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I – II
I – II
The city’s fringes were just falling asleep, and the cars retreated into parking lots or garages for the night as the latest workers were coming home. Makuuku and I reached the little green neighborhood, Rikhahn’s realm in the shadow of the Atakule tower the humans had built some while ago for observation. On top, there was a rotating restaurant in three-hundred foot elevation from the ground, at least according to the Gordon’s, who went there every two weeks. “The tower looks like a gigantic mushroom,” Marianne would always comment. We snuck through the grass and shrubs to Rikhahn’s lair. His lair was the basement of an abandoned apartment building that always smelled of stray dogs. I never got why Rikhahn would spend his time as pride chieftain in such a filthy undercat suite. Unlike Park Vadi, where human-installed neon beamers made the valley glow with light, the neighborhood of the Central Cankaya Pride was dark, and the only lights were the lights the humans had lit in their apartments. My eyes switched to night vision.
There were cars parked to our left, providing cover where the entrance to Rikhahn’s ‘palace’ showed up in the corner of my eye. His Sergeant-at-claws stood stiffly in front of the building where the door was always a notch open. The Sergeant-at-claws went into fighting stance and stared at me. Makuuku and I stared back, hissing every once in a while. The weak guard gave up shortly and broke eye contact. “I am Ambassador Thortac, and this is General Makuuku, from the Vadi pride. We are here at chieftain Kakiro’s orders. I may claim diplomatic immunity at any time and it is within my power to arrest you if you deny any of my orders regarding politics, even within your four walls. You have the right to retract your claws. Any objections hissed can and will be used against the pride of Central Cankaya. Our Vikisans are ready and their claws are sharpened. Grant us permission to Rikhahn now, as your small kitties-and-pups establishment is no longer on our list of allies, for your pride has committed boundary trespassing!” After reading the Sergeant his rights, Makuuku asked, “Any objections? Do you accept our superiority as Ambassador and General as long as we remain within your pride boundaries?”
“No, General, I will not claim inferiority, neither will I grant you access to the National Walkway nor will I give you permission to see Chieftain Rikhahn. His orders were clear not to even let ambassadors in.”
“Ha, so I can also charge you for breaking the South Ankara Ambassador’s Safe Passage Agreement! Double charges! I place you under arrest!” I meowed.
“Not in this life!” hissed the Sergeant.
“Get him!” I shouted. Makuuku and I pounced at the alley cat. The cat who seemed so weak had surprisingly sharp claws and his swipes stung, but Makuuku and I had him pinned within seconds. I placed my teeth around his neck and growled, “Retract your claws!” When the cat did not budge to drive in his sharp nails, I hardened my grip around the Sergeants neck. I felt his racing pulse through his thin fur. The cat grew weaker and retracted his claws. “Now, we will go to Rikhahn, and if our pride decides to spare you, you might see daylight!”
“Oh, you can’t catch me! I’ll just run!” he meowed laboriously under the clench of my jaws.
“Well, too late for that! Our Vikisans have surrounded your borders! I fear we have placed you under siege!”
“Dogs!” cursed the cat, growing ever more weak. I tightened until I cut off the circulation to his head, and he faded into unconsciousness. “That undercat is taken care of!” I growled. “Off to Rikhahn!”
Makuuku followed me into the open-a-notch door. I smelled a strong pheromone scent. It read, “Notices to foreign cats and visitors; no spraying, excreting waste, or rubbing.”
Rikhahn was sitting upright, his tail curled around him. He did not speak for at least a minute and neither did Makuuku or I hiss at him. Eventually Makuuku growled, “Good evening to you, trespasser-pride-chief!” Rikhahn still did not utter a meow for another minute. “Evening,” he hissed, slanting his eyes.
“I assume that you know what we are here for,” I meowed, calm as ever.
“Yes,” he mewed. “You have me under siege, don’t you, Thoromoson Thortac!”
“We, not me, have you under siege, and our Vikisans alone outnumber your entire pride population. You have not a chance to do something wrong here, Chieftain.”
“Ambassador, I am informed of my pride’s crime, and I will definitely punish the feline responsible accordingly, but may I ask why you, or Kakiro, have placed my realm under siege for that!” I was surprised at his reaction, as Rikhahn has never before seemed so agitated. “OK, I’ll tell you about it. The city has been killing thousands of our nutritious, fat rats with poison. Birds are migrating south, and those that stay, such as pigeons, prefer the inner city, Kizilay. To put it bluntly, we have a shortage of food, so one of our hunters went into your territories and stole two mice,” explained Rikhahn.
“Why did you order your Sergeant-at-claws to not let us in?” I asked.
“Because I am under threat,” whispered Rikhahn. “See, I’m under the watchful eye of the South Ankara Alliance Group for committing hunting crimes, similar to the one I have committed against Vadi. I don’t want any ambassador to enter here to have me sign for eviction from the group. It would mean that I would be hated and my pride would hunger, for sure.”
“Why didn’t you contact us as you were in a state of famine? Why did you trespass and steal? Then you wouldn’t be under investigation anyway!”
“Because I have a history of breaking deals, the chieftains of South Ankara have casted a vote, arguing that I should not be able to make any deals whatsoever. I had no other option, Thortac.”
“OK, that is a reason indeed,” I sighed. For the first time I felt sorry for Rikhahn. “Well, swallow your pride and resign, as you have tangled yourself and your pride into a knot you cannot get out of, unless you step down from the throne. Either find someone qualified to take over, or surrender your pride and your territory. Those are the only two options, Rikhahn. But do it fast, for the knot is strangling you. The less food, the more theft, the more trouble. However, know that I agree with the vote; you honestly shouldn’t be able to make deals, Chieftain, for we have seen all to often the outcome.” There was silence for a while as Rikhahn thought about his situation.
“You are right. I am not worthy of my position. I am corrupt, and have not the capability of sticking to deals. I am no good chieftain, Thortac,” he cried. “I resign and surrender my territory to you until a leader from either of our prides emerges, a leader that can make the Central Cankaya pride stand on its own again,” wept Rikhahn. “I have put my pride into this position, yet cannot bring us out of it myself!” he howled, sounding perturbed.
“Rikhahn, you just brought your pride out of this by standing down,” I meowed, trying to mollify the crying cat.
“Sergeant! Be here at once!” called Rikhahn with sudden motivation.
“Umh, your Sergeant is down, we had to knock him out,” meowed Makuuku with a hint of embarrassment.
“I see,” growled Rikhahn. “Anyway, I want all cats of my pride assembled here,” he continued in a deep-throated meow. “For today is a sad, yet good day for the pride of Central Cankaya!”
Definitely to be continued in part two