Puke Furballer, a young barn-cat
Princess Flea-a Purrana
Darth Growler, Catmander of the Death Purr
SBT, a robocat
F1F2, a robocat
Manx Miaowlo, pilot of the Mewlennium Falcon
Chew Paper, Miaowlo's Munchkie sidekick
Rex Can-opener, former Odd-eye knight
It is a period of war and the fur is flying. Undeclawed rebel cats, striking from a hidden litterbox, have won their first victory against the evil Veterinary Empire. During the battle, rebel spies managed to steal the passpurrs to the Empire's ultimate weapon: the Death Purr, a weapon with enough power to destroy the entire rebel breeding program. Pursued by the Empire's sinister Pawtroopers, Princess Flea-a races aboard her cat-transporter, custodian of the passpurrs that could save her people, and restore freedom, catnip and a really absorbent cat-litter to the galaxy.
As we enter the scene, evil Veterinary Assistants and their Pawtroopers are about to kill a rebel ship. Many of their signals have gotten through to rebel sympathisers. F1F2, an early Leopard Cat hybrid robocat with three legs, decides it is time to escape before the cat-transporter is destroyed. His companion, SBT, a more carefully developed golden glitter Bengal robocat, is following him only because F1F2 appears to know where he is going...
"I know I'm going to regret this!" cried SBT, as he followed F1F2 into the escape pod. F1F2 closed the doors and their escape pod detached itself from the burning shell of the ship and fed into the void of space, 'Do you have any idea where you are taking us?"
F1F2 chattered and chirped and twitched its bilateral whisker arrays.
"No, I thought not," said SBT, "I suppose we'll just have to make the best of it," and he settled down to groom his golden filament fur which had become quite matted of late, "I advise you to do the same - your pelt is covered in soot and it looks like you haven't licked your paws in weeks!"
On board the Veterinary Assistants' ship, the commander of the Veterinary Assistants was quite pleased with the attack.
"A pod has just launched, sir. Instructions?" asked the lieutenant, a big tabby tomcat with a badly-chewed ear and only half a tail.
"Hold your fire. There are no life-signs showing aboard the pod, so don't waste and firepower on it," ordered the commander, licking his lips. He raised a paw and began scrubbing dust from his nose.
"We can't seem to find the passpurr file anywhere, Lord Growler," the lieutenant reported.
"What about the escape pod? It could have been carrying the passpurrs. If there were any survivors of the fight, I want them killed. Search the system until it's found, and destroy everything in the area if you need to!"
Growler was a huge Bombay stud, with glossy night black fur and newpenny gold eyes which glittered coldly; he twisted round and licked a patch of fur on his haunch into place. He had been known to demolish entire pairs of drapes with his razor-sharp claws if angered. He had single-handedly defeated the dog population of several minor planets after playing with the planets' inhabitants for days until he finally dispatched them. He was terribly feared throughout the galaxy.
Meanwhile, in the escape pod, SBT was still worrying that they had no idea of where they were going. They seemed to be headed towards an unimportant desert planet.
"Are you sure you can fly this thing without crashing?" queried SBT to F1F2. "This thing's been stripped, and I'm in no mood to try to repair it."
The escape pod finally crash-landed on a lonely planet, with the passpurr file safely stored inside of F1F2. The two robocats clambered out of the wrecked craft and began to wade through the sand.
"Oooh, sand," said SBT, "If I was a real cat I'd be digging little holes all over the place and then burying my droppings afterwards."
F1F2 simply chirped and chattered in an irritating manner. Not knowing what to do, the two robocats wandered around until a tribe of Mewas grabbed them.
The scene now switches to a small barnyard at a farm not far from where the escape pod had landed. Puke Furballer is an orphan tabby barn-cat who works on his foster-parents' farm as a young mouser. Pukes foster-parents are humble, hardworking catnip-farmers. Hand-reared from early kittenhood, Puke has little idea of his true identity and has known no other life. He knows that one day he will inherit the catnip farm.
