The press conference almost three years ago stirred up a real hornet's nest. The first attack was from the Utah Attorney General's office, where someone got the idea that we were being held in involuntary servitude. Ms. Donegal hadn't expected that angle. A bunch of state troopers showed up with a search warrant. A lion from the other group negotiated and let one cop in to search for slaves. The staff spoke when spoken to but other than that they let the lion handle the interaction. The trooper was handed off to us at the end. We politely told him that if we had wanted to leave we could have hopped the wall long ago, but we liked our situation just the way it was. We then had the guy exit over the wall, and brought out cookies and juice for the cops standing around looking stupid outside, demonstrating our skill at wall traversal. That ended the Attorney General's interest in us.
Next came the confrontation that Ms. Donegal had been preparing for since the project began: a suit-clad man and woman from, respectively, the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, showed up on our doorstep without an appointment, despite the sign at the road saying ``Lion Foundation, Visitors Not Welcome, Trespassers Will Be Eaten''. Charlie painted that sign and it had worked well up to then, that and our obscure location. I had the man in my room for two nights because of our group I am best at being charming; I decided it was prudent to be polite to him, so I put him on my bed (with a second sheet and a blanket) while I slept on my exercise mat. He actually did exercises with me in the morning although he limped when he ran; he had a big scar on one leg. He said he had been in the FBI but went back to law school after getting shot up. He said that our lawyer had done her homework well. Later Ms. Donegal said the grilling they gave her was harder than the bar exam. They never came back, so I guess she passed their exam too.
Ms. Donegal has been working on a cluster of lawsuits filed by a gaggle of religious organizations on a variety of grounds. She told us her strategy was to delay as much as possible, so the organizations would bleed themselves white prosecuting the suits, and to get them combined as much as possible. She's got all the federal suits condensed into one, and is down to two state suits, which she's managed to put on hold pending the federal decision. She says that the combined plaintiffs aren't exactly the same in religion and they tend to bicker, undermining their positions and costing their lawyers more money. Ms. Donegal's tactics have been effective, for it's been almost three years and the first substantive action is only now being heard. Ms. Donegal is in Salt Lake and she posts transcripts every night on our internal web site, which we all read and make jokes about. But if any of this stuff ever gets past the judge, we're in real trouble.
But that's not what we're thinking about, this chilly February afternoon. Lion research continues. Today's project is to determine what hard work does to us, physiologically. We've been practicing long distance running all autumn. We can run continuously, which few humans can do, due to our lungs, our generous blood supply to muscles, and our metabolic regulation. This particularly galls Willie, who hates for us to get ahead of him in anything, because after about 1.5 hours of running his metabolism goes screwy and he has to stop. Human runners call this ``the wall'', and it takes a lot of practice and psychology for a human to change metabolic gears. Our limiting factor, we believe from our experiments and measurements, is wearing out the skin on our feet, and after that, fuel supply. I'm growing very fast and I'm up to 51 kilos, of which about eight kilos is fat, not that it's prudent to burn it all up. Four kilos will carry me 160 Km. I can't beat a human in a sprint, but I can pound out 20 Km per hour all day, which is in fact what I've just finished doing, together with the three other lions in our group.
We planned a route down our valley to the little town, using Forest Service trails along the opposite side of the creek, which marks the National Forest perimeter. Then we headed into the hills along a branch of the creek where the slopes are moderate and we weren't slowed down picking our way over rock. We headed west on the far side of the hills; I wish we could have taken the crest trail and seen my tower, but that trail is too twisty and steep and rocky, so we couldn't have kept an even power output. Then we came north through a pass, and hit the dirt portion of our county road, following it a short distance, about ten Km, back home. The countryside is beautiful in winter with new-fallen snow, not too deep for us to run over easily. There was something new around every corner: a deer, a bluejay, a raccoon, a coyote, a vista over our valley, a human group bundled up in thick coats and boots. And of course we chattered, and the topic du jour was what it was going to be like to be married. We weren't bored, we were excited by the new and challenging territory.
And we've just returned.
Adam: Hi, Dr. Newman! We're back. Let's get the medical stuff over with so we can get some food!
Dr. Newman: What a job you did! You're back a few minutes early. You must be exhausted, and starving. Come on in and let's get you weighed. Adam: 51.32 kilos. Leo: 52.88 kilos. Charlie: 48.53 kilos. Simba: 47.40 kilos. Good for you, you kept your weight up. How much did you drink; each of you give me your canteen and let me weigh it. How many times did you tank up?
Adam: There was a spot on the river on the other side where it wasn't frozen over and we could get to the water safely. We drank everything left in the canteens and filled them to the top. That was the only time we refilled.
