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Franklin G. Cat-cat III, known better as Frank, tiptoed warily towards the backyard screen door.

"It's ok Frank", spoke the Human-in-the-Clouds. "Finnegan's not here."

Finnegan. The very sound of the name made Frank want to throw up his Whiskas, which he did with frequency, and at the slightest provocation. He crept closer to the door, every muscle tensing in anticipated combat, straining his kitty senses to ensure that there was No Finnegan Present. He stopped three inches from the door, frozen, and looked up at Human.

Human looked back down at him. "Go out Frank, he's not here. I'm not going to hold this door open all day for you."

Hmmph, well Frank wasn't going to be rushed by some cloud-man. And Human had lied to him before on several occasions, most notably the infamous You'll Love Your New Sister I Promise incident, not to mention the repeated promises of wet food, which never came leaving Frank a whimpering, crying mess on the kitchen floor. Such heartbreak! Well, it was sensible to take Human's words with a grain of-ohmygodwhatthe!!!!

In one swift motion, Human pushed Frank face-first out the door with his foot, slammed the screen door behind him and yelled "Time's up!". Yes, this Human did fancy himself a funny beans. Frank let out a loud meow of protest and immediately hunkered down low to the deck, and slinked away underneath a plastic monolith (which the cloud folk seemed to like sitting in) in case the feared Finnegan Sneak Attack was deployed.

A light, warm breeze ruffled his fur; blue jays were brazenly devouring their food from the bird feeder not six feet above Frank's head, and a small fly was investigating his pink nose, which was exceeding regulation wetness at the time. Lots of activity going on, but no Finnegan, it seemed. Warily, Frank crept out from his plastic hideout, took one last look around for enemies, and ran out into the backyard towards the creepy, dilapidated Forbidden Barn of Mystery; surely he would find adventure, and fresh mice, there.

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Nanook The Tiger Lion Lynx Arctic Princess Cloud Cat, (Nunu for short) surveyed the action from the kichen windowsill with a haughty condescension befitting her Imperial lineage. She usually found the wild gesticulations of the peasant Frank to be quite crude and unbecoming, though she did allow herself a chuckle now and then at his expense - naturally, as long as no Human eyes were watching. It was of the utmost importance to maintain her Royal Presence with dignity and gravitas at all times, lest she be confused for one of the unwashed masses she ministered over on a daily basis.

The female Human approached; perfect, another sentient being to bask in her reflected glory. She puffed up her mane slightly and arched her back, Sphinx-like. Yes, she-Human was stooping to pet her. Excellent, stroke my luxuriant fur, I have an itch on my - what the? What are you doing?

Human picked her up rather rudely from the kitchen windowsill and carried her to the back door. "It's time for you to go out, too." she said. "You've been cooped up in the house for too long!"

Nunu struggled against this grave blow to her dignity, and unsheathed her claws in protest; alas, it was all for nought. Human opened the screen door, dropped the little bundle of calico fluff on the deck, and closed the door behind her.

She felt as though every creature on earth had its eyes on her, watching her fall from grace with Schadenfreude and muffled laughter, and decided to salvage the situation as best she could by climbing onto the nearest Human sitting device and striking the most regal, privileged pose she could muster. Hopefully the woodland creatures scurrying about in their haste would see her sitting in the sun, radiant, and bow down to her unrivalled beauty; maybe, just maybe she could recruit them as servants, too. The light breeze kicked up small waves of fur on her back as she sat there, plotting; yes, perhaps she could turn this unfortunate turn of events to her advantage.

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Frank sauntered briskly to the decaying, collapsing barn at the far end of the backyard, beyond which lay thick, brambly, uninviting woods which eventually stretched out to meet the ocean. His acute senses could hear the pattering of tiny mouse feet inside the barn, and smell the trails of mice hours-old, and he knew that he had reached the jackpot. He stole a quick glance behind him, however, to make sure no-one was watching; the Humans had specifically told him to stay out of the barn since it was unsafe, and on many occasions he had got so close to it only to have a Human come out, snatch him up and bring him back indoors to bide his time.