One afternoon, Puke went into the nearest town to buy replacement parts for his foster-father's catnip-harvesting machines. Two robocats caught his eye - a large, gold-colour, felinoid robocat called SBT and a smaller, three-legged one called F1F2 who was to be sold with SBT on a "buy one, get one free" basis. They weren't quite what his foster-father had in mind, but Puke decided that they looked useful.
"Please buy me, young tomcat," said the golden glitter robocat, "I'm very useful and can do many domestic chores. My friend here may look small, but I assure that he is very useful."
F1F2 chattered and chirruped, and SBT knocked him on the head with a paw to shut him up. Both were eager to get away from the Mewas who had brushed them the wrong way and had tried to declaw F1F2 until the robocat had finally stopped struggling. F1F2 was eager to deliver his message.
"That's quite enough of that F1F2, I'm sure that the young tomcat can see just how useful we are," said SBT.
Intrigued by F1F2's chattering, Puke haggled with the Mewas and finally took the robocats back to the barnyard. After a little attention, they cleaned up quite well. Puke was attempting to straighten F1F2's ruffled fur when the robocat began to behave oddly. Finally it coughed up a hairball and started to play a holographic recording of a young silver tabby female.
"Please help me, I am the Princess Felea-a Purrana and I am being held hostage by Darth Growler; he is going to send me for spay and declaw surgery if I refuse to do what he wants. If he does that, I will never become queen or found my own bloodline! Please give this message to Rex Can-opener, he'll know what to do. Please rescue me - the fate of the galaxy depends on it ..... Please help me, I am the Princess Felea-a Purrana and I am ....."
Puke called his foster-father, an elderly ginger tomcat, who seemed to think there was some significance to the message and a possible threat to Puke's home-world. If the Veterinary Empire was indeed tracing this robocat, it was likely they would destroy everything in the area. Puke's foster-father advised the young barn-cat to seek out an old feral who lived a short way from the farm.
"His name is Can-opener, he may be related to the Rex Can-opener in the message," said Puke's foster-father, his whiskers agog and his ears pricked.
Puke took his foster-father's advice and borrowed the family cat-carrier. He took the two robocats with him to show the message to Can-opener.
"Rex Can-opener," mused the old feral, waking from a mid-afternoon nap and delicately cleaning behind the toes of a hind paw, "It's been a long time since anyone called me by that name. Not since I left the Odd-eye." He sat up, suddenly alert and asked F1F2 to play back the recorded distress message.
Can-opener was extremely concerned by the message. He was an old Devon Rex who had gone feral after leaving the Odd-eye knights. For many years he had lived alone with no-one knowing quite who, or what, he was. Can-opener stretched - first his back legs and tail and then his front legs, bowing low and yawning as he did so.
"We must get that robocat off this world," Can-opener said, blinking and licking his chops.
Putting on his Odd-eye dog-hair robe, Can-opener advised Puke to go into town with him. There, they could hire a pilot who to help them on their mission to rescue Princess Flea-a from Darth Growler. Together, Puke, can-opener, F1F2 and SBT took Puke's cat-carrier into town where, almost at once, they were accosted by a unit of Pawtroopers who demanded to see their ID tags. The Pawtroopers, all huge Maine Coons, showed a particular interest in the two robocats, sniffing them up and down.
"Where did you get the robocats?" demanded one of the Pawtroopers, its whiskers bristling and its eyes glinting mercilessly.
"Uhh, I bought them from some Mewas at the used robocat market. They'd salvaged them from somewhere and I was going to use this old F1F2 unit for spare parts, but my foster-father fixed it up. They both in pretty bad shape when I got them, practically scrap," Puke told him, sure that the Pawtrooper intended to toy with him like prey.
"This is not the F1F2 you are looking for," purred Can-opener in a strangely hypnotic way, "We are free to go about our business."
"This is not the F1F2 we're looking for," said the nearest Pawtrooper to his fellows. "You can go about your business," he said to Puke and Can-opener.
The Pawtroopers then seemed to forget what they were doing. They completely lost interest in SBT and F1F2 and went off to investigate a large crumpled piece of paper on the other side of the street. Puke thought they were like cats who'd gotten a sudden whiff of catnip or of a female in breeding condition.