Dr. Newman: Only once? So you did all that on 3.5 kilos of water. Are you sure you aren't thirsty?
Adam: No, not at all. We breathed through our noses the whole way, and I hardly saw any steam coming out of any of us. Our turbinate bones actually do something. When I had to work harder, like when the trail went up or the snow was deep, I could feel the blood flow change in my nose, keeping me cool.
Dr. Newman: I should hope they do something; Mr. Lewis worked hard on them. Now let's have urine and feces samples; empty yourselves out, kids. How many times did you urinate out there?
Adam: None. We didn't let ourselves get thirsty, but we didn't drink all that much either. We were worried about not being able to get liquid water. My bladder got a little full the first hour, but the fluid got recycled, I guess. I'll bet it's pretty concentrated by now.
Dr. Newman: Looks like it. Now for the fun part. Get up on the table, Adam, and I'll do the biopsies. First a blood sample, or several tubes, actually. Little stick there. OK, got 'em. Let me measure your foot: five millimeters of skin left, compared to seven when you started. Now lay back and knock yourself out.
Adam hits upper button four and falls instantly asleep. It's too bad the forearm vein where we give blood is tilted at just the wrong angle when we're laying down; otherwise Dr. Newman could have spared Adam, and the rest of us, the pain of that ``little stick'' which so annoys me. Dr. Newman shaves a small patch on Adam's belly, scrubs it with antiseptic solution, and glues the surrounding fur back out of the way with ultrasound gel. He sticks a tiny wicked dagger made of solid tungsten carbide into the center of the patch. Through the skin, he sticks in a tube about two millimeters in diameter, and twists sharply. Out comes a bloody fragment of Adam: subcutaneous fat. It seems short; I thought our fat layer was thicker than that. I quickly feel my own skin, and I'm surprised, as I shouldn't be, to find about two thirds the fat I normally have. I used up a lot of fuel on that run. Dr. Newman smears gel in a strip near the work area and uses an ultrasonic probe to show the hole. He uses another steel dagger to penetrate Adam's thick belly muscles, stopping just inside the abdominal cavity. He's careful to cut between the fibers, not through them. In goes the tube again, and this time the tissue is dark, from the liver. Dr. Newman puts one staple in to hold the tiny wound closed, followed by a drop of antiseptic. He presses button two, and Adam sits right up. He investigates the sore spot, then goes over to the sink and washes off the gel.
Next it's Leo's turn, then Charlie, and finally mine. When I wake up my belly muscle is sore but not greatly so. I'll take the staple out in a week, and I'll need to put that in my calendar file, but otherwise I'll just forget about the small injury.
Dr. Newman: You kids are so steady for the liver biopsies! Go on and get something to eat. You need to build yourselves up after a big job like that. We'll do the isotope ratio analyses tomorrow, and find out just how much fat you really used. Drop by after breakfast and we'll do it, after the other group starts their run.
Adam: Bye, Dr. Newman.
We go down the hall to Mrs. Ragland's kitchen. I smell fresh baked bagels! Lots of them, I hope.
Mrs. Ragland: There you are! Dr. Newman had you in there for so long. You must be starving! Could I see your cuts? Oh, that looks nasty. You're so brave to go through that, after running so long through the snow. Sit, sit, and eat some bagels. I have all your favorite kinds.
Leo: Mrs. Ragland, thanks so much for making these bagels for us. But really, we lions are tough and strong, and people are making such a fuss over us. We're OK, really! Willie is just as tough.
Charlie: Right, people haven't seen how tough we really are! I have a really impulsive idea, how to prove that.
Adam: You've got to be crazy, Charlie! Of course we knew that already.
Charlie: You don't have to come.
Adam: I'm not letting you go out there alone!
Mrs. Ragland: Go out where?
Charlie: We're going to stuff all the bagels in our packs, fill the canteens, and run the course again! Who's with me?
Me: You're out of your gourd, but I'm sick of being the poor little starving lion. Sorry, Mrs. Ragland, I love you but Dr. Newman was making comments too, and I have my pride. Charlie, I'm going too.
Leo: Me too. And it's important for us to find out just how hard we can push ourselves. Mrs. Ragland, I'm sure everyone would have a cow, so could you please keep quiet for ten minutes to give us a head start, and then tell Dr. Newman and the rest of the staff what we're doing, and why, and that we don't want them to call us on the cell phone just to try to dissuade us, but only for a real emergency. OK? We'll be back about midnight.
Mrs. Ragland: Boys, boys, you shouldn't do that without telling Dr. Newman! Running around at night isn't the best thing to do.
