7: Short Trip
7: Short Trip
As it so happened, the royal family and the Council were having yet another daily meeting, this one to discuss the latest in the members' various departments.
Violet sat on her pillow, staring at the floor and not saying a word. It was as if she wasn't even there---which made quite a difference in the mood of the meeting. It would certainly be a huge surprise to everyone if Curtis had just shown up, unannounced.
And that was what he decided to do. Gripping his sword, he executed a Cat's Eye Slash. The first surprising part was that it destroyed the entire curtain he was hiding against and arrowed its way out an open window. The second surprise was that only Speedy and the rest of his family were supposed to pull it off, if the rumors were correct.
The third surprising part was that Violet wasn't upset about it. Waiting for the murmurs from the Council to die down, she slowly turned her head. "Curtis," she said quietly. "You should never have come back."
"Oh? And why not?" Curtis put his sword away and folded his arms. "I tried to tell you that I would eventually return."
Her words came out in a whisper. "Because I was just about to have you executed for thievery and treason, anyway."
Curtis almost burst out laughing. "In that case---"...he paused for a moment to hold back another laugh.... "----you leave me no choice but to turn to my most powerful weapon."
He turned in the direction of the door. It opened, showing two medium-sized tabby cats wearing standard business attire. They looked like Abyssinians, but they had longer hair, marking them as Somali-breed felines. They had been conversing with each other regarding a contract with a large computer-making company; but as the door opened and the Council got their first good look them, the two turned to face the group and nodded politely.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Curtis said with a wide grin, "meet Slam and Slom Somali.
"Two very talented and very intelligent consultants."
A Council member turned towards Big Al. "This cat's obviously a crackpot!"
"I don't have anything to add to that," said one of the two cats, jarring the group into outright laughter. Vi, who was watching the exchange, seemed amused.
Curtis, however, wasn't. He just turned his head toward the ground and sat down, straightening the sword sheath as he did so. "Why did I even bother?" he whined to himself.
"Well, I had to return everything but my package of pencils," a fuming Speedy Cerviche explained to GB as they walked back to the pizza parlor.
"Same with me," GB snarled, "except I had to return a shopping tag that was on the floor."
After going around town for a bit, the boys had joined up with the girls outside the department store, where they had tried to solve the mystery of their missing money; all of them were in a bad mood. As a result, everyone looked like they were about ready to bite metal; however, they got even angrier when they opened the door.
There was no sign whatsoever of the tables, or the chairs that used to be there. The whole counter had been uplifted, and both cash registers had been broken. In short, there was nothing but tiled floor, walls, windows, and doors.
"WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED HERE!??" Francine screamed. Stressed out, she started running around what was left of the parlor, screeching all the way.
"What that lady needs is a volume control," Speedy yelled to Guido over the racket.
"No, what she needs is a tranquilizer dart!" Guido shouted back, pointing at the computer screen. "LOOK!"
Everyone gathered around the computer screen, and stared in shock at the display.
I'M SORRY, PIZZA CATS, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS SEEM TO HAVE TERMINATED. ALL MONEY FOR UTILITIES, SUPPLIES, AND OVERALL PERSONAL LIVES HAVE BEEN TRANSFERRED. TO GET YOUR MONEY BACK, PLEASE RETURN TO LITTLE TOKYO BANKING AND INTEREST TO RESTORE YOUR ACCOUNTS. YOURS TRULY, MU 2.
"We can't do that," exclaimed Polly. "The bank is closed today!"
Two more words scrolled up the screen, startling her. NO KIDDING, it read. More text followed. You FIGURE SOMETHING OUT. I'M A SUPERCOMPUTER, NOT AN ATM MACHINE.
"In the words of Luke Skywalker, 'I have a bad feeling about this'," GB muttered. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement, except for Francine, who was still running around. Finally, she stopped running, grabbed Polly, and started crying into one shoulder.
"As you can see," said Slam Somali, "it is highly illogical for Curtis to have stolen the funding for the Palace."
"Also, all sources and evidence points in one direction: the former hideout of the Animal Legion of Doom," explained Slam's brother, Slom.
"And if you make the decision to execute Curtis R. Wildcat, you will be throwing away the best hope of turning aside this threat," Slam finished.
Both of them were experienced consultants and lawyers, despite being only in their early twenties. When they graduated from high school, they decided to model their lives after the famous comic strip character, Dogbert, and become smart-alek consultants.
And they were certainly doing a good job of it.
A rhino in the Council, who looked remarkably like Rocksteady, whispered to the guy next to him. "Man, dis guy's good."
"All right," Violet said, making a snap decision. "Curtis is pardoned. Now, I need to ask for a volunteer to investigate. We need to find out IMMEDIATELY if someone is still using the old hideout. Who cares to find out?"
"Someone is," Curtis growled. "My female friend Aldonza Karate did a little scouting report, and she found out that Chaos Kitten and Felonia Jase are still hanging around the old place. And from the looks of things, they WERE using that computer to steal our money."
"All right," Violet reported. "Our mystery is solved, then. If no one has any new business, the meeting's adjourned. We'll go over your duties later when we have time."
The Council members, one by one, dispersed to their regular offices and quarters, followed seconds later by Slam and Slom Somali. Last to leave were Emperor Fred and Empress Frieda, leaving Princess Vi and Curtis in the main room alone.
Violet could already sense that something was wrong with Curtis by the way he was shivering. "Anything I can do?" she asked flat-out.
"Yeah," Curtis said. The voice came out choked, the sound of one fighting back tears. "Could you come over here for a second?" He yanked the sword sheath off his belt and flung it to the floor, the other paw wiping furiously at his eyes.
<There's DEFINITELY something wrong with him,> Violet thought. <Otherwise, he wouldn't be throwing one of his prized possesions on the floor like some piece of trash.> She stepped over to him. "Yes? What is it?"
Curtis suddenly grabbed her and started sobbing into one shoulder. Needless to say, this took Vi completely by surprise. "Um....anything I can do?...Curtis...?"
"Just so you know I DO have a heart," the teenage cat said, sobbing. The tears continued to fall. "One of my old friends was torn away from me by the A.L.D. Every now and then, thoughts of her pop into my head, and I'm afraid I'll never see her again. This is why I have to defeat Chaos and his cousin AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to keep my life from splitting in half. The shock of having lost her still overwhelms me at times."
"Sounds like you're already being torn in two," Vi said calmly. <Either this guy means it, or he's a total fruitcake.> "What is it you want me to do?"
"There's a chance that I won't survive the upcoming battle against Chaos," Curtis said, choking down the last of his tears. "There's a certain something I want to offer you, so you can remember me as the one who succeeded where everyone else failed, and to at least try to hold off Chaos yourself."