Stellar Squirrel swooped over the small meadow, looking down upon
the hundreds of field mice that were running panicked in all
directions. With his ultra-keen powers of sight, he could easily see
the fear in their eyes--even from his high altitude. His super-enhanced
hearing kicked in as well, picking up the frightened screams of the
These are rodents who are obviously in need of a hero, Stellar
thought, smiling. My time has come. My first mission as a
He changed course, making a quick, beeline descent toward two mice
he saw standing still amongst all the chaos. It appeared to be a mother
and her child. As he approached them, his thoughts took him back
through the years, over the endless hours and days of anticipation
leading to this moment.
Since the time he had arrived from outer space, travelling across
the many light years separating his home planet of Acornia from this,
the Earth, Stellar knew he was destined to be a superhero--a guardian of
the innocent and helpless.
Acornia was now gone, destroyed by the evil Shellolio and his
even-more-evil weapon, the Nutcracker of Death. Only through the
courage and foresight of his parents was Stellar able to flee the doomed
planet. Loading him aboard a large walnut escape pod, they launched
their beloved son out into space, away from the impending destruction,
and toward a brighter future.
Eventually he arrived, crashing unharmed into an oak tree in the
middle of the Great Wood. He was discovered by Zeb and Mitzy Maskface,
an elderly racoon couple who took him in as their own, raising him to
the best of their abilities, fostering in him all the good things about
what it meant to be a racoon... and a squirrel. They named him
Time passed, and young Sammy Maskface began to display odd
traits--powers, really--that transcended normal racoon (er, squirrel)
capability. He was fast--really fast! He could climb--really climb!
He was strong--really strong! And he could fly, which for a squirrel
isn't so strange, except that Sammy went up instead of down--and could
stay up! It didn't take a dolphin's brain to know that there was
something different about him. His father took him aside one day.
"Son," he said, his face serious. "There's something you should
And then he shared with the lad the story of his discovery in the
Great Wood at the foot of the old oak tree where the space walnut had
crash-landed. As his father spoke, Sammy's yellow eyes brimmed with
tears. He was not sad. On the contrary, it was happiness that overcame
him as he listened to his father's tale; he'd always known he was
different, but now he was sure he was special. Very special. Fated for
greatness. (He also realized he was some kind of space alien from
another planet, but decided not to dwell on that fact.)
His father, smiling now, relieved at the confession, put his paw
on his son's shoulder and looked him in the eyes.
"Sammy, we all know what you are capable of," he said. "All we
ask--your mother and I--is that you use your powers for good. Always.
"I promise," was Sammy's wholehearted response.
The two embraced, then his father led him to the remains of the
crashed space walnut, which he'd kept hidden for so long, and in it
Sammy found the true story of his birth--and of his escape from
Acornia. At last, he knew who and what he truly was. At that moment,
that wonderful moment, Sammy made the most important decision of his
life (except for the one about not dating porcupines--which came later,
of course): he would become a superhero!
And now, as he landed next to what turned out to be a mother mouse
and her babe (as he had suspected), Sammy--Stellar Squirrel these
days--realized that his heroic origins weren't all that original
(neither were flying squirrels, for that matter, but he didn't know
that... yet), but he was proud anyway. He would prove himself worthy of
his parents--all four of them--and of those he had sworn to protect.
His time had come.
He made a firm and confident landing next to the child and mother.
The young mouse was wide-eyed and gape-mouthed, and as soon as Stellar
touched down, she began to cry uncontrollably.
She's obviously scared, poor kid, Sammy deduced. He was certain
that his arrival would soon change all that.
He threw his green cape back, adjusted his green cowl, and thrust
his chest out, making sure the bright, yellow walnut that was emblazoned
across the front of his white, spandex uniform was clearly visible.
Finally he spoke, his voice loud so he could be heard over the
sob-filled cries of the child next to him.
"What's happening here, ma'am?" he asked the mother.
The mother mouse stared at him, silent for a moment, a funny look
on her face. Then she asked, "Where's the moose?"
Stellar was confused. "Huh?"
"The moose," she repeated. "You know: flying squirrel...doofus
moose...crazy Soviets... oh, never mind." She looked away from Stellar
and gazed down at her bellowing daughter.
"Kiki, hush!," she whispered to the child.
The girl didn't.
The exasperated mother faced Stellar again, who was still trying to
figure out the moose question, and loudly explained the situation.