Charlie: He told us the preliminary results, and we have enough skin and, with your bagels, enough fuel to do it. And don't forget, we can see in the dark, with both cat eyes and infrared. And we are telling Dr. Newman, just not in advance. And there's the cell phone and the GPS receiver and the maps and the emergency beacon in case we get into trouble. Come on, this is important. You know how Willie gets sometimes, right? We're feeling like that, and we need to show the staff, and ourselves, what we can do. OK?
Mrs. Ragland: Well, not OK, but I've learned to stay out of a young man's way when he gets in that mood. I hope they don't yell at me for not telling them right away.
Me: Would it help if we tied you up? That's a joke. Come on, people, let's weigh the bagels and fill the canteens.
We exit unobserved over the west wall of our yard, not out the front door like this morning, and evidently the staff accepted our request for acquiescence because the phone is silent. We decide to munch one bagel, as we run, every fifteen minutes until they're gone, so as not to overload our systems with the demands of digesting as well as running. Mrs. Ragland made a lot of bagels and they last partway up the branch creek as we run south over the mountains. By this time the sun is long down. Clouds cover the stars and the wan new moon, which is setting too. While our eyes are useless, fortunately our passive infrared shows the trail clearly where we trod it down just this morning. Well, it's not all that clear since the resolution is low, but it's good enough to navigate by.
Charlie: OK, people, here's the turnoff along the river. We don't want to run into the water, do we?
Leo: Are you sure? I thought the ground was flatter when we turned.
Charlie: Look where we trampled it. This is definitely the way.
We run onward through the night among cedar and Douglas fir trees. There's a patch of dormant bushes hemming in the trail, and one of them, some kind of berry I suppose, has small thorns that grab at my legs. Not that they do any damage to my opal leaflets. The trail rises a little and I work harder. There's a fallen log across the trail: something new around every corner. New since this morning, in fact. I wish we could stop to investigate, but it's too dark anyway to see what might have made the tree fall. The trail rises again and the ground is uneven underfoot. Tilty, in fact.
Me: Hey, people, hold up. There are rocks under this snow. Don't twist your ankles when they turn over. I hate to tell you this, but we kept off the rocks this morning. I think that was the wrong turn, that we thought led along the river.
Charlie: Yeah, I guess Leo was right. About face, everyone. We've only wasted a few minutes.
We run down the trail, and hop the fallen tree as we enter the grove of cedars. Onward we pound toward the main trail. That's just a metaphor; we don't pound our joints to bits; rather, we place our feet gently on the snow. The trail flattens out and, a few hundred meters further on, has a gentle rise. Down again? No, it's steeper yet. We've gone up at least twenty meters.
Me: Is anyone else as suspicious as I am? On the way in here the trail was practically flat. We're in a maze and we've taken the wrong branch again. The trail has to go like a Y. Let's turn around and walk it, and keep our infrared open this time.
Adam: But if we walk it will spoil the physiological data.
Me: But we can't run back and forth in here all night! If we don't walk it will spoil the data even more. Agreed?
Adam: I suppose. Come on, about face again.
We walk back along the trail, scanning the sides by infrared, debating over practically every bush whether it's hiding the exit. We investigate ten or twenty possible branch points; well, it couldn't be that many but it feels like it.
Leo: This stupid fallen tree again! Where could the trail be? It's like an adventure game when the wizard puts a spell of darkness on you.
Charlie: More like calling up clouds. If we just had starlight I'm sure we could see it just fine. Hey guys, this is no adventure game, this is real life. We'd better call in and let the staff know where we are. Simba, what's our GPS position? Idiot, we have a flashlight. I have a flashlight. Let's scan the trail again.
We're able to go over only half of it before the beam fades. Cold weather is really hard on batteries. And now our dark adaptation is lost and won't return for half an hour or so.
Charlie: Well, back to plan A. Adam, would you place the call?
Adam: Sure. Damn it, are the batteries shot on this thing too? I can't get a dial tone.
Me: The dial backlight is on. Try it again.
Adam: I did. Maybe with rock all around, the signal can't get to the transceiver. Damn! They're really going to be pissed when we don't show up at midnight.
Me: The trail goes up steeply on that side. It may be the branch for the crest trail. Suppose we go up high enough for the phone to work?
Leo: And miss our footing in the dark and drop off the edge. I suggest we make a shelter here and wait for first light. Then we can get out easily, and we can call in too.
Charlie: All night, in the forest? We'd freeze!
Leo: Better here, than out in the flats or on the ridge crest. The canyon walls screen us from the wind. Come on, let's pick a tree and make a bed under it. A lion's den.
