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Noithil hated cats.Author's Notes
He particularly hated skycats.
They were smart, vicious and they knew who didn't like them. More than sometimes, they were the cause of the appliance breakages that he was called in to repair, and they would sit on high things across the room from him and glare at him with saucer eyes and laid-back ears. They often tried to scratch him.
But of all the skycats, in all of the Empire, he hated the one next door most of all. Every few days, it would escape and dig in his flower boxes, or torment his dog through the window.
Dogs were fine creatures; Noithil had a short-haired toy breed who obeyed a dozen basic commands and spent most of the day sleeping near the door. She would bark only when someone knocked or entered the apartment, or when the skycat from next door sat on the windowsill and mocked her.
Someday, he hoped to get a license to own a large breed Yasiluu dog, maybe one smart enough to take on the job with him and carry his toolbox in a harness on its back, but that was years off, yet.
He was locking the door behind him and bending down to pick up the toolbox he still had to carry when the skycat from next door cried at him. He looked up, expecting to see it sitting in his windowsill and ready to shoo it away. It wasn't there; no barks came from his apartment.
He glanced around again, but it still wasn't in view. It was too loud to be from inside with all the windows shut against the non-stop rain they had been suffering through lately. Indeed, it looked like it was going to rain again - Noithil pulled his hood up over his face to forestall getting wet.
Curiosity made him look around the neighbor's flowerbox, and behind the gate. It was a mystery now.
There was a stormdrain in the apartment complex courtyard, and the cover was as old as the apartments and more battered. He had filed a formal complaint with the housing guild two years ago, and again before the rainy season, but the problem wasn't of enough significance to call in a repair crew. The hole in the grate was too small for a child to slip through, they replied, and was therefore not a problem, which meant they didn't think they could get in trouble for it, so they didn't care. Noithil had been concerned for his own small dog, but now he considered that it was a hole plenty large enough for a skycat. He just wasn't sure a skycat was stupid enough to get stuck in there.
"Are you down there, wretched thing?"
"Me-ooooow!" Saucer-round, green glowing eyes looked back up at him. The skycat's other features were completely indistinguishable in the murk.
Noithil grunted, and went around to the neighbor's door, leaning on the doorbell. "Your damn-fool skycat is stuck in the stormdrain," he planned to say, with satisfaction.
But, there was no answer, not to the bell, and not to the pounding on the door.
With a heavy sigh, he went back to the drain. "I've got a housecall to make," he explained to the skycat. "An oven is running too rich for the air supply. That could be a serious problem."
"Meow," the skycat agreed, plaintively.
"I shouldn't be late," Noithil added.
The repairman sighed. A long, suffering, furious sigh. He couldn't leave the skycat to drown in the stormdrain, if it was trapped there. Another heavy rain, and that could be the end of the skycat. As much as he hated the creature, he knew how bad he'd feel if it were his pet, and knew that he couldn't leave it there. "It's not for you," he explained. "I'd just feel bad for your owner."
He opened his toolbox as it began to rain again - a slow, drenching drizzle. The knees of his pants were soaked through in no time.
The long stone tongs used for handling time crystals were the perfect tool for this job - he'd just use them to grab the skycat by the ruff of the neck and pull it straight out of the drain.
They were long enough, and he was strong enough, but the cat squalled in outrage as soon as the tongs closed carefully around the skin at the base of its neck, thrashing and pulling free of the grippers, and refusing to offer good access again. He got it by the paw and managed to pull it partway up, only to have it struggle hard enough to fall back again. They repeated this dance with various limbs and gliding flaps for most of an hour. It was raining harder, now, and Noithil was soaked from kneeling directly in the path of the water flowing down the drain. The skycat was reduced to a series of growls, wails and flails, and Noithil was running out of ideas.
Finally, he sat back on his heels. Maybe it would require a noose of some kind. He had some fine rope in his apartments, maybe he could devise something. He felt very noble as he got up to get it, for spending so much time trying to rescue a creature he didn't even like. He was a little pleased with himself, despite the wet and the cold he was inevitably going to take away from the experience; he was sacrificing himself at great expense for -
The skycat made a new sound: "Mrrrooomph," and Noithil turned away from his apartment door just in time to watch it climb out of the drain on its own, pausing at the top to shake itself off from nose to tailtip and give Noithil a haughty look before scaling the trellis on the apartment wall to the balcony above.
Noithil stared up at it.
He was dirty, soaking wet, an hour late for his housecall and the muscles in his arms were aching in protest.
The skycat began to nonchalantly groom itself, clearly not bothered by the rain, or the adventure.
Noithil swore, using the depths of his vocabulary, and gathered up his toolbox and tongs, to wash off the stink and change his clothes before returning to work.
He hated cats.
He particularly hated skycats.
This came from a prompt by Elizabeth Barrette during the May 2010 Muse Fusion.