Disclaimer- CBS and various others own the Magnificent 7, I do not. The Brothers Grimm created "The Bremen Town Musicians," on which this little fribble is loosely based. Like most fairy-tale adaptations, this would be rated... oooh, TV-Y? Maybe Y7, just for very vague descriptions of violence. Also in the style of such stories, I have not given our characters names-- you should be able to tell who's who, but if you can't, I'll list 'em at the end for you.

Story Time

Once upon a time, in a place that was empty and wild, an old preacher had a donkey. The donkey had been his closest companion, listening to the preacher read Bible verses, and sing hymns, and give sermons for years upon years, until they were both old and gray-- the donkey, of course, being a bit grayer than the preacher. One day, the preacher came out to where the donkey was tethered, and stroked his nose sadly.

"My friend," the preacher said, "we've been together a long time. But now I'm an old man, and very soon, I'm going to go up to God. There won't be any one to take care of you then, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to turn you loose. I hope God will provide for you, because I can't anymore. So good luck and Godspeed." And the preacher released the donkey, which nuzzled the old man a bit, and then slowly trotted out onto the road to see where it led. Not too far along the way, he ran across a sign nailed to a tree, which said that the town of Four Corners needed lawmen. The donkey thought about that, and decided it couldn't be worse than his current situation, and didn't the Bible say people should protect the innocent anyway? So he pointed his nose towards Four Corners, and trotted off.

After a while, he came across a cat in a cage, who was singing to the skies in a mournful voice.

"Why are you crying so, Brother?" the donkey asked, ears laid back at the sound.

"Because tomorrow they're gonna drown me in the lake," the cat replied. "An' if I'm gonna die, I'm gonna make sure they don't get a lick of sleep tonight."

"You're certainly going about that right," said the donkey. "But why are they going to drown you?"

"The mistress' baby is sick with a fever, an' the doctors say it's because of me, that I'm stealin' its breath or something. After all the rats I've caught for 'em, they're gonna drown me."

The donkey had to agree that this was definitely ungrateful. Then his ears perked up.

"Say, I'm headed to Four Corners, since they're in need of lawmen. A fine hunter and tracker like you would be just what they need. And you certainly have no reason to stay here. Why don't you come along?"

"If'n you can get me out of this cage, I reckon that would be a good idea," the cat agreed.

So the donkey carefully kicked the wooden cage to splinters, and the two of them continued down the road towards Four Corners.

Farther along the way, they found a black hawk sitting on a fence, jesses tied to a post. The hawk flapped its wings slightly, gazing askance at the cat with one golden eye.

"If you want to take me down, cat, you'll have the last fight of your nine lives on your hands," the hawk snapped, talons gouging the wooden rail.

The cat didn't look particularly afraid. "Ain't interested in eatin' no scrawny blackbirds," he said, tail waving lazily. "Why're you tied up out here in the middle of nowhere, anyways?"

"A falconer decided he wanted me for a hunting bird, so he trapped me, then shot my mate and destroyed my nest. I wouldn't be tamed, and I tore at him when he tried, so he tied me up here and left me to starve. I only regret that I couldn't have torn him to pieces, because there's nothing left for me now."

The donkey shook his head. "That is a true tragedy, Brother. But your life isn't over. Why not come with us to the town of Four Corners? They need lawmen, and a fighter like you would fit perfectly."

"In case you haven't noticed, I'm tied to this fence," the hawk drawled.

Leaping up onto the post, the cat took a closer look at the jesses. "Aw, shucks, these are nothin' but leather straps. I can chew through 'em in a minute."

"Get me free from here, and sure, I'll come with you. Nothin' else to do," the hawk agreed.

So the cat freed the hawk from its bindings, and the three of them continued on the road, the hawk perched comfortably on the donkey's collar.

Farther along the road, they came to a gated yard in which a large black dog sat, howling pitifully at the moon.

"What the heck are you making that racket for?" the hawk asked, ruffling his feathers at the noise.

"My master's a healer, and he lost a patient. They blamed him, said he was a witch and were gonna hang him. He ran away, but he left me here for the mob when they come tomorrow. So I think I gotta right to howl," the dog said, and promptly continued doing so.

"We can get you out of there, if'n it'll shut you up," the cat offered. All the hair on his spine was standing on end from the shrill sound.

"Indeed, brother," the donkey replied. "We're headed to the town of Four Corners to be lawmen, and someone who knows healing would be invaluable."

The dog thought about this. "I ain't no healer, but I know a few things. If you can get this gate open, I'd be glad to go."

"No problem," the hawk said, fluttering up to the gate latch. A quick motion of his beak, and the gate swung open, letting the dog join the party.

Another couple miles brought them to a restaurant, outside which a rooster stood, crowing loudly.

"I thought you were only supposed to do that at sunrise," the dog commented.

The rooster sniffed. "My dear sir, a rooster of my station does not occupy himself with announcing the mere arrival of dawn. Rather, my ululations are in recognition of my upcoming demise."

The hawk blinked. "What?"

"He's crowing because he's going to die," the donkey translated.

"Oh."

"Indeed. Apparently, my vocal performance has offended the proprietor of this fine establishment, and therefore, I am slated to meet my fate tonight as the centerpiece for a presentation of many fine viands."

"WHAT?"

"He's too loud, so they plan to eat him."

"Oh."