We choose a cedar tree whose branches come right to the ground. I climb it and shake snow off the larger branches, as many as I can reach safely in pitch blackness. Meanwhile the other lions have been cutting branches from neighboring trees, using their teeth and claws. We all push snow out from our den and line the frozen ground with greenery. We lay down in a row like sardines in a can, and pull the rest of the branches over us.
Me: I thought of something. Let's put the canteens and the electronics in our pockets. We want to be able to drink tomorrow morning.
Adam: E-e-e, that's cold! I hope the rest of me doesn't feel like that tomorrow.
Leo: My tail tip is freezing. Everyone curl your tail up your front so it doesn't get frostbite.
Charlie: Nighty, nighty! Everybody hope I don't have a nightmare tonight.
Leo: You'd better not! If you claw me, my knee is right over your balls, if you notice.
Me: Shut up, people! Let's try to get some sleep.
It's not light yet, but not pitch black either. I was out like a light, and I guess everyone else was too. Yesterday was really hard work. What awakened me? Charlie mumbles incoherently and shakes. Then he screams ``Yaaaah!''
Me: Wake up, Leo and Adam; Charlie's at it again. Let's get out of range.
We scramble out of our makeshift den, just before Charlie starts flailing at the bedding branches and biting them. Then suddenly he flops on his back on the branches.
Charlie: Good morning. I got the SS major that time, got his head right off! I'm making progress. Did I hurt any of you?
Me: No, we escaped just before the last act. It must be morning; I can see a little.
Adam: Idiot, idiot, idiot! Look behind you.
Me: The berry bush! And that must be the right trail, beyond it, with the footprints. I remember feeling the thorns on the way in. We were camped right at the Y and never knew it.
Charlie: I looked there with the flashlight, just before it faded. Why didn't I see it?
Me: The shadows. You can't see anything with a flashlight. Come on, let's get out of here.
Leo: What time is it, anyway?
Adam: Do we care? We'll call in when we get to the main trail. Let's get moving.
Me: Is everyone OK? No frostbite? Check your tail, toes, fingers and ears. I'm cold, hungry and thirsty, but everything seems to be above freezing.
Charlie: I'm all warmed up from fighting the SS. Anyone else? No? OK, let's run.
Adam: I'm so stiff! But it's too cold to just sit around and stretch. Let's start running real slow and easy. I wouldn't want to pull a muscle out here.
Leo: Me neither.
We warm up on the way to the main trail, but the phone still doesn't work. The slightly larger valley is still hemmed in by walls of rock, and we decide to continue to the river and try again. Success at last! To keep warm we walk as Adam dials the call.
Mr. Lewis: Lion Foundation, Lewis speaking.
Adam: Hi, Mr. Lewis, it's Adam here. We're OK, but we got lost.
Mr. Lewis: Adam, where are you? And don't do any stupid stunt like that again! We were all so worried for you; we were up all night.
I hold up the GPS machine and Adam reads the coordinates to Mr. Lewis.
Mr. Lewis: I see it: at the river turnoff. What do you plan to do now?
Adam: It's about the same distance forward or backward. We'd like to finish the course. Is that OK?
Mr. Lewis: Do I have much choice? How's your fuel supply?
Adam, checking his fat layer: About half gone. We didn't use much last night; we made a good shelter. And we tried to call you, last night and earlier this morning, two different locations, but I guess the terrain blocked the signal. What time is it?
Mr. Lewis: 0550. The sun rises at 0720.
Adam: So if we don't get lost again, we should be back there at ten. We'd better save the batteries in this phone; they don't last long in the cold.
Mr. Lewis: See you don't get lost. You missed last night's court transcript. Ms. Donegal has a job for you, and you'd better be back by eleven unless you want the other group to handle it.
Adam: We'll be there. Bye, and sorry to make you worry.
Mr. Lewis: We love you. Bye.
Charlie: Did I hear him say a job? What do you think it is?
Me: Only one way to find out: run!
We push on speed, and the ground is flatter along the river and through the west pass, so we're actually back to the Lion Foundation at 0930. We read the transcripts as Dr. Newman repeats his medical performance; we're not going to put so much work into a project and then not get the complete data for fear of a second sore spot in our bellies. After that, and before breakfast, we sit through the inevitable dressing-down by Dr. Franck, Dr. Newman and our supervisors. After which...
