Me: Weeeee, summer's over, (cries) and THIS is all I have to show for it. (bangs head) At least it's longer than most chapters.
The consensus for the names was mostly in favor of keeping them in English. I'm thinking that after I finish the entire story I'll go back and replace the names with the original Japanese with the English translations in parenthesis or Japanese to English translations at the beginning of each chapter.
Thank you all for your reviews and for giving us the answers we needed!
Sandy: Yay! I finally get to do the reviews!
CrystallineAngel: Thank ya kindly!
Booboaba: Thank you for your review and honest answer!
SchoolBoredom: Hey, it's good to hear from you again! Yeah we think what you suggested would be best, so a big thanks for the input.
Hanishi: Hey thanks!
Hutchy: Hiya Hutchy! Thankies for the review!
Frosticdranzergal: Your review was a little hard to read at first, but we got it. (sweatdrop) Sorry we not using the Jap names, wait till the story's done and we'll change em, though. Hope you did well on your exams too! Tho' now it's a little late. . . (sweatdrop again) sorry. Thanks for the review!
Brat-always-day-and-night: You'll just have to wait and see, won't ya? XD Yesh, catnip iz gooooood.
VGMaster04: Yeah, we're gonna leave em in English. Thanks for responding on that!
Vamina12: OMG. LOVE your story! It's so random. XD Did Rish review that one? Don't remember. Can you check that for us? We love it! And thanks for reviewing!
SOMEONE2003: They're gonna stay English, thanks for the input. You know, this story was supposed to have more humor than it has right now, but that never really turns out for poor Rish. Hehe. At least it seems people don't mind, and they LIKE it, that's the big thing. Thanks for the review!
Lunar Fire: Sorry you like the Japanese names! Just wait until the story's over, then we'll go back and switch them. We would like to change them, the Japanese names have a special ring to them, you know? Thanks for the review.
Jani Rieme: Yeah, that's the main reason we're leaving the names alone for now, and we'll change them when the story's done. Good to hear from you again!
Monarch: Haha, thanks. Glad we amused you! Your suggestions are highly appreciated, so thanks!
Demon-lulu: Lol. Thanks for giving us a chance, then. XD Sorry this isn't "soon," but we hope you like!
JeLlYbEaN RuLz: Geez, it's hard to write your name. Who says Gutterfang's dead? And who says Hiromi-Chan will ever find out about Nikko's true identity? (wink) You're gonna kill us, aren't you. Hee hee heeee. . .
Kichitara: Aye, aye, Cap'n!
DarkWolf88: Thank you! A friend of Lady Phoenix-Roar is a friend of ours! Aww, you added us to your favs! Thank you, thank you! Please don't be mad it took so long!
Kairi Hiwatari1015: Sorry to keep you waiting M'lady, but here's the next chapter!
BeybladeRULZ1: Thank you, and yes they'll stay in English so thanks for your input!
ChibiPheonix: Thanks for voting and for the nice review!
Nubia: Kai freaks out because the almost lifeless stare she had was similar to the lifeless stare the brainwashed kids at the Abbey he grew up in had. We feel Kai's a sensitive boy until all the hard exterior, but he has a real problem in showing people his soft side. Thanks for you input on the names issue and feel free to ask questions if you're confused about anything, 'k? Thankies!
Wolfchilde: Um, wow, (blush) thank you very much! We plan in continuing! Thanks for the very kind review!
BeyMistress05: Thanks! Here's the next chapter!
Storm-of-insanity: Wow, thank you. To tell you the truth, I haven't read the two recent books in the series. I need to pick them up! I guess Rish could've come up with better terms. I think the reason for that was because this is mostly coming from Kai's point of view and since he isn't really a cat, he wouldn't know. The other cats in the story are hardened street cats, so they wouldn't have much slang toward humans. But maybe we'll come up with something, who knows. No, Kai didn't turn into a cat in the manga, but MAN, I'd pay double to see that! Thanks for your suggestions and for you vote on the name issue.
Knowlee: Never trust a cat, my friend. Here's the next chapter!
Phew! I think my fingers are gonna fall off!
Me: As a final note, this chapter is NOT a happy one! Ye be warned!
For StarClan to Cry
The trio stared horrified at the site for a brief moment before Coldfire cautiously moved forward. Kai and Roary looked at each other briefly before following. They both had the same question in their eyes: 'What on earth could've happened?'
As Kai approached, Coldfire was crouched beside the fallen Gutterfang gently sniffing his blood-soaked fur, touching him softly a few times with her nose.
-Is he. . . ?- Kai began, but couldn't bring himself to finish.
-No, actually,- she answered, sitting back up. She looked at him with a touch of astonishment. -He's still breathing, but just barely.-
-W. . .what should we do?- Roary asked suddenly.
Coldfire only looked at Kai, indicating that the decision was his and his alone.
