Operation Quackers

by The Yellow Feathers

Insignia of the 696th Airborne,
‘Yellow Feathers’

This is a transcription of an intercepted meeting of the 696th Airborne, the ‘Yellow Feathers’. Triangulation of signals places the location somewhere in the Hall rafters. Little is known about the covert division, although the code names of the commanders have been declassified for public release. The latest intelligence suggests that they are planning one last major operation before the flock migrates to distant waters.

The Yellow Feathers are led by the one known as Head Quack. Her enforcer is Mallard, a fanatic for the cause. Their intelligence is provided by Wings. Egg is the newest member of the team. Finally, there is Donald, who may have been one of the original founders of the division, though we do not know when that was.

Head Quack: Right, mission report! Where are we at with Operation Quackers?

Mallard: Well, ma’am, our mission was to send a flock of agents to infiltrate Oriel College. I am happy to report that all organisations within the college – JCR, MCR, and SCR – have been successfully quacked.

Head Quack: Eggcellent work!

Donald: SCR?! How did we get in there?

Head Quack: We cannot reveal our secret contact, but this plan was hatched in the highest eschelons of college. Our feathers flutter in every corner.

Mallard: Operation Quackers has been running for weeks! Platoons of reinforcements have flown through the lodge.

Donald: What, and no one’s realised?

Mallard: Ducks of a feather flock together. Do not doubt the division, Donald.

Head Quack: Thank you, Mallard! Wings, what is the latest from out in the pond?

Wings: Happy to report quacking progress ma’am. Our agents have infiltrated every nook and cranny of the college. Over a hundred are already in location, and we are on track to meet our target.

Mallard: Ha! Imagine the sight. A hundred and fifty Yellow Feathers sitting deep in college walls.

Head Quack: Brilliant work. And are all the agents safe?

Wings: … Most of them.

Head Quack: … Go on.

Wings: Well, we have had some distressing reports from at least two of our agents.

[Silence, as Wings looks to gather himself.]

Wings: One agent is out of position. She was sent to the library balcony, but seems to have flown over to the bookshelf. We cannot establish further contact with her, and are worried about her loyalty.

Mallard: What do you mean, her loyalty? A Yellow Feather’s trust is unbreakable.

Wings: We would all like to think so. She could not have reached her position without help, and others have gone missing while she enjoys the view. We have no other explanation.

Egg: [sighs] It’s painful, but it happens. There’s always one ugly duckling.

Head Quack: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We don’t know exactly what happened. What about the others?

Wings: Well, the worst is that one of them … he has been … he’s been put up on the gate, right at the lodge.

Egg: What the duck?!

Wings: Don’t worry, he’s alright. But they’ve made an example out of him, put him on display.

Donald: Quackit. How did he get himself into that mess?

Egg: Well, we have to do something, we can’t just leave him there.

Head Quack: No! It’s too risky. We all knew what we were in for. You just can’t make an operation without breaking a few eggs. We carry on as planned.

Wings: Otherwise, almost all agents have been deployed. … But, unfortunately, the college is aware. A warrant has gone out, encouraging a search.

Head Quack: What? How did that happen?

Wings: We don’t know, ma’am. Secrecy was our utmost priority. But it seems that some agents fell out, gave away their positions.

Head Quack: How many? Do you know?

Wings: Not enough to be a worry. Almost all have remained in cover. We are confident that they will maintain positions for years to come.

Head Quack: Good. With most of the students sitting exams right now, they won’t be looking either. We have timed this just right.

Mallard: [smiling at the thought] The Yellow Wings prevail.

Donald: It will be hard in the autumn, though. If the freshers find out, they’ll be looking everywhere.

Head Quack: Let’s cross that pond when we come to it – no use worrying now.

[A pause as Head Quack looks around. Her eyes settle on Egg, who appears unsure.]

Egg: A little question, ma’am.

Head Quack: Go on.

Egg: Well, I’m sure we’ve probably discussed this before – and I’m sure there’s a good answer … but … why?

Head Quack: [confused] What do you mean?

Egg: I mean, what’s the point? Why are we trying to infiltrate Oriel?

Head Quack: [aghast at such a stupid question] Why not?

Mallard: That’s the real question! The Yellow Feathers don’t wait for purpose, we make our purpose!


Donald: [whispering to Egg] Don’t worry. I’ve asked that question before as well. It makes sense once you don’t think about it.

Egg: Right … thanks …

Head Quack: Yes, I think that settles it. And unless anyone else has another question? …

[All nod.]

Head Quack: Brilliant. Good work, all. We are entering the last phases of the operation now. Keep a sharp lookout, and go spread your wings!

Mallard: Yes! Nowhere shall be safe from our beaky gaze! Our wings will cast a mighty shadow across the quads. We shall quack in the hall, we shall quack in the common rooms, we shall quack in the library and in the laundry rooms; we shall never surrender! The college shall soon fall to the ducks! Oriel is absolutely ducked!

[Maniacal quackling.]

Editor’s note: The Poor Print takes no responsibility for any duck-related shenanigans. We appreciate that Beary will have some company over the summer, though.

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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