Can-opener and Puke made their way to a dangerous bar frequented by off-worlders, and seldom visited by Veterinary Assistants. As Puke stepped up to the bar, Can-opener went in search of a likely starship. Puke had never seen such a collection exotic breeds. Longhaired ones, shorthaired ones, ones with bobtails, curl-eared ones and fold-ear ones were all drinking milk and catnip juice cocktails at the bar. Two cats were caterwauling and others were gambling. As Puke walked in, all eyes rested on him. He stood out from the crowd of hardened exotics like a polydactyl's thumb.
"Phsssst, hissss, mrraaaoooowwarrr" yowled a particularly odd-looking semi-longhair with a bobbed tail, huge ear-tufts and vast cheek-chops. Puke didn't know what breed it was, but it was a Pixie-Bob.
"He doesn't like you," said the Pixie-Bob's partner, a LaPerm.
"Sorry," replied Puke nervously, retreating away from the dangerous-looking pair.
"I don't like you, either. I am wanted for caninicide in three Veterinary districts," the LaPerm continued, sharpening its claws on the side of the bar.
"I'll be careful to remember that," said Puke, cowering in submission and flattening his ears sideways. He yawned and blinked to show he wasn't challenging them, but the Pixie-Bob and its LaPerm companion didn't take any notice of his non-challenging posture.
"You'll be neutered!" growled the LaPerm, extending its claws in Puke's direction.
"This little kitty isn't worth the effort," said Can-opener, approaching Puke.
"Meee-ooowww! Ffizzzt! Yeerrrowwarrr! Shisssss!" hissed the Pixie-Bob as it attempted to shoulder past Can-opener and get to Puke. With a single stroke of his Lightwhisker, Can-opener neutered the Pixie-Bob. Its LaPerm companion backed off. The other exotic breeds went back to drinking and caterwauling and were careful to ignore the Odd-eye with his Lightwhisker.
"I think I've found a ship which might suit us," said Can-opener, indicating a battle-scarred tomcat next to him
"The name's Manx Miaowlo," said the tomcat, "I hear you're looking for some transportation."
"Yes, indeed, if it's a fast ship. We must get off this planet," said Can-opener.
"Fast ship? The Mewlennium Falcon has made the cattery gate in less than twelve seconds! Why, I've even outrun Veterinary Assistant ships. It's fast enough for you, old cat."
Puke, Can-opener and the two robocats followed Manx Miaowlo to the spaceport just outside the town. When he saw the ship, Puke exclaimed, "What a pile of hairballs! That's just a clawed couch!" Puke may have grown up on an out of the way barnyard, but even he could recognize an old ship.
"It needs an catnip converter at least," sniffed SBT who was trying to do several things at once. Manx Miaowlo's eyes glittered dangerously as he whirled to face the impertinent robocat.
"I've made a few modifications of my own. The Mewlennium Falcon can run rings round a Veterinary Empire fighter. She'll be fast enough for you."
"Who's your co-pilot?" asked Can-opener.
"Chew Paper, my Munchkie," replied Miaowlo indicating an imposing figure which had been scratching fleas out of its shaggy fur.
"Prrrp," said the huge, shaggy-haired, short-legged, very, very hairy cat, and then began to swish its tail angrily. Puke couldn't tell what breed it was beneath its snarled fur.
"It's a Munchkie," SBT told him, "They are distantly related to Munchkin cats, but much, much bigger and not as sweet-natured. But they are excellent pilots, good in fights and have great cornering abilities and a low centre of gravity. You'll see," and SBT fell uncharacteristically silent.
"Suddenly, F1F2 began chattering its teeth wildly. They turned just in time to see a group of angry-looking Oriental Longhairs coming towards them with their claws unsheathed. Manx and Chew paper bounded into the Mewlennium Falcon and, after a moment's hesitation, the others followed him.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" asked SBT, but F1F2 only gave a concerned chirrup.
"It's a troop of Veterinary Assistants!" shouted Manx. "Let's get out of here. Chewy, you take the helm!" The Munchkie bounded into the cockpit and sat down at the console.
