All to soon another enemy arrived. Probably the one thing all cats fear most, vacuum cleaners. These were not ordinary vacuums either the were giant robot vacuum cleaners. The cats in the crew were terrified and refused to fight the foe. Most of the few non cats in the crew were still disabled due to frostbite. The Atlanteans were worthless as fighters as we had already seen. It was up to a painfully few uninjured non-cats, Topcat, Panther, Big Leon,and Mr. Spott ( Spott and Leon were the only cats of the crew brave enough to face the vacuum robots.) Topcat ordered me to go with them .
"Come, surely you are not afraid of a vacuum cleaner your are after all our butler and used to operating them."
As we left Tiberius the cook rather shamefacedly handed me his heavy iron skillet to defend myself with. And so we went ashore to face the foe.
We had not gone far before we encountered fleeing Atlanteans. All that could swim, (the majority) were heading for the water for it seemed that the robots could not operate in water. It was not long before well encountered the robot vacuums. Topcat opened fire on one with his tomcat gun um... I think I mean Tommy gun. Although a few bullets made dents in it none penetrated. He quickly shifted aim to the wheels with much better results. The wheels flew off and the machine ground to a halt helpless. Panther meanwhile opened fire on a robot with her BAR, the bullets from the more powerful weapon penetrated it. Suddenly the machine whirred sparked and started smoking, one of the bullets from her burst had found home. A much larger robot with a turret had approached and was attempting to suck us up. The vacuum had caught poor Luppy the puppy (who had been Spooky's servant.) The other crew members were engaging the enemy and had not noticed, as he flew past I grabbed his tail. The Vacuum was starting to drag me but the weight of the frying pan anchored me. Topcat had just finished shooting up a robot and noticed our plight.

The late great Spooky and Lup the Pup:

Suck on this!" Topcat yelled and lobbed a hand grenade at the machine. The vacuum sucked in the bomb and exploded, KABOOM! Pieces of metal, gears, springs and other junk flew from it, just as it burst into flames a hatch opened and a rather shaken looking Troll popped out and ran off. His pointy tail was smoking.
"Don't shoot, take him alive ! Topcat shouted but before any one could the troll had reached a open hole in the ground and vanished. As soon as the big robot had been destroyed all the others stopped shooting and retreated simultaneously.
Topcat decided not to try to chase him but to survey the damaged robot vacuum cleaners instead, as we approached them I tripped over some kind of metal plate. As I lay sprawled on the pavement I picked it up. Wordlessly I handed it to Topcat.

He read, "made in Santa's workshop, North Pole."

Topcat plans the attack:

We went back to the Catavenger to discuss our options and re-arm. Panther thought that the troll looked the same as one of Santa's elfs. Captain Topcat looked it up in one of Spooky's research books, the only real difference between elves and trolls was the pointy tails on the Trolls. It was Topcat's opinion that the North pole had been heavily infiltrated by Troll's. He also theorized that each turreted vacuum unit held a Troll that directed five others. we re-armed and Topcat convinced a few more feline crew members including Tiberius the cook to join us. Still we were understaffed as we returned to face the foe.
Topcat decided that we must follow the robots down into the drainage sewers beneath the city as this seemed to be where the were coming from. As we went along the narrow passage we reached a huge cavern where the passage branched into into three passage ways. Our Captain decided to follow the right most passage as he could see a trail of machine oil leading down it.
" I don't want to split up our meager forces but someone has to guard these passageways while the rest of us go on. Shel I am leaving you, Cerebus and Lup the pup to do so."
Although having the three headed dog with me was reassuring I was of course still terrified. Seeing the stricken look on my face the captain relented, reached into the pack slung on big Leon and handed me a rather odd looking weapon. And so we were left alone.
We had not stood there long before we heard clanking and large troop of dozens of vacuum robots entered through the middle passage way. About every sixth one was a larger turreted machine containing a Troll. The first machine approached us and began sucking at us. Lup fired at it ineffectively with his little nine millimeter pistol, the poor little dog could not lift anything heavier than this pea shooter. The bullets bounced off the machine harmlessly. Once again the puppy began to be sucked up. Cerebus growled and snapped but as he was unarmed there was nothing much he could do against the foe.
My fury overcame my fear and I threw the large frying pan at the robot. Whoosh it was sucked inside; the robot gave off a horrible grinding sound and skidded to halt unable to digest the heavy skillet. Thus heartened I remembered my gun and fired at the next robot- a large turreted unit- that approached. Spray and pray I thought and opened fire. Spray I did for the gun was just a super soaker squirt gun. In disgust I threw it at the robot which sucked it in. The unit burst into flames, I wondered why until I smelled liquid that had leaked from the gun, it was not water but some of the Atlantean pot sheen. A furious troll popped out of the hatch and attacked us. Cerebus grabbed it, shook it and flung the creature off on to the ground where it lay stunned. That was two down but there were still dozens of foes it looked like we were doomed!
Topcat and his small band had gone on meeting little resistance. Panther shot the robots they did encounter in the treads stopping them in their tracks literally. Topcat had armed himself with a M70 grenade launcher. Anytime one of the vacuum robots started sucking Captain Top fired right into the intake blowing the machine to bits. Tiberius the cook had a similar weapon however his fired rock hard pot sheen filled week-old ship's biscuits with devastating results. They soon reached a huge cavern that seemed to be the base of operations it was heavily guarded by robots. As if to make up for his earlier cowardice Tiberius was furious when they charged in attacking. He shouted, "death from with in," as he lobbed biscuit after biscuit into the robots with devastating results exploding them.
Unfortunately my little band was not faring so well. The enemy advanced, the lead tanks turret opened and a trollish head popped out. The enemy had stopped to gloat before he attacked us. Just as all seemed lost however we saw his eyes widen with fear as he saw something behind us.

