During the time when humans once claimed dominion over Gaia, their learned men and women estimated by reasonable measurements that around 71 percent of the earth’s surface was covered in water. Most of their counterparts paid little attention to the lands that lay below the surface of the water. Scant attention was placed on the lands that laid below the surface of the water, and only the most cursory of explorations was approved. Each exploration resulted in fascinating displays of life, and wonderous scenes that stretched as far as their eyes could see. The journeys were limited by the amount of oxygen they could bring with them, and invariably they would need to return to the surface.
The years passed, and the waters tainted with the scourge of human progress were defiled. The animals of the underneath adapted, and the wonderous lands once explored by the humans were bleached white. The corals were dying, and the fish few. The colorful clownfish that once seemed to dance along the by the scuba divers were gone. The researchers would hold conferences, go on television, and scream from their roof tops to pay attention. But their counterparts paid little heed: Wars fought on and below the waters, pollution dumped into the waters, overfishing by the human boats, the endless atrocities were relentless. The fish, the whales, the crustaceans, and all the rest who dwelled within the water began to retreat to the few safe places within their saltwater dominion.
The human desire was insatiable, and soon they trained their sights upwards. The power of flight was obtained, in the skies above and space that lay beyond the furthermost edges of the atmosphere. Once again as the wars were fought, the explorers pushed the boundaries of travel, and pleaded with their counterparts to respect the new frontier. Greed and avarice ruled the day once more as travels to far away planets were planned, to harvest the riches that lay beyond Gaia. While the explorers dreamed of meeting intelligent life in strange distant places, and mapped the stars, the plans of the humans were rendered moot in a time of calamity. One by one they began to disappear, and in time their terrible presence was gone. Their works rusted, and collapsed into the ground, as the planet began to heal itself. As an eerie silence fell over the world, the lands and waters were finally at peace. The time of the humans had ended, and it was once again time for their kind to rise to prominence.
The pollution of the surface world at first continued its rise, due to the natural disasters on the surface world. As Gaia righted the wrongs brought upon it by the humans, the waters began to heal. The corals returned to life, and were full of bright colors of all hues. The fish returned to dance amongst the reefs, as ancient sharks swam silently looking for their next meal. Equilibrium was returning, as the terrible liquids poured into the water were purified. The huge pipes that stretched up from the bottom of the ocean, which one pumped oil from deep within, were the only vestiges of the human world left. The flow of the ancient fluid was halted, and corals grew upon the frameworks. The shipwrecks remained as well, guarded by the ghosts of their former occupants.
Time which had been measured, quantified, and commoditized by the former masters of the world; no longer had the meaning it once did. Wake up when the sun rises, and go to sleep when the sun sets, was now the natural way once more. While the opposite was true for the creatures of nocturnal variety, the end result was the same: the days bled into each other. Peace had finally returned once more throughout the lands, letting all live in harmony. In the months after his return, an exceptionally hot summer occurred. As the heat of summer began to fade, the temperatures did not cool as much as normal, due to an Indian summer forming during the fall. The former humans who had turned into animals explained that an Indian summer was when the fall or autumn time was warm as if during the summertime. Usually, it would be followed by a cold wet fall, where the trees’ colors would be muted.
The first clue to the animals of Pudgy’s forest, was when the trees did not change colors. The leaves remained, and the plants continued to grow in full green abundance. While some birds migrated, most did not, and remained situated within their tree top homes of the forest canopy. Father Christmas and his wife returned for Winter’s Eve, dressed in light apparel. Winter was warm, with plentiful rain, keeping the forest alive and full of life. Without any creature realizing it, a year quickly passed since the time Pudgy returned from his terrible adventure with the wolves. While the animals of Pudgy’s forest thrived, far away the unnatural warmth was having terrible effects.
