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By Judith Proctor
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Cholmondley stretched and yawned - his fine pointed white teeth displaying to their best effect. It was getting towards evening when the action in the Big Wheel was always at its most interesting. Arising from his silken cushion with its golden cord and tassels, he waved an aristocratic tail in the air and ventured forth to see what life had to offer.

      Stalking down the corridor with the calm assurance of one who knows he is a superior form of life, Cholmondley couldn't help an inward touch of refined amusement at the antics of the humans. Mardi Gras was Krantor's latest excuse for dressing up. Not, of course, that Krantor looked anything less than superb - he was almost an honorary cat himself - but some of the two-legged occupants of Freedom City really did look a little silly. Take that woman with the massive red frill for example - she looked like a goldfish with its gills hanging out.

      Cholmondley paused to think on the subject of goldfish for a moment. They did have a certain unique flavour. Krantor was very generous when it came to the provision of such delicacies. There was a tank in one corner of his boudoir with the top most thoughtfully left off. Ten minutes fishing with a paw was usually enough to net a fantailed goldfish.

      For some odd reason that Cholmondley had never quite been able to fathom, Toise was totally unable to appreciate the delights of a freshly killed goldfish. It was quite amusing on occasion to take a freshly captured victim, still live and wriggling, and drop it in Toise's lap. The shriek of horror the last time he had done that, had been most satisfying. Krantor had been amused too.

      The Big Wheel was a hubbub of activity. It would appear that someone was on a winning streak. The wheels and numbers were of little interest in themselves, but Cholmondley was a dedicated student of humanity. He honoured the top of the bar with his presence and proceeded to study the little man who was raking in all the winnings. The barman wasn't happy of course. That was half the reason Cholmondley had chosen the top of the bar. He could irritate the barman in total security, knowing how Krantor would react to anyone who dared try to evict him.

      A punter, dressed in silver spangles and very little else, came over and offered homage by scratching him behind the ears. Cholmondley accepted his due, and generously allowed her to stroke him as well. When his latest acolyte departed to play cards, Cholmondley noticed with some regret that the roulette game had come to a close. Had the little man won? Ah yes, there he was with Krantor, looking very happy. Krantor wasn't too happy though. Cholmondley had long experience in reading Krantor's moods. What was the next move going to be?

      Speed chess?

      Now, that was interesting. Cholmondley had never been interested in the game itself - humans seemed to derive a ridiculous degree of satisfaction from moving little wooden pieces around, or pressing buttons to make pictures of little pieces move around; but watching the players - that was another thing.

      He jumped down from the bar for a closer look. The Klute was playing as usual, of course. The rules were really terribly simple. They played the game, and then the Klute got to press his favourite button, and then somebody died. It was even more interesting than catching goldfish.

      The game was progressing as usual, except that the Klute wasn't playing by the rules. No wonder Krantor was looking cross. They had stopped moving the pieces, but the Klute hadn't pressed his special button.

      Ah well, anything to help out. Cholmondley leapt gracefully onto the console, paw perfectly aimed, and pressed the button.

      Now why was everyone looking at him like that....

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Judith Proctor

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