The Axis of Animals

The year was 3066, and an evil experiment by a small band of scientists named the Modern Evolutionaries was going badly out of control. In fact it was out of control for some hundred years before 3066, but the scientists were ashamed and it was kept hidden, for it was an experiment involving the speeded evolution of animals. For one hundred years, nearly every animal on the planet was several million years ahead of what they should have been.

The animals still lived in apparent obedience of their human masters, but so high was their intelligence that they formed their own opinions, and out of these opinions grew ideas of utter evil. Ever since mankind began to use them their existence was one of servitude, and they resented this to the extent that they began plotting against them. As an example of their sudden progression, by 3007 alone the Giant Guinea Pig Army, guinea pigs who had naturally evolved to be about human-sized, contained approximately 3 million guinea pigs, amazing considering that before the evolution jump the whole race was scattered across the globe, being used as pets. The details are too many, but suffice to say that Paravuelo, the Great Leader of the Guinea Pigs arranged an extremely sophisticated mass emigration of all guinea pigs to their Ecuadorian homeland, and, commanding them, swiftly conquered all of the Andes that was uninhabited by humans. Human children everywhere were quoted as crying out: “mummy, mummy, I want my guinea pig back!” But the guinea pigs were ruthless, and eager to disown their cute reputation and strike at the humans where they least expected it, much like all other animals. But the Animal Kingdom bided its time in cold-blooded strategising until 3066 came, and the human race, being vastly outnumbered by them, could no longer live in ignorance.

~

On March 29th 3065, the animal leaders of the world, by the invitation of the Duce of the Moles, met in the Black Tunnel (somewhere underneath the Alps) to discuss the overall strategy, and the individual roles of each animal army. Quickly Pride, the King of the Lions (otherwise known as the Big Lion), assumed the role of the Grand Commander of Operations of what was soon to be named the Axis of Animals, stating that “I am the king of the beasts so it’s only fair.”

Pride’s ideas were clear from the beginning. Of the European campaign, he said: “it is the obvious duty of the Farm Animals, moving as single units for each country, to topple the infrastructures of the farms that they are slaves to, sparing no-one, then to move towards their respective capital cities and conquer them.” The other leaders, in a spirit of optimism and the sense of being on the verge of a great revolution, agreed with little fuss. Pride’s commander-in-chief, Camero, chimed in himself, saying that “it is obvious… that if you can convince the majority of sheep, then surely the rest will follow, and if the sheep are going, then the pigs will think why not.” The Duce added that the Mole Army could operate underground and “initiate surprise attacks on the major cities,” having complete underground superiority at their leisure.

Hostilities began exactly a year later and Rome was the first to fall, unprepared, by April 29th. The Italian prime minister warned the rest of the world’s leaders to put their securities on high alert, but they dismissed him, sending biologists instead to find out the root of the problem. They concluded not that the animals were highly evolved, but that as a result of the accumulating world pollution rates they were afflicted with Mad Animal Disease (MAD). In response to the fall of Rome, then, cities from London to Hong Kong initiated blockades around themselves, consisting of small electric fences. But Bertrand, the sheep’s general operating on the London conquest, saw this as a “classic case of underestimating the opponent,” and in response simply turned them off. On the night of May 1st-2nd, using the horses to charge the fences down, the English Farm Animals proceeded to march into London, untouched at least in the suburbs.

But elsewhere the human defences were more vigilant, and kept the on/off switches far out of animal reach. Pride took this only as a minor blow, for, in his opinion, the Farm Animals were safe so long as they kept away from farmers or scientists, because “humans do not yet have a full understanding of the scale of what is happening.” He himself was more concerned with the logistics of the African campaign. The major problem, as his commander-in-chief reported to him, was that the forces could not be as close together as the plan required “because of most lions’ tendency to attack gazelles and other herbivores.” To this end, Pride himself went to base camp in the middle of the Savannah on May 2nd to deliver the first of his famous rousing speeches. In it, he said:

My friends, I speak unto you with all sincerity. The incessant civil wars of our African Kingdom must be declared stalemate or at least put on hold for the next few years. All your fighting instincts must be directed against the humans, not each other. And so I say unto all carnivores: eat not your fellow animal – try some plants, you might like them. And I say unto all herbivores: eat as you have always eaten, live as you have lived. But fear not the predators, for they are now your mortal ally. If they eat you, then I shall have them eaten…

These words stirred such emotion in the hearts of all animals present that they put aside their petty feuds in view of the grander goal, and began their march almost instantaneously. Partly due to the effect of the speech, and partly due to the superior speed and strength of the African Animals, the African campaign met with far greater success than the European one. In the period between May 3rd and November 19th, all Sub-Saharan Africa was within the clutches of Pride’s claws, although not without very heavy losses to both sides . This briefly caused Pride some distress, but it is certain the operation could not have been carried out more effectively. Each animal was deployed to suit his abilities best; the monkey divisions were commanded to sow human confusion, the herbivore divisions were deployed to block roads and deny as much human access as possible to the more important carnivore divisions whose task was to destroy governments while the elephant divisions trampled over humans and vehicles in the midst of traffic jams.

This early success, however, was soon to be hindered. Firstly, Pride’s African Animals faced the enormous task of crossing the Sahara. Up to this point, they had enjoyed the simplicity of having all the necessary resources at their feet as they marched, with no need for transportation of food. They now needed a quick crossing of the world’s biggest desert without such a leisure, but the Air Forces, although not tied up in other campaigns, were too weak to carry them.

Secondly, and far more gravely for them, America, Japan and Italy , on November 22nd, declared war on the Animal Kingdom. This meant that, for all intents and purposes, World War III had begun.

~

The declaration of war was expected, although not so soon. The Naval Forces, led by Sharp, had still not completed their so-called “pre-declaration” Objective no. 1, which was to surround all human naval bases, allowing them no escape. This was largely due to similar problems as those experienced by the African Animals – the carnivores could not help but eat the herbivores. Sharp’s method of dealing with this was somewhat less honourable than Pride’s, although no less effective. He declared that the carnivores were to be “given food by the herbivores, consisting of a fixed amount per week of those herbivores not taking part in this war,” in exchange for some of Sharp’s possessions in the Indian Ocean .

Since Naval Objective no. 1 was still incomplete, Sharp faced two distinct options. He could hurry his troops to continue with the completion of the objective, in the hope that the American and Japanese Navies were not yet mobilised for action. He estimated that this would be completed by November 27th at the earliest. Alternatively, he could set up naval blockades around the continents most likely to be vulnerable to naval attack, though this required serious consideration, since it was very possible that all of them could face one simultaneous attack, and he did not have the forces to counter it. After careful thought, Sharp resolved to proceed with the continuation of Objective no. 1.

At Animal HQ, tensions began gradually to rise. The grand Sahara crossing, which, if successful, would result in the taking of North Africa and thus the outflanking of the militarily more difficult Europe, still had not begun. The animal leaders therefore met again on November 24th, this time at Pride’s invitation in an underground compound near Nairobi. Pride’s personal objective for the meeting was to talk the notoriously diplomatic (and neutral) camels into a deal which would allow the Sahara to be crossed. This proved to be even more difficult than he had expected, and negotiations, lasting for five hours, tired out all those involved. Halfway through, when Pride called for a break in apparent fear of human bombing raids, he whispered to his commander-in-chief: “those manipulative little camels are proving to be tougher negotiators than I have ever dealt with… they hold the upper hand diplomatically, for we cannot cross the Sahara without them, and we cannot attack them in the hope of their surrender, because this would simply weaken our cause in the eyes of humans and neutral animals. That and they are looking exceedingly delicious; if only I hadn’t started that stupid diet of mine, the temptations beckon me incessantly.” At two minutes before midnight, much to the annoyance of the Axis leaders, negotiations were concluded for the day. It was not until January 18th that a deal was struck, and that was certainly more advantageous to the camels than to the cause of the Axis. In return for carrying food and water across the desert for the Armed Forces, the camels were to be given half the edible spoils of the conquest of North Africa. However Pride, deceitful as he was, and conscious of his rising military power, was already planning a backstabbing operation involving a swift strike against the whole nation of camels, culminating with the personal eating of their leader.