The rooster flapped his wings. "THEREFORE, I am announcing my outrage to the skies, as befits a magnificent bird such as myself... Plus, I hope to annoy one of the guests into leaving early, that I might stow away in his saddlebags."

"Well, if you're set on leaving," the donkey said, "why not come with us? We're headed to Four Corners, which needs lawmen. A fast-talker like you might be a perfect addition to our group."

"My good sir, I must protest that I am a rooster of fine, upstanding breeding, and am therefore unsuited for such a profession. Rather, I--"

"Lawman or dumpling," the hawk said flatly.

"... have always been open to new experiences, and this will certainly be one to remember," the rooster finished smoothly. "Shall we away?"

Leaving the restaurant behind them, the five soon reached a small crossroads, where they met with a pair of arguing goats. The older one was a fine figure of a goat, if he did say so himself, with silky hair, strong horns, and a bleat to let every lady goat in the county know that he was there and available to them. By his side frolicked a much younger goat, barely into adulthood.

"I'm tellin' ya, we need to get out of town, fast!" the kid was saying. "Otherwise, they're gonna make us into stew!"

"Come on, kid, lighten up," said the older goat. "We can't leave yet. There's still a few ladies in this place I ain't made the acquaintance of yet."

"Ladies? Are you insane? After what you did, you're lucky you ain't a goatskin rug!"

The rooster cleared his throat. "Pardon me, but might I inquire as to the reason of this altercation?"

"Huh?"

"Why are you fighting?" the rooster clarified, cutting off the donkey before he could speak.

The kid glared at the elder goat. "This idiot got out of his pen to go visitin' a lady at the next farm, and managed to kick over the milk, let out the chickens, get mud on somebody's laundry, and ate a straw hat."

"It had flowers on it!"

"It belonged to the mayor's WIFE!"

The hawk chuckled. "You ain't changed a bit, old goat," he commented.

"Hey, why mess with perfection?" the goat replied, puffing out his chest. "So, where you fellas headed?"

"To the town of Four Corners," the donkey said. "They put out a call for lawmen."

"Four Corners, eh? Bet there are a few fine lady goats I ain't met yet..."

The kid bounced. "Yeah, and if we run into any bad guys, we can butt 'em with our horns!"

And so the seven animals continued on down the road towards Four Corners. It wasn't more than another day before they reached the small city, which was currently in the middle of yet another bank robbery. (It wasn't the safest place in the West, y'know.)

The kid, of course, was bouncing up and down at the promise of action, but the older goat stopped him.

"Hold on there, junior," he said. "We need a plan first. Right?" He looked towards the hawk.

"Right. And I've got just the one."

Twenty minutes later, the robbers were packing up the bags when a rooster fluttered in through the doors, perched on a desk near a bound teller, and crowed loudly, five times. The five thieves looked at each other in confusion, and then yelled in outrage as the bird picked up the vault keys and promptly flew back out the door. Guns ready, the six men followed the chicken outside, into the bright sunlight. Temporarily blinded, the first didn't notice the dog lying in his path until he tripped over it. Going head over heels, he thudded hard into the ground and lay there, groaning, while the dog calmly retrieved his gun and then sat on the downed man's chest.

Meanwhile, a second man had lost his shotgun and his consciousness to several hard kicks from the donkey, which now stood over him, drinking calmly from a horse trough. Nearby, a third was being butted between the two goats like a ball being passed from one child to another. And the fourth was desperately attempting to remove the cat that had dropped, hissing and clawing, from the door lintel onto his face.

The last of the robbers, having come out more cautiously than his cronies, stared for a moment, and then raised his Colt to take aim at the dog. Before he could pull the trigger, however, a shrill cry echoed from the sky as the hawk stooped from above, grabbing the gun and wrenching it violently from the man's hand. A second pass, and the gun dropped from above, landing on the man's head and knocking him completely unconscious, just as the town's judge arrived.

The man looked at the unconscious robbers, then at the seven animals, including the rooster, which had somehow produced a copy of the fliers he'd distributed, searching for lawmen to protect Four Corners. The judge shook his head.

"Well, why not?"

And so the seven animals settled into their new home. The dog found a berth with the town's doctor, who was not a superstitious sort, but discovered that patients seemed to recover faster with the friendly animal around. The rooster scored himself a berth in a plush henhouse with an egg farmer, one who was careful not to eat up his profits. The two goats found themselves a nice pen, with lovely ladies nearby for the older, while the young one tended to hang out down at the jail, occasionally giving disturbers of the peace a warning butt to the knees. The cat went where he chose, as cats do, but occasionally spent a cold or rainy night with one of the town's older ladies, who carried a hunting rifle and appreciated a vermin-free house. The hawk, meanwhile, made his new nest atop the local newspaper building, and watched the goings-on from his perch there.

As for the donkey, which'd started this whole thing, he moved in behind the town's empty church. And while he wasn't able to read Bible versus or preach sermons to the people, he found that a warm furry nose and a pair of long, listening ears went a long way to helping ease people's suffering. And every so often, when trouble came to Four Corners, the seven animals would rise up and defend their home. And they lived happily there for the rest of their days.

The End

For those who couldn't figure it out... Josiah-- Donkey, Vin-- Cat, Chris-- Hawk, Nathan-- Dog, Ezra-- Rooster, Buck and JD-- Goats. Though I'm sure you didn't need me to tell you that...