Hey, everyone, this is my newest fic, Catalyst! It's a spinoff of Maiyri's Trailblazer, which is sort of a prequel to Survivors. This ends up being a prequel to Surrender, but that'll make sense later. Anyway, this is my version of Trailblazer from chapter two on, and will (probably) be completely different. In order to understand this, you'll have to read the first chapter of that, and I strongly recommend you do, not only for that reason, but because it's awesome. I hope you all enjoy this, and drop this and Trailblazer reviews!

Disclaimer: The concept of Erasers belongs to JP, the Leader, Knife, Sparta, and Thera belong to me, and Ursula, Hati, and Skoll are mine.

Warnings: Violence and language

I don't watch the whole fight. I don't have to. The first few seconds of it tell me quite clearly what the rest will be like.

Small fights had broken out in our Room before, but this is completely different. Those had been spats, and were broken up quickly and usually without much loss of blood. Our fights had been almost civilized, compared to this.

It starts without warning, and the first moments are a domino effect, Eraser after Eraser turning on the one next to him, until the whole floor had erupted into chaos. Bones crack and bodies fall; the heady smell of blood fills the air, making me long to morph. I resist the urge, and turn my head away.

Even though I can't see it, my mind still paints a vivid picture of the scene before me from the sounds and smells flooding my senses. I wasn't sure which was louder, the cheers and chants of the crowd, or the howls of pain and the sounds of flesh being rent from bone in the arena. The smell of adrenaline and excitement mingles with the scent of blood, making my stomach churn.

All this suffering, all this death for us, three little Eraser girls, one of whom wasn't even pretty. It was astonishing to me that anyone would give up their lives for us. There was a lot about my kind, I realized, that I didn't know. If I were going to survive this with my sanity intact, I would have to learn everything there was to know.

Finally, the sounds of battle cease, and I can smell the excitement of the crowd calming as the contestants change back into their human forms. My eyes open, and I shudder at the sight that met my eyes.

Only three of the 'contestants' still stood; 'my' Eraser, who, aside from a long scratch down the side of his face, was unharmed, and two hulking, sneering Erasers, scarred and ugly. They look quite similar under the dried blood and grime, and I wonder if they were brothers.

The Leader raises his thick, hairy arm and gestures towards the victors standing proudly in front of us. "We have our winners!"

The crowd roars as we are unchained and led forward, to be given away as prizes. Was this the moment they had all been waiting for? I hear Sparta whimper, and Thera's soft sobs from behind me. I don't let myself cry, or turn to face them. Our survival depended on my ability to plan and scheme, and showing my emotions would only cloud that ability. I needed to be stoic; at least, for now.

The Leader's voice booms over their cheers, "In first place, Hati!" One of the hulking Erasers steps forward, shaking his fists in triumph. "Now, Hati, which of these pretties would you like to take with you?" Hati narrows his eyes, looking over us carefully, and after a moment's consideration, points at Sparta. "That one." Thera screams as her sister is dragged to Hati, but Sparta seems frozen with shock, not making a single sound.

The Leader gives a low, dangerous chuckle. "Excellent choice, Hati. In second place, we have my brother, Knife!" Knife, as I now know him to be called, steps forward, smirking. "Knife, do you have a favorite among these two?" The Leader asks, gesturing towards Thera and me. Knife's sharp green eyes evaluate us, and for a single heart-stopping moment, I am afraid that he might not pick me.

He says slowly, "Well…she's not the prettier of the two, but I think she'll serve me nicely. I want lovely little Red." The Eraser restraining me suddenly lets go of my shoulders and shoves me forward, startling me, and I tumble off the dais, into Knife's waiting arms.

When I hit him, my breath leaves me in a hiss; his entire body is like a brick wall. He isn't as broad as some of the others I have seen today, but he's just as thick.

Muscled, hairy arms wrap around my waist, crushing me to him. He bends his head down so it rests on my shoulder, and whispers in my ear, "I told you I'd be keeping a close eye on you."

I know he can probably smell my fear, but I try not to show it. "And you're just close enough."

He gives a low, dark chuckle. "We're going to get much closer, Red." He spins me around to face Thera, who has tears running down her grimy face. I feel my eyes sting with tears of fear for her, for Sparta, and for myself, but I don't let them fall.

The Leader stares at us for a moment, then looks away, "And to Skoll, the third place winner…your prize."

Skoll-I have never heard a more appropriate name-gestures for Thera's Eraser to hand her over. He shoves her forward roughly, and she stumbles off her dais, falling down onto the floor before Skoll. To my horror, he kicks her, hard, sending her flying backward into the cold metal she previously sat upon. She collapses, her brown hair pooling around her head. Skoll strides over to her, basking in the appreciative cheers and shouts from the other males who have just seen him abuse her. He leans down over her broken form, kicking her again for good measure, then heaving her up into his arms, her limp body hanging over his shoulder.

As he carries her away, she stirs slightly, her eyes fluttering open to look at me, wide with fear. Guilt fills me, and I swear that I will do everything in my power to save her and Sparta.

Knife once again whispers in my ear, "Be grateful I didn't let him have you. She's a lot prettier than you are, but I picked you instead. You're lucky I'm a man of my word."