The arctic animals were having trouble adapting. The parliament of arctic owls could not return to the great tree, in the shadow of the grand mountain, as it was far to warm for them. The Great Ice Tree off the coast off the lands once known as British Columbia was starting to become too warm for their liking. The heat was resulting in their young falling out of the trees, having to be rescued by their elders. Alabaster and Ice Feather were dispatched to the north, to see if the lands were cooler there. As Glacier, leader of the parliament watched from his perch at the top of the tree, a warm breeze blew in off from the Pacific Ocean. The owl narrowed his golden eyes, and waited nervously.
Further to the north, the Mother of All Bears was not concerned with the warmth of the air. The matriarch was concerned about flooding, while all of her children watched as the oceans rose higher and higher. Their island was being swallowed by the waters of the great ocean, forcing all animals to move further inland towards higher ground. The lodge which once housed the hedgehog and his friends, was quickly lost as the ocean waves pounded against it and ripped it apart. It was not long until the remainder of the structure was beneath the surface, while the porch roof logs stuck out from the water. The sea birds gathered on the remnants of the building, and saw the remainder of the human town quickly disappear. At night, the bear mother she could see the skies looked completely wrong. Stars that had always been in a certain region of the sky, could no longer be seen. Prayers to Unetlanvhi were spoken for guidance, which yielded no response.
What was happening to Kodiak Island and the Great Ice Tree, were not localized events and was in fact occurring planet wide. The planet was warming at a greatly accelerated rate. While the humans’ legacy of polluting the air with chemicals played a part in this, it was only a contributing factor in the overall change. The main culprit was due to the rage of the Great Spirit and his justified attacks upon the surface of the world. When the dinosaurs from the moon returned to the earth, the thunder eagle had plunged his fiery talons to strike down the arrogant former rulers of Gaia. The spirit did not realize it at the time, was when he retrieved his claw covered talon, he had pushed up the world and away from him. This resulted in the planet’s normal seasonal tilt to be exacerbated, which resulted in the world tilting further southwards. The North pole which was once directly over the frozen waters of the north, had moved over where Fort Churchill once stood on the northernmost edge of the lands of Canada. This resulted in the terrible winter that struck North America, while much warmer temperatures in the lands south of it.
The planet could have corrected itself naturally over time, but once more the great spirit needed to act. Anningan rectified Blood Fang’s insolence, striking several times with his talons, until the evil was destroyed. However, this time the earth was pulled towards his body. As the Great Spirit disappeared once more into the heavens above, the planet once more began to react to the stimuli placed upon it. The equator changing from the original location in the land once known as Equator, to the lands once known as Florida. Regions of the world that were once cold, quickly became warm, and warm regions became hot. The air was wet with humidity, and gigantic storms floated overhead in the skies, flooding the land further. The ice-covered lands continued to melt, the oceans continued to rise, and the animals moved inland. The glaciers disappeared, the ocean waters continued to warm, and melted the sea ice far to the south even further. The Rocky Mountains, the alps, the Himalayan mounts: all snow was quickly gone. Ancient rock, once more stood, prominently in the air.
The lands of the United States soon were swallowed by the oceans. Florida was the first to disappear, and as the waters continued to move inland towards Georgia and its surrounding lands. As a terrible rain storm fell, with thunder rolling in the skies above, a female white tiger was running while a dozen brown fur rabbits clung desperately to her back. The ocean waters were crashing behind her as she ran, gouging the farm land behind her. The bunnies were screaming, “RUN BLOOD HONEY! RUN BETH!” The former human did not know why she was now a white tiger, but giggled to herself that she was now a bunny evacuation method. As she darted between the trees, the tigress looked up and roared. “WAKE UP HEATHER, WE HAVE TO GO!” Perched high above on a tree branch, a gray and white screech owl opened her pale-yellow eyes. Hooting annoyedly, “it is too early for this Beth… OH CRAP!” The owl watched as the ocean waters were surging, as a small tsunami was rushing towards the forest. Leaping from the tree, the owl started to fly as fast as her wings could carry her.