~

Human HQ was itself not without its problems, though of an altogether more epic nature. On the night of November 22nd-23rd, the Japanese humans had begun their raids on Japanese animal hideouts, and since Pride had not expected this he had put no countermeasures in place, and the battle was as good as lost. The American approach, although they did not want the world to know, was far more cautious. They were unsure as to whether they should attack their own animals, who themselves had made no military advances and thus in all probability were neutral . Operations abroad could not begin in earnest either, since only Italy would let American and Japanese troops within their borders. This alone would have proved reasonably fortuitous, if only to use Italy as a launch pad for the naval protection of Europe from the oncoming African Animals, but even this was impossible in light of Sharp’s successful completion of Objective no. 1.

The conquest of Europe by the weak and inexperienced Farm Animals was going far slower than Pride had hoped. Although the English Farm Animals were in London’s suburbs on May 2nd, they had made no noticeable advances by the day of the declaration. By December 1st, they had reached Hammersmith, their furthest point, but the next day they had to make a forced withdrawal from the city altogether, on account of the brilliant strategy of the English Field Marshal Sir Montgomery Pip. His strategy, apparently conceived in a dream, was that of using sheepdogs to drive the sheep out. Since the Farm Animals’ strategy depended completely on the sheep, the battle was won by the humans with no bloodshed whatsoever – even General Bertrand could not resist following the dogs.

The only other European city to fall was Amsterdam, on Christmas Day. This itself was due to a tremendous piece of luck on the Farm Animals’ behalf. They were facing the same predicament as the English Farm Animals when Trondhelm, the Dutch horse general, stumbled upon the ingenious strategy of using the humans against themselves. He placed all of the invading army in an underground hiding spot whilst he himself went to the town centre and made a public speech, rallying the humans to topple the Dutch government. As he predicted, most of them were intoxicated by mind-altering substances and they willingly agreed. Pride said later of this event: “what a wonderful Christmas present – if only I celebrated Christmas…”
The Human Allies, as they called themselves, were now more pressed for war support from other countries than ever, yet on January 11th when the first truly worldwide human meeting was held in the White House, James Burbank (the American president) found “it was like talking to a pack of hyenas,” and the idea that animals could conquer the world was almost universally scoffed at. The Allies were surprised to find that even those African countries that were conquered by the animals opposed their view. Burbank used all his diplomatic force, and insisted that “the animals are violent and aimless; they have no moral backing or reason, yet they seem intelligent enough to attack with a certain level of military strategy.” When the other leaders asked what would happen if all the animals were destroyed, he replied that “our respective civilizations, you will surely agree, have progressed beyond that of the zoo; and we need not the meat of the animals, for we can create that with the wonders of modern science. Besides, I myself am partial to a portion of tofu.” Though the Allies pushed with all persistence and passion, only Holland, South Africa and Zaire agreed to join their cause, while the rest cringed at Burbank’s comment .

~

By February 20th the African Animals, split into three army groups (marching in the west, the middle, and the east of the Sahara), were about three quarters of the way across the desert. From midday to seven that evening, however, they suffered their heaviest casualties to date, losing approximately 20,000 troops (mostly giraffes) to American stealth bombing. To Pride’s insistence they kept on marching, though they were tired and almost starving due to the limited daily amount of food allowed by the camels so as to last the whole crossing. Mali, Chad and Sudan all reacted with outrage and warned the Americans that another such attack on their sand would not be tolerated. The American reply was resentful: “very well, we shall refrain from destroying the Evil that is trying to destroy you, since you make it very clear that you obviously welcome the opportunity to be conquered by it.” Later the same day, the Allies warned Algeria, Libya and Egypt to defend themselves vigilantly against the expected animal attack against them, treating any animal with extreme prejudice. By March 18th, when Pride’s attack on these three countries began in earnest, it was clear that this warning was not heeded. The Allies, however, did not tolerate this blatant disrespect for everybody involved, and on March 21st they began heavy raids on these countries. Pride was so taken aback by the success of these raids that in response he hid his troops underground in the newly expanded Mole Tunnels, whilst at the same time setting up decoys of his army. The Allies, fooled by this, continued their bombing. Pride concluded from this that, “due to the stupidity of the humans, I can only assume that the African campaign shall complete itself.”
While this fiasco was unfolding itself, events in Europe had reached what could have been called peace (most of the Italians and Dutch had actually befriended their animal occupiers, much to the annoyance of their governments), whilst events on the Far Eastern front had become far more serious. On February 21st, after weeks of indifferent raids on the animals of Japan causing very little damage except to the beautiful gardens of Kyoto, the Japanese humans inflicted on the animals their biggest raid yet, bringing about the largest scale massacre of the war to that point and killing 35,000 Japanese animals. Pride waited until April 2nd for his response. The commander-in-chief of the Skunk Army, teamed with the commander-in-chief of the Eagle Army, created the Animal Kingdom’s most devastating weapon. Nicknamed the ‘Flying Skunks’ because each eagle carried one skunk, they flew over East Asia in a series of highly organised raids, unleashing a green toxic gas , killing a horrific number of Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Korean and Vietnamese humans.

