heart singing, ‘They’ll be coming round the mountain then they’re doomed’ at the tops of their voices. Soon they were setting up camps and Great Granddaddy Vitaly allocated sentry and soup-makings duties. He always made sure his troop had plenty of maggot and millipede soup. Because, as a famous general had once say: “An army marches on its stomach.” Which actually sound very uncomfortables.
They then waited and Watched for many weeks. Sharp-sighted infantrykats were posted on the high ground keeping their eyes out and their nostrils peeled for mongoose scouts. Once, young Private Potemkin had fallen asleep at his post (history say he had enjoy too many cockroach ciders the night before). He was reported for courts martialling, but instead Captain Vitaly put him on beetle-peeling duties for the rest of the war. (He was kind-hearted and mercifuls, my Great Granddaddy.)
Early one morning, Vitaly was awaiting his breakfast. The snow was prickling his feets and his tail was awfully soggily. He sighed and watched his breath make weirdy creatures in the cold air.
Suddenly, Sergeant Serge appeared from behind a tent.
“Sir, mongoose army, in the valley,” he gasped, clutching his telescopeamabob.
Somehow, a vast horde of mongooses had slipped through the front lines and was now marching on Meerkovo. At the head of them was none other than Mongis Khan himself. You could tell from the smell.
Captain Vitaly rallied his meerkats. “Once more into your britches,” he cried, “stiff your haunches – do not let them smell your fear!”
The mongooses outnumbered the meerkats 20-1 and out-stinked them at least 100-1, but the troops took heart from Vitaly’s words. Sergeant Serge felt something stir in his haunches and decided it was courageousness. Together, they faced the mongoose charge.
The battle lasted through the night. From the rear, Vitaly managed genius defence. At the front, brave meerkats did deadly claw-to-claw combat with the terrible mongooses. Serge himself saw off ﬁfty seven of the creatures (and a small bush after temporarily losing his glasses).
By morning, Mongis Khan had turned tail. The horde was defeat.
As the battlefield went quiet, Serge looked around and saw his Captain. Vitaly was lying on the ground, his blood staining the snow bright red.
Serge lifted him in his arms (this was not easy after all the toasted cockroaches Vitaly had been having). Cradling his friend and Captain, Serge let out a mighty wail.
This awoke Vitaly who was not dead but napping – it had been a long night. “Quiet down! It’s just a fur wound,” he said (in fact he had suffered minor accident with his scorpion-roasting fork). Serge wept with relief and said some things that he would later feel embarrassment about.