Hey, I'd like to thank every one of my readers and reviewers. You know who you are. I especially want to thank my unofficial beta, the dear Inspector whose name I can't spell. One more thing…Bold italics indicates Etcetera's handwriting.
Disclaimer: I wish I owned Indian Sunset. I really do. I wish I could say I owned Pounce. Really, I do. But, I'm not here to tell you that I own them….cause I don't!!!!
Pouncival's Journal, Entry #4
"Do you promise to take care of Etcy for me, Misto?"
"Of course, but don't you think someone should go with you? After all, it is a warzone you are going to…"
"True. Maybe if Quaxo…"
"Stayed with Etcy, and I went with you?" Misto was quite persuasive on this point. We both had someone we wanted to protect, and Quaxo was more than capable of taking care of my mate.
It's decided; we're going back. I can't take the grief, the stress. I need the support of old friends; I need to see where my brother died. Never will I forget the day I decided to go back, not if I live to be older than Deuteronomy himself. I've dreaded the moment of telling Etcy, but, I have to. It's taken Misto and me almost a month to decide, and I finally believe I'm doing something right.
"Etcy? Misto and I…we've decided to go back. I can't stay here anymore."
"Pounce…you aren't thinking of leaving me, are you?"
"Of course not…Quaxo is perfectly able to protect you."
"Pounce? That's not what I meant."
"I'm sorry, Etcy, but I have to do this, and I just want you to be safe. Please, all I ask is that you don't follow."As I write this, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I won't make it out of this alive, but Etcy still believes. I pray to the Everlasting Cat that she's right, but logic tells me otherwise. I just…I think that maybe, going back would restore any scrap of pride that might remain for me, if I haven't lost any hope of dignity when I left in the first place.
We've been covering ground at an amazing pace; traveling by roads that only Misto would know about. I don't think it's actually possible to travel as fast as we were without magic, but I'm not complaining. The more I think of what I am about to do, the more my mind rebels. What about Etcy? The kits? You can't just leave them! But I must. If I don't try to restore my pride, I know that the Fell awaits me, whether in death or on earth. I just can't live with the shame. We've finally reached the Junkyard and we camped just outside it. I've never seen a more desolate sight in my life. Every single den is abandoned, and debris is strewn throughout the enclosure.
"It's so….lonely." I didn't even realize that I was speaking out loud, but Misto still chose to respond.
"It's been this way for a while now. Once Alonzo died, everyone fled. Tumble wasn't ready for leadership. I'm sorry, Pounce." He rubbed my shoulder absent-mindedly, knowing that I would need comfort.
I've decided to enter the Junkyard tonight, after Misto falls asleep. I never told him the true reason I had come, merely that I wanted to see old friends and a familiar place. In reality, I just need a chance to restore my pride. I should have been Tumble's second. I need to repay him, and this is the best way I know how.
That night, Pouncival entered the Junkyard. He was ready to fight tooth and nail, should he see any of Macavity's cronies, but he wasn't counting on meeting Macavity himself. I went into labor about a half-hour after he left the camp, and gave birth to very healthy triplets; two queens and a tom. The tom is the spitting image of his father, but is already hyper the way I was as a kit. His name is Carbucketty, Pounce's old nickname. The first queen is demure, with similar markings to my own. She has her father's eyes, though, and I named her Silvermist. The last one is a beautiful mix of our two coat patterns, with Pounce's penchant for, well, pouncing. She is Helen, for I can tell that she'll turn heads later in life. Misto gave me this journal after he found it and once again had to be the bearer of bad news. He told me that Pounce had died in combat with Macavity himself. I like to think that it happened at the same moment that little Carbucketty was born, to symbolize the continuity of life. As I reflect on the final days of Pounce's life, I too realize how similar they are to that song, and can think of only one reasonable closing for this journal:
I can see no reason why I should carry on;
In this land that once was my land, I can find no home.
It's lonely, and it's quiet, and the horse-soldiers are comin'
And I think it's time I strung my bow, and ceased this senseless running
And soon I find the Yellow Moon, along with my loved ones,
Where the buffalos graze in clover fields without the sound of guns.
And peace to this young warrior comes with a bullet hole!