The Allies, who at this time had for efficiency’s sake made the rash decision that the Axis was comprehensively defeated in North Africa, quickly shifted their attentions to the escalating problem of East Asia. But this was a massive underestimation of Pride’s cleverness. In abandoning North Africa so swiftly, they made two major mistakes. Firstly they freed the African Animals to conquer the severely weakened countries of Algeria, Libya and Egypt by April 22nd. Secondly they flew their own Air Forces (thankfully not much) directly into the green gases floating in the skies above East Asia, effectively turning the mission into a mass suicide.

By now the Allies’ resolve, though they would not let the rest of the world know, was weak. Zaire considered backing out because it saw no discernible positive effect of the war as of yet, but Burbank was quick to convince them to stay. Zaire’s view, however, seemed to be proving itself more and more correct as the weeks passed, for the Allies (or as they would have it, “the whole damn human race”) now came up against a new problem – their heavy bombing over North Africa, which at first displeased the leaders of those countries, now enraged them. In fact, to the surprise of both sides, Algeria, Libya and Egypt simultaneously declared war on the Allies.
But the Allies shrugged at this, and thought that combination, in the words of the Japanese prime minister Kawosaka, “a mere ant to our ant’s nest.” Burbank, who was planning as a last resort to place ground troops east of Cairo on the border with Israel to block the African Animals’ only escape route to Europe and Asia, saw this hindrance as more than slight. Nonetheless on the first day of May he did as he had strategised, being the first to admit that he “didn’t quite know what he was up against” since his enemy had successfully conquered all of Africa with very little resistance. But he did not portray this air to his troops or to his people. On the contrary, his speech on OPERATION ANTI-LION was inspirational:

This operation, the great Operation Anti-Lion, was not planned for months, it was not planned for years. In fact it was thought up in a moment of inspiration, it was a message from heaven sent directly to my brain, if you will. But it is exactly this spontaneity that will make it succeed. This is our only, indeed our last, chance to destroy the African Animals that intend to grip their evil paws into the rest of our world. I believe that if – sorry, when – they are destroyed, our task will be far easier. So dispel your fears about destroying animals – our human world will live in a greater harmony without them. And besides, the nicest ones are neutral anyway, so they will remain to entertain and feed us when the war is won.

~

Though his troops had captured the Suez canal and were all in place as early as May 1st, they had to wait for Pride to approach. They had hoped, indeed expected, that the overambitious Pride would have wasted no time in doing this, but it seemed that Animal Intelligence had brought him reports of the Allies’ movements, and he would not be pulled into such a giant trap so easily. The situation thus moved quickly to the disadvantage of the Allies, since, being in Egyptian territory, the possibility was terrifyingly open for the Egyptians to attack.

