A super generation of monarchs led by their fearless leader, Beaucup, migrate to Mexico.
In the late afternoon, having seen the banner that morning, Beaucup requested a thousand monarchs line up along a seldom used country road. Standing wing to wing on the raised strip of grass between the road's dirt ruts, the line stretched a little over the length of a football field. Beaucup landed atop a large white boulder across from the middle of the line. Just as he was to begin his address, Eddie the Prankster — dubbed the Prankster after pulling seven pranks in his first three hours — approached low to the ground and mimicked an old World War II plane, the P-51 Mustang, otherwise known as the Cadillac of the sky. Four of his six legs spun like a propeller, and he had converted his antennae into stick controls. He wore a pair of goggles the exact shape of his bug eyes (no one knew how Eddie acquired them). As the Prankster buzzed the long row of butterflies, a devious smile crossed his face.
“War's over Eddie, quite some time ago!” Beaucup hollered up to him. Eddie saluted with his wing and made a ninety-degree turn toward the sky.
Two monarchs, Edith and Ellie, fidgeted in the line. They were always together and usually gossiping.
“Hey, makes you feel a little special, right?” said Edith.
“What do you mean?”
“Being in a line of monarchs.”
Ellie, a second or two behind on any joke, replied, “Oh, I get it,” and started laughing.
“Hush,” said Edith, “he's ready to speak.”
After surveying the long row of butterflies, Beaucup raised a little bullhorn fashioned out of an acorn to his mouth and began. “Good afternoon. As you all know, the great journey is upon us, and it is time to assemble our flight crew.” Everyone stood a little more at attention. Only two positions needed to be filled — Chief Scout and Path Specialist. Beaucup had already chosen Lenny for his Right-Wing-Man. He began with Chief Scout.
“Well, then, who here can tell me where the nearest field of nectar is located?”
Not a single monarch raised a wing.
“This is not a trick question!” said Beaucup.
One butterfly slowly lifted her wing.
“Please step forward.”
She cautiously moved forward but did not answer.
“Two hundred yards southwest of Meade Meadow, sir.”
“Very good, and your name?”
“Catalina,” she answered softly.
“Very well, Catalina. I hereby appoint you to the position of Chief Scout. Moving forward you will be known as Scout.”
She bowed slightly and stepped back in line. Beaucup had asked the question because their nourishment no longer came from milkweed; it was now all about nectar.
“Well, then, who here can tell me which direction we take to Mexico?”
Wings began pointing every which way as everyone wanted to be Path Specialist and several monarchs in the line simply guessed. But only one butterfly said, “Thirty degrees south-southwest, sir.”
“And your name?”
“Thank you, Dawner. I hereby appoint you to the position of Path Specialist. Now, everyone at ease, and listen closely. I have a task for thousands of your colleagues across the woodlands to tackle.”
After Beaucup explained the task, the monarchs proceeded to carry out the orders. First, hundreds flew far and wide to recruit volunteers. Not long after, butterflies began to descend alongside the road. As Right-Wing-Man, Lenny assisted with the next steps. After he delivered these orders through Beau's bullhorn, a massive cooperation among butterflies ensued. In short order, they transformed themselves into a bright orange single engine prop plane. A second and smaller group, dedicated to being the banner, did the same and attached themselves to the tail of the plane. The pilot, who called himself the O & B Baron, ascended a ladder comprised solely of monarchs and settled into the cockpit. He wore goggles (the Prankster customized a pair for him) and a scarf around his neck (a tiny piece of red fabric he found on the ground). His co-pilot stepped up the ladder and eased into the seat behind the O & B Baron. There, they assumed a holding pattern. No one could spin the propeller-made-of-monarchs.
But, as usual, Beaucup was one step ahead. Right on time, the great white swan descended through a cloudless sky and touched down beside the road, being careful not to crush any monarchs.
“Samuel,” said Beaucup, “thank you for your punctuality.”
“Yes, right on time, yes … right on time. Right on time for what?”
Beaucup pointed to the propeller.
When Beaucup had asked Samuel earlier if he would spin the propeller, Samuel did not hesitate to agree, thinking it a simple task. Now as he walked toward the propeller and stood below it and looked up at it he changed his mind. “We have a problem here.”
“You will be fine, Samuel. Jump up and use that magnificent wingspan.”
“But my wings will be up there and … well … the propeller will be spinning … and ….”
“Jump!” Beaucup shouted at the top of his voice.
Samuel leapt high into the air and at the top of the jump swatted his wing down on top of the blade. “Contact,” said Beaucup. As the propeller slowly began to spin, Samuel dropped to the ground and waddled off. The propeller-monarchs flapped their wings faster and faster and their voices rose higher and higher as they exclaimed, “Wooooooooh!” When all voices hummed steadily at the same high pitch, the engine was running.
The co-pilot's wings quivered. In a shaky voice he said to the Baron, “Are ya sure this is gonna work? I don't see it happenin'. I tell ya, I don't see it happenin' at all. Ya even know the first thing about flyin' this machine?”
“Well, someone's never been to a Rose Bowl parade. Not gonna work. You're talkin' to the O & B Baron here. Besides, if it cracks up, we just fly away.” As the plane made its way down the makeshift runway, the co-pilot felt more at ease until the Baron put his hand on one of the controls and said, “I can't remember what this one's for?”
“Cut it out, Baron! Not funny. No kiddin' around here!”
As the Baron let out an enormous laugh, the plane lifted off and ascended into the sky. His red scarf fluttered in the breeze.
From woodland trees and babbling brooks and open fields of wildflowers, millions of monarchs looked to the sky. The banner behind the orange plane read:
MEET TOMORROW ORANGEFIELD FALLS SUNRISE
Beaucup had skillfully delegated a communication to monarchs far and wide. Everyone would gather the next morning to hear his Speech of Departure.