DEBT OF HONOR: Part One
The crew were arguing. They had been sailing to South Africa to see some friends when they ran into a big problem, they ran out of water! "It's all Shel's fault." Said Minty the monkey. "I only left for a minute to get a banana, when I came back the brigantine was stranded on dry ground."
As those of you who actually read my stories might recall the magic of the Catavenger is dependent on water,
with water it is capable of sailing through time and space to almost anyplace on the face of the earth. Without water it's just an inert pile of wood.
While the crew was busy blaming me their poor butler Shel. I was laying in my hammock, with an ankle sprained from slipping on the monkey's banana peel. I looked out the port hole and was the only one who spotted the dusty figure of a young man approaching. He of course was curious to see a ship and the odd figures arguing on board.
"Ahoy the ship." The young man called. "I overheard you mention water can you spare a drop to drink?"
Topcat looked over the railing and called for him to come aboard. "Lets all take a break and get refreshments." Tiberius Tiger the ship's cook prepared them a meal which Minty served ( punishment duty, this is usually my job, ) and they ate. The cats introduced themselves and their visitor introduced himself as Winston Churchill.
"The Prime Minister of England!?" Panther exclaimed shocked.
"While I hope and believe I one day shall be, at present, I am but a humble reporter. I am also on the run from the Boers since I am English and an escaped prisoner of war. So as much as I appreciate your hospitality I feel bit conspicuous here and must be going."
"Wait a moment," Captain Topcat said, "we do not have a quarrel with the Boer's ourselves but you are our guest and we can't let them harm you. Although we ourselves are in trouble we still have a few tricks up our sleeves."
Topcat continued and explained the situation to his guest. "You see our ship the CatAvenger is a magic sailing vessel capable of sailing the seven seas of time and space but like any ship it s dependent on water the CatAvenger does not need much but it does need some not only to sail but for it's magic to be fully activated. The little water we have in the drinking water casks should be enough to activate our powers of invisibility if our lookouts spot any Boers."
Churchill pondered and said "I am happy that your magic will not harm the Boers although our nations are now at war I am fond of them as people. Then he asked; "so you are magic cats then? I suppose you have magic lookouts since I see no one in the crows nest. What exactly is this magic? I don't understand how it works other than that it seems dependent on water..."
"If one understood it would not be magic." Topcat replied, "I am inclined to think that what we call magic is only technology so highly advanced and wondrous that we can not understand. For instance our lookout does not have to be in the crow's nest. We have cameras mounted on the masts and they send a signal to our video monitor that the lookout watches. That may be magic to you but is only common technology in our century." He continued. "There is nothing magic about cats thinking, using tools and talking, all cats and most animals - carnivores anyway - can think and talk. We usually choose however to hide this from silly humans."
"I know a lot of talking humans who can't think." Panther interjected. This caused Topcat to laugh.
Topcat took their guest on a tour of the ship showing him how it worked. This surprised the crew members seeing him so trusting of a strange human. They did not realize that the late great Spooky had been a fan of Mr. Churchill and had told Topcat all about her human hero. Finally the Captain showed him the shrinking device the ships Engineer Spott had made from stolen blueprints modified and wired into the ship. Amazingly enough any technology could be wired, ( if it was silver wired, ) into the structure of of the ship. The ship's so called magic would then incorporate it.
Topcat propose that he give Winston, (by this time they were on a first name base,) directions to safety. In return Churchill would aid the Catavenger by carrying the miniaturized ship.
"We will of course still owe you a debt of honor." Topcat concluded.
After Winston Churchill had agreed to this proposition the officers and crew quickly prepared the ship for this ordeal, riding in someones coat pocket would surely be a rougher ride than a sea voyage. They battened the hatches and stowed everything. When they tried the to shrink themselves and the ship however the device did not work.
"It's the lack of water Mr. Spott lamented the device is wired into the the ship with out it's magic the shrinking field won't work."
"That did not stop the original device, why does it affect this one?" Panther ask.
Mr. Spott explained that the original was just a ray that directed upon an object would shrink it. His device was an improvement that made a force field that could also be reversed.
Topcat cut into the long winded explanations. "Just use the hand held unit."
This was an exact copy of the original the crew had "borrowed."
A cask half full of water was put over board. Winston was showed how to use the ray-gun. He shrunk the ship they picked up and put it carefully into the cask. He then shrunk the cask with the ship inside and put it carefully into his pocket. The crew had meanwhile put the Atlantean bubble around the brigantine. They had also ran a snorkel for air through the side of the cask and prepared to wait.
Winston Churchill then set out on the course Topcat had given him. The ship bucked and rocked but the bubble as well as its magic - activated now by the water gave it a high degree of protection. Finally someone told me what was going on I Had been unable to walk because of my hurt ankle. I was quite upset because I also have held Winston Churchill to be my hero. I had always wanted to meet him.
"Meet him! You are in his pocket. I would say that better than just meeting him!" Said Snowball chortling maliciously.
Winston Churchill following the course Topcat had given him came to John Howard's house. Mr. Howard helped Churchill escape it took a number of days but eventually he reached Portuguese East Africa. In the town of Lourenco Marques Churchill went to the docks and gently set the little keg containing the ship in Delgoa Bay. Churchill had talked to the cask the whole time he now said what he was going to do and popped the top off the cask submerging it in the water. Topcat and company although a bit worst for wear had heard what Winston said. The bubble containing the ship floated free the crew quickly deflated this and stowed it on board once fully in the sea water the Catavenger's magic was totally active. The ship grew larger until about the size of a large model ship then stopped. If anyone noticed a grown man playing with what looked like a toy they did not comment.
Winston Churchill bent down to hear what Topcat told him. He followed the feline captains instructions and threw the ray-gun in the water where the crew would recover it later. "We owe you debt of honor," Topcat shouted. If you ever need us just put a message in a bottle and drop us in the ocean we will get it. Meanwhile two words of advice, if someone ever mentions 'radar' listen to him, and - of course - always listen to your cats!"
The ship and the future Prime Minister then parted company. Churchill went to the British consul and the brigantine Catavenger sailed off, still the size of a toy until well out of site of land.