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Duck, Mule and Tank: A Fable

Chapter One

At some point in time, there simultaneously existed three friends: a duck, a mule, and a tank. They lived and worked on the plantation of one particularly evil farmer, Monsieur Farmfarm. The three friends bowed happily to the oppressive yoke of M. Farmfarm's "differently equal" socialism, and were amply rewarded for their weakness. In point of fact, the three were treated much better than their respective counterparts at any other local business employing ducks, mules, or tanks. They had a fair amount of job security, worries were few, and M. Farmfarm regularly assured them that they were enjoying themselves. With a controlled environment to keep "thoughts" away from the workers, and the occasional pay-off to a corrupt legislator for luck, the farm was a self-perpetuating agricultural utopia.

One summer, however, a couple weasels pooled together their IQs and realized they were unhappy towing the line for a societal leech like Farmfarm. With the help of a few field mice, some minks, and a couple other Rodentia, they incited a rebellion. When Monsieur Farmfarm scoffed at their demands for free health, ubiquitous cake and instantaneous matter transferal, they caused him to be "on fire." He perished quickly and conveniently, and without his iron fist to effect punishment upon the weak and unhealthy, the farm hierarchy fell into ruin.

The three friends were confused. The walls that had sheltered them from reality all their lives were crashing down about their heads, and a little itch called Fear was beginning to scratch their brains but good.

"Damn," said the duck, in a rare emotional outburst.

"What will we do?" asked the tank.

"We should have an Adventure!" exclaimed the mule.

"Yes," said the tank. "We should travel the globe, seeking easy victories of questionable merit to shore up our burgeoning insecurities!"

"I agree! A Quest, to fill the vacuum that subservience has left in our souls!" said the duck.

And so, the three friends began their journey. As they set out, they decided to take inventory of the special gifts and secret powers they each had. The mule was blessed with many special gifts. He could command any man to do his bidding, no matter what it was, and that man must obey, so long as his name was 'Hazultoff.' The mule also wielded a Magic Pouch which would spew out an infinite amount of salt if opened, at a rate of 10 kilograms per second, forever. (He did not use the Magic Pouch very much.) He also carried with him a special friend named Stymie. Stymie was a tiny baby squirrel whom the mule had befriended years ago. Stymie got very sick once and lost all his flesh, and now the mule carried his carefully preserved skeleton around in his left ear. If anyone looked at Stymie, or asked about him, or even thought about mentioning him to a friend or enemy, or a neutral party even, the mule would fly into a mindless fit of rage, transforming into a whirlwind of smashing hooves and biting teeth. The mule looked forward to the day when Stymie would return, and they would frolic among the clouds once more.

The tank had a total of 35 super powers. The first of these was the ability to talk to dirt. The second power involved both mushrooms and cupcakes, and all the combinations thereof. The third power was the ability to create magnificent bulbous automatons out of inexpensive household materials. The automatons would shudder and convulse in the manner of the thing they were imitating, much to the amusement of all the children. The fourth and fifth powers weren't really powers as such, but more like allergies. The sixth power was called "Remasticulate," and you can just go and guess what that means. The seventh special ability allowed the tank to see otherwise invisible gases, with the only drawback that both oxygen and nitrogen appeared as a deep and impenetrable black. The next seven powers acted exactly like the first seven except for being ever-so-slightly slower. The following fourteen powers were strikingly similar to the first fourteen, except with the added property of working on weekends. The final seven powers were identical to the first seven in every way, except in a different order or something. The tank was fiercely proud of all his powers, so his friends tended to ignore the redundancy of powers 1 and 4. When the chips got hard, and cruel Fate dealt you a glancing blow, you could always count on tank to manifest even more powers, usually in multiples of seven.

The duck was by far the most powerful member of the party, especially in the fantastic dreamworld of unicorns and sorcerers which only he could visit. He was a wizard of adequate strength, and a few of his enemies were not even aware of all his paralyzing fears and weaknesses. He had wondrous skills and mystic attacks of which the likes would never be seen. He could cause the very elements of the earth to rise up and humiliate his foes, and then summon the forces of the ether to teach them how to deal with their newfound humility. He could take enormous amounts of useful energy and change it into very, very small amounts of matter, all within the span of mere decades. He could profess an attitude or viewpoint, either by insinuation or example, and without pause imply something else entirely, which might not even mean the same thing at all.

Having catalogued and tested each of their many skills, the three friends grinned, patted each other on the back, and set out into the unknown.

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