With a start, Paul realized Putin had been explaining his plan. “… help. Currently, we are a dish of dressed herring without mayonnaise.”
The Pals looked puzzled. They were not familiar with the intricacies of Russian cuisine, but Putin merely continued his metaphor.
“The herring is paramount, of course, and everyone loves boiled beets, but without mayo it would be hard to swallow,” he said solemnly.
Snowy spoke first. “Sensei, have you found us a new warrior?” “No,” Putin replied, “I have made you one—or, more precisely, Black Ops has.”
At that, the Putin Pals’ pygmy goat inventor pressed a button on a remote he held in one diminutive hoof. Putin smiled with satisfaction.
After a brief pause, a gentle, rhythmic, metal-on-metal tapping was heard in the hallway outside. Murder Cat looked wary.
The vexing sound grew louder and louder, until into the room walked the newest member of the Putin Pals: a robotic Japanese macaque!
The robo-monkey stood just over a meter high—slightly taller than its biological counterpart—and was the color of gunmetal.
It leapt effortlessly onto the conference table. Clearly Black Ops had learned much since developing Paul’s clunky walking suit.
Putin picked a bit of fuzz off the robo-monkey’s grey faux-fur vest, then turned to the group. “Pals, meet Toki. Toki, meet the Putin Pals.”
Toki rose onto his hind legs for a moment, then bent into a low bow. “Dōmo arigatō, Sensei. It is an honor to join your team.”
Putin smiled again and leaned back in his chair. “Please tell us a little about yourself,” he said. “Gladly,” the metallic macaque replied.
“I am from the lineage of Yamabushi mountain robo-hermits, and am proficient in the arts of kenjutsu, kyujutsu, jujutsu, and aikido.
“In my free time, I enjoy calligraphy, playing the shamisen, soaking in hot springs, and washing my yams in the salty seawater.”
The Pals looked impressed; Putin was pleased. “Very good, Toki. Take a seat.” The robo-monkey sprang into the chair next to Murder Cat.
“Now,” Putin began, “I shall explain how Toki fits into my plan to defeat our many foes and save the Earth from annihilation.”
Putin was reaching for the remote to begin part two of his PowerPoint, when Pulpo Paul suddenly slumped over inside his walking suit.
Seated beside him, Snowy sprang from her chair and grabbed the suit. She peered through the facemask at the octopus’s listless form.
“Paul!” she cried, as the psychic cephalopod began to stir. A subtle pulse rippled though his mantle, and his body turned bright orange.
Though he looked straight at Putin, everyone heard his telepathic message clearly: “The Order is attacking Stalin’s grave!”
Putin leapt to his feet, a fire burning in his eyes. His command was simple: “Get to the chopper!” The Pals did not hesitate.