By Larry, California
Sounds of explosions and blaring trumpets filled the room. Whiskers shifted his large tabby frame uncomfortably on the pillow. Usually he could find a great deal of comfort curling up on the big fluffy cushion at the head of his pet boy's bed. Tonight, however, he found no solace there. The boy was watching an old science fiction movie on that noisy box he calls a TV.
Whiskers hated it. He never liked watching TV anyway - there seemed to be no point to it. It was like looking through a window that kept changing scenes, with all the sounds but none of the smells.
Space battles, strange and evil aliens, duels with laser swords, none of this interested Whiskers. He wondered why the boy didn't watch something more appealing, like shows about food or chirping birds, which, he realized, was the same thing. He chuckled.
Finally the show ended. His pet boy moved over to the desk to start playing with his other smell-less window, something called a computer. The boy donned headphones and only the muted sounds of a game leaked out to Whisker's ears. At last, peace and quiet!
Whiskers closed his eyes and began to snore.
* * * * *
Whiskers awoke with a start. A rumbling sound seemed to be coming from all around him. Groggily, he cleared his eyes and looked around. He found himself in the corner of a large landing bay in a spacecraft of some sort. The sounds were coming from the heavy equipment used to service the ships. "Where am I?" he mewed aloud.
Next to him was a small robot. It beeped and whirred a sequence of noises. Another taller robot standing next to the first said, "Oh, don't mind him. He's just nervous about being with all the Imperial soldiers on the Dog Star here."
"The Dog Star!" Whiskers screeched loudly.
"Yes, it is a huge battle station used by the Empire to fight the Rebel Alliance. And, sir, may I remind you that there are many soldiers all around us? I would suggest that you may want to lower the volume of your speech patterns. Oh my, they may detect us for sure," the taller robot said worriedly.
"Oh. And who are you?" Whiskers asked, quieter, but still a bit agitated.
"I am sorry, sir. I am Shiny Eyes and this is my companion Sir Beeps-A-Lot. Pleased to meet you," Shiny Eyes said.
Sir Beeps-A-Lot beeped and buzzed. "Yes," Shiny Eyes continued. "My companion seems to have lost his way. I am afraid we may be captured in short order if we do not find an adequate hiding space at once."
A panel slid open on Sir Beeps-A-Lot, revealing a compartment with a collar inside. After several beeps, buzzes, and various tones, Shiny Eyes translated, "He says that if you wear this collar, your scent will be undetectable to the Dog Warriors, making you nearly invisible to them. If they don't look directly at you, they won't know you're there."
Whiskers allowed Shiny Eyes to place the collar on him. "That's a good start," Whiskers said. "But what about you two? They will see you."
"Oh dear me," said Shiny Eyes. "That surely is a problem."
After some urgent beeping and buzzing from Sir Beeps-A-Lot, Shiny Eyes said, "My rash companion here believes that we can pass as maintenance droids. Well, I never! Me? A maintenance droid? I believe I shall never recover from this indignity..."
"Hush up! It's a good idea," Whiskers hissed, then turned to Sir Beeps-A-Lot. "Is there a control area where we can find out where we are and how to get off this dog-forsaken battle station?"
Sir Beeps-A-Lot sounded a couple clicks, then started rolling toward the corridor. Whiskers scampered behind.
"Oh, dear me. I know I shall regret this," Shiny Eyes said, but followed the other two out into the busy corridor.
The rank smell of the place irritated Whisker's nose. Fortunately the collar behaved as advertised; nobody seemed to notice him. As for the two droids, the passing Dog Warriors apathetically ignored them, just as they would real maintenance droids.
Eventually they came to the end of the long corridor to find themselves in front of a secure door, guarded by two Dog Warriors. Sir Beeps-A-Lot buzzed and whirred. Shiny Eyes, catching up, spoke nervously, "My companion here says we were ordered here for some routine repairs by ... Who did you say?"
Sir Beeps-A-Lot emitted a couple beeps and whirrs and Shiny Eyes continued hesitantly, "By Dog Vader himself."
One of the Dog Warriors growled something to the other who proceeded to key in a code that opened the door. Sir Beeps-A-Lot toned again. "And by the same order, we are not to be interrupted," Shiny Eyes said.
They stepped into a small, but empty, control room. The door closed behind them with the Dog Warriors remaining on guard outside. Sir Beeps-A-Lot immediately rolled over to a data port, extended an arm, and connected himself.
"What madness have you gotten us into?" Shiny Eyes said to his smaller companion. "We are going to be caught for sure. Then we will be sold for scrap metal. I am not ready to be turned into scrap metal at this stage of my operational life-cycle!"
Whiskers hissed, "Get a hold of yourself! Nobody's being turned into scrap metal today."
"That's easy for you to say," Shiny Eyes said. "If they catch you, they'll just shoot you."
Whiskers groaned. "If you mouth another complaint I'll turn you off myself."
"But ..." Shiny Eyes started to say. Whiskers hissed and Shiny Eyes shut up.
Sir Beeps-A-Lot began emitting an excited sequence of tones and clicks. "Who's here? Who's in the prison cage? He just keeps saying 'she's here', 'she's here'. Well, who is here?" Shiny Eyes asked.
More beeps. "Princess Dirty Face? You mean the companion cat to the Rebel leader?" Shiny Eyes translated.
"We must rescue her!" Whiskers meowed heroically.