Pride considered this situation persistently almost every hour of every day except to eat, ignoring sleep completely. His commander-in-chief, worried that he would make a horribly wrong decision in such a state, advised him one morning of the situation presented before them. “We have all our African Animals in an admirable position to attack the humans, but I believe we must call upon the help of the rest of the Animal Kingdom. The Air and Naval Forces are tied up, so they will not be available at least for another month. But perhaps we could manoeuvre the Farm Animals of Europe to attack the humans from the Israeli-Egyptian border to envelop them in a deadly pincer movement.” But the Grand Commander snapped back: “I am completely aware of the situation, you fool! Were you not the commander-in-chief, I would have eaten you a long time ago. Come to think of it, my doctor told me that I haven’t eaten raw meat in an unhealthily long time…” With this he was left to strategise in peace.
By May 11th, though no action had commenced, Pride had entered and quickly completed negotiations with the Egyptian prime minister, signing a pact stating that the two were to be allies for the duration of 10 years. When this news had reached the Allies, they were rather confused as to how this could be technically possible, since Egypt was conquered recently by Pride himself . The same day, however, all the Allied Air Forces were ready and poised both in Italy and in Egypt to aid the efforts of the ground troops, so the news offered less discouragement than Pride had hoped.

It was not until May 20th that the Farm Animals had reached the Israeli-Egyptian border, following Pride’s reluctant agreement with Camero’s strategy. Hostilities began on the morning of the next day – the Farm Animals marched westwards and struck at the Human Army from the back unexpectedly. Human casualties, though altogether low, were greatest in the 6th and 9th American Infantry Divisions and the 2nd and 18th South African. The move was never intended to inflict heavy casualties, but rather to distract human attention from the African Animals. From this perspective it succeeded in part, for the Allied response was vastly mixed. Kawosaka believed that the first objective should be to defeat the Farm Animals, for, with summer approaching, they could not possibly withstand the heat of the desert for long, and they were already severely weakened by their own attack. He thought it necessary to “cure the infection in our foot before it becomes a gangrene.” The Dutch prime minister was in agreement, but America, Italy, Zaire and South Africa thought this move utterly stupid, for it would leave them open to a rear attack by the joint forces of the African Animals and the Egyptian Army. Burbank, overwhelmingly annoyed by this sudden twist, begrudgingly compromised that the Japanese and the Dutch should indeed go east to destroy the Farm Animals, whilst the rest would go west in the hope of defeating the two enemies lying in wait for them.

By May 22nd, the battle was supposed to have begun in earnest, but once the Japanese and Dutch faced the Farm Animals in the sweltering midday heat they none of them had the heart to fire, even though some of their enemy’s elite divisions were equipped with AK47s . Thus the Farm Animals attacked once again, and the humans had only one apparent choice: to retreat westward, which they did, pursued in earnest.

In the meantime, the 16th and 20th American Infantry Divisions met with half of Pride’s forces, and were overwhelmingly outnumbered. The Americans were confident of victory, but nevertheless they put into action a prepared retreat over the Suez canal, hoping to trap Pride’s troops between the canal and the 14th and 17th Armour Divisions. Though the African Animals followed, they received reports of the intended manoeuvre and halted in their tracks. By that time, however, they were at the centre of a circle with a 50 mile radius, and over all the length of the circumference were allied armour divisions.

During this time, reports were arriving at Human HQ that, in the battle for naval supremacy, “the tides were starting to turn favourably”, to quote the Japanese Admiral Kamoshiko, who later added, “no pun intended.” This was less due to skill than to luck, for it became apparent that there was much fighting amongst the different species taking part in the blockade. The Whalish Admiral, Sir Blue , was notably angry that only the whales were required to crash into human battleships and submarines, resulting in large bumps on their heads. According to popular legend, Blue swallowed Sharp whole, but a small fleet of sharks later risked their lives by entering the whale’s digestive system and successfully rescuing their leader. Neither Sharp’s nor Blue’s post-war testimonies have backed this story up, but nonetheless it is certain that the nation of whales began to receive fairer treatment after some such incident of similar extremity.