Dr. Franck: I have mixed feelings about your little performance. Like I said, you're supposed to know what prudence means. Do you have that drilled into your vacuous brains yet? But putting that aside, I'm also very proud of you, for two reasons. First, 320 Km in 26 hours, could have been 16, is incredible. I suspect it's some kind of a record, and you can be extremely proud. Second, you should never have gotten into trouble in the first place, but once you did, you recognized your predicament and dealt with it calmly and effectively, and you finished the task, undamaged, when most humans would have been killed. You've validated one of the major goals of the Lion Project, which was to give you physiology and training that would enable you to survive. You can be proud of what you made of your pigheadedness, and we can be proud of the job we did on you. Now let's go and get some breakfast, and while you're refueling we can review the trial situation.
In the conference room Mrs. Ragland has squash pie, a whole pie for each of us!
Me: Mrs. Ragland, thank you! Did we get you into trouble too badly yesterday?
Dr. Franck: We decided that her feeling about Willie applied to you also. Know what that means? If you botch a prudence judgment you can't rely on us to hold you back. Is that a good feeling?
Me: No, sir. I guess you want us to grow up.
Dr. Franck: You said as much, three years ago. Eat your pie. Now let's review what's coming at us from Salt Lake. The nuts have gotten the judge to issue a preliminary injunction against the mutant monsters, and Ms. Donegal says three marshals, two FBI agents and a BATF are driving up from Salt Lake to serve it. They should be here around eleven if their motor home doesn't get stuck in the snow. The staff are all packed for a little winter camping and we're taking the other group with us. We want you here because your reserves are depleted, so you get to be charming to the agents. Be prudent. Remember, we just had a long talk about that? Insist that they serve the injunction on you as representatives of the Lion Foundation; Ms. Donegal thinks it will work if you're persuasive. Then comply with the order, creatively. Adam, here are the keys to one of the vans; you'll probably have to get one of them to drive you, because there won't be room in the motor home. In Salt Lake, Ms. Donegal will take care of you. Eat plenty of food now. You've read the injunction?
Adam: Practically memorized it, on Monday; what a crock! We won't let you down. Won't let ourselves down!
Dr. Franck: Then we'd better get well into the hills before they show. I'm sure you won't mind washing the pie pans.
I watch the comm desk, munching my way through a loaf of Russian black bread. Really, I don't feel depleted, although the soles of my feet feel funny because half the skin is worn off. But my body is very aware that my fat layer needs to be recharged, so I munch at a moderate but nonstop pace. I guess we let pride prevail over prudence, and we've had lots of lessons, from Greek myths to the 21st century, on what can all too easily happen when we make that mistake. Plus Dr. Franck's and Mr. Chernik's recent lesson. Aha, we have company, only a few minutes late. One of the agents reads, laughs at and ignores our warning sign. There's a level spot just inside the gate, in view of the hidden camera, where they park the motor home. Then five of the agents, in hats, earmuffs, scarves, mittens, boots and heavy jackets, sneak through the forest back from the road up to our position. We all set up NetBoard with audio. As our tactical expert Charlie is taking the lead in this negotiation, and I'm coordinating.
Me: I can see them on the rooftop camera. They should be wearing white jackets, like the Norwegian army. They're spreading out, one at each corner, it looks like. The BATF guy is on our side; I could read the label on his jacket back. One FBI agent is on the other side, and the other must still be in the motor home. There, a radio transmission on a government channel, but it's encrypted. I think Charlie should start now.
Charlie: OK, moving out. Can you hear me OK?
Me: No problem. Break a leg.
I, but not the agents, can see Charlie on the camera as he steps into our yard and up to the wall. Then he waves his hands and yells:
Charlie: Hey agents! I'm going to sit on my wall and talk to you. Hold your fire.
No response from the agents, but Charlie bravely climbs onto the wall and sits.
Charlie: You aren't exactly hidden. Come here so I don't have to shout. The BATF guy, I can see you, and if I chose to go into my room and load my rifle... But I want to keep this friendly, so how about a little courtesy, OK? You're probably freezing your butts off. Hop the wall, and we can talk inside. At least come up to the wall. If I were going to shoot you I would have done it already, without warning.
The agents confer by hand-held communicators, and a more powerful station, presumably in the motor home, joins in. All is encrypted. Apparently a decision is reached, for the five agents approach Charlie.
Woman: Where is your master?
Charlie: I'm Charlie 5-0171 Leones, a Utah citizen, the legal representative of the Lion Foundation. I don't have a master. What's your name and title?
Woman: I'm Donna Siegel, Marshal for the U. S. District Court in Salt Lake.