"OK, Manx," said Puke. "You said this shipping crate was fast enough. Now get us out of here!"
"Shut up, kid! Chew Paper, prepare to make the jump into space! I'll try to keep The Veterinarians busy," Manx strapped himself into the other pilot's seat, "Hold on tight!" he warned his passengers.
As the Munchkie began to punch in the co-ordinates, the Veterinary Assistants were joined by the Pawtroopers who had accosted Puke and his companions earlier. Apparently they'd lost interest in the crumpled up paper and decided to take another look at F1F2. The Pawtroopers surrounded the Mewlennium Falcon and Puke realised that the Pixie-Bob from the bar had grassed on him.
"They're firing!" shouted Puke. "Can't you do something?"
"Making the jump into space takes time, kid. One wrong co-ordinate and you could come out in the middle of the asteroid belt and end up looking like something the cat dragged in!"
"Mrrr, we're ready to go," muttered the Munchkie.
Bright lights flashed by the cockpit as the Mewlennium Falcon jumped though hyperspace. As the crew breathed a sigh of relief, the Munchkie started laying in a new course, grumbling to itself the whole while. With the immediate danger left behind, Manx washed behind one ear.
"Not bad, for an old crate," remarked Puke. "Though the ride out was a bit rough."
"Myaaw!" hissed the Munchkie, glaring at Puke.
"Don't insult his piloting skills, Munchkies are very short-tempered, " warned Manx Miaowlo.
"So?" asked Puke.
"He tends to bite people's heads off if they upset him."
We leave the Mewlennium Falcon hurtling onward through space. Meanwhile, in a distant star-system, Princess Flea-a is being held prisoner by Darth Growl and his forces.
Princess Flea-a was ushered into the conference room, followed closely by Darth Growler. The Princess, a stunning silver tabby shorthair, was dishevelled and tired. They hadn't allowed her catnap in ages and they brushed her fur in the wrong direction until she crackled uncomfortably with static.
"Governor Ripclaw," she spat, "I should have expected to find you holding Growler's leash. I recognized your unique smell when I was first brought on board."
She coldly eyed Ripclaw, with his torn and tattered ears and his single eye, and spat at him. Then to show how much she despised him, she squatted and pee-ed on his front paws. Ripclaw switched his tail angrily and narrowed his eyes into green slits, but he didn't retaliate. He ignored Flea-a's provocation and nibbled angrily at an irritating patch on his shoulder.
"You clawless, fangless, mixed-breed neuter!" spat Flea-a, "I'll bet you mate with your own mother!"
"Charming to the last," Ripclaw declared menacingly, "Growler, have you received any information?"
"Her resistance to catnip is considerable," Growler rasped. "Perhaps we would get faster results if we increased the dosage."
"You've had your chance, Growler. Now I would like the Princess to witness the test that will make the Death Purr fully operational. Today we demonstrate the kill option, and we've chosen the Princess's home of Pedigreedia as the primary target."
"No! You can't! Pedigreedia is an unaligned world, with no weapons. It is a peaceful world! You can't..."
"Then name the rebel base!" Ripclaw snapped.
"Moggy-Den," she whispered. "They're on Moggy-Den." She turned away.
Governer Ripclaw sighed with satisfaction. "There, you see, Lord Growler? She can be reasonable. Proceed with the demonstration."
It took several seconds for the words to sink in. "What!" Flea-a gasped.
The planet of Pedigreedia appeared on the viewscreen in front of Growler, Ripclaw and Flea-a.
"Pedigreedia is an unimportant world," Ripclaw explained. "We require a visible lesson to demonstrate the power of the Death Purr. After we've destroyed Pedigreedia we will mount an attack on Moggy-Den."
As the Princess watched, Ripclaw reached over and punched commands in on the console. There was a flash of light and a brief pause, then viewscreen showed an empty scene with only a little dust floating in space where Pedigreedia had once been." The Princess hissed and fell to the floor.
We return to the Mewlennium Falcon which is hurtling through space...