"It's like this," she hollered. "All us mice were at the market,
okay, just minding our own business, trading goods for goods, and so
on. Then out of nowhere comes this giant bird--a hawk, I
think--shrieking and diving, trying to grab up any one of us he could
get a hold of. We all ran like crazy, you know, trying to get away from
the darn thing. My Kiki and I only stopped because I saw him finally
catch somebody in those sharp claws of his. I'm pretty sure it was
Maggie Cheeseovitz, the poor thing." She let out a sad sigh, then
continued. "The bird took off after he caught her. That way." She
pointed to the Northern Glade, a dense section of the wood. Her
daughter continued to cry.
"Hmm... a hawk, eh?" Stellar asked, scratching his chin. "A worthy
opponent, to be sure." This last statement was to himself more than
anyone else. He looked down at the weeping child.
"Ma'am," he said, placing his paw on the child's tiny shoulder,
returning his gaze to the mother. "Don't you worry. I'll handle this
vile hawk, whoever he is, and see to it that your lovely daughter has
cause to weep no more."
He smiled at the lady, rather smugly, then turned and took to the
sky without waiting for a response. As he flew away, his super-enhanced
hearing easily caught the sounds of the mother scolding her child, who
had finally ceased crying.
"Kiki," the mother asked, "why the heck were you blubbering like
that? The hawk is gone, you silly thing. We're safe now."
The girl took in a few deep sobs before she replied. "B...but,
Mommy," she pleaded, "I couldn't h...help it! That goofy squirrel was
st...standing on my tail the whole t...time he was here!"
Streaking into the North Glade, a rosy-cheeked Stellar Squirrel
pretended not to hear her.
The North Glade looked like a thick, emerald carpet to Stellar
Squirrel, who flew high above it in search of the terrible hawk who had
kidnapped Maggie Cheeseovitz. Seeing Stellar at that moment, one might
have thought him to be all serious business by the determined look
covering his half-masked face. But inside Stellar felt only
adrenaline-laced anticipation, an uncontrollable eagerness for the task
at hand. He couldn't wait to take on the hawk and to show the world its
newest (and mightiest, he liked to think) hero.
He didn't have to wait long.
Below, in the middle of a break in the trees, Stellar (with his
ultra-keen vision, of course) spied a huge, black hawk, naked except for
the white band tied around his head, the letters "HH" harshly written in
red across the front. He was holding in one wing a terrified Maggie
Cheesovitz, while the other wing was busy shaking pepper onto the poor
mouse's head. Maggie was squirming desperately in the grip of the hawk,
sneezing and sobbing, sneezing and sobbing.
"Stay still, you infernal thing!" the hawk hissed at Maggie. His
blaze-orange beak was bent in a jagged frown as he continued to
vigorously shake the pepper onto her head. She sneezed again, and the
hawk began to shake her as well.
It was all Stellar needed to see.
In a wink he landed next to the hawk and his helpless victim, and
in his best superhero voice, shouted, "HALT!!!"
The hawk was caught by surprise, jerking his head in the direction
of the newcomer. Upon seeing Stellar, however, the hawk appeared
unruffled (not to mention unimpressed), and, relaxing his pepper-shaking
wing (as well as his Maggie Cheesovitz-shaking wing), gave Stellar a
"Oh, hi," he said, then chuckled. "Nice p.j.'s you got there. So,
where's the moose?"
The moose again!
"There is no moose!" burst out Stellar. "What is it with you
people and a moose?"
He was angry; this was supposed to be his show.
The hawk remained calm. "Oh, well, you know, I just figured with a
flying squirrel there was bound to be a moose not far behind. 'Nothing
up my sleeve', lion from a hat, and all that." He paused and looked at
Stellar's blank face. "Never mind," he stated flatly. "Anyway, you're
in the territory of Hellion Hawk, now, my friend, and I would advise
that you make a hasty departure. I don't like to be interrupted at meal
He turned away from Stellar without a second thought and commenced
to peppering his prey once again.
Stellar was steaming. The moose thing, not to mention his new
enemy's blasé attitude, had him over the edge.
"Listen, Hellion Hawk," he demanded, his hands planted firmly on
his hips. "First of all, I'm not your friend, and second of all, this
territory belongs to all the good creatures of the wood; your claim to
it is nothing but pitiful, bully tactics, and I intend to see to it that
your terroristic hold over it ends today." He pointed a green-gloved
hand at Maggie. "Unhand that lady and face me... if you dare!"