Very far to the east at the same time, a red fox was running beside a small brown dog, as the ocean waves crashed behind them. “RUN EDDIE,” the female fox shouted, while the dog’s short legs moved as fast as they could. The dog was out of breath, “Sarah … I can’t make it, go on without me!” She slowed her pace, and looked at him with a stern look, “I am not leaving you behind … now … MOVE IT!” The former human woman turned and watched as her dog friend ran past her. The ocean waves swallowed the low-lying areas, and the waves were pounding the newly formed ocean coast line. Terrible storms had continued to strike the entirety of her island home, so what was not reclaimed by the ocean, was soon covered by lakes and rivers of fresh water flooding the land. Her mind was full of confusion, as she tried to figure out what was going on? The instinct to flee was mixed with the concurrent thoughts, key of which was why she was a red fox for some reason?
The ground suddenly started to crack loudly beneath her dark paws, “bloody hell … if it isn’t one thing …it’s another.” She turned and started to run at top speed, catching up with her canine friend. Eddie barked while huffing, “where are we going?” Sarah nodded, making her ears wiggle somehow, “Cannock … that area has high ground which should be safe from the flood waters.” The two friends watched as animals all around were running as fast as they could go in the same direction. The ground shook hard under their paws, as another section of land began to sink violently into the water. Sarah whimpered, as her muscles burned in all of her legs. Keeping her brown eyes forward, she kept running, and praying they made it safely to high ground.
Pudgy immediately woke up screaming, “NOOO!” His heart was beating hard in his chest, and the little hedgehog was shaking terribly. The dream seemed so real, with all the terrible things happening in the world. His paws shook, and his nose twitched, while trying to calm down. “Pudgy need drink of water …” he stammered out, while sliding out of his bed. The little hedgehog walked slowly through his home, and yawned as he fully awakened. It was still dark out, but the faintest of twilight was starting to appear. Heading to his sink, the critter got out a spiffy ceramic cup, and used the pump handle faucet to pour water to drink. Only air came out, which was annoying, so he opened up the cabinet door underneath to check the to see if he had switched from the rain water tanks to the well again. The little lever had been bumped when he was rooting around the bight before, so he pushed it back to the water tank position. Shutting the door, he stood back up and pumped the faucet handle again, and watched the water begin to flow.
The well that had been dug by Cobalt long ago, was no longer yielding a reliable source of water for the underground home. Most of the animals were in agreement, that since the water was being sucked out of the ground to feed the lake. This meant that his well’s casing was no longer where the water flowed, and had gone dry. It could be corrected by drilling deeper, but thankfully he had a nice rain water collection system outside that was keeping his buried underground water tanks well supplied by the frequent rain storms. Sipping the cool water slowly, Pudgy wiggled his nose and pondered what the dreams meant? In the time since returning from Niagara Falls, he had had no prophetic dreams. There were no scary monsters attacking, nor desperate animals who arrived needing assistance.
The town had been built, prospered, and even expanded. The good weather resulted in an extended growing season. This meant that not only was their store house completely full of supplies, they had to build a second store house. A second field of crops had been planted, along with constructed greenhouses all along each side of the river. Friendship Town had turned into a trading hub, with animals travelling from far and wide to visit. A general store was built, and was run by Drew the red panda. The former human had a mind for logistics, and was able to barter with the various visitors to their operation. The return of humans as animals continued, and in time they came to visit the little town and its residents. Far above in the trees, Cobalt Eagle had built a much better home to dwell within, and served as a refuge for the birds during storms. The avian animals were full of gossip, and a constant stream of intelligence was being gathered with each visiting flock.
Pushing the bad dream asides for a moment, the little hedgehog pushed his light switch, and turned on the LED lights to illuminate his home. The wood hoppers which once lined his home to store firewood for the winter, were converted into couches and seating areas, or shelves tightly placed against the curved walls. The nights were warm, so the need to keep a constantly lit wood stove was no longer needed. The critter chuckled as he saw Mr. Field Mouse laying on a low wooden bench along the wall. The mouse looked up as he twitched his nose, “Pudgy … you are awake early?” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy had a bad dream. Pudgy up now, should Pudgy make tea?” The male field mouse nodded, as he sat up twitching his whiskers. “Sorry about sleeping here Pudgy, my wife and I had an argument. I should go make up with her this morning.”