Charlie: Do you want to come inside and talk? My fur keeps me warm, but I'll bet the cold bothers you. Actually my butt is cold on this cement. What are you worried about, a replay of the wackos in Waco? We know how to get our way, but subtly, much more subtly. You're in for an embarrassment; no, our strategy gives you an opportunity to embarrass yourselves, but you don't have to fall into the trap for us to win, if you can figure out the honorable way. And I tell you this on my honor, you're not giving up anything of your duty by coming inside. Deal?
Siegel, on the communicator: Jake, did you hear that? It seems sincere.
Jake: One person only, inside.
Charlie: Hey, Jake! What are the rest of them supposed to do, stand around and freeze? The BATF guy could make himself useful by checking our state weapons permits.
Jake: Donna, it's your injunction, and keep an open channel.
Charlie: Someone will put a tray of hot tea on top of the wall. Ms. Siegel, do you need a hand up?
Siegel: No, thanks, I can manage.
Charlie: See you guys. OK, Ms. Siegel, right in here. This is Adam, and this is Leo. Simba is monitoring our comms, and yours, just like Jake. While we don't make a big deal of the male-female difference, it's polite to refer to us as ``he'' rather than ``it''.
Charlie: And while we have both built-in and technological weapons, as do you, we intend on this visit to keep our interaction on a dignified and civilized plane, as is appropriate for an officer of the court. No wackos in Waco.
Siegel: Hmm. Thank you for your consideration. Now I really would like to speak with the adult in charge.
Charlie: What an unfortunate scheduling problem, that. The entire staff, plus the other group of lions, have gone on a little camping trip. We males went on an unauthorized jaunt of our own, yesterday, so we weren't allowed to go with them. Murphy's law: just after you leave they'll come back. Isn't it always like that: you just miss the people you want to talk with? The unauthorized jaunt was real, by the way. Fortunately for you, we lions are legally the directors of the Foundation, and here's a letter from Dr. Franck authorizing me to accept your injunction on his behalf. Adam, Leo, the agents outside are getting colder by the minute. How's the tea coming?
Leo: Just ready now. Would you like a cup, Ms. Siegel?
Siegel: Thank you, but not when I'm on duty.
Charlie: You have an excellent sense of paranoia, but that's not how we operate. You want to take a real quick look around to verify that the place is empty except for us four lions? Go down the hall to your right, to find the human section, and knock before re-entering this room. I'm territorial. You'll meet Simba in the comms room.
I can hear Ms. Siegel give the office area a cursory breeze-through, but she doesn't even come down this corridor nor check the other group's quarters. I can hear her knock, and Charlie lets her back in.
Siegel: So you have it set up so I either serve you, or sit around out there until someone's patience wears too thin.
Charlie: Exactly, and while you have the advantage of possible rotating teams, we have had time to prepare for your visit. And we know our territory while you don't. And the tax protester family to the east and the militia group to the west have granted us free passage over their territory. Us, not you. And there's the issue of political pressure from the millions of lion person enthusiasts, some of whom are following this meeting in real time. See, I'm showing you where the booby traps are, and you can step in them or not as you see fit. Here's what I propose: Serve me with the injunction. We'll then immediately comply with it, to the letter, and I'll explain what that means in a minute. The court is in session this afternoon. You'll drive us into Salt Lake and we'll appear before the judge and demand relief. Dr. Franck left us the keys to our van, in case your motor home doesn't have enough seats.
Siegel: Why serve it on you? Why doesn't this Dr. Franck take service as he ought, and then you do your little act?
Charlie: It's a consciousness-raising maneuver. You came in asking where ``its master'' was. I suspect you picked that attitude up from the adversaries' comments in court, which we've been reading. I think you have an entirely different understanding of me now, and we're going to go to considerable trouble to place ourselves before the judge and raise his consciousness too. If Dr. Franck is the center of attention, then everyone talks about us, not with us, and the judge may not realize that he's dealing with real people, not mutated Panthera leo.
Siegel: Hmm. Jake, what do you think?
Jake: It's a legal issue, not tactical. It's your call.
Siegel: I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. OK, we're going to keep this dignified and civilized, not do the siege thing. Charlie...
Charlie: Just a second before you serve me. Give us about five minutes. Simba, you hearing this? Empty your bladder, finish your food if any is left, and drink enough water so you don't dry out, and report back when you're ready.
I comply, in the toilet next to Dr. Newman's workroom.
Charlie: OK, everyone's prepared. The envelope, please!
Siegel: Charlie, I serve you, as the legal representative of the Lion Foundation, with this injunction.
