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Suddenly the melting pot of toys came alive! Playthings gathered around to study the new arrival. There were murmurs about how the cube did not see this one coming. Then a shriek came from atop the dresser. It was a blue spray bottle with a battery-powered fan on top. "Oh, my department store Santa! I can't believe he forgot me! It is going to be hot on their vacation so now Junior will have to get another one! There is no room for two spray bottle fans on the dresser!" The misting fan scowled at the puzzled wind-up dog, "It's your fault for distracting the lad and making him forget!"

"Teams Alpha, Bravo, Foxtrot, on me!" commanded a disembodied voice. Ropes lowered from the shelf above. Other Major Smith O'Reens figures repelled down to the shelf for inspection of the automaton puppy. The contingent of toy soldiers were the same hero but varied in size and quality—one was fully articulated, meticulously detailed, sporting a flocked beard, and another was an injection molded plastic prize from a cereal box. Each wore a different uniform for specific missions. The parallel universe version was clad in a cape. Last to descend was an oversized figure just like the scuba cop Muhammad took with him except outfitted with olive drab safari fatigues. "Clear."

The strong-jawed major with a cocksure strut greeted the wind-up dog in a friendly manner, but his demeanor quickly switched to tell the newcomer to stay in its place. "You are not a real toy. You're a knickknack! While we toys take the risks of being broken, chewed, or lost, you ornaments sit on this safe enclave in contentment year after year and become collectibles after a child grows up that are handed down to the next generation!" The tough guy pointed to a kite hanging from the ceiling. "Each mission it goes up on could be its last. Chances are if it doesn't get stuck in a tree, the string will accidentally be let go!" The kite could barely stand to listen to these kitemare scenarios and its tail shook frantically.

Toy soldiers inspect new addition

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