As the little hedgehog made a small fire to cook within his wood stove, he looked occasionally at his mouse friend. “What happened,” Pudgy asked while lighting the logs. Mr. Field Mouse sighed, “I said we should be thinking about a family soon. She didn’t want any children, so I raised my voice, and made her cry.” The critter nodded, “Ahh, Pudgy think you should go apologize. When Pudgy learn where babies come from, made Pudgy tummy hurt, then Pudgy sick. Poor lady animals … no wonder she said no. Pudgy know Mrs. Bunny told Mr. Bunny 12 was enough …” The two animals laughed, thinking about the harried looks from the rabbit parents. Now that the little ones were older, they were running everywhere. The field mouse nodded, and scampered past the hedgehog and through the interior storehouse door. This left Pudgy alone in his home, with a bubbling pot of water on the wood stove.
Tea was made, and a small breakfast of bread topped by wild berry preserves was eaten. The little hedgehog was ready for another busy day. There was a schedule hanging on his kitchen’s wall, “inspection of otter lock and dam … oh Pudgy almost forgot about that.” Once private Pawl from the otter forces had located Pudgy’s forest home, the presence of the water animals had steadily increased. At the end of the river that flowed through the forest, was a series of water falls that cascaded down to the Allegheny River. The river otters had built a series of lock and dams, so that they could ascend the falls and reach the river to Friendship Town. The little hedgehog wanted to go check on their progress, but Pawl kept saying they were not ready yet. Once ready, that meant that new friends could come visit, and trade routes could be established with the neighboring towns.
Little towns and villages had begun to appear all around Friendship Town, as the visiting animals brought back the wonderful ideas shown to them in the hedgehog’s forest. The otters built a new holt nearby to the lock and dams at the Allegheny River confluence. At the far end of the lake, Pudgy saw the beavers working on a new dam project. Every day, more friends arrived to help with the construction. The access to a functional saw mill in Friendship Town, meant that there was a steady supply of lumber and wood by products. One former human that had arrived recently as a weasel, was taking the wood shavings, and working on a paper project. If it was successful, they would soon be able to make paper products. It was truly a time of innovation, and excitement in the forest and surrounding lands.
After attending to some hedgehog business, he packed up his travelling backpack with goodies. Preserves, crackers, tea, aluminum tea pot, and metal cups. Cinching up the tie enclosures, the little hedgehog put his backpack on, and then his mining helmet. He scampered through the interior door, and through the storehouse. The room was full of supplies, and little paw written cards hanging on each stall. That made him very happy, knowing that all of his friends would not be hungry. Passing the tunnel door, the pool of water was collecting, with a sign that read POOL OPEN! Chuckling to himself, the little critter scampered up the tunnel and past the bunny warren. New brown rabbits had moved in, and the two brothers seemed very nice every time Pudgy chatted with them. He reached the tunnel doors, and opened them slowly. Exiting the tunnel, the hedgehog could see that there was a heavy dew that covered the plants around the dragon cove. Pushing the door shut behind him, the critter scampered over to the docks where his steam ship was moored.
The river cove had developed very quickly over time, with not only the steam ship port, but also the saw mill being built there. The logs could be floated up river, milled, and then hauled back by the ship. Many days were spent moving cut lumber back and forth between the otters’ project and the beavers’ new dam build. Wiggling his nose, Pudgy bounced happily, as he climbed aboard the steam ship. He tucked his backpack against the wheel house, and headed to the boiler’s firebox. “Empty, oops …pudgy forgot to put wood in last time Pudgy use.” As the sun continued to rise, casting light upon the forest, the critter set to work. Firewood was stacked under a shed that had been built beside the docks, keeping it dry from the dew and rain. Back and forth the little critter scampered, loading the ship with fuel for the boiler. Once he had double what he thought he might need loaded, it was time to light the boiler.
