The kittens clawed their way along the Lion Rock King's narrow spine. In the late afternoon sun, his glorious head looked a hop, skip and a jump away. 

Stones dislodged and bounced down the valley. The Lion Rock King was yawning! His warm rush of breath nearly blew the kittens over the precipice.

"Who's tickling my ears?" he roared.

catsoup ch12 v02Runty gulped. "I'm ... we're ... the sons of Papa Mao, your majesty,"

"And we've lost our mother," squeaked Stolly.

When the Lion Rock King heard their story, he turned his craggy head towards the crimson clouds. "Sorry, I must have been sleeping. Kidnapping is a serious matter. Shelter behind that boulder."

Stolly and Runty dived behind it.

The Lion Rock King took a sharp intake of breath and let out an earth-shattering roar.

All members of the cat family mew network understood:

"Attention. Mama Mao has gone missing. Many other cats too. Anyone seen them?"

Wild cats quickly passed the message down the mountain. Stone lions guarding banks heard it and passed it to lions guarding houses in Shatin. Stuffed lions in toy shops heard it and passed it to lions in Shenzhen zoo. Chinese air was alive with messaging.

Stolly's heart beat fast as a butterfly's wings. Runty's ears swiveled like radar.

No reply.

Kites circled above. Pheasants cawed.

The kittens' tails drooped lower and lower.

The Lion Rock King heaved. "I'll try again tomorrow," he said.

Runty bowed.

"We're leaving?" mewed Stolly.

Far away, there was the faintest roar, followed by another. Then the yowling of cats, lots of cats.

A ragged moggie came running towards them. "Unusual activity in the no-man's land between Hong Kong and China," she reported. "There's a new restaurant there. And hundreds of cats. On death row."



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