Manx Miaowlo finished checking out the various monitors and finally sat down for a good wash. He had convinced himself that they had lost the Pawtroopers as they passed beyond the star system. In the main cabin, F1F2 and the Munchkie were playing cat chess. The aim was to move into a position where you could see your opponent, but they couldn't see you. The Munchkie was losing and it made him irritable. F1F2 had just executed a particularly clever move which had blocked the Munchkie's game strategy. The Munchkie was growling warningly at F1F2. SBT was trying to placate the Munchkie at the same time as warning F1F2 to be careful not to provoke the huge, hairy, short-tempered creature. Across the room, Puke was too busy practising with his Lightwhisker to notice the commotion.
"Too high, Puke," said Can-opener. "Don't just bat at it like it's a feather. Remember, the Lightwhisker is the weapon of the Odd-eye Knight. It must be used properly. Batting and pawing won't get you anywhere. Feel the Fur."
Puke turned back to the floating tease-toy humming quietly in the air next to him. This time, Puke's attacks complemented the tease-toy's perfectly. The tease-toy spun and circled tantalisingly and, overcoming his youthful impetuousness, Puke parried its every move.
Manx Miaowlo, was unimpressed. "Forget this Lightwhisker stuff. Give me a good set of claws and a well-aimed spray any day."
"Pssht, pssht," said Can-opener going blank-eyed and falling silent for a moment.
"What happened?" asked Puke, as soon as Can-opener's eyes re-focused.
"Strange," said Can-opener, " I felt a momentary disturbance in the Fur, like someone was brushing it the wrong way. It's gone now; it might just have been a build-up of static in the Fur."
"We're coming up to normal space," called Miaowlo from the pilot's cockpit. The Mewlennium Falcon emerged into normal space, only to be bombarded by debris and dust.
"What on earth...?" gasped Miaowlo, "We should be close to Pedigreedia."
Miaowlo batted several knobs on the flight console, and a message appeared on the screen in front of him: "Pedigreedia not detected"
"It's the right part of space, but it's empty! Chewy, where's the nearest planer?"
"It's ..." the Munchkie started to say, but was interrupted by a photon blast off to the left.
"Veterinary Empire fighters!" shouted Miaowlo. "A whole bunch of them! Where are they coming from?"
"Can't be far from here," said Can-opener. "Those are short-distance fighters."
Puke raced to a gun-position and began firing back at the fighters. After several volleys of photon blasts, the fighters retreated. Miaowlo began to give chase and then the Mewlennium Falcon lurched suddenly. Chew Paper tried to reverse the engines, but the ship was being dragged off course. Puke noticed the engines straining. Ahead of them, loomed a vast spherical vessel, bristling with weapons. They were being dragged inexorably towards it.
"That's is no regular ship," murmured Can-opener. "Look at the weapons! They seem to have us in a tractor beam."
"There's no way we can pull out," said Miaowlo. "We're going in."
The Mewlennium Falcon was being pulled down towards the Veterinary Empire's huge battleship. Darth Growler surveyed the old vessel as Veterinary Assistants searched for passengers.
"Cat-scans show no one aboard, sir," was the report. Growler was unconvinced and his whiskers bristled.
"Send a fully equipped Pawtrooper squad on board," he said. "I want every inch checked out." He turned around and stalked off.
On board the Mewlennium Falcon, Puke was puzzled. "They just walked in, looked around, and walked off," he said. "Why didn't they see us?"
Manx smiled. "An old Odd-eye trick," he explained. "It's something I picked up on one of my smuggling trips, but I never thought I'd have to use it on myself. They aren't going to be fooled for long, though. We'd better figure a way out of here before they work it out."
The Mewlennium Falcon was drawn into a cargo bay of the Death Purr. Luckily, it was nap time for the Pawtroopers and Veterinary Assistants so Manx Miaowlo, Chew Paper, Rex Can-opener and the two robocats manage to leave the vessel. They were forced to fight a few Pawtroopers along the way and Puke and Manx 'borrowed' some Pawtrooper armour to hide their identities. Pretending to be escorting Chew Paper and Can-opener as prisoners from the ship in the docking bay, Puke and his companions eventually found themselves in one of the Death Purr's control rooms. F1F2 plugged himself into the ship's systems and overrode the computer. Suddenly, F1F2 started chattering wildly and his filament fur stood up on end.
