Disclaimer: I do not own The Cat, The Looking Glass Wars or any of its related characters – it belongs to Frank Beddor. I own only the plot.
It was the purr-fect disguise.
The little princess could not resist keeping her hands off of me, taking me into her arms and stroking my fur every four seconds. Who could blame her? My kitten form is absolutely irresistible. It's no surprise that dear Alyss only had eyes for me.
The boy with her – only a few years older than the princess yet – I laughed at this – trying to look grown-up in his uniform – looked around at the celebrating crowd of people nearby, and he turned back to look at me, just in time to see a smile appearing on my face.
He raised an eyebrow. "It's smiling," he said. "I didn't know cats could smile."
"He's smiling because he's happy to be with me," Alyss replied, holding me tighter to her chest. I sensed a tinge of authority hidden in her tone.
The boy did not pursue the matter any further. He and the princess said nothing more to each other, and they walked towards the front gate, where a pair of guards kept watch. They recognised the boy, but not the princess in her pathetic disguise.
Thankfully, they didn't recognise me, too.
After revealing her identity to the guards – who immediately begged her pardon – and getting them to promise to be silent about the children being outside the palace, Alyss, with her friend in tow, entered the palace.
Could it be any easier than this?
Wasting no time, I jumped out of Alyss's arms the moment the gate was locked, and I ran down the hall without looking back.
"Kitty, no!" she cried.
Oh, don't worry, Alyss. I'll be back. For you and your little friend. You'll see.
The look on little Alyss's face was absolutely priceless when I evolved into my true form. When Redd and the soldiers burst in, it gave me immense satisfaction to see the royal brat tumble over in her chair and lay coughing in the dust. She screamed, only for her little friend to clamp his hand over her mouth (clever little boy) and pull her under a table, out of the way of the real grown-ups who were terribly busy beating each other up.
"Keep quiet or they'll get you too," my ears heard the boy say as I stabbed a chessman with my now-bloody claw. "Stay here and don't move."
Not only clever, but brave, too.
But I refocused my thoughts onto the battle. If Redd caught me doing nothing, she'll have my head on a plate. I ploughed through several chessmen, and they fell like ragdolls. Redd would be pleased with me. I'm sure nothing would be more delightful than seeing her niece finished off, so I decided that once I was done with the chessmen, I'd go after the princess myself.
And the boy, too, if he isn't killed first.
I finished off a pawn and a bishop, and I turned my attention to Alyss and the boy. The princess huddled against her friend, terribly anguished. The boy's handsome face was looking the other way, surveying the chaos, not knowing what I had in store for him and the princess. I could only grin as I made my way towards him and the girl …
The boy's face broke into smile. A smile! Now it was my turn to be confused.
"Watch this," he said suddenly to Alyss, pride evident in his voice.
I turned my head in the direction he was looking, and I saw a guardsman running towards me, a sword gripped tightly in his hands. His turquiose-blue eyes were on fire.
I knocked the guard off of his feet with just one blow, and he fell to the ground. His sword was out of reach. Feeling pity for the man, I decided to put him out of his misery. I picked him up, a grin on my face. I raised my other claw, and I swiped him. Four clean, long cuts opened up on his chest. The man stopped moving immediately.
"Nooo!" a voice cried, and suddenly the boy appeared in sight with the dead man's sword in his hand, running towards me and yelling at the top of his lungs.
I was thoroughly amused at the sight. Who was this boy trying to kid? Either he was being very brave or just plain stupid. No matter, I'll put an end to his misery, too.
Throwing the dead man aside and grinning madly, I knocked the boy lightly aside, my claws brushing against his handsome face. He fell to the ground with a loud thud.
That'll teach you to try and fight a grown man's battles.
As I stepped towards him to finish him off, five or six chessmen appeared out of nowhere, shielding me from my prey. As I busied myself with these fools, I caught sight of the little boy, sobbing his big, hazel-brown eyes out over the dead guardsman's body. Tears mingled with the blood that ran from four cuts on his right cheek.
That was the last time I would ever see him, the boy who acted so grown-up, crying like the child that he really was.
"Dodge Anders has escaped!"
My attention turned to the boy with the fat rear, hiding under the protective arm of his father, who stood before Redd with the other suit families amidst the dead bodies in the South Dining Room. I stood nearby to the Three Card who was making a list of who had escaped the carnage: the suit families were coming up with names as to who was still alive.