"What is your fascination with the Forbidden Barn of Mystery"? They would ask him. *sigh* Humans...they just don't understand.

All he saw was Nunu sitting majestically on the deck chair, beckoning Todd the Squirrel closer. Todd came close, but then ignored her and went on his way.

Serves her right, thought Frank.

Frank prowled around the flaking, unsteady wooden exterior of the barn looking for an opening; his footing was unsteady, as the barn was ringed with thick patches of thistles, and decades-old rusting pieces of metal. He found a plastic garbage bag wedged against the side, and licked it curiously, to see if it was edible. It was not.

He finally found a small hole in the rear of the barn, away from prying Human eyes. He walked up to it and stood still, sniffing the air; yes, there was a strong bouquet of mouse here. Some rat too, which was ok; they were a greater challenge to catch, but a much more rewarding meal. But there was something else in the air he wasn't quite sure of; what was it? Frank sniffed the air some more, and heard a faint rustling deep inside the barn. It sure smelled familiar...

He hunkered down near the grass, primed for conflict, and tentatively stepped inside the musty old barn. His eyes quickly adapted to the darkness, and he looked around; collapsed beams lay scattered on the floor, along with copious mouse droppings - this was truly kittie paradise. Frank took one more step, then two, and then froze. More rustling.

Frank's walnut-sized heart raced, his senses primed; he heard the rustling draw closer, and closer, and then stop. His breath, which smelled of grass and Whiskas, hung in the stale air; a bat fluttered high in the barn's ceiling. Finally, from behind a wooden box, a raccoon jumped on top and hissed at Frank.

Racoon! Well, Frank does not have a stomach for these things, and he turned around and bolted back across the backyard to the screen door, which he scratched at and meowed to be let in. No response from either Human.

Nunu looked at him with contempt from her throne. Dumb peasant, she thought. Serves you right.

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Upon assuming her new throne, Nunu sat in the afternoon sunlight for a bit, appreciating how the rays made her white mane appear luminous and, she hoped, give her a God-like halo. From this high vantage point she could survey her Imperial domain, stretching far off to the fence behind the barn. Hmm, the lawn there looked a little scraggly; she decided to send for her Minister of Public Works to remedy the situation.

Unfortunately, she had just been rudely deposed, and lacked even the most basic servant corps, much less a cabinet; and on top of the poor lawn condition, her back needed scratching in the most urgent way. Minions were needed, and needed now, if she wanted any hope of recapturing her throne from the usurper. Nunu narrowed her eyes in utter contempt for the world, which had so rudely robbed her of her crown, her dignity, and her personal food-taster.

As luck would have it, Todd the Squirrel sauntered past just then, trying to find the cache of nuts he had stored two months prior. Unfortunately for him, he was blessed with both extreme concealment skills, and a complete, utter lack of long-term memory. Nunu knew this, and skillfully manipulated him to meet her ends.

"Hey Todd!" She proclaimed.

Todd looked up from his frantic search. "Hey! Would you by any chance happen to know where I put my acorns? I thought for sure they were right here, but I guess not!"

Nunu knew exactly where they were; she had dug them up and hid them in the bird feeder several weeks earlier; a good Queen always plans ahead.

"I've no idea where they are", she said. "But I do know that I have some lovely nuts, right here, if you want them; I have no use for them myself, being a carnivore and all".

Todd looked at her quizzically; "You have some nuts there for me?"

Nunu nodded. "Fresh and delicious, the way you like them."

Todd's tiny mouth started salivating, and he came towards her. "They're really there, right? You're not just trying to trick me, are you?"

Nunu looked at him with shocked indignation. "How dare you accuse me of doublespeak!! I speak only the truth, Sir Todd. Come and accept your tribute."

Todd inched closer, up to the deck, where Nunu was sitting with all the Royal Presence she could muster. He scurried up the steps, and stopped beneath her;

"Here I am, Madame Noodles. So where's those nuts you promised?"

Nunu looked at him with barely concealed glee. Poor Todd, so simple; fell right into her trap.