"He keeps saying 'She's here, she's here'," said SBT, "I believe he means the Princess Flea-a. She's being held on one of the prisoner levels. I'm afraid she's due to be executed."
"We have to do something," said Puke, remembering the pretty silver tabby in F1F2's holographic message.
Still pretending to be Pawtroopers, this time escorting a Munchkie prisoner, Puke and Manx gained access to the detention levels along a route which F1F2 had identified. Can-opener and the two robocats remained in the control room, trying to gain control of the Death Purr. Chew Paper snarled and hissed, sprayed things as he went past them and scratched every soft furnishing along their route.
"I found the Munchkie and his friend in the robe trying to hack into the main computer. When I caught him he tried to spray the whole console!" growled Puke to the pair of half-asleep Pawtroopers guarding the level, "I believe he was looking for the Princess Flea-a!"
"Raaaowww!" growled the Munchkie, making a good show of being an upset prisoner of a pair of Pawtroopers.
"There's no accounting for taste," added Manx, "Perhaps the Princess likes the big hairy ones to grab her at the back of the neck - if you know what I mean!"
"Wow! Good day, eh?" said the first guard, who was coming down from a catnip-high and was gaping at the huge hairy 'prisoner'. The guard blinked several times in disbelief and sniffed Chew Paper's tail. The Munchkie tried to swipe him.
"What's up?" said the other, who had just eaten a large bowl of kibble and was ready for a really long nap.
"Prisoner transfer from cell 1138," said Manx.
"Oh yeah?" said the first guard. "Nobody told us anything about it!"
Suddenly, the Munchkie started raving wildly, Manx shouted "Look out, he's gotten loose!"
Chew Paper pulled a weapon from under his fur and the Munchkie, Manx and Puke started blasting their stolen Pawtrooper weapons left and right. The guards suddenly caught on, and were about to summon help when they were shot down.
"Wow man," said one as he fell, "That catnip really hits you!" The other guard just belched.
"Quickly, now," said Manx. "What cell is she in? It's not going to take long for these..."
Squawking from the ship's intercom receiver interrupted them, "What's happening down there?" so Manx took out the speaker with a single blast from the Pawtrooper weapon.
"As I was saying, it's not going to take long for these guys to wake up from their naps and figure out something is going on," he continued.
Puke quickly located the Princess's cell. F1F2 plugged in and overrode the locking circuit and Puke opened the cell door.
"Have you come to kill me?" asked Princess Flea-a, snarling at them, "I'm not going anywhere without a fight!" She honed her claws on the wall-covering.
"We've come to rescue you," said Puke as the Princess sprang at him, her teeth exposed and her claws extended, "I'm Puke Furballer."
Suddenly, weapons starting blasting at them. "They've found us!" shouted Miaowlo. "There's only one way out! We'll have to fight!"
"No - this way!" hissed Flea-a, "Through this hatch!" Puke and the Princess disappeared into a nearby wall-hatch like a pair of impetuous kittens.
"Mrraaoww," mumbled Chew Paper, reluctant to follow them. The hatch led into a chute that was as stinky as a three-day old uncleaned multi-cat litter tray without deodoriser crystals.
"I don't care how stinky it is!" shouted Manx, pushing the Munchkie towards the hatch. "Get in there now!"
With one last blast, Manx felled two more Pawtrooper guards, then followed them through the open hatch. The hatch was the opening to one of the ship's garbage chutes and the chute landed them right in the middle of the garbage dump. Unidentifiable trash floated past in a pool of slime.
"Mee-uch!" spat Manx, who been dunked right into the slime. He spat out a mouthful of week-old wormy cat food, "Never did like canned chow," he said.
Puke was wading through the garbage looking for an exit when he suddenly disappeared. He popped up across the pool, shouting "something's pulling me down!" before he vanished again. A slimy pale tentacle briefly surfaced above the murky brown pool.