"And who might Dodge Anders be?" Redd asked, turning to the boy – his name was Jack of Diamonds.
He replied pompously, "He's in love with Princess Alyss but pretends not to be. He's a guardsman's son. That's his father, there."
His finger pointed to a dead body on the floor. I recognised the bleeding corpse immediately, but I said nothing. An image of the sobbing child came to mind.
So, the boy's name is Dodge Anders, and I killed his darling father. Hmm, wearing matching uniforms. Now I see where Dodge learned how to use a sword. Cute.
Redd seemed very pleased with Jack of Diamonds, fat rear and wig and all; she stepped forth and pinched his cheeks almost lovingly. I was pleased, however, to see bruises, albeit tiny, appear on his cheeks. Truth be told, I didn't like the look of this arrogant brat at all.
Redd turned to the Three Card and commanded him to add Dodge Ander's name to the list, and she announced that we were to prepare for her coronation at the Heart Crystal. As we filed out the room, I cast one last glance at the fallen guardsman.
Don't worry about a thing. I'm going to take good care of your son when I see him.
"What?" I hissed. "Blaxik has fallen?"
The Four Card messenger cringed. "It was the fault of the Alyssians," Four Card said with a whimper. "A rebel attack. The Cut was defeated easily, and the slaves escaped."
I hissed again. Blaxik, a notorious labour camp, had fallen all because of a mixed-up group of rebels. "How is it possible that The Cut was defeated? Surely they outnumbered the Alyssians!"
"General Doppelgänger was there, as well as several chessmen and ex-Wonderlanders –"
"Is that all? That still doesn't answer my question!" I said, stepping towards the Four Card. "How was The Cut defeated?"
Four Card squealed, shaking as it took a step back. "The Alyssians overpowered them! Reports say that a certain strong soldier amongst the rebel group was responsible for letting the slaves go free and for destroying most of The Cut."
"One soldier?" I exclaimed, amazed. "The man must have a death wish!"
"Actually, reports say it was a young boy," the Four Card said. "Tough, they say he was, for a boy in his teens, and livid like a Jabberwocky."
"'Suicidal' seems to be a better word," I replied, narrowing my eyes, yet I couldn't help but feel something niggling at the back of my mind, and it only grew as I said (mostly to myself), "Who knew General Doppelgänger would stoop so low as to train children to fight?"
"No offense, but they say this boy fought like a man," said Four Card.
"Did he now …"
I no longer addressed the Four Card, who backed away and moved quickly away to escape to goodness knows where, leaving me alone with my thoughts. The only thing on my mind was of the boy that I hadn't seen in over four years, with his bleeding cheek and grief-stricken tears running down his boyishly-handsome face. What was his name? Dodge, Dodge Anders, I think it was. Yessss, little Dodge. Tried to act like an adult, the silly boy. He's probably dead by now. I can't imagine such a stupid child like him in a life-threatening situation like that.
Then I remembered when he tried to attack me. Ah yes, now I can.
With these thoughts in mind, I trudged off to tell Redd about the fall of Blaxik. I knew Redd was going to explode.
Luckily, the thoughts of the Anders boy soothed me. If he was alive, I'd love to pay him a little visit. I have some unfinished business with him.
Alyss and her posse had infiltrated Mount Isolation, and they were making their way towards Redd in the ballroom of the Observation Dome, where I stood waiting for them.
Yet out of the noise made several floors below us, I could distinctly hear the voice of a man, coaxing, calling me out in a sickenly-sweet manner outside the ballroom:
"Here, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty …"
I knew he was calling for me: if I was not the only "kitty" in this fortress, then I'd be damned if I had left that other cat living.
"Here, kitty, kitty, kitty …"
Steady, cautious footsteps became distinct, louder, closer. I arched my back, baring my fangs as I smiled to myself. Come a little closer. Come to the kitty …
Then the footsteps stopped, at least a few dozen feet away from the doors of the ballroom, where I stood waiting on the other side. Disappointed.
Why did you stop?
My ears pricked up, trying to detect a sound. Then I heard voices. Hushed voices, coming from one of the rooms in the hallway. My potential victim seemed to have heard these voices too, for I heard him taking two steps –
- and bang, the door of the room full of buzzing voices was kicked open. A squeal of surprise came from within (I should have known that was the walrus).
Then, the unmistakable voice of Jack of Diamonds addressed my prey: "Ha-yah! Yah! We've got you now! Thank