As the smoke rose from the smokestack of the fire box, a smell of oak filled the air around the cove. The ship bobbed up and down gently as the water rippled. And the sound of a small gray fluffy bunny rang loud throughout the forest, echoing. “PUDGY’S ON THE SHIP! MY TURN! MY TURN! MY TURN!” The gray and fluffy bunny children began to hop as fast as they could out of their warren. Rabbits are supposed to be timid and soft creatures, but not these ones, and the whole forest was woken up as the children fought about who could cross the bridge first? The wood log bridge that had been hastily built when Pudgy returned from his adventure with the wolves, had been enhanced and made safer. The beavers, and mice did an exceptional job carving it into a beautiful arched wooden bridge with paw rails on each side. It was wide enough for two bunny children to hop beside each other, but since there were three, they all tried to get through first.
Eventually, the middle one squeezed through and shot off like lightning to run over to the other side. Another key piece of information for animals who are fast, is that their top speed is limited. Cheetahs for example can run exceptionally fast, but only over a short distance. So that limitation soon reared its presence known, as the first bunny collapsed gasping in front of the round exterior door that led into the underground store house. The other two bunnies hopped past sticking their tongues out, until they too collapsed in front of Argente’s cottage door. By this time, the silver fox had arisen, and opened her door. “What is all this commotion about … Bouncy … Wiggly?” The rabbit children looked up at the female fox’s brown eyes and whined, “Pudgy is going to go off on an adventure without us! We need to get there before he leaves!” The fox looked up at the dock, and saw the steam ship’s smoke stack puffing white smoke. The hedgehog had his mining helmet on, and was filling the water tank which fed into the boiler. Wiggling her ears, “an adventure huh? I need to check into that.”
The bunnies wiggled their noses, “NOOO! WE WANNA GO ON ADVENTURE!” They hopped and started pushing the surprised female fox back into her house. Wiggly the bunny ran past as fast as she could, and made it to the dragon dock first. Gasping for air, she stammered out, “Pudgy …adventure … Wiggly …go?” The hedgehog looked up from the fire box and wiggled his nose, “hello Wiggly. Pudgy making fire, ship not ready to leave yet. Uh oh …” The little hedgehog looked over at Argente’s cottage, and the silver fox was able to exit her home. She was yelling at the two rabbit children, who were both pouting terribly. After the lecture was over, she turned around and the three animals walked calmly up to the docks. With as calm a voice as the silver fox could muster, “Pudgy …what is this I hear of an adventure? You weren’t trying to sneak off again?”
The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Pudgy not going on adventure today. Pudgy have to go inspect otter lock and dam project down river from here.” The three bunny children looked deflated, and Wiggly’s ears drooped. “We thought you were going on a Grand Adventure, and it is just some dumb trip to see those squeaky otters. Come on Bouncy and Hoppy, we should get breakfast from Mamma and Pappa.” The two male bunnies nodded, and joined their sister to scamper back home. Argente giggled as they brushed past her, and stepped on her tail’s white tip. The female fox wiggled her nose, “well …it looks like my plans changed today.” The hedgehog smiled, and the fire continued to heat the water in the boiler. Argente stepped aboard the ship’s deck, and felt the ship drop down into the water. It was long enough, and wide enough to carry the weight of a fox, hedgehog, and lumber pile.
Once the boiler had built up the required pressure, the hedgehog scampered over to untie the mooring ropes. Argente giggled as she helped by pushing the ship out from the dock, and watched as they floated out into the center of the cove. Heading to the wheel house, Pudgy pushed the throttle to half speed, and the bubbles started to form behind the ship as the propellor blade began to turn. The ship started to move forward, heading slowly to enter the river channel. The little hedgehog had learned to go slow, because he never knew who was swimming in the river. One day he nearly hit an otter, who was quite displeased. After heading the left front side of the ship known as port bow, then to the opposite starboard bow, he confirmed the river was clear. He scampered back to the wheel house, and spun his ship’s wheel to steer the ship into the river channel.
