10: Eat Until Your Heart's Content
10: Eat Until Your Heart's Content
Polly sat the package of turkey meat on the counter, and sliced it open with her claws. "Okay, this is the last package of meat. Let's see how long we can make this last."
It had been a number of weeks since the power had gone out of the pizza parlor, with absolutely no sign of letting up. At the same time, they had abruptly lost all their money mysteriously, leaving them without any source of income. That meant, of course, that they had to ration out all the food wisely without taking any risks. Eventually though, they would have to succomb to the fact that they would eventually run out. And then WHAT would happen?
Polly looked at the individual members of the team: Speedy, Guido, herself, Francine, and GB. GB was the only one who was better off, still having several packages of bird food in the cellar of his home. Everyone else seemed gaunt and tired as their energy began fading slowly.
Polly held up a few slices of meat, then sliced at it, cutting them into 4 pieces. One by one, the 4 members of the team ate their shares of food, while GB just went on nibbling away at his share of birdseed.
At that moment, Curtis pushed open the doors and strolled on in. Regardless of all the problems overwhelming the city, the calico still seemed as happy as he ever would be. "Having a good day, Curtis?" Speedy said to him.
Curtis smiled. "I just had a slice of lemon merinque pie, and I also just beat the Rescue Team at 'Risk.'"
Guido spoke up. "Curtis, listen to me. While we're all here starving, you're just as fat and overjoyed as ever. You're also seemingly ignoring the fact that the city's without power. What's your secret?"
Curtis chuckled quietly. "Quite simple, Guido. We get our food from the spaceship fleet during power outages, and the Mansion's powered by cold fusion. It's a little something I came up with back when one of the Cheese crime family members was able to cut the supply to the Mansion's plasma power back in the United States."
"So what was his plan?" GB asked. "To cut the power, and then attack with all your defenses down?"
"Pretty much," Curtis said. "He planned to cut off our plasma power by wrecking our underground power plant. Once he did that, he brought in at least a couple hundred tanks to do battle with us. That was Big Mistake #1, since we were able to dodge the firepower. Big Mistake #2 was when we activated our cold fusion power plant. The result was that the defenses on the roof made short work of what he had left."
"None of that is going to help us out of our little 'problem'," Francine growled. "We are just about out of food, and we have no money left to buy anything. How are we supposed to go on like this?"
"Simple," Curtis said, his voice deadly. "You won't."
Everyone turned towards him. "Huh?"
"About 4 days after the power outage began, I turned Aldonza Karate and her friend Zapana Zquor loose on the problem. They reported that Chaos Kitten and Felonia Jase were the ones that have stolen the money from Little Tokyo. The agent that I had Jerry Atrick station over in Manhattan also reported that members of the Cheese crime family had swiped all the money in Francine's account, including the sales from the Garlic Jr. pizza turnout." Curtis's voice was filled with contempt by the time he reached the words "Cheese crime family." He continued on. "I called the fleet up in orbit right before I went to play 'Risk'. As soon as they're able, they'll get some of Earth's food from the S.I.D. storage containers and send them down to Little Tokyo."
"That's a relief," Polly said quietly. "Because of the way we've been rationing our food, I haven't been feeling too well."
"Yeah," Speedy moaned. "Same here."
"One word, four syllables: 'malnutrition'," Curtis hissed. "I see what Chaos is planning. He's planning on giving you a slow death so that you'll be too weak to interfere when he takes charge. That's why he's stealing the money from the city: to weaken the citizens and the Royal Infrastructure. And the only way he'll give the food back is if he's elected ruler of the city."
"Why, that miserable, no-good, slimy piece of----" Francine was about to say something else, but caught herself on Curtis's famous "don't-you-dare-I've-got-you-covered" look. Instead, she interjected: "----slime!"
"We certainly can't let him take over," said GB. "We can't wait until then to overthrow him. As soon as we get all our strength back, we'll have to join up and defeat him."
"That reminds me," Polly said. "Have there been any news from the Rude Noise?"
"Yes," Curtis said. "Cannonball spotted a large variety of fighting robots and tanks over outside the island that Little Tokyo is located on two days ago. They're just about ready to go, but they haven't made a move yet. Crow-Magnon seems to think that they're waiting for the signal, so he has the Ninja Crowbot ready just in case they do receive it."
"Must be waiting for us to weaken," Guido said, his tone sour. "Then, when we don't have any strength to fight, clobber us on the blindside."
"Yeah, that seems to be Chaos's plan of action." Curtis paused for a moment. "I just hope that----"
And at this moment, for Polly, everything went dark as she fainted dead away.
"Oh, no," Speedy groaned. He ran up to Polly and shook her violently, trying to wake her up. When she didn't respond, Francine bent down to see if Polly still had a pulse.
"Yes, Virginia, we ARE falling apart," Curtis growled, trembling with inward fury. The part of the rebuilt counter that was in his hand shattered into dust; the material he had managed to locate wasn't as strong as he had hoped.