Charlie: I accept service on behalf of the Lion Foundation. Now let's go over what all the fuss is about. See here, pending certain hearings and adjudications, the Lion Foundation is enjoined from inventing, propagating, cloning, etc. etc., any novel life forms and specifically those known as lion people. Kind of closing the barn door after the horse is out, eh? And notice that the synonym ``creating'' is missing from the list? We can still create ourselves. However, look down in the list: husbandry, maintenance and other synonyms are also enjoined. Remember the operations I told everyone to finish before you served me? What do you think animal husbandry is? If we do them, we're now in contempt of court. The four of us now formally request transportation to the courthouse to beg relief of the judge. One meaning of the word ``relief'' is ``to take a pee''. Just one second while I send a message to our lawyer.
The motor home, provided by the FBI, in fact has enough seats and seat belts for ten people including us. It's interesting: we stop for gasoline at about noon, but none of the agents go in to the restrooms, nor to the burger joint next door. We didn't have to say a word, and we're picking up support in our cause. The BATF agent looks kind of antsy, and I hope there won't be any delays in the hearing.
We arrive at the courthouse about two o'clock, and the session is just getting started as we sweep into Judge Stevens' courtroom.
Ms. Donegal: Your honor, could I interrupt a second? It would appear that your injunction has been served. I believe one of my principals has a request of you, on an emergency basis. Charlie, come in here, please.
Charlie: I'm Charlie 5-0171 Leones, a citizen...
Lawyer: Your honor, I object strongly to this irruption in the proceedings!
Judge Stevens: Mr. Albright, I'm going to take your objection under advisement until I find out what the emergency is. Please continue, and state for the record what you are, as well as who.
Charlie: I'm Charlie 5-0171 Leones, a citizen of the State of Utah, and a lion person, one of the people whose invention, cloning, husbandry, maintenance, etc. was enjoined.
Mr. Albright: Your honor, I object! Taking testimony from... from that, is extremely prejudicial to this case!
Judge Stevens: Overruled. We aren't taking testimony, we're hearing about an emergency. Would you please hold your objections until Charlie the Lion has enlightened us? Thank you. Go on, Charlie.
Charlie: Now the emergency is, well, I'm not hurting yet, but the agents who served the injunction drove us down here, and their honor forbade them to do in front of us what we were enjoined to do. Husbandry includes feeding, and disposing of animal wastes. Several of the agents have very full bladders. I pray the court, is that the right phrasing? To vacate your order as it pertains to husbandry and maintenance, and then let us lions, and the agents, make a quick dash to the toilet. For the agents' honor.
Judge Stevens: Can it, counsel; I know that the agents aren't parties to the case. But the lion people are the main subject. You painted a rather different picture of them, all fanged and clawed and evil. Charlie argues cogently that going to the toilet is enjoined, and then very politely asks leave to do so. I'm going to let you give me one very brief, very cogent argument why I shouldn't let him, then a brief comment from the defense, and then I'll decide. What's your argument?
Mr. Albright: The defense has put together a charade to obscure the issues in the case and to insinuate what should have never been made into this courtroom.
Ms. Donegal: I would replace the word ``obscure'' with ``enlighten'', and I object to the comment that the lion people should never have been made, and I didn't hear any reference to toilets.
Judge Stevens: Neither did I, and from you I didn't hear any reference to ``charade'' either. Nonetheless. The injunction is vacated as to maintenance and husbandry, and we'll have a ten minute recess, after which I want Charlie back here for some questions from the bench.
Ms. Siegel signals the way to the toilets, and we lions push the human agents ahead of us. On the men's side there are two urinals and two commodes. Jake waits for his compatriots.
Jake: Charlie, when you told your people to empty their bladders, I figured there was probably a good reason for it, and I took the opportunity myself, in the motor home.
Charlie: Jeez! Thanks for your confidence in me. I'm not used to having adults, particularly adversaries, make decisions on my input.
Back in the courtroom, Charlie stands before the judge.
Judge Stevens: Now, Mr. Albright, the defense has taken the injunction and turned it into a charade to introduce Charlie here into the courtroom, at the same time using the threat of a noisome flood to induce me to punch a hole in the part of it which I would judge would most hobble the Lion Foundation. I was surprised that Ms. Donegal's objections to those provisions were not more vigorous, and I have a feeling this charade has been planned for a long time. On the matter of the vacated section of the injunction, I'm sure you have objections, and I'm going to ask for a written brief on that. I did what I did, and there's no point flogging the dead horse orally just to get it on the record. I think our time is best used in deciding how to make the best use, the most informative use for this case, of Charlie's unexpected presence. Since it's the defense's lion, I'm going to ask Ms. Donegal for her proposal, and then you can make your comments. Just stay right there, Charlie.