Hellion Hawk stopped peppering and let out a deep, frustrated
sigh. He'd had free reign over the land for time on end, so he didn't
appreciate this nosy squirrel in pajamas butting in where he didn't
belong. Still, Hellion knew the rules: he was a super villain, and this
squirrel apparently was a superhero (though he had his doubts), so...
"All right, Bucky--" he started to say.
"That's Stellar Squirrel to you, you foul, er... fowl, er, foul
fowl," Stellar retorted.
Hellion sighed again. "Whatever. All right, Stellar Squirrel," he
continued, "we'll have at it as you wish. But I warn you, I'm hungry,
and when I'm hungry I get irritable, so I can't be held responsible for
the damage I inflict. You sure you want to dirty up that nice new
costume of yours?"
"I'll worry about my laundry, thank you," replied Stellar.
"Besides, I don't expect they'll be soiled much. Not by the likes of
you, at least."
Hellion rolled his eyes. Bloody superheroes, he thought to himself
with disdain. He set down the pepper and Maggie, violently smacking the
latter with his wing, knocking her out cold.
"Stay!" he ordered the unconscious mouse.
Then he turned to completely face Stellar.
"Okay, squirrel," he said, holding his wings out, as if inviting
Stellar over for a big hug. "As we say in the rougher parts of these
here woods, bring it on!"
The two squared off, circling each other, first left, then right,
waiting for an opening. Hellion scowled, Stellar sneered, and all
around them creatures of the wood, who had been hiding in the shadows of
the trees, came out into the open, surrounding the two combatants. A
low chant started from somewhere within the crowd, quiet at first,
growing steadily louder. Soon all had joined in the chorus, paws
pumping in the air.
"Fight! Fight! Fight!"
Now it was Stellar's turn to roll his eyes.
Suddenly, Hellion leaped at him, head first. Stellar moved to his
side, attempting to avoid the strike, but wasn't fast enough. Hellion's
serrated beak caught his shoulder, ripping the spandex and fur that was
there. Stellar spun around, grasping at his wounded shoulder, making a
mental note at the same time that he wasn't made of steel as he'd
believed. He'd have to be more careful around sharp objects from here
He regained control, just in time to see the red "HH" of Hellion's
headband directly in front of his face. Then he felt all the oxygen in
his lungs explode from his mouth as his opponent smashed into him,
slamming him to the ground, then pinning him where he lay.
Stellar gasped for air, weakly struggling against the massive bird
that now sat upon his chest. He looked up and saw that the hawk was
busy taunting the crowd now, making sure they were aware of his
prowess. Stellar attempted another futile shove against the heavy
weight on top of him, then let his arms fall limp to the ground.
He was in trouble.
He turned his head toward the crowd, hoping to plead for
assistance. But his breath hadn't returned enough to let him speak, and
all that came out was a raspy whisper. Before he could try again, he
spotted two weasels standing next to each other, both in overalls,
"I'm tellin ya," the weasel on the left said. "That there hawk's
gonna whup that squirrel. It's a done deal Bob-O."
"I don't know, Billy," Bob-O replied. "That squirrel's got some
nice duds. Might still got somethin left yet, I say."
Billy gave his partner a funny look. "What's duds got to do with
it, Bob-O?" he asked. "I'm tellin ya, he's one dead furry tail! Hey,
maybe that hawk'll share him with us when it's over. Them squirrels
taste a lot like chicken, they do."
Stellar felt nauseated. Not only had he failed his first test as a
hero, now two of the folks he was here to protect were sharing poultry
recipes that included him as the substitute main entrée. Could things
Above him Hellion began to shout to the crowd.
"Who's bad?! Who's bad?!"
Shame filled Stellar's heart, and he was ready to give up, to
accept his untimely demise at the wings of this filthy bird, when his
head was filled with a voice. He'd never heard the voice before, yet it
was strangely familiar. He focused his little remaining energy toward
it, concentrating. Then, suddenly, he knew...
It was his father! (No, not Zeb Maskface. The one from
"Qwdetafed," his father's voice said.
Stellar was confused. "What's 'Qwdetafed'?" he asked the voice
with his mind.
"That's your name, stupid!" his father's voice rudely responded.
"Didn't you pay attention to the tapes in the space walnut?"
Stellar was embarrassed. "Oops... forgot. Sorry."
"Well, never mind that. You've got bigger worries, dummy. You do
realize there's a large beast crushing you at this very moment, don't
you? And, I don't think he has any intentions of letting you go...at
least not breathing, that is."
Stellar let his father's voice know that, yes, he was painfully
aware of his current situation.