"She's still alive," Francine reported as she got up from the floor. "But she'll most likely die soon if we ALL don't get ourselves something to eat, and FAST."
"Blast," Curtis hissed. Angrily, he pulled out his communicator and switched it on. "Grand Admiral Curtis Wildcat calling Administrator Gamma Cat on the S.I.D. Hexagon Ship CYCLONE. How much longer is that next shuttle down to Little Tokyo going to be?"
"About another 20 minutes, Wildcat," a low-pitched voice growled back. "The shuttle that was supposed to deliver the food broke down, so we're transporting it in one of our other shuttles."
"We don't have 20 minutes, Gamma Cat," Curtis snarled. "We need to HURRY. Try to quicken your pace a little bit. As in NOW."
Short pause. "Understood, sir," said Gamma Cat before the communicator clicked off.
Curtis put his own communicator away, rumbling away under his breath. "My administrator is reliable, but he CAN get a little lax at times."
"I hope he hurries, too," Speedy said quietly. "Polly's the only one I have. She's the only one who comforts me when times get rough. I'm the only one who comforts HER effectively when times are bad."
"Yeah, tell me about it," Curtis growled again. "Back when Shila was a Super-Cat, she always managed to calm me down, no matter HOW mad I was. Now? There's nothing to keep me under control if I become enraged."
Just then, there was a knock at the door. "Let me see who that is," he said. He slowly opened the door....
.....And there was Guru Lou's capable assistant, Atom Cat. He was holding a pan of freshly cooked lasagna in his hands. "Anyone here hungry?"
Curtis's eyes widened at the sight of the lasagna, and he would've eaten the whole thing himself hadn't Guido walked over and taken the pan in his hands. "My dream has been realized," he managed to say.
GB shook off the arrival of the extra food. "That's it? We'll need a LOT more than that."
"Oh, don't worry," Atom Cat said, grinning. "I'm not alone."
He stepped into the parlor; and several other figures entered behind him: Lucille, Carla, Big Al Dente, the Flying Skull Master Jerry Atrick, and even Guido's old friend Ruby. Each of them were carrying something meant to be eaten.
At this time, EVERYONES eyes widened. "Look at the SIGHT of all that!" Speedy said excitedly....but then his voice trailed off when he remembered Polly. He spoke quietly to them all. "Lucille, Al, everyone, thank you. If we can get Polly awake, though, then some of that will have to go to her."
Atom Cat stepped forward, setting the food on the counter. "No problem."
Polly surged back into reality, shaking her head wildly. Her eyes focused on Atom Cat, who stood next to her with an empty bucket in his paws. "Ah, 'tis Sleeping Beauty!" the young cat cracked.
Angrily, Polly sprang up off the floor and decked Atom Cat across the face, knocking him clear across the parlor. "Never, ever, EVER do that again!" She grabbed a dishrag off the nearby sink and started wiping off her face.
"Polly, in case you're hungry, we have some stuff to eat out on the counter." Curtis could barely keep his mouth from watering at the sight of his favorite foods.
"Oh, really? What do you have?" Polly said. "It's been quite a while since I've eaten anything GOOD."
Curtis simply smiled.
"Here she comes," Atom Cat, peeking into the kitchen. He rubbed the side of his head where Polly had whacked him.
"What exactly did you all bring, anyway?" Francine had to ask.
"Guru Lou got me to cook up some lasagna and bring it over here," Atom Cat explained. "When I got here, I discovered that others had found out about the Pizza Cats' plight and decided to help them out."
"How exactly did you cook, though?" Speedy said. "I mean, with the electricity off, and all?"
"I wonder who came up with the idea of battery-charged microwaves in the first place," said Jerry.
Atom Cat tapped the counter with a claw. "Guru Lou."
"Oh. That explains it." Speedy sat down in one of the chairs scattered around.
Atom Cat continued. "Lucille brought a batch of her best brownies. Carla whipped up a batch of mixed vegetables over a fire..."
"That explains the smoke I saw coming from the back of the house earlier," GB mumbled as Polly walked on into the serving area.
".....Big Al brought some of his Italian meatballs, Jerry cooked up some Spanish rice and some tacos, and Ruby made some mashed potatos and green beans."
"Just like my grandmother used to make," Curtis said as he joined Polly and the others.
"Your grandmother made that stuff?" asked Jerry.
Curtis nodded his head and smiled. "Yes." He then shook his head to clear the thought out of his mind, and settled down to eat a few bites. At least they would survive until after the fleet finally brought the food down to the surface.
And when they did, he promised himself angrily, then the fur was going to fly.
His thoughts were interrupted as Ruby walked up to him. "You don't mind if I have something to eat too, do you?"
"Go on ahead," Curtis snarled, still halfway buried in his thoughts. "Just don't mistake my tail for a hot dog."
"No need to worry," Ruby said, holding up a pair of glasses. "I have these with me this time."
Curtis raised an eyebrow, then started chowing down---for real.