Hatred for Skoll, for hurting one of my sisters, and at Knife for not caring, fills me, and I hiss, "I'm not sure I can believe that yet."

He laughs. "Come along, little one. Time to go home." Taking a hold of my left wrist, he begins to walk, his long strides covering almost twice as much ground as mine can. I stumble along after him, realizing the depth of what he means. We're going back to his room. This is where my fate will be decided, and my future will be shaped. I take a deep breath, mentally preparing myself for it.

We plow through the dense crowd of Erasers, Knife thanking his congratulators and laughing at the comments directed towards what he will do to me. Overly friendly hands reach out, touching me as I pass. I shudder, pressing closer to Knife. Even he was better than the random gropers trying to cop a feel. At least with him, there is something I can gain.

I feel a half-morphed paw slide between us, trying to touch me between my legs, and Knife whirls, backhanding the Eraser responsible, knocking him down. His gaze falls on me, and without warning, he grabs me, hanging me over his shoulder, out of reach of those touching hands.

His walk speeds up, becoming almost a jog as we reach the narrow hallways branching out of the main room. I grab fistfuls of his shirt so I don't bounce, and I try to get a good look at where we are going. This might be useful, if I ever try to sneak out. He keeps turning, though, left and right, and it amazes me that we haven't gotten lost.

Suddenly, I pass something that makes me want to cry. A small crowd of Erasers has gathered, surrounding Hati and Sparta. Hati is beating her, and they are cheering.

Blood runs down her beautiful face, and she screams as he brings down his foot onto her torso. She rolls away, trying desperately to escape, her sobs reverberating through the hallway. Her eyes fall on me, and a smile lights up her face.

She shouts my name, relief obvious in her eyes. She thinks I am here to rescue her. In her mind, why wouldn't I? I have always been there to rescue her, to protect her and the others.

I call back, "Sparta!" Then I whisper urgently to Knife, "Put me down, I need to help her!"

He halts, then shakes his head, "I can't."

Panic fills me. "Then why don't you save her? You're the Leader's brother, doesn't he have to listen to you?"

He shakes his head again. "We obey the Leader, and the Leader alone. I cannot interfere with this, and neither can you." He starts walking again, and I shriek, pounding my fists on his back. "Let me go! Let me help her! Please, I'll do anything, let me save her!"

Sparta screams, "Please don't leave me! Help me! Somebody help me! Ursula!"

I'm crying as we turn a corner, and they vanish from view. I can still hear the approving roars of Hati's audience and Sparta's cries for help, and I murmur, "Please…" one final time. But my pleas are ignored, as Sparta's were, and I can feel my heart breaking.

After several long minutes, during which Sparta's screams still echoed in my ears, we finally stop outside a grey door with a rusted gray doorknob. Knife sets me down, still keeping a hold on my waist as he reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small copper key. Sticking it into the lock, he opens the door, and pushes me through it.

The first thing that registers is the smell; the deep, animal scent that we all carry. It's stronger here than I've ever smelled it before, and I'm glad it's the only thing I detect.

There are two rooms, the one we're standing in, and one I assume to be on the other side of the door on the far side of the room. There's a mattress set on the cool wooden floor, with tangled blankets hanging off it. A small, beaten-up old bureau is pushed up against the wall, and I can hear the low hum of a mini-fridge plugged into the wall. The room is surprisingly neat, with only a few articles of clothing on the floor. The walls and ceiling are painted a light blue, with the only light coming in from a small, barred window at the very top of the wall.

Knife kicks off his boots, then turns to look at me. He growls, "Go get me a glass of water."

I stare at him for a moment, stunned. Out of all his possible requests I had prepared myself for, that hadn't been one of them.

He takes me by the shoulders, giving me a small push towards the other door. "There's a cup in the bathroom." He had his own bathroom? Did all the Erasers have such luxuries? I doubted it…maybe it was because he was the brother of the Leader?

Not bothering to dwell on this any longer, I stumbled over to the bathroom, opening the door and stepping inside. I flick on the light switch, and take a look around. This, too, is disconcertingly clean, with squeaky white tiles beneath my feet and on the walls. There's a shower stall, a toilet, and a sink, all white, and a cabinet attached to the wall above the sink. I open the cabinet, and inside I find a few bottles of pills that I don't recognize, and a plastic cup. I take the cup out and fill it with water, then realize how thirsty I am. After draining three cups of water, I fill a fourth one for him, then walk back out into the main room.

What I see is enough to make me drop the cup.

((This part is cut, so if you want to read the complete thing, go to my profile and follow the homepage link to my ficjournal to read it. There's not much, though, so you won't miss a lot.))

I'm not going to paint you a picture of everything that happened that night, I'm sure you can figure that out on your own. What I will tell you is that he showed me things I didn't think possible, and opened up a whole new realm of power for me to explore.

Finally, we are both spent. He drapes himself across me, and whispers in my ear, "That, dearest Ursula, is why you will never leave me. No matter how powerful you become, or whoever else you find, they can never give you that."

And he was right.

I never did leave him.

I hope you liked it!