Spectral Spooky
"BOO! meow "

At that shout most of the lead units turned and drove off. The robot units they were directing followed suit. I hazarded a glance behind me and saw a huge ominous form with blazing green eyes. One of them winked at me. The spectral form was of course my own dear Spooky.
The Troll leader tried to rally his troops shouting, "it's only a cat - a ghost cat, yeah but still a cat." A few of the bolder trolls halted and directed their units and the robot units they controlled toward us once again.


At that sound the enemy broke ranks and fled.
Cerebus was excited,"hey I recognize that bark! It sounds like Asia " All three heads shouted. But when we looked behind us we saw nothing.
Topcat's troops were busy engaging the enemy at their cavern base. Paul the Pirate Rat, ( yes there are good rats, all of them aren't like the type we had fought on Gorgon isle,) had set up a .50 caliber machine gun. He fired at the enemy blasting them into scrap metal. Panther had fought her way through to the middle of the cave where she had reached a large cage that held the inhabitants of Atlantis that had been sucked in and captured by the vacuum robots. As Panther was freeing the Atlanteans, the robots that had been routed by our spectral allies rolled in to the cavern.
It was to little to late however as the blood lust, (or maybe I should say machine oil lust) was up in the fighters from the Catavenger. The crew fiercely fought the foe until the hatches flew and they fled. The Trolls fled from the chasing crew down a tunnel and out the left most opening Cerebus, Lup and I were guarding. Without their machines the Trolls were no match for the jaws and claws of the three headed dog. As Cerebus was thus engaged we heard a stirring behind us it was the Troll the dog had stunned earlier. Lup ran out and tripped him before he could escape. I then sat on him pinning him to the ground. I was tired and needed the rest anyway.
Before Cerebus could chew the trolls to bits the rest of the Catavenger fighters led by Panther arrived.

Hungry Panther:

"Don't eat them yet, I will cook them up in a nice gravy!" Tiberius the cook scolded the mythological dog. They did nothing of the kind though but rounded up the Trolls ( including my cushion) and locked them in the the same cage the Atlanteans had been held in. We looked around in vain but saw no sign of Topcat.


While the rest of the crew had gone after the main body of Trolls only Topcat had seen the leader slip away down a narrow side passage. He gave chase after the Troll who ran on until he skidded to a halt at the brink of a great chasm. Far below volcanic activity gave off an eerie light. Topcat's one big green eye widened as it adjusted to the dimness. "Hey I recognize you! You are the same so called elf who bit Spooky and poisoned her!" Topcat shouted and charged the Troll sword in paw.
The evil troll laughed as he pulled an old German Luger and fired.
Topcat deflected the shot with his sword but it was wrenched away by the impact. Topcat pulled his own mini Uzi pistol and shot the Luger from the Troll's grasp.
"Lets settle this hand to claw!" Our Captain said as he threw down the weapon and hurdled himself at the Troll raking him with his sharp feline claws. From somewhere the evil one produced a derringer which he pointed at Topcat. The hero cat violently shook his head, this dislodged his eye patch revealing a great glowing green emerald. A piercing light beamed from the jewel blasting the Troll over the precipice. Down, down he went shrieking as he fell into the fiery pit below, and then all was silent.
The crew of the Catavenger took a vote on what to do with the Trolls. The majority voted to eat them there was one vote (mine) to use them as cushions. The Atlanteans however overruled us and decided to just imprison them for life (spoil sports.)
The city of Atlantis held a dinner in Topcat's honor and presented him a medal for valor. However he was offered no kind of monetary reward. Topcat asked for nothing except for one of the submersible bubbles so that he could come to the aid of the city if it ever was in trouble again.
It was soon time to sail after the bubble took the ship to the surface; ( Topcat had been shown its operation and how to deflate it and fold it into a surprisingly small package that could be easily stowed.)
After the magical fish had left Topcat and Panther relaxed on deck under the stars and enjoyed some (stolen) Atlantean pot sheen liberally laced with catnip.
As they sipped Panther pontificated; "I realize you will be able to put that bubble to some crooked use, however it seems like we did no get much out of the Atlantean cheapskates. We did after all go through a lot to save their sorry hides! Good thing I stole all the silverware from our farewell dinner."
Topcat replied: "Oh, Panther you have no imagination. I made a deal with those fishermen. Calamari is very expensive to buy, as soon as my share of proceeds is deposited to our Swiss bank account we will be rich again. Still it would be nice to know where Spooky hid those jewels..." From somewhere in the dark a mocking voice called out. "Who says you can't take it with you!"

"Woof, woof!"

Spooky the editor:

While cleaning below decks of the ship I tripped over an old litter box. I had not even known it was there, naturally as the cats servant I had to clean it. Inside under the litter I found a lump. It was the bag of missing diamonds!

Moral of the story; clean your cat's litter box!


I Shel, the servant to the cats wrote this.

Writing this was very difficult without the help of that very literate cat, Spooky. She had served as my editor and helped in my writing, she is, (and will continue to be,) sorely missed.

"So he continues to miss me? Well it certainly shows in in his spelling and grammar. Hasn't he ever heard of a ghost writer?

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