-If you had asked me this morning, I would've said, 'dump him.' But now?- he shook his head, remembering the encounter he had earlier that day. -Now, it doesn't seem right to just leave him here, even if he doesn't survive. . .-
Coldfire seemed to immediately support his decision. She turned to Roary with her classic, no-nonsense stare.
-You heard him, pup. Carry him.-
-ME!- Roary all but yelped.
-Yes, you. You're the biggest of us so you should have no problem carrying him.-
At first it seemed that she wouldn't do it no matter what, but when Kai said, -C'mon Roary, you can do it. We'll take him back to the house and keep him under the porch,- the dog plucked up her already shredded courage and picked the bleeding cat up by the scuff, like any mother cat or dog does with it's young.
They didn't come out the way they came in, mostly to see if there were any other casualties to be seen. It turned out that not only was Gutterfang the first of many down cats they found that evening but the only living one. Kai had to force the bile that was building in his throat back down to his stomach at the sight. They passed cat after cat, each one didn't need an inspection to confirm if they where alive. These cats weren't just dead, they had been literally torn apart. As the group finally started home, away from the scene of slaughter, Kai started to mull over something he had seen consistently with most of the dead cats as well as with Gutterfang. He slowed his pace slightly so he could get another look at the comatose alley cat hanging in Roary's jaws.
Even in the moonlight, his sharp night vision could see exactly what he had seen with most of the other cats, what was left of them.
On Gutterfang's flank was a gaping wound, still flowing with blood, made with a single blow with a giant paw twice as big and long claws twice as long as his own.
As soon as they had gotten Gutterfang under the porch Coldfire turned to Kai and started giving orders.
-You must go to Black Moon and get as much cobwebs as you can. Tell Hawthorn it's an emergency, but don't tell him who it's for. He won't like the idea of helping a Captain much. Now hurry!-
Kai didn't even bother to question anything and took off as Coldfire turned on Roary and started giving her directions of what to do with Gutterfang. He didn't think he'd be able to find Black Moon again, but luck and adrenaline was with him and he pushed into the abandoned basement without hesitation.
The first instant after he landed was one of terror as he was surrounded by very angry, and VERY frightened, cats yowling at him, and the next Hawthorn shoved his pudgy body between him and the other cats shouting, -Calm down, calm down! He's one of us!- He turned to Kai looking relieved but just as scared as the other cats. -Flyin' Parrot Fish! Didn't Coldfire tell you about the password?-
The black and white tomcat nodded. -In times like these when You Know Who is up to no good we have to be extra careful. Remember, we're rebels in His eyes and if he found us. . .- he let the rest trail off for effect. -Next time you come barging in here like that remember to say, 'Full Moon tonight!' Understand?-
Kai nodded, then remembered the reason of his visit.
-Cobwebs! Coldfire needs cobwebs!-
Hawthorn's fur flattened in terror, -Coldfire? Sweet StarClan, what happened to her!-
-Not her, we found injured cat. . .- Kai explained quickly, still not understanding really what the cobwebs were for.
-Ah,- Hawthorn sighed in relief. -We have plenty just in case. Follow me.-
Kai did so, and noticed Black Jack sitting on silently his perch in the corner. For the first time he realized that the old crow had only one eye, his other was an empty socket. His single beady eye was staring at him as he slunk across the large room.
-You've carried cobwebs before?- asked Hawthorn.
-It's easy if you don't mind moving on three legs. Just take a paw and gather this bunch of cobwebs around it like this,- he made a circular motion. Kai followed his instructions and wrapped a large amount of the stuff around his left paw. -That's it, young'un. Take as much as you need, but mind our needs. You never know.-
Kai thanked Hawthorn and hobbled awkwardly back toward the exit. Back on the surface streets, Kai had to take very careful measures since if he was caught, he wouldn't be able to run all that well. He made it back to Hiromi's yard in one piece, though he had a close call with another cat he was certain belonged to Grappleclaw's gang. When he reached the porch he almost had to stifle a laugh. In order to keep him warm, Coldfire had instructed Roary to lie next to the comatose Gutterfang, and she had the expression of an arachnophobe sitting in a tank of giant tarantulas.
-There you are,- Coldfire greeted, looking relieved. -Come over here and help me.-
Kai stood and watched fascinated as Coldfire began pulling pieces of cobweb off his paw like pieces of cotton candy and patting it softly on Gutterfang's wounds. The cobwebs acted like a natural band-aid and the blood stopped flowing.
Coldfire finished her work and sighed.
-Do you think he'll be alright?- Kai asked.
-We've done all we can for him on this end. Whether or not he WANTS to live is up to him. This is all on him now,- was her answer.
Kai was silent for a moment, then stood up.
-Wait here,- he dashed out from under the porch and back into the house through the kitchen window. A few moments later Kai jumped again through the window dragging a towel he stole from one of the kitchen cupboards. -You can use this as bed or blanket,- he said dropping it under the porch.