The ship soon was carried on the river current, and they were passing the bobcat’s cabin. Mr. Bobcat had figured out a way to make pipe tobacco from local plants, and was sitting in front of his cabin puffing away on a long pipe. He waved a paw at both the hedgehog and silver fox as they passed by. Argente waved her paw at Mr. Waffle Cat, then watched as Pudgy steered the ship around a small bend in the river. The river weaved its way through the forest, with steep hills running on each side of it. The oak trees had grown full on each side, while the elm and maple trees towered beside them. At first the movement of the water was gouging the surface, and resulting in a downward slope towards the Allegheny River. But a funny thing happened, winter disappeared, and the rains were heavy. The lake began to be fed by all the streams surrounding it, sending more water past their section of the forest. The end result was, the river level stabilized, and travel was possible once more.
The birds were chirping away, watching as the little steam ship passed by in the river water below their trees. A blue jay flew out of the tree top canopy, and quickly down towards the ship. Argente waved her black furry paw, and watched as the bird landed on top of the wheel house. He peeked down from above, “Good morning Argente … good morning Pudgy … where might you two be heading off to today?” The little hedgehog looked up at the bird’s beak, “hello Pastor! We are heading to the otter’s lock and dam at the end of the river. How about you, how are things going with your flock?” The bird hopped down onto the deck, and fluffed his blue feathers. “As well as you might expect … even with my shorter sermons … I am having troubles. But they now know the name of Jesus, then ask me who he was, and why I keep bringing him up? I start to explain, and they all fly off!”
Argente giggled, “well, he was a human, and they are animals … Maybe he needs to be an animal to have them pay attention?” The pastor’s black eyes started to bulge out of his head, as his blue gray beak dropped open. As the hedgehog steered the ship, and adjusted the throttle, the angry pastor began to lecture Argente about everything wrong about that statement she made. When the silver fox started to snap back at him, Pudgy tugged at his blue and white striped tail feathers. The pastor turned around, watching as they started to pass through a series of low hanging branches. A tree had fallen across to span each side of the steep hills. “Pudgy needs to come back here with beavers, to clear these branches.” The arguing passengers nodded, and the female fox ducked so they could pass underneath.
Trying to calm things down, the little hedgehog waved his paw. “Maybe tell the birds that he was human, but has since turned into a bird? If he is the son of that God person, he should be able to change forms. Besides, Pudgy met the Great Spirit two times now, and he is a gigantic thunder eagle.” The pastor immediately started to pepper the hedgehog with a myriad of questions. That was a good thing, as it kept the bird occupied, and gave time for Argente to cool off. As the hours passed, and the sun rose to the highest point in the sky, the ship proceeded without incident. The blue jay and fox made up with one another, and the only sound was the steam engine moving inside the safety guards. The boiler pressure remained constant, and in time they could see the very edge of activity ahead of them. Reaching up for the rope pull, the little steam whistle sent out a toot.
Otters peeked their heads up out of the water in unison and began to wave happily. As the ship proceeded, all the occupants saw the effect of the first lock and dam. The river was spreading wider across the valley, and the sound of water rushing over the dam could be heard. The hedgehog moved the throttle to neutral, allowing the propellor blade to stop spinning. After waiting a couple seconds, and watching them drift closer with the river current, he engaged the throttle to half reverse. The ship started to hold position, allowing time for the otters to swim up on each side of the ship. Private Pawl stuck his head up out of the water on the port side of the ship, “HELLO PUDGY! Hello Mr. Blue Jay! Hello Argente! What are you doing here?”