"Well, then listen, sonny," the voice continued. "Your mom and I
didn't go to all that trouble of loading you aboard an escape nut,
shooting you halfway across the galaxy, just so you could get your butt
whipped by some demented Earth bird! Get up and fight, for cryin out
Stellar felt new energy surge through his body. (He also felt his
bladder let loose, but decided he'd worry about that later.)
"Yes, sir!" he shouted with his mind.
Returning his attention to Hellion Hawk, Stellar delivered a
crunching right hook to the bird's exposed side. Hellion, who had been
blowing sarcastic kisses to the crowd and wasn't expecting retaliation
from the squirrel beneath him, was sent sprawling across the forest
Stellar was up and after him in a heartbeat, his gloved hands
extended before him, his green cape flowing behind. He grabbed the
dazed hawk by the neck and flung him hard against a tree. The bird sunk
slowly to the ground as the fight-crazed crowd moved with the melee,
encircling the tree now. Stellar commenced to pummeling Hellion's head,
battering him with vicious rights and lefts. Finally the bird slumped
over, beaten and unconscious.
Stellar stepped slowly back. He was victorious--a true hero at
last--but before he could revel in the damage he'd inflicted on his
first villainous foe, Maggie Cheesovitz suddenly stepped out from the
crowd. Stellar stood still, excitedly waiting for the thanks he was
sure she was about to offer. Instead, she walked right past him, over
to the prone form of Hellion Hawk. Then, with an angry gleam in her
eye, cocked her leg back and delivered a swift kick to the bird's
already battered head.
"Bastard," she said, then turned without another word, and walked
Stellar watched her leave and slowly shook his head in
No thanks, he thought. No freakin thanks. Sheesh. Ah, well. He
turned to face the crowd.
"Fear not, all of you!" he shouted. "Hellion Hawk is defeated. I,
Stellar Squirrel, have seen to the end of his terrible ways. Be
happy...you are safe once again!"
The animals, however, didn't hear what he'd said, as they were too
busy passing money back and forth to each other--winnings or losses from
the fight bets they'd made. Stellar sadly shook his head once more, and
prepared to gather up the dead-to-the-world Hellion Hawk, when he felt a
tapping at the back of his shoulder. He turned and saw the two weasels
he'd overheard earlier standing behind him with eager looks on their
faces. One of them (Billy he was pretty sure) spoke up.
"Heck of a fight, there, Squirrely," he said, shifting his weight
from one foot to the other. "Bob-O here and me knew you could do it all
along." He looked down and grinned. "Oops... wet your knickers, there,
dintcha? Don't worry, ol' Bob-O does it all the time."
"Thanks," Stellar replied, shamefully turning his yellow-streaked
pants away from the weasel, but nonetheless happy to finally be getting
some respect. "It's what we heroes do, you know."
Billy paused for a second, wondering if the squirrel meant fighting
or pissing in his drawers.
"Uh, yeah, I suppose it is," he continued. "Anyways, Bob-O and I
was wonderin if you wouldn't mind a little help takin care of this here
hawk. Uh, my cousin, bout ten trees yonder, is in charge of the local
jail, um, so we, uh, thought we'd take this baddy over to him and lock
him up for ya. Save ya a lot of time and trouble, you know, what with
all the other crimes you probably gotta go stop."
Stellar thought about it for a moment. "Yes," he finally said.
"I'd appreciate the assistance. It's encouraging to know we heroes can
depend upon the help of normal citizens such as yourself."
"Uh, yeah," Billy said. He turned to the other weasel. "C'mon,
Bob-O, you grab that end and let's get a goin'!"
Bob-O grabbed the bird's feet and, along with Billy, who had the
bird's head, began to drag the hawk away from the scene. "Say hello to
the moose for us," he said to Stellar as they left.
Stellar felt his face go red with anger. "There is no moose!" he
started to yell, but stopped himself. "Fine," he said instead. "I'll
tell the moose you said hi."
Then he turned to fly away, on to his next mission, satisfied that
his duties here were at an end. As he flew, his super-enhanced hearing
picked up Billy talking to Bob-O as they struggled with the massive bulk
of the defeated super villain.
"Hurry up, Bob-O," he was saying. "We gotta get this here bird
home quick, fore it wakes up. We'll grill it up nice and crispy!
Tastes just like chicken, these hawks do."
Streaking out of the North Glade, a much-humbled Stellar Squirrel
pretended not to hear him.
© 1999 Tom Waltz