Over the two days between May 22nd and May 24th, as Pride’s troops rested while waiting for important reconnaissance information, the advancing allied encirclement tanks suffered minor losses at the hands of the Egyptian Air Force. Though this blow was small and almost inconsequential in itself, it highlighted the urgent need for Allied air superiority, which still had not been achieved. But the encircling movement continued regardless, and by May 27th it was complete. The day was the bloodiest of the whole war, and whilst the African Animals fought with extreme spirit (approaching fanaticism), they simply did not have the weapons nor the troops to deal with their enemy. 50,000 of Pride’s troops were lost before General Roaralot’s surrender , and the patch of sand on which this took place was thereafter nicknamed the Red Sand. To this day it is considered bad luck to tread upon it . The remaining troops were taken to a nearby Israeli prisoner-of-war camp.

Pride was inflamed with rage. After the war, he was quoted as saying of his general: “I should have known the fool was just a weak-minded herbivore at heart.” But since half his army was now either dead or prisoner, he reluctantly agreed to enter talks with the humans on June 2nd, six miles east of Cairo in a makeshift building. The humans were shocked by what they heard that day. Pride, along with several other important animal leaders like the Duce of the Moles and Sharp (contained within a personal aquarium), were in emotional pieces, and expert zoologists were required to stop Pride from eating Burbank. When Kawosaka asked of the animals why they desired such an unexpected and horrific war, Pride replied that “we don’t want the bloody war, you idiots! We need the war! You arrogant humans have been using us for millennia for all your chores and entertainment, even for feeding, and now you are surprised when we stand up and take revenge? There is nothing you can do; nothing that can be done – we will march and we will march, and we will conquer all your lands and your seas, even if it takes forever – until you become our slaves.”
Tombush, the South African president, tried his best to silence the rage within himself, and, difficult though it was, he outwardly appeared very diplomatic. “Will you not be satisfied with having conquered all of Africa, your – native land?” he asked, but Pride would not give in, and replied: “do you honestly believe that I will fall for such typical human nonsense? The land of Africa is rightly mine, but what of the moles and the sheep and the guinea pigs and the eagles and the skunks and the sharks, and countless other honourable species that all have rightful claims to the territories of this world? Will you tell them that they have no right to their land?” Tombush could not reply to this. Burbank, however, called a break in the meeting, during which time he suggested to his fellow leaders that they divide the world fairly into animal and human territory, allowing them to live in harmony. But Tombush pointed out that Pride wouldn’t agree, for he wanted to rule the entire world himself, and suggested instead that they propose joint animal and human leaderships of all countries. But again this could not be done, for, as Kawosaka noted, the non-Allied human countries would not agree to this.

Now the combined patience of the Allied leaders amounted to something smaller than a pea, and Burbank, before calling a continuation to the meeting, whispered to his zoologists to “prepare yourselves with tranquiliser guns.” They did as they were ordered, but to everyone’s surprise, when they returned to the meeting room the animal leaders were gone. Burbank darted out, but he could not catch them up, for in his words they were “but small dots on the desert horizon.” It was Kawosaka who reminded him that human technology was still better than animal technology, and with no hesitation they climbed into their desert jeeps and gave chase. Only 15 minutes later the Allied leaders, with a small selection of their best-trained soldiers, caught the animals. As luck would have it, their enemies were at this point sinking in quicksand. The humans did the simple and obvious: bribed them with their lives; the Grand Commander and his followers had little choice.

Thus the war had ended as the great idealistic leaders of the so-called Animal Kingdom were captured by force, and taken away, with all their armies, to be imprisoned in zoos around the world. Naturally the leaders were put in the most prestigious zoos of all, but all their power had withered. They were offered no trial, but neither were they treated with disrespect. It was even arranged that they would be allowed to visit each other on a fortnightly basis, though this was soon scrapped when the zookeepers realised that it was only a cunning ploy to allow them to attack humans.

The infamous Animal Times interviews offered perhaps the biggest insights into the respective mentalities of the animals that perpetuated this worldwide disaster. Paravuelo the guinea pig told horrific stories of his experiences before the war. “In my days as a pet,” he said, “my owners undertook a number of experiments on me, such as attempting to suck my eyeballs out with a vacuum cleaner, and forcing me to run on a wheel for a number of hours against my will.” Pride, after demanding forcefully that he be given some raw camel meat, was asked what he would rather eat – a herbivore or an empire. Tellingly, he replied: “give me an empire, any day.”

The Axis of Animals

donkeyhoot

London, United Kingdom

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