Pudgy waved and wiggled his nose, “hello Private Pawl! You told Pudgy to come today to check on the lock and dam project. Argente came to ensure Pudgy doesn’t sneak off on an otter adventure. Mr. Blue Jay stopped by for a chat, and came along. Is it ready?” The brown otter beamed and wiggled his dark nose excitedly, “yes, it is! We need to test with your ship, so please follow us.” The otters swam to the side of the dam, and helped move a wooden door outward. The little hedgehog nodded, and then put the ship throttle into neutral while steering towards the lock. As the ship moved into the narrow channel, the wooden door was swung shut behind the ship. Argente looked around, watching as the otters were busy scampering out of the water. One in particular was squeaking orders loudly, “is the water door secured?” The otters all nodded, and the lock master nodded, “pull up the flood control doors.” Pudgy watched as the wooden door rose up somehow, and the water surface in the lock stopped moving as the current was cut off.
At the bow of the ship, all animals watched as slits began to slide down in the wooden door in front of them. The water began to pour out between the slits, resulting in the water level to drop. Argente was amazed as soon she was now looking an otter at almost eye level. The forward wooden door was moved into the open position, and the lock master shouted, “you are cleared to proceed!” The hedgehog nodded, and engaged the throttle to one quarter ahead. As the ship began to move once more, Argente giggled as the otters were cheering and bouncing happily. The lock master waved from a dock that had been built along side the stern side of the ship. As Pudgy steered the boat towards it, he saw the cascading water that poured over the dam. The water sending a constant stream of bubbles throughout this section of the river.
The little ship steamed up to the dock, and Argente reached her paw out to help pull it up close to the piers. The otters had watched Pudgy and his friends build the first dock. They mirrored the construction as best they could, and two younger river otters were helping to tie up the ship to the dock. Once it was safely secure, Pudgy set the throttle to neutral. He turned and waved,” hello Mr. Otter! You have a wonderful lock and dam!” Pawl scampered down the hill that ran beside the dock, and stopped beside the lock master otter. “Pudgy, this is Sargent Miller, he was a human who ran these things back during the old days.” The hedgehog bounced happily, “hello, Pudgy think remember you. You were nice man in Missouri!” Miller nodded, “oh my … I remember you now Pudgy. You passed by heading to New Orleans, and caused quite the stir up and down the river. Did you know that the pentagon was notified of your trip? I was called into a conference call, with all of the lock masters.”
Pudgy laughed, and soon was being peppered with questions from all the otters at the forward operating holt. In total, about a dozen otters had been dispatched to the base by the otter General. After their questions were satisfied, the hedgehog looked out to the river confluence. Pointing with his paw, “Sergeant Miller … Private Pawl … is that the Allegheny River? Pudgy thought you needed to build a second lock and dam to reach it. It looks like the river water is high enough for Pudgy to just sail out to reach it.” The two otters nodded in unison, as Pawl explained. “Pudgy, we did build a second lock and dam. The main river is rising, and we do not know why. It overtopped the dam, then moved all the way up here.” Miller nodded, “let me show you something.” The otter turned and grabbed a twig from the ground, and turned back. Placing the stick on the top edge of the pier, it stretched out over the deck rail of the ship. There was maybe an inch or so of clearance, and all the animals watched as the ship’s deck rail floated closer towards the stick.
Argente stared at the otter, “the water is rising? How can that be?” Miller nodded again, “we are receiving reports up and down river, of widespread flooding on each side of the river. Where the Allegheny meets the Monongahela River, where Pittsburgh used to stand, is now covered in water. The General has sent scouts further down river to see the extent of what is going on. However, our intelligence gathering operation is quite limited. Pudgy, can you ask your bird friends to see if they have noticed anything?” The hedgehog nodded, and the blue jay rubbed his beak with his wing tip, “my flock as not mentioned anything out of the ordinary. I will ask around, and come back here Sargent Miller. Pudgy, perhaps your eagle friend Cobalt can help too?” Argente looked at the hedgehog, “where is Cobalt actually? He has been gone a long time, at least a week I think?” The little hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Pudgy wonder too?” Little did any of the animals in attendance, the scope of the issue was much worse than anyone could imagine. The deck rail soon touched the stick on the pier, making all uncomfortable with worry.