If you haven’t played the Angry Birds game, you’re missing out. It’s very fun, and rather addictive. That said, it strikes me as the Moby Dick of the modern generation; a tale of an obsession with vengeance so deep that it no longer considers the cost.
From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.
Red Breast and I watched as Yellow Wing was flung toward the fortifications; the horror that we had once felt now replaced by a dull, shell-shocked emotional aching.
The canaries had proven during the conflict to be the bravest of us all, or at least the most dedicated. Not content with the momentum imparted by the terrible catapult, Yellow Wing mustered the last of his strength, driving himself with all the velocity he could find faster and harder into the walls protecting the pigs. There was a crashing, a shattering, of wood and glass and stone — and bone — and with that, Yellow Wing was gone. His life had been exchanged for that of the mother pig, helmeted and protected deep in the protective structure with her baby before our attack had begun. Earlier sortees had claimed the life of her husband and torn down the walls that were to keep them safe.
And now, it was but Red Breast and I, and the piglet that remained alive in the shattered ruins, protected now not by the walls that had been erected to keep him safe, but by the debris that had fallen during the attack, landing in such a way not to crush him but to shelter him.
The two of us, and a baby pig. Our leaders would say that it was only fair; the life of their young in exchange for ours, the eggs that they had stolen from us that had launched this conflict. But the truth was, it had long since stopped being about the eggs, we had paid a far higher price in our own eggs than they ever had taken from us. My own beloved had dropped three of our eggs, three of our unborn children, on the pigs, using them to knock down walls, to kill our porcine foes, before she finally sacrificed herself bringing down a fort. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
The general said that she chose to give her life because she thought it was the only way to take down the wall. I suspect she could no longer go own killing her own children for the sake of this war; a war she, like so many of us, fought not out of belief in the cause but purely out of loyalty.
This was no longer a war.
This was genocide.
The pigs’ initial attack had been repaid in their blood and our own a hundred times over, and yet still we persisted. The pigs had stopped fighting back, and had turned purely to defense, and yet still we persisted. We killed, and continued to kill, and died in the process. Our generals sent teams that were poorly equipped for the tasks they were given; blue birds died en masse bringing down walls that would have been simple for one blackbird to take down. But the generals didn’t care; they were far more interested in haste, in fighting a war on a hundred fronts than they were in our lives. If they could have shed enough of our own blood to drown our enemies in it, they would have, and gleefully. They would not be content until either all of the pigs were dead, or until we were.
“We die,” Red Breast repeated in empty monotone, as he climbed into the dreadful catapult himself. He launched himself toward the rubble, and toward the piglet hidden inside.
I heard the sick thud and snap of his neck breaking as he hit the wall, splintering it with the force of impact.
As the dust settled, I surveyed the results. The piglet was still alive. Red Breast was dead.
But with his death, he had shattered the last of the debris that protected the baby pig, leaving him exposed.
A child. An orphan. An innocent. A child, not unlike the eggs that had been stolen to start this conflict.
My squadron was eliminated. It was only me. I could leave. Go home. I’d lost my beloved, our children, but I could go home with my life. And in doing so, refuse to take the life of the innocent child before me.
I loaded myself into the catapult.
“Aye, we die.
“But we take pigs with us.”