Week 36

Yeltsin and his entourage left as soon as the vodka ran out. With their visitors gone, the animals returned from their hiding places.

Murder Cat was the last to appear, padding back in through the kitchen door, barely able to contain his delight.

Seeing the big cat’s grin, Putin chuckled. “Few pleasures in life compare to toying with a fat rat, eh, Murder Cat?”

Realizing this was intended as humor, all the animals laughed. It was indeed a glorious day—no doubt the first of many victories to come.

“That old pickle barrel is good for something, though,” Putin mused. “His comment about the modesty of our dacha made me change my mind.

“Our headquarters, our fortress, is too important to delay construction until we recruit more members.

“I’ve chosen the site for our new home, and we shall begin work immediately. Snowy, Murder Cat, Black Ops, we’ll travel north at once.”

The three loyal beasts saluted, and Putin began to remove his shirt for the journey. Suddenly, however, he felt a tugging on his pant leg.

It was C-4! The little dog nipped excitedly at Putin’s ankles, eager to be included. “All right, silly pup, you can come, too,” Putin said.

Putin gently scooped up the yapping toy Poodle and walked outside. The animals followed and watched as he walked toward a large shrub.

Approaching the bush, Putin announced over his shoulder, “I have a surprise for you all. Our days of squeezing into my old car are over!

I’ve acquired a proper troop transport for us. It was the largest one at the dealership.” As he spoke, Putin grabbed a handful of branches.

Snowy and Murder Cat exchanged a look of relief. Then, with a quick jerk, Putin collapsed the shrub, revealing that it was simply a blind.

Their new vehicle was revealed, and the animals’ hearts sank. “A new Lada wagon!” Putin said grandly.

“Six cubic vershoks larger than the base model. That’s an extra three potato sacks! Custom sun-yellow paint job! Chrome door handles!”

Tiger and bear sighed heavily. Black Ops simply looked on with his weird goat eyes, and apricot-colored C-4, as always, yipped blithely.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Get in!” Putin slid behind the wheel, setting tiny C-4 on the passenger seat next to him.

While Putin fiddled with the radio, Murder Cat and Black Ops struggled to shove Snowy through the rear hatch.

After much growling and grunting, the team finally squeezed inside, and Putin set off down the dacha’s gravel drive.

As he drove, Putin described his plans for their new home. It would be as luxurious as the Summer Palace, as impenetrable as a winter storm.

“And where will this opulent fortress be?” asked Snowy. Putin paused, lost in thought, then smiled. “Beneath the Kara Sea.”