* * * * *
With a downloaded map in Sir Beeps-A-Lot's memory, the three unlikely companions made their way down to the prison level. Outside the secured prison corridor, Whiskers whispered a plan to Sir Beeps-A-Lot, who beeped his approval.
"Now just get us in there like you got us into the control room," Whiskers said to Shiny Eyes.
They approached the guarded entry way. Shiny Eyes spoke, "Ahem. We are here to perform scheduled maintenance by orders of Dog Vader."
This Dog Warrior, obviously more experienced than the ones at the control room door, didn't hesitate before growling, "Fine. I'll just have to check your credentials."
Oops, Whiskers thought to himself. He readied himself to pounce, preparing himself to leap onto the guard Dog Warrior. The dog was quite a bit larger than Whiskers, but Whiskers had the advantage of surprise, since the warrior had not sensed him due to the still functioning scent-masking collar.
Before Whiskers could leap, however, Sir Beeps-A-Lot opened a panel, and extended an arm that plugged into the Dog Warrior's data pad.
"Okay. You two are approved," the Dog Warrior said, obviously satisfied with the droids' credentials. He opened the door to the prison corridor. The two droids and the cat shuffled inside quickly as the door closed immediately behind them.
It was now obvious to Whiskers that Sir Beeps-A-Lot had forged identities while connected to the panel in the control room. Shiny Eyes, however, was still trying to puzzle it out when a solitary Dog Warrior sitting at the prison control panel barked gruffly, "What are you droids doing here? I ordered no maintenance."
Shiny Eyes began to stammer something about Dog Vader's orders, but the senior level guard was having none of it. "I must call this in."
Sir Beeps-A-Lot rolled to the nearest panel, extended his data arm, and the power went dead on the guard's control desk. Looking up, the guard Dog barked "Hey!" just as the lights went dead too.
The dog, lost in the sudden shift from bright lights to darkness, started running around in circles, looking for the intruders. In reality, he ended up just chasing his tail, because the three heroes quickly made their way down the row of prison cages.
Whiskers' eyes adjusted quickly to the darkness because as soon as they had stepped through the door he had closed them to prepare his night vision. Glancing behind him, down the hall in the near darkness, he saw the dog barking and running around in circles. He suppressed a chuckle, though he doubted the dog would have heard it with all the noise the dog was making.
Soon, Sir Beeps-A-Lot, using infrared sensors to see, rolled up to a cell door, stopped, and extended his arm to the data port. The cage door opened. Whiskers bounded in, snuggled Princess Dirty Face's nose. Happy to see Whiskers, she snuggled back.
Shiny Eyes said, "Excuse me, sir. I know this is a happy reunion, but we do not have much time. We should make haste before we are discovered."
Whiskers purred, "Come on, my princess. For once my tall friend here speaks sensibly."
They made their way back down the corridor to where the Dog Warrior had calmed a little, beginning to sniff and listen. Sir Beeps-A-Lot emitted a single, short tone. "Aha! I got you now!" The dog charged toward the sound only to run directly into an extended, electrified arm from the shorter droid. Sir Beeps-A-Lot chattered happy beeps that sounded like electronic laughter. The poor Dog Warrior, stunned, lay on the ground unconscious.
Sir Beeps-A-Lot opened the door to the hallway. Stepping into the main passageway, Shiny Eyes said to the waiting guard, "I think your companion needs help in there."
The dog rushed in to check on his companion, only to be sealed in when Sir Beeps-A-Lot closed and locked the door behind him. "Quickly," Whiskers said, "To the landing bay! We must get off this station before the alarm goes off."
A loud cacophonous sound blared over the battle station's loudspeakers. Whiskers slapped his paw to his face. "Too late ... Run!"
The four caught the lift from the prison level, and ran down the passage way toward the landing bay. Around them, the station's personnel were in disarray, running everywhere. Apparently the alarm was not for them, but had been sounded because a Rebel force was attacking the station. Even without a scent-masking collar, Princess Dirty Face went ignored. To them the Dog Warriors had more important things to do - like defending against an external threat - than to deal with one smelly, old cat.
In the landing bay, an apparently neutral freighter was making preparations to depart, in hopes of escaping the upcoming battle. The four friends snuck on board, stowing themselves away in the luggage compartment. The roar of liftoff and then the soothing normal operational sounds of a spaceship in flight reached their ears. It wasn't too long before they made planetfall, when they could poke their heads out to see exactly where they were.
How fortuitous! Whiskers noticed Rebel Alliance soldiers all around. He leapt out with Princess Dirty Face where he was given a hero's welcome for saving the prized companion of the Rebel leader. It all happened so fast that he barely had time to say goodbye to his friends, Shiny Eyes and Sir Beeps-A-Lot. He waved at them from a distance.
He received a slick, gleaming medal for his efforts, but the best was the room they gave him. Sitting next to a fluffy comfortable bed was a bowl containing a whole feast of different meats. He gorged himself happily, then laid down for a well-deserved rest.
Once again, Whiskers began to snore.
* * * * *
The sounds of explosions reached his ears, waking Whiskers with a start. There was noise all around him again. He reached up with a paw to feel if the medal was still around his neck, but found it missing. Panicked, he opened his eyes and stood up.
Looking around, he noticed the familiar environment of the boy's room. But what was that sound? he thought to himself. It's all too familiar! That's when Whiskers noticed the TV was turned back on. The boy was once again engrossed in another movie on that noisy box.
Whiskers chuckled as he lay himself back down onto the pillow. Apparently that old science fiction movie has a sequel.