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13: Gone Downhill
13: Gone Downhill

"Ok, guys, so here's the deal," explained Speedy to the others.  They were all heading back to the Pizza Cat to take what was left of their belongings to the Palace for the time being.  "As soon as we get everything to the Palace, we get out our armor and assist Little Tokyo with repulsing Chaos Kitten."

"We're up against several hundred robots and machines, Speedy," Guido protested.  "Little Tokyo's army is down to 82% manpower, but Chaos's group has only lost a bare few of its flock.  How are WE going to destroy them by ourselves while we're down one member?"

"And on top of all that, Curtis's Super-Cats have been having trouble making any progress on these things," GB added.  He had joined the Pizza Cats on their third trip to the parlor.

Speedy refused to listen to these arguments.  "We're just going to have to do the best we can while we're shorthanded.  It's either we fight for this city and die as winners, or we DON'T fight and we die as losers."

Polly nodded her head.  "Good point."

"The best advice I've heard from Speedy in the past 6 months," Guido cracked.  "Are you serious about this, or have you been on drugs recently?"

Speedy just growled.  "I'm serious about this, Guido.  Are we in this together or not?"

At this point everyone had arrived in front of the parlor.  When they heard his statement, everyone turned and looked at Speedy.

The Pizza Cat stood his ground.  "Well?"

Polly glanced at the others, then held her hand out in front of her.  "I'm in."

Speedy laid his to rest on top of hers.  "Good.  At least SOMEONE agrees with me."

GB shrugged.  "Oh, well.  Might as well do it and save the trouble."  His clawed hand appeared on top of the others' a second later.

Everyone then turned to look at Guido.  The blue-clothed Pizza Cat just chuckled and laid his hand on top of the rest, as well.  "Sure.  What kind of Pizza Cat would I be if I rejected teamwork?"

After a few seconds, everyone released their grips and walked inside the parlor single file.  "What's left?" asked Guido.

"Just those 3 crates in the basement," said GB.  "After we get these crates to the Palace, and we get to the root of the problem----"

"Oh, no you won't," purred a sinister voice.  "You won't even live to see the light of day as long as I'M living."

A series of cracks, forming a square, burned onto the wall behind them.  Everyone immediately sprung around.  "Show yourself!" Speedy cried out, furious, as the others continued to stare in wonder at the wall.

"What, so you can stop me?" the voice purred, snickering.  "Not with any of the 9 lives that I have coming."

Those were the last words that the 4 Pizza Cats heard before that section of the wall collapsed on top of them.

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4 Rad-Cats, already suited up for combat, waited inside the Mansion's Command Center.  Teasy, Chico, and Runner were seated in several spare chairs, heads resting on paws, half-asleep.  Daniel, the more nervous of the 4, was pacing the floor in front of Curtis's supercomputer.

"What in the world is taking Curtis so long to call?" he asked aloud.  "He knows that we don't like to be kept waiting."

"I'm sure he has a perfectly good reason for it," said Teasy, a yawn escaping his lips.  "He could still be at the hospital, or he could even be---"

"Be what?" a voice interjected.

The 4 Rad-Cats looked around in confusion; whoever had said that had obviously woken them up.  "Where'd that voice come from?" Runner said into the thick silence.

"From the monitor, you musclebound dummy," said another voice, this one female.

Teasy and his brothers finally looked at the supercomputer's viewscreen.  Arrayed on it, from left to right, were Abigail, Cosmo, DeeDee, and Sundance, the New York Pizza Cats.  Each of them looked tense, upset, worried, or all 3 at once, like Abigail.

"That bad, huh?" asked Chico, taking in the looks of the 4 NYPC.

"And it's gotten worse, too," said Sundance.  "Korbi's army has overwhelmed the entire eastern half of the United States.  With each state he's conquered, he's managed to get a whole lot more materials for his robots and tanks, which means that he's DEFINITELY on a roll!"

"And at the rate he's going, he could get coast to coast in less than a day!" DeeDee said, tapping a claw against the NYPC's monitor for emphasis.

"Well, ol' Curtis isn't in at the moment," snapped Teasy.  "He's out doing who knows what.  We've been waiting for him to give us the signal to go, but he hasn't given us any transmissions since this whole fight started 24 hours ago."

"We were going to raid Korbi's office," Cosmo interrupted.  "Only thing is, we need backup.  The main branch of the Super-Cats are the only ones that fit the bill.  The Tennessee branch has already been taken out of action.  We know that, because we got nothing but static when we tried to call."

