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Sparky settled his head on Princess’s shoulder. The stinging from his cheek caught up with him and he winced. Among the pain and the discussions, it was hard to settle his thoughts. No one was safe.

~~~~~~

Black rain clouds draped like curtains over the setting sun. A dense humidity had rolled in underneath the storm and sharpened the chill of fall that was hanging in the air. The gentle rain pattered down on the tin barn roof.

Oliver came down from the house to check on his goats. The animals were very settled when he appeared. Not one of the goats bounced up on his legs. The old man wished them a pleasant night in his own twisted way, something about the wrath of god and vinyl, but none of the goats were really listening. Oliver returned to the warmth of the farmhouse after only a short stay.

All the while, two shadows leaned in close to a peephole into the barn. Reilly Winters and Valerie Goldman had been spying for the better of the afternoon. Hidden in their rain slickers out of sight of the main house they had learned much.

Valerie was thrilled. The two were staring at the key to riches beyond her wildest dreams. They would have to act quickly in case the goats made the decision to run.

The thought occurred to her that she could contact her employer and advise him that Reilly had been mistaken and attempt to keep the spoils as her own. She knew that disposing of Reilly would have been little trouble. But her boss would not be so easy.

As the last of the light faded, the two silently stalked away from the barn. This stage of their mission was over. Valerie was very hard at work conjuring the next part of the plan.

~~~~~~

That night, the goats established a watch. Everyone slept within the confines of the barn, which given the rain would have been likely anyway, but it was not the same feeling. Humans, they feared, would come at any time. They assigned sentries to guard the pasture fences first thing in the morning.

A little past nine, three kids darted over the hilltop away from the main house, screaming. The goats all went into action. The nannies and kids rushed into the barn. The males of the herd huddled together in front of the doors. The hoard waited for the intruder. Sparky and Oreo stood together at front of the pack.

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