Ms. Donegal: Your honor, the Lion Foundation trains our lions to think and act independently. We've had considerable success letting them speak for themselves. What would you think about letting Charlie suggest his own role in the case?
Judge Stevens: Hold it, Mr. Albright, I'm thinking. OK, your objection.
Mr. Albright: We're taking the position that it isn't a person. Any participation by it is prejudicial.
Charlie raises his hand.
Judge Stevens: Hmmm, Charlie wants to reply to you and is being polite about it. Think of this as voir dire, Mr. Albright, like for a juror. Before deciding if Charlie can participate, I'm going to see what he, or it, has to say. Go ahead, Charlie.
Charlie: The United States Constitution, article 4 section 1, says that each state shall give full faith and credit to the public acts and records of each other state. The same credit is also given by the United States to state records. My birth certificate is part of the case record. That is prima facie evidence that I am a person.
Judge Stevens: A point which Ms. Donegal makes frequently. Previously, to resolve that point required resolving this entire tangled and dilatory case. Now the court is called upon merely to decide whether you can be asked some simple questions. Will it be as if I were questioning a cow, or some genetically engineered lion in the zoo? Let's see what you say to that, Charlie.
Charlie: We lion people refer to Panthera leo. You could visit one in the zoo, and compare its responses to mine. It would enjoy meeting the adversary counsel, I think.
Judge Stevens: Well, Mr. Albright, would I get the same thing from Panthera leo as from Charlie?
Mr. Albright: Your honor, I object to this entire proceeding. There is a pending lawsuit in this state challenging the validity of that birth certificate.
Judge Stevens: Which has not been decided, and which is waiting on the decision in this case, no doubt due to Ms. Donegal's skill in requesting continuances. If you don't have anything more substantive to say... No? Well, then, it looks like we can take the first step in finally getting this case moving. You're overruled. Charlie, the court does recognize your Utah birth certificate and acknowledges your personhood. Overruled, Mr. Albright. Now, what shall we do with you, do you think?
Charlie: Put me on the stand. The plaintiffs have said a lot of... Ms. Donegal's questions about the plaintiffs' arguments will let me illuminate lion people rather than obscure. You said something about fanged, clawed and evil. I'd like to get my fangs into that one! And could I say something on another topic? Mr. Albright objected to an irruption in the proceedings. The word ``irruption'' has a very theological connotation. The First Amendment prohibits an establishment of religion. Forbidding an irruption would be cottoning to the theological world view of a particular religion. I noticed that you never ruled on the objection.
Judge Stevens: Good try, Charlie, but the objection is moot now. Ms. Donegal, I assume you're willing? Now, Mr. Albright, what's your opinion of putting the person on the stand?
Mr. Albright: It's fourteen years old. The court needs leave of its parents.
Judge Stevens: Nice try, but one of Charlie's legal guardians is sitting right there. And the court does not need leave of his guardian in any case. And now that I've made my decision, would you please conform to the normal pattern of choice of personal pronouns, Mr. Albright? Any other reasons?
Mr. Albright: This is a very sudden development. The plaintiffs request a continuance to prepare our questioning.
Judge Stevens: Will Wednesday next week be enough time? I'm sure Ms. Donegal won't object to yet another continuance. I assume Charlie can be in court that day, right? The continuance is granted. At last, a session of this case that I can look forward to with interest. Court is adjourned.
Well, could this be a victory? At least we seem to have dismayed the adversaries. On the way out of the courtroom I ask Ms. Donegal.
Ms. Donegal: You're right, Simba, it's a break in the case, and a very good one for us. The National Environmental Policy Act has a blanket exception for the propagation, maintenance, etc. of ``people''. That's the foundation of our strategy. Now that the judge has had an opportunity to let himself be forced to decide on that issue, the whole case could very well unravel. We have a lot of struggle yet, but I'm sure now that we'll win in the end. Charlie, you did your part absolutely steadily and accurately, and the rest of you kids backed him up just fine. I'm proud of you. And I heard about the running last night. Not to congratulate you too much for worrying us all half to death and taking an unnecessary risk, but what you finally came up with was great! Can I guess what you'd like to do now?
Charlie: Remember we went to that Chinese restaurant? Would they be open this early? Here's what I'd like to do: order one of those rice buckets for each of us, and get some other stuff to put on the rice. I liked the pepper steak, and maybe there are other dishes you could show us. That would be our afternoon snack. We didn't get lunch because we were enjoined. Let's invite the agents to eat with us; neither did they!
Ms. Donegal: I'm not hostile to the agents; they were just doing their job, and apparently they did it intelligently. But it's not a good idea for parties in a case to get tangled up with court officers. Come on in my car. We'll get you fed.