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The Squallhoots remained hidden in the darkness of the caves. Shielding their eyes from the light reflected by the snow outside, they watched carefully for any sign of movement near the entrance. It was very hard to see. Even the soft reflected light made their eyes water and sting.

Even so, Snort could see the Throps approaching. "Grrrrrrr. Here they come," he growled. "Get ready." Jason, his hands tightly bound, was pulled to the front of the cave.

The Throps moved slowly, following the last rays of the sun as it wrapped them in its protective glow. They didn't know what to expect.

"This is it!" The General pointed to the tracks in the snow. "Be very careful!" Squallhoot Canyon was a dangerous place to be. It was here, sheltered from the sun by steep ice cliffs, that the signs of Squallhoot traffic could always be found in the morning - a sign that their cavern entrances were nearby.

"Look! There's Jason!" shouted Toot, pointing to the cave. "They've tied up his bones - and they're throwing them out onto the snow!"

Jason was shoved out of the entrance. He slipped and tumbled down the ice.

"I TOLD you we should have brought the troops!" shouted the General. Then he noticed that Jason still had his arms and legs - maybe the Squallhoots hadn't been eating on him after all! But Jason had been in the caverns, alright - they could tell by his clothes. He had Squallhoot fur all over him!

The white shapes of the Squallhoots loomed out of the dark cave. The sun was just setting and the two groups moved cautiously toward one another - the Throps clinging to the last long rays of sunlight, and the Squallhoots advancing slowly in the lengthening shadows.

"Danger time!" the General whispered as the last edge of the sun disappeared behind the ice.

Jason struggled to pick himself up and stood between the two groups. He knew that everyone was nervous - perhaps even afraid - and he knew that he must be brave and act with confidence. He took a deep breath.

"Throps, meet the Squallhoots! Squallhoots, meet the Throps!" Jason made the historic introduction - nobody in living memory could remember such a meeting ever having taken place.

"So," began Snort, very concerned about his appearance and manner on this important day, "old enemies finally meet, after all this time." He had heard many new things about the Throps from Jason. He hoped that they are true.

"Yes! F - f - finally!" answered Toot nervously. He and the General had also tried to look their best, and the General did look splendid in his newly decorated uniform with eleven stars shining on each shoulder. "We are old enemies indeed. So far back... All the way to - to..." All of a sudden he couldn't remember why they were enemies! He turned quietly to the General. "Just why are we enemies? Do you remember?"

"Be careful."
The General rubbed his chin and thought very hard. "I - I seem to forget. But be careful just the same!"

"WATCH OUT!" Everyone jumped at Drizzle's shout - and just in time! A jagged chunk of ice crashed down through the middle of the little group as if to remind them of just why they were there. It was getting dangerous on Athropolis!

Snort looked up at the icy wall very nervously, and then brushed pieces of shattered ice from his fur. He turned back to the Throps. "The Jason creature has a plan."

Drizzle shook his wet foot. He would listen to almost anything if it meant having dry caves again.

"But my plan will only work if we all work together," Jason said eagerly. "You need the Squallhoots - and the Squallhoots need you."

The General puffed up his chest. "We don't need these prowling, fur covered..."

"And we don't need you, you little blue - savages!" Snort responded angrily.

"Savages?" Toot was horrified at the thought. "Us? ME?"

Jason tried to gesture with his hands tied. "EVERYONE has to help! If you don't - the plan won't work!"

The General was not convinced. "But they'll attack us - as soon as our backs are turned!"
"YOU attacked US!"

"WHAT?" Snort huffed. "You attacked US! Have you forgotten already?"

"Yes! You shot a big block of ice RIGHT AT OUR TUNNEL!" Drizzle added.

Jason could feel the meeting getting out of control. "It was an accident! I saw the whole thing! A rope..."

"It was an ATTACK tunnel!" shouted the General.

"It was an ESCAPE tunnel!" bellowed Snort.

"Was NOT!"

"Was TOO!"

Toot didn't understand what was happening. "Throps attack Squallhoots? Nonsense! We're only protecting ourselves!"

"WE'RE protecting ourselves!" Snort retorted.

Toot and the General were almost speechless. They had never heard anything like this before. Squallhoots protecting themselves? "From - US?" they finally said together.

"Nooooo!" Sarcasm dripped from Snort's voice. "From the man in the moon - by the pink lagoon - down by the purple sea. OF COURSE FROM YOU - you sneaky, sneaking around in the sunshine where you can't be seen Throps!"

"WHAT? You miserable, poking around in the night-time pirates!" the General snapped back.

Toot turned away from the shouting and name calling, and became very quiet. He rubbed his chin as he began to think about all of the new things that he was hearing. Squallhoots defending themselves - from THROPS? Throps attacking Squallhoots? Is that what they'd been thinking?

Jason tried to stop the shouting. This wasn't the way the meeting was supposed to go! "Listen to me!" he shouted. "The Squallhoots have a cave full of all sorts of good stuff - bits and pieces of things that have washed up onto the ice. They threw me into - I mean - they showed it to me!"

"Humph!" huffed the General. "It can only be - junk!"

"But it's GREAT junk! There's wood, and bits of metal, and canvas - all parts of old sailing ships! The Squallhoots have been collecting these things at night for as long as they can remember - it must have been hundreds of years! Everything has just been sitting there - waiting for somebody to come up with a good use for it. Well, we have a good use for it NOW!"

Toot had been very quiet and thinking very hard. Suddenly, he jumped back into the conversation. "Are you saying - that WE always thought that the Squallhoots were going to attack - and that YOU always thought that the Throps were going to attack - and that we were getting ready to defend ourselves against an attack by YOU - and you were getting ready to defend yourselves against an attack by US? Were we all getting ready to attack one another when all this time - nobody wanted to attack anybody at all?"

Sudden silence. Had they all been quibbling and wasting their time away?

"Is - is this right?" asked the General.

"W - well - maybe it could be right," answered Snort, looking a little puzzled and sheepish.

Drizzle slapped his hand against his furry thigh. "Well frosty fiddling fingers! Are we dumb or what?"

Jason could see that his plan had a chance now. "Throps have got to trust Squallhoots and Squallhoots have got to trust Throps! THAT'S the way to save Athropolis! It's the ONLY way!"

The General spoke quietly to Toot. "Hmmm. Even if we don't trust them, maybe there is no other way."

"We have no choice, General," Toot whispered. "We have no choice!"

They both turned to Snort. "The Throps will work with the Squallhoots," they both said with a nod of their heads.

"Will the Squallhoots work with the Throps?" asked Jason.

"How can we trust you sneaky, ice shooting..." Snort began.

The General waved his finger in the air. "Look around you! Everything is falling apart! It won't be long until you're all up to your fuzzy ears in water! Now - get your - umm..." He whispered to Toot. "What was that word again?"

Toot whispered in his ear.

"Yeah. Get your BUTTS off the ice and make up your minds!" the General shouted, startling Jason and the Squallhoots by his outburst.

Toot smiled to himself. That was good advice.

"Humph!" huffed the General. "You don't see THROPS wasting all day wondering what to do!"

Snort growled.

The General scowled.

"Well?" Jason asked, his voice ever so hopeful. "Well...?"

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Iceberg - the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots. Copyright 1994-2002 Athropolis Productions Limited.