"About the nuts...yes, I assure you I have them right here. However, there is a small matter you could help me with, in return..."

Todd looked at her with disdain. "I knew there were strings attached. There always are with you."

Nunu brushed off the criticism like so much piffle. "Not strings, per se. More like a mutually beneficial opportunity. Look, let's be honest here; I'm not outside by choice, I was rudely deposed earlier this morning in a completely unwarranted, and unforseen coup. Todd, I've watched you scurry about and battle the elements against all odds; you're the kind of person I want to be my right-hand man so I can retake my rightful throne. And, you want nuts, and I have nuts. So you see what I'm getting at here?"

Todd considered the situation. "So what you're saying is...in exchange for giving me the nuts,-"

"Fresh and delicious nuts, I might add" said Nunu.

"So for the nuts, you want me to be your...worker? Minion? Soldier?"

Nunu thought about this for a second. "How would you like to be my Prime Minister of the Realm?"

Wow, thought Todd. Prime Minister of the Realm. Ma always said I'd go nowhere. Too dumb, she said.

Nunu looked at him intently; "Sir Prime Minister of the Realm, if you will."

Well, that was all Todd needed. He scurried up to the deck, directly underneath Nunu's presence, and prostrated himself accordingly.

"Oh Nunu, wise master, I hereby pledge allegiance to you; to love what you love, and hate what you hate, forever and ever..."

Nunu waited for the rest. "And?"

"Amen. Amen. O wise lord, Amen."

Nunu sat with due profundity, wind rippling her mane. "I accept your prostration duly. Now, that you are pressed in service to me, I have an urgent request of you."

Todd nodded enthusiastically. "Anything you want, my liege! Wow! Prime Minster! Mum will be so proud of me!'

Nunu nodded wearily. "Yes, Todd, tell your mum all about it. What I need you to do, is-"

"Appoint your cabinet? Strong-arm the legislature?" interjected Todd.

Nunu sighed. This was going to be difficult. "No, Todd. I have no cabinet, or legislature at the moment."

"Oh, right" agreed Todd.

"No, Todd, what I need you to do, is, " Nunu gestured towards the back forty of her realm.

"See how it's all overgrown and messy looking back there?"

Todd scanned the lawn. "Yes, my liege. Quite a disgrace that is to your majesty, I might add."

Nunu yawned. "Yes. Well, I need you, mister Prime Minister, to manicure it to my pleasing."

Todd balked. "That's not a Prime Minister's job!! You said I could be Prime Minister. Well a prime minister...appoints the cabinet! Controls the legislature! He does not manicure the Royal grounds!"

Nunu rolled her eyes with contempt. "Well as you can see I don't exactly have many minions to carry out my orders. So, until I do, you're going to have to do it yourself."

Todd looked skeptical. "I thought I was going to be Prime Minister. I was going to tell my mum and everything."

"You still can tell her that. It's just that, that-"

"That what? I'm also the Royal groundskeeper?"

"No, I just have to...merge positions for now, until I achieve quorum."

Todd didn't understand what quorum meant, and reflexively hated it as a result. "Well, with all due respect, Mme. Noodles..."

"Yes, Sir Todd..."

"I, regrettably, must tender my resignation at this time of the post of Prime Minister of the Realm. I have been unable to complete my duties to the liking of Her Majesty Noodles, and therefore deem myself incapable of performing to her usually high standards."

Nunu blinked. "You don't need to tender a resignation. Just tidy up the lawn, for God's sakes."

But Todd had made up his mind. He scampered away, off the deck, and into the tall bushes lining the side of the property. "I will find my nuts, just you see! I don't need yours!"

Nunu sighed. He wasn't going to find his nuts. "Good luck then, Sir Todd!" she yelled, over the banister. But Todd didn't hear. He scampered along the edge of the bushes, searching in vain for the cache of nuts he had hidden so long ago.

Nunu grimaced at this latest setback. Todd was her shortest-lived prime minister yet.
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Pt. 2 will be posted only by popular request

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