"Giant tapeworm," muttered the Munchkie, scratching violently behind one ear. All his many fleas had rushed up above the water level and were hopping about on his head. Chew Paper pulled a sachet of wormer out from his matted fur and sprinkled it on the scummy pool, "Should do it," he muttered. The pool began bubbling as the worming granules hit the giant tapeworms.
Manx and the Princess were about to panic when Puke finally reappeared, spitting out greasy liquid and coughing. His fur stood on end in matted chunks and a fishbone was stuck between his teeth. "What happened?" asked Manx.
"I don't know," gasped Puke, retching and heaving. "I was standing on something gungy and it just got pulled away from under my paws. Maybe I hit an escape hatch."
"I don't think so," said Manx. "Look how the pool is shrinking. I've got a bad feeling about this..."
The Princess was the first to realize what was going on. "They're compacting the garbage!" she exclaimed.
Puke remembered the communicator he had picked up in the control room. He hoped it still worked after its dunking in the foul-smelling garbage. It did. He contacted SBT in the control room. "Shut down all garbage compactors on prisoner level 5!" he shouted.
Back in the control room, F1F2 searched the computer for the right command circuit. "Hurry!" said SBT, flapping his paws. "Please hurry, they're in trouble.
F1F2 found the command circuits and stopped the trash compactor. On prisoner level 5, the pool of stagnating garbage stopped shrinking and Manx, Puke and Flea-a stopped hissing in panic.
"Uuugh, smells worse than liquid doggy-doo," Manx muttered.
Meanwhile, Can-opener, using ancient Odd-eye Knights techniques, had been making his way deep into the heart of the Death Purr, slipping from level to level, undetected through his manipulation of the Fur. Finally, he arrived at the very nerve-centre of the vessel. It was busy, but the Veterinary Assistants failed to notice Can-opener as he accessed the Death Purr's security systems. Can-opener began to make the changes which would free the Mewlennium. The Mewlennium Falcon, its crew and the Princess Flea-a would be long gone before anyone discovered his tamperings.
Still unobserved and using the Fur, Can-opener began searching for the command sequences which would free the Mewlennium Falcon. Suddenly he felt a fluctuation in the Fur and shivered.
"That's not very nice," muttered Can-opener, turning round to discover the source of the fluctuations.
"I have been waiting a long, long time, Rex Can-opener," rasped Darth Growler. "We meet again at last, but this time I will finish you off."
They circled each other several times, lashing out with claws and teeth before using their Lightwhiskers. Can-opened leapt high into the air as Growler swung his Lightwhisker, and then landed on his feet, ready to attack. Growler rolled to one side then lithely sprang upright again. Growler and Can-opener sparred, each using the Fur. Little by little, Can-opener weakened, his jumps and dashes were becoming less lithe and he was favouring one paw which had been singed by Growler's Lightwhisker. Can-opener allowed Growler to back him towards the docking bay where the Mewlennium Falcon waited. The cat-fight provided a diversion which allowed Puke and the others to regain control of the ship and its systems. Puke paused to watch the conflict, amazed at its subtlety and grace.
"If my Lightwhisker finds its mark," warned Can-opener, "you will be reduced to nothing. But if you slice me down, I will always be one with the Fur."
"Your rambling no longer bothers me, old tomcat," growled Growler. "I am the master now."
With one stroke, Growler sliced his Lightwhisker through Can-opener's throat. Can-opener's brown dog-hair robe fell cleanly in two, but Can-opener was nowhere to be found. Growler noticed his victim's Fur shine and ripple just before he vanished from sight.
Puke was transfixed by the scene and had to be dragged into the Mewlennium Falcon. Manx Miaowlo and Chew Paper manoeuvred the Mewlennium Falcon out of the docking bay, and made straight for space. SBT and F1F2 were silent for once. Princess Flea-a tried to comfort Puke, but the young barn-cat was mourning the loss of his wise odd-eye friend. Then, seemingly from nowhere, he thought he heard Can-opener speak to him:
"May the Fur be with you, Puke, may the Fur be with you."
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