Teasy thought for a moment, a smile coming to his face.  Daniel could almost imagine a hydrogen bulb appearing above his head.  "I've thought of something that just might save our fur.  Stay on the line," Teasy ordered, tapping a few buttons on the supercomputer.  After a couple moments, the face of Carlos Cosmos appeared on the monitor, taking up one quarter of space on the screen and blocking Abigail's view of the Rad-Cats.  Chico snickered when he saw this.

"Carlos, do you read?" Teasy asked urgently.

"Yes, I can read, el loco gato," Carlos said, "but reading's not important unless Chaos starts throwing authors at us."

"Leave the jokes to me," hissed Teasy.  "Are any of your pilots out?"

"Just my 5 top ones and myself, getting ready to take on the Land-Air Eggs," Carlos said, unsure of what Teasy wanted.  "Why?"

"My brothers and I are getting ready to head out to the East Coast," Teasy explained, "but we need backup.  The 4 of us will take the Radical Bomber over the ocean.  What I need from YOU is to send the other half of your starfighter squadron along with us, because the Cheese crime family's new nation has----"

"----just crossed the Mississippi river," the supercomputer snapped suddenly.

"Okay, okay, Mu 2.  You didn't have to shout," Teasy said, waving it off.  "Anyways, we'll need help reaching Manhattan Island."  He tapped a few more buttons on the viewscreen.  "Escort us to the NYPC main headquarters, and then do what you can to run interference on the Cheeses."  He turned to Sundance and the others.  "That okay with you?"

Sundance looked at his own group, then back towards Teasy.  "Yeah, sure.  That's fine with us.  How quickly can you be here?"

Teasy checked his watch.  "Knowing how fast our vehicles are, I think we can be there in 1 hour.  Can you hold out until then?"

"Easily," said Abigail.  "Korbi's been thinking that we're not a threat, so he's let us keep the pizza place in business.  We haven't taken as many customers, still, so we were thinking of doing something about it."

"I'm all for it, senors, senoritas," purred a grinning Carlos Cosmos.  "Teasy, head down to the main hangar.  I'll have your escorts waiting next to the Radical Bomber.  Commander Cosmos, out."

Carlos's part of the monitor winked out of existence, followed seconds later by the New York Pizza Cats.  Daniel looked at his brother for confirmation.  Following the other's short nod, the 4 of them dashed out of the Center.

------------

Minutes later, a nifty blue-green transport aircraft lifted off from the Mansion's main hangar bay and raced through the air towards the Pacific Ocean, blasting any enemy units that got too close.

Escorting the Rad-Cats were 6 nimble fighters.  Their shapes started off round at the massive engines and then narrowed to a 1 meter gap on all sides; it then stretched out again to form the widest part of the cockpit, then narrowed down into a sharp point.  Each of the 6 bristled with high-tech laser beam cannons and several rocket launchers.  These 6 ships made up the second half of the renowned Cosmos Squadron, the hottest vehicles this side of the Pacific.

Inside the cockpit of the transport, Teasy stared outside as they roared over the perimeter of the main island.  "This'll be our toughest assignment yet, guys," he said quietly.  "How do you think we should handle this?"

"Cautiously," said Runner.  "Cosmos Squadron runs interference for their defensive fire as the Radical Bomber continues on through."

"So, what're you saying, Hogan?" asked Teasy.  "That each time something gets a lock on us, one of our escorts goes in, distracts them for a bit, then peels on back and regroups with us?"

"Sounds like a decent plan, actually," chimed Daniel.

"Hooooo-gan, the hero!" Chico whistled in admiration for the plot.

Teasy nodded, then dialed up Cosmos #7.  "Lieutenant, here are your orders.  Once we cross the western borderline, use your instruments continuously.  Each time one of Korbi's defensive linemen get a lock on us, peel off and keep that particular unit busy until the Bomber is out of range.  Once that's done, resume escort formation."

"Roger that, TM," said the cold voice of Cosmos #7's pilot.  "You want us to destroy the unit that's bothering you, or just keep it occupied?"

"What do you want, specifics?" Teasy growled.  "Destroy it, then reform!"

"All right, all right," Cosmos #7 said hastily.  "Just wanted to know."

Teasy shut off the communicator and sat in his seat, fuming.  Chico, chuckling, suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a Teasy Melika clothesline.

Runner voiced his concern.  "You know, Teasy, you've sounded awfully serious recently.  This is totally unlike you, you know."  Lost in his thoughts, though, Teasy ignored the comment as he glared at the distant horizon, eager to take this fight to the enemy.

The Radical Bomber, escorted by the six ships of the Cosmos, roared through the Ring of Fire, sending sonic booms flaring across the atmosphere that took some time to dissipate.