He cursed himself for a fool. Not for the first time, but possibly for the last, he acted on impulse. This time, he had really stepped in Dilloe-Doo.
In all his Dilloe-ship, he had never actually left the Great Burrow without pushing others out ahead of him. He had always left the weakest Dilloes to hold his spot and forced the stronger Dilloes out into the field ahead of him. Of course, this led to natural attrition among the stronger Dilloes, thinning the herd and leaving the Dillocracy to the career trail-Dilloes. They were easier to control but more annoying.
He would have his rages, veer the ship of state, not steer it, but he always had those rages within the Great Burrow, among the already cowed and the easily cowed. When he sulked, they pouted with him and looked for enemies within and without to blame for his wild mood swings.
"If that fellow out in Armadillo were just our friend," the Dillocracy would say. "All things would be set right."
No one mentioned how they had asked the counsel of the Dilloe in Armadillo, only to ignore what he told them. No one thought to say how they had snickered at him and his kind privately, but in ways sure to get back to the Dilloe in Armadillo. He was not the only one to receive this treatment from the Inner Circle. The same treatment went to other of the Warrior Dilloes in the field.
Now, they were out of friends and out of warriors. They had left only the warrior caste they had put forward, full of AHG, pretend Ninjadilloes, grown fat on the finest grubs, but unable to actually deliver. A lone, harried woman had defeated the best they had to offer. The Elite Republican Ninjadilloe Guard lay now, shells rotting, tiny paws lifted skyward as though in supplication of that Great Dilloe in the Sky, staring with eyes they had closed to others, now made blind by the Finity woman.
"Blast," the Grand Dilloe thought. "Now, what do I do?"
He considered just standing in place until they let him back in the Great Burrow. He tugged at the aluminum sheet a few times, to see if the Gang of Four had released their grasp. They hissed at him from the other side.
He thought he might call out for allies within the Great Burrow. Then he remembered he had not thought it important to facilitate his allies. In fact, the mutinous Gang of Four were probably closer to him than any other Dilloes in the Great Burrow.
He had never been a particularly likable leader.
He dithered a lot.
He could not find things.
He did not prepare much for speeches. He preferred just to get an idea and then talk until something resonated with his audience. Frequently, this was how he discovered his policies. He just talked until some attractive lady-Dilloe in his crowd smiled and nodded her head knowingly.
He failed to notice this usually came when he announced he was about to finish his speech. Then, he would take cheer from the knowing smile and go on for another hour.
Now, there were few who came to listen and none who stayed long, or smiled.
"I don't think he is a nice Dilloe," one of the girls in the office told another. "I think he is a mean little Dilloe who sometimes tried to act the way he thinks a nice Dilloe acts."
"I think he is just ambitious and has a mean, vindictive streak that comes out when he does not get his way," said another.
"I think he hears whatever we say, somehow, and you two should be ashamed," a third offered.
She became Office Manager a week later. The other two were reassigned to the field, where one got hit by a truck going in late to the office her second day and the other married a three legged Dilloe on whom she took pity, and bore him several litters of little Dilloes, growing into happy old-age, far removed from the palace intrigues of the Grand-Dilloe.
She was one of the lucky ones.
The Grand Dilloe fretted. Away from his office, removed from the trappings of power, he did not look like much. His pot belly actually protruded from shell to ground, distended and gross. He was the only double chinned of the Dilloes. His tail had lost most of its scaly-Dilloe splendor from prolonged sitting.
He was not an imposing Dilloe at all.
What to do?
Before midnight, he had decided on what, for him, was a bold plan. He would, indeed, go to the Finity ranch. He would scruff the yard, eat a few grubs, scruff the yard some more and then return to the Burrow before morning, with a dozen grubs for each of the Gang of Four. Their natural appetites would take over. He would be readmitted to the Command Burrow, at least, and he could reassert himself once inside.
He had a good plan, he told himself.
Now, all he had to do was find the Finity Ranch.
He was not good with directions.
He was going to have a long night.