Monday, April 27, 2009

Armoured Tancs

In the city of Shalva, all the ladies wore armoured tancs in their hair.

Now, this was a rather peculiar custom - even by the standards of that land! - and a quite recent one, to boot. Yet nonetheless it was the case, quite universally, by nature of necessity. This was by means of an infestation - a colony of rare birds, Striatus dinorhynchus, which had mysteriously appeared in the city - which made a habit of viciously attacking anything they saw worn upon the head of a human being. The ladies of Shalva had ever been fond of wearing many types of headgear - hats! Ribbons! Feathers! - so the coming of the queer birds had been terribly devastating to their lives. The only way in which they might continue was the donning of heavy, metal armoured tancs - quite cumbersome, quite unfortunate.

So a freelancer was sent to Shalva, hailing originally from the distant land of Nihon, but having become something of a traveller in recent years. She identified herself as Rebecca, to those who asked, and further provided her goal: to identify the source of these peculiar, foreign birds, and identify the actions necessary to remove them.

"And take those actions?" some would ask her.

"No," she would be forced to admit, somewhat sheepishly. "That's not really my department."

Nonetheless, the people of Shalva were quite willing to assist Rebecca's investigation; for the birds had been a terrible bother. Her first approach was to look for a natural cause: had there been some great shift in climate, in Shalva or in the homeland of the Striatus dinorhynchii, that could have produced this large migration? She sifted through the weather data available, looking at results for six months before the birds had first been observed in Shalva, but there was no pattern to be seen. The weather seemed much the same as it had been the year before, and the year before that; it had been a very unremarkable year, for weather. (With the exception of a sudden, abnormal hailstorm in Shalva, five months before the arrival of the birds, which had damaged motorized vehicles all over the city. Rebecca considered it unlikely that this had attracted tropical birds.)

Of course, if the birds had not been attracted to the city by natural means, then there must have been an unnatural cause - that is, the intervention of humans. Rebecca considered the matter: who was damaged by the arrival of the birds? The hair-wear companies, of course. And who benefitted?

Why, the manufacturers of armoured tancs.

There had been two manufacturers dedicated to the production of tancs, armoured and non-, before the arrival of the birds in Shalva. There were twenty now. (Or more - the most recent records Rebecca could find were a week out of date.) It was clear that there had been a boom in the industry, and the original two manufacturers had profited quite handsomely indeed. So that was motive - but for Rebecca to be certain of guilt, she needed proof of means and opportunity as well. There was no sign of the former - for though she tried, Rebecca could find no trace of the long-range transport equipment that the importer of the birds would have needed. And as for opportunity, if anything, Rebecca found only negative evidence - for neither of the tanc companies operating before the arrival of the birds had increased production in anticipation of the sudden surge in popularity to come. One of them had actually decreased its orders to its supplier!

Certainly one or both of the tanc-manufacturing corporations might still be responsible - but were they so, they would have to be run by very clever criminals indeed. And Rebecca thought it might be best to look elsewhere, first; for hunting down a very clever criminal could take a great deal of time, especially if they did not, techincally, exist.

So where to look?

Rebecca decided to take a walk outside, to clear her mind.

This was promptly accomplished, as the moment she set foot outside the library in which she had been doing her research, a bird plummeted downwards and began viciously mauling her hair. Rebecca wasn't thinking about her research at all!

In fact, her line of thought - as she verbalized it - went something along the lines of, "Augh! A bird! A bird biting my head! Get it off, get it off, get it off!" She thrashed her head, she smacked at the creature with her arms - but it was too large! Too heavy! She could not dislodge it!

Thankfully, one of the passers-by was a kindly and resourceful soul - further, one possessed of a spare tanc. This passerby ran to Rebecca's aid, beating the bird back with her tanc, and offering Rebecca the tanc to use until she had "gotten her own".

"But why?" Rebecca asked, rubbing the back of her skull as best she could beneath her new, cumbersome headgear. "I thought they only attacked people who were wearing hats?"

"What? No," the anonymous Samitarian replied. "That's just the new birds. The native birds attack anyone who's not wearing something on their head. Why did you think hats are so popular here?"

Rebecca decided that Shalva was a very strange place.

But, rather forcibly diverted from her previous train of thought, she had an idea. She'd been investigating the tanc manufacturers - who would, of course, be the ones that benefited most directly from the attack of the hat-wearing birds. But what about their suppliers?

Their suppliers, which, as Rebecca discovered with mounting excitement, were all owned by a common holding company; which had a large, long-range transportation network, with little accountability; and which had increased production by a factor of four in the weeks just before the appearance of the birds, completely independent of any demand from their customers?

She had the culprits.

So she went back to the office; handed in her report; and went on to other projects. She still kept an eye on the situation in Shalva, being rather curious as to how matters would resolve themselves, and was not entirely surprised to hear that, a week after Rebecca had delivered her report, every last non-native bird vanished from the streets of Shalva; and, in quieter, less broadly distributed reports, that certain large corporations had their managements violently reshuffled.

And there was a lovely bonus tucked inside her paycheque-envelope when it came in the mail!

Looking back, Rebecca decided that it had been a very good day's work.

3 comments:

Calvacadeofcats said...

wow she must be really hot

Calvacadeofcats said...

also that was an intertesting story

Cavalcadeofcats said...

Thanks!