Part of Fuega Fuega. Short chapter, but very important
When I fell asleep after my sister had gone, I had that nightmare again, the one where something was attacking me and wounding my back. But this time, the pain was much more sharper and clearer, and I caught a glimpse of my attacker’s eyes, pale yellow and enough to cause as much pain as the scar along my spine.
It was ten sunrises since Ella had left us. As I suspected, Peach took no notice that there was one less furball in the den. Vulture was little better; he looked around the alley for a few heartbeats, then shrugged and muttered, “Good riddance.” And that was that.
Anyways, ten sunrises after she left, right after Vulture’s and my morning fight over a rat, Peach announced, “No more Twoleg rubbish dummies. You’re going to be fighting me.”
Vulture was so enthusiastic about this, he left his piece of rat he was eating and leapt at Peach, but she was ready. Claws unsheathed, she swiped his ears, knocking him down and spraying droplets of blood on me. But Vulture got right back up and fought back. He attacked to the side of her, holding down her head with his paw and sinking his teeth into her shoulder blade. Peach quickly shook her head, and my brother, not having gripped hard enough with his claws, flew off, though he landed on his paws. Then, in one swift motion, my mother swiped her paw under his, knocking him down, and placed her paw on his throat, claws now sheathed.
“That’s my father’s signature move, ya know,” growled a voice from the dark shadows of the alley.
Immediately, Peach took her paw off of Vulture and faced where the voice had come from, hissing, “Who are you? This is my alley!”
Out of the shadows stepped a she-cat. She was quite muscular and much bigger than my wiry mother. Her fur was not one shade of gray, but many, from almost white to almost black, that swirled and merged together all along her body. But more odd than her fur was her eyes; they were like shards of blue ice, piercing my flesh. Even though they were a different color than the eyes in my dream, I could feel the icy pain I had felt from the wound on my back.
“My name is Hurricane,” the she-cat snarled. I wasn’t sure if she meant to be snarling; it’s sort of how her voice sounded. “I am here on orders from my father, Skull.”
Peach curled her lip. “Aw, a grown cat still listening to her parents. How touching.”
“My father happens to be the leader of a large group of cats!” hissed Hurricane. Now she sounded angry. “I am one of his most trusted followers!”
“W-where are they?” panted Vulture. He was still breathing heavily from the fight with Peach, and the blood from his torn ears dripped onto the ground.
Hurricane glanced from me, with Vulture’s blood on my fur, to my brother, who was now licking his paws and rubbing them on his ears. “What’s all this about?” she asked casually.
“Battle practice,” I answered.
“Only speak when you’re told!” Peach snarled.
“Sorry,” I muttered. My mother often scolded me like that, so I was used to it, but it still stung.
Hurricane twitched her ears. “You and your kits seem like you’d be good fighters in Skull’s ranks.”
Peach narrowed her eyes. “Where exactly is this Skull?”
“We live in a less crowded part of the Twolegplace. The nests aren’t as big. They mostly aren’t really nests because the Twolegs don’t sleep there, but they have mountains of food laid out that the Twolegs get. Sometimes we manage to steal from them.” The gray she-cat looked up at the sky, where the sun was at its highest point. “If we go now, we’ll get there before sunhigh tomorrow.”
“How many are in the group?”
“About twenty at the moment. But we’re getting more and more everyday.”
“How long has he had this group?”
Hurricane thought for a moment. “I don’t know…fourteen moons, I think? Just about. Ever since I was born, my father has lived in at least a small group, with several females. He tells me that it was like that for a while before I was born. And the group just kept growing and growing.”
“What do you mean, several females?” meowed my mother.
The other she-cat shuffled her paws. “Well, most of the cats in the group are she-cats. And all of them that are not biologically related to him…well, he takes them as mates.” She twitched her tail sheepishly, then added quickly, “Don’t worry, he treats all of them with the utmost respect, and I’m sure with you he may not even care if you’re his mate or not, he’ll be nice to you—”
“It’s fine,” Peach interrupted. “I don’t care if I’m the most subordinate mate there. If you must know, I have heard of this Skull, though he had no name when I knew him. In fact, I lived with him for about a moon. I was one of his mates.”
“Did you have kits with him?” mewed Hurricane, eyes wide.
“Of course,” she replied, “but they were two scrappy things.” She purred in amusement. “And you must know what your father does to runts.”
Skull’s daughter glanced at me and Vulture, an evil playfulness in her eyes. “You hear that, kits? If you’re too small or too weak, Skull will eat you up like a rat!”
Vulture stopped grooming himself, his ears having stopped bleeding, and his eyes were each as big as the moon, but, to my horror, they weren’t filled with fear, only fascination. Meanwhile I was trying to decide whether to believe this or not. Peach had told me, Vulture, and Ella about the dogs and Twolegs that would try and eat us, but I had little reason to believe that was true. Sure, there were dogs with their Twolegs that would walk by the alley, and the dogs would stop and sniff, but the Twolegs always had a hold on that line that connected to the dogs’ collars. And the Twolegs themselves never even went into the alley. So why should I trust this new she-cat? She was younger than my mother, and her snarling voice made my fur bristle. Still, she seemed pretty serious about Skull eating kits.
Hurricane turned back to my mother. “Are these also Skull’s kits?” she meowed, pointing to me and my brother with her tail.
“No,” replied my mother softly, and her voice was rarely described as a soft one.
The younger she-cat seemed to realize that our father wasn’t a subject that should be further questioned. Turning around, she murmured, “Well, are you coming?”
To my surprise, Peach made no hesitation. She turned to us and yowled, “Come on, you scraps!” She then trotted after Hurricane, who was already leaving the alley. Vulture and I scrambled after them, and I wondered how much this encounter with another cat had changed our lives. It didn’t take me long to realize that it had. A lot.