Coldfire nodded and had the still traumatized Roary place Gutterfang on the towel. Kai took this opportunity to slip out into the night air for some much needed space. Lying down in the cool grass he let his fatigued mind mull over the last few traumatic hours. It seemed inconceivable to him in some way that cats, or a single cat, could be so horribly cruel, to those of it's own kind no less. Humans, sure, but cats? Grappleclaw, and his whole set up reminded him so much of Balkov and the abbey, and the early days of BIOVOLT as well as BEGA that it genuinely had him terrified.
A scream sent him leaping and reeling on his feet, only to realize that he had drifted off into sleep and dreamed that same dream again. His sleep was full of terror, and now he was in a living nightmare where he could be torn to bits in the next instant without even telling the girl he grew to love each more every day where he was or what had happened to him.
He lay back down in the grass again, snout and face under his front paws, and tried with all his might to keep his breathing even, but a mournful sound escaped his throat with every breath.
-Come now, bristle those droopy wiskers.- Coldfire was suddenly beside him and started licking the top of his head.
Grooming was something he found himself doing once in a while, normally when he found spots on himself that couldn't be ignored. But other than that he neglected his looks and fur entirely. Now, however, he found a strange comfort in the simple and foreign touch.
-Cold. . .- he started.
-Hush up,- she cut him off. -I've raised more than enough kits in my life to know when one is upset.-
Kai silently relented and allowed himself to be treated like a kitten, though he wouldn't admit to himself how good it felt.
Kai nodded. He had told Coldfire about his dream, about his grandfather and the woman who tried to protect him from Voltiare.
-I didn't really put it together until now, but that woman seemed so familiar, and my memories of childhood are faint at best.-
Coldfire was silent for a moment before asking softly, -Your father?-
Kai shook his head. -Don't remember him.-
Suddenly Roary's frantic yelp cut through their conversation.
The two cats bolted back under the porch to see what was the matter. The terrified dog stood crouched a short distance away from Gutterfang, who was kicking and screeching franticly. Kai stood paralyzed, at a total blank as to what to do. It didn't matter. Coldfire rushed forward and gently held the struggling tomcat so he wouldn't injure himself further. Then she started licking his head in the same comforting manner she had done with Kai only a few moments before.
At first Gutterfang resisted. He kicked and screamed curses and Kai was positive Hiromi or her mother would've woken up by now. But eventually the Captain calmed down, his screams muting into soft whimpers. Kai and Roary looked at each other for a moment and then they moved forward. Without a command, Roary lay down next to the crying cat again. Kai moved next to Coldfire, who was whispering comforting words to Gutterfang.
-It's alright,- she purred. -As long as you're here with us everything will be alright. No one will hurt you here.-
His eyes suddenly flashed open. His pupils contracted and dilated slightly, trying to focus on what was around him. Gutterfang blinked dumbly at Coldfire, as if trying to remember why she looked familiar, then he looked at Kai, giving him the same bewildering look.
-Gutterfang?- Kai asked uncertainly. He wanted to do something to try and jog the alley cat's memory. -It's me, Kai. The human cat. Do you remember?-
Kai had fully expected Gutterfang to regain some of his angry pride, or something like his old self. Instead his eyes became filled with sorrow and shame. He averted his gaze, staring at the soiled towel beneath him.
Almost immediately, Kai understood.
-He killed her. . . didn't he?- Kai nearly choked on his words. Gutterfang let out a deep cry of anguish and buried his face under his paws.
-Killed who?- Roary squeaked.
Before Kai could answer Gutterfang suddenly sat up, something that he shouldn't have been able to do in his condition.
-Barkfur,- he rasped. -The most beautiful, precious, and bravest she-cat to ever grace this city. He. . . He tried to take her. Barkfur. . . she was never much for size, and she was a little sick, she stood up to Him. . . she denounced Him. . . He struck her and I attacked. . . my gang. . . they tried to help me. . . one blow. . . that's all it took. . .- his voice broke and he forced down a sob. -. . . then, I saw. . . He had her by the throat. . .-
This was all he could bear. He quickly pushed his snout under the closest warm body to him, which happened to be Roary. She stiffened, but didn't move. Coldfire only stared; her expression hadn't changed during Gutterfang's story. She then moved forward and lay down on Gutterfang's other side. Kai looked up at the wooden floor of the patio above them, thinking about his Hiromi, who was probably looking for him, and was probably worried about him too.
'Hang on Hiromi,' he thought. 'I need to take care of this right now. You would understand, right?'
Kai padded over to the huddled group, copying Coldfire by curling up into a ball with his tail over his nose. The three of them together huddled around the broken former Captian until they all drifted off into the deep folds of sleep.
Sheena: That's so sad. . .
Me: Told you it wasn't a happy chapter. It should perk up next chapter as are group of heroes (including Gutterfang) decide what to do next.
Will it be war? Who would be brave enough (or dumb enough) to stand up to Grappleclaw? And what of Kai's dream about his mother? Could it be he has remembered something of his own tragic past?
Things just continue to get stickier around here don't they?
Review, onigai! I can only imagine what you guys will say. (eep)