As the tortoise plodded on, Cyril surveyed the scene for inspiration. It looked increasingly like it would headed for the Barclays bank across the street. Of course! That would explain the eagle in Mog’s vision. That was good news, at least - she was not predicting aerial attack. Cyril had suffered enough of those to last a few lifetimes - or, for the average squirrel, to end a few lifetimes.
The bad news, on the other paw, was that if the bank was the tortoise’s final destination, Cyril was almost out of time. Short of fresh ideas, he resorted to running in front of the tortoise and jumping up and down, screaming and waving his arms about.
“Oi! Tortoise!” he yelled. “Wake up! C’mon, man. You don’t really want to explode, do you? It will hurt, like. A lot! Stop!! Please? I...”
Cyril had no survived two years of living in Swansea and two (albeit overlapping) inter-dimensional invasions without an enhanced survival instinct - and that instinct kicked in at that very moment. As a result, he was able to fling himself aside as a giant raptor flashed past, extended talons missing him by a hair’s breadth.
Cyril rolled twice and jumped to his feet in time to see the bird coming in for a second pass. This time, it was coming in slower, giving itself time to react to whatever he may try. It also gave Cyril time to size up his opponent. It was a Red Kite and the size was not encouraging. Nor was the fact that he was now stuck in the open. This did not look good.
Shifting his weight onto his right leg, Cyril pretended to trip and stagger, touching down with right paw and scooping up a bit of loose gravel and dust. As he had hoped, the Kite changed his attack angle slightly and accelerated to take advantage of its stricken prey. At the last possible moment, Cyril sprang hard off his right foot and somersaulted to his left whilst throwing the stones into the bird’s path in a small cloud of dust.
The kite squawked in surprise and peeled away as Cyril rolled back to his feet and looked around frantically. He had lost sight of the bird. Worse than that, he had lost sight of the tortoise. It was gone!
Cyril’s mind raced. Surely, the bird hadn’t carried it off? That would be too much to ask. Attention split between sky and street, he took a couple of steps towards the bank and then spotted the relentless reptile.
The tortoise stopped just behind a lamppost opposite the main doors to the bank. Cyril stopped too and tensed, trying to see what it was doing and hoping that it was not about to go boom. Its head was extended and moving left and right as if casing the building. Then, as suddenly as it had stopped, it started moving again, ambling further along the street towards a litter bin and the ATM.
Cyril felt a sharp pain in his tail for the second time this week.
“You’re a feisty one, aren’t you Boyo?” said a welsh accent from behind him. It was a voice he recognised.
“Lloyd?!” he asked, turning his head.
The Red Kite had landed, pinning him by the tail, and was examining him closely, head tilted to the right.
“Yes, that’s right,” the bird answered. “Famous, am I? Something to threaten the children with? Go to sleep, or Lloyd the Red Kite will eat you up! That sort of thing?”
“What?” Cyril shook his head. He did not have time for this. “No, Lloyd. It’s me. Cyril. Remember?”
The bird considered him, shifting its head title to the left. “Have I eaten you before?”
“What?” Cyril repeated. “No! I’m Mystic Mog’s friend. You helped me find the Cabbage of Doom.” He raised his eyebrows and nodded encouragingly. “Remember? Please!”
The penny dropped with an almost audible click. “Ah, yes! I remember you, Boyo. You’re the one that I wasn’t allowed to eat!”
Cyril continued to nod with increased vigour. “Yes! That’s right!”
“Ah, funny that,” Lloyd said. “Me bumping into you again. You helping Mog to save the world again, or something?”
“Yes, yes!” enthused Cyril, hope returning by the second. “I am!”
“Oh, wonderful, Boyo. Very noble of you.”
Cyril stopped nodding and blushed. “Thanks, I...”
“I almost feel bad that I’m going to eat you, now,” the bird continued. “Bit of a shame, really.”
“I... what?!” Cyril’s face went from blood positive to blood negative in a moment. “But... but Mog... you’re not allowed to eat me...”
“Oh, no, I wasn’t allowed to eat you.” Lloyd corrected. “I’m much better now. I don’t need to do Mog any more favours. Still, nothing personal, eh?”