When Felisa saw the wardrobe charging with power, she leaped through the doorway, landing on her feet in front of Tepic. He looked at her with concern. “Mr. Arnold in trouble?”
“He’s fighting the Raptor!” she replied. Then she gasped as the door closed behind her, the sounds of the strange room changing. Tepic dashed back to the console. “Did yer hit the button?!”
“No!” Felisa looked around, confused.
“Why’s it goin’?!” Tepic looked at her with near panic on his face. “Mr. Arnold ain’t back!!”
Lisa gulped, realizing that Arnold was on his own now… and so were they. Thankfully, Tepic calmed down quickly, setting her a good example. “Quick,” he said firmly, pointing back at the entrance she’d used. “Get the cats in here, ‘cus that’s the door when we get there, and we’d best scarper soon as we arrive!”
Nodding, she dashed back to the Cat room and rushed around, prodding the sprawled cats unmercifully. “All right–up! Now!” she yowled. Some stirred, but others still lay on the floor, insensible. Tepic stepped inside. “Scoop the ones as it out of it onter me shield,” he said. “We’ll carry ‘em out!”
Lisa nodded, shoving some cats Tepic’s way, kicking at others to get them to their feet. Tepic helped her shuttle the half-comatose cats down to the main room, then she went back to prod the ambulatory ones on. She finally got her sister, Hespi, out the door, and followed her out.
Tepic laughed. “Looks like a fur carpet in here!” He picked his way across the floor to the console, carefully avoiding cat feet and tails. Lisa looked around at all the flashing lights. “How long will this take?”
“Dunno, never traveled this way before. Weird, ain’t it?” He also looked around. “It’ll never catch on, either, not with that sound all the time, an’ no windows.”
They stood by the console for a while, waiting, wondering where they would end up. Finally, the sounds changed back to what they’d originally heard when they entered. They looked at each other, but before Tepic could check the map, a maintenance drone came out and opened the door. It paused, whirring uncertainly.
“Now!” yelled Tepic, and together, they dragged and shooed cats outside. The tiger-striped Moreux, still looking sleepy, wandered outside and off in search of the pie he’d been promised. As Felisa got her sister outside, she finally looked around, and realized they were on the roof of part of the Clockhaven power station complex. She looked back at the strange wardrobe thing, wondering what to do now. She stiffened as the doors suddenly closed. With a wheezing, whirring sound, it disappeared.
“Blimey!” Tepic exclaimed. Felisa simply stood there, frowning. Then she let out a yowl, one answered from all directions and, within a few minutes, by a host of cats.
“Let’s get them out of here,” she said in Feline, gesturing to the cats sprawling across the roof. “I don’t know that that door-thing will come back, but I don’t know that it won’t.” Tepic nodded and picked up two of the limp cats. As Lisa bent over, a muffled boom rippled across the city from the northwest. Jerking her head up, she saw, just over the roof of the power station, a ball of fire falling from the sky. Gasping, she straightened up and took off running, heedless of Tepic calling, “Lisa! Wait for me!”
Frustrated with some of the limitations of the human body, such as a lack of speed and stamina, Felisa had spent much time over the past year running back and forth in the city wall tunnels. Now she used what she’d developed to speed herself across the city, running for the main gate. From that vantage point, she could just see a large plume of smoke rising from the north.
She continued on, following the railroad tracks, slowing her headlong pace to a ground-eating lope that she knew she could maintain for hours, if need be. And, indeed, it seemed to take hours to get there, the smoke plume teasing her with its refusal to come any closer. Finally, though, she topped a rise and skidded to a stop. The Raptor’s airship lay on the valley floor. Flames still rose high from several areas, and wreckage was scattered everywhere. From her vantage point, there didn’t seem to be any sign of life.
Running closer, Lisa scanned the area. “Arnold!” she yowled at the top of her lungs from time to time, but she never heard an answer. After circling the wreckage several times, searching intently but finding no signs of Arnold or the Raptor, she came to a stop and bowed her head, reaching the inevitable conclusion that Arnold had, indeed, perished in the confrontation. She turned away and began the long trot home.