Week 128

Black Ops stood up on his hooves and tottered forward, blinking his weird goat eyes. “Seriously, what’s going on? Where’s the space ship?

“What happened to the Order and the Insekts? Where’s C-4?” The pygmy goat tech expert chattered—until he walked into Snowy’s stern glare.

It was like face-planting into a wall. He fell in next to the Pals, followed their gazes upward, and was awestruck by the sight of C’Furh.

Toki was the last team member to join them, his detached arm thrust through his sash like a katana. He bowed deeply to the Elder One.

Snowy stole a glance at Putin. His face was as blank as the alpine snowfields surrounding them, and she wondered what he was thinking.

“My little C-4.” The words drifted through Putin’s mind as he remembered his playful pup bouncing and barking, happily wagging her tail.

Paul felt Putin’s confusion and sorrow, and the clairvoyant cephalopod was reminded of a line of poetry. “Mais où sont les neiges d’antan!”

With all the surviving Pals assembled, and Cthulu vanquished, C’Furh dimmed its glow and shrank to a size comprehendible to mortals.

The Elder God did not speak and used no words, but its message rang clearly in the Pals’ heads, as soothing as the tone of a singing bowl.

C’furh began with a montage of scenes, examples of friendship and kindness from simpler times, when it had assumed the form of C-4.

Snowy felt her eyes tear as C’furh acknowledged the death of either Peaches or Herb. Murder Cat gazed out over the water and sighed deeply.

The Pals felt C’furh’s appreciation for their service to Earth. The Order and the Insekts were disharmonious; C’furh was a being of balance.

The next thoughts were only for Putin. C’furh looked directly at the man, and in an instant all his memories returned.

He saw his creation in an Insekt laboratory, a desperate escape from the Brood ship, crashing on Earth, the bears, Ursa, the White Room …

There was pain, but also liberation. C’furh returned its focus to the group, who saw that, though Cthulu was gone, other threats remained.

Soon C’furh would leave and not return. The Putin Pals were the guardians of this world, noble sneeze guards on the salad bar of Earth.

The Pals understood that C’furh was saying goodbye. Then there was a bright flash, and they were back in the Fortress of Opulence.

In the rubble of the Cthulu Cult’s shattered temple, Dr. Antonosky saw the flash, emerged from his hiding place, and approached the shore.

He knelt and gingerly picked up a wet lump, carefully turning it over in his hands. “Doctor,” said Stalin’s head, “nice seeing you again.”

Antonosky sighed and looked up at a distant mountain pass. It was easily two days’ walk to the nearest village, with snow all the way.

He turned up his collar, cradled the head, and trudged off toward the mountains. “I knew she should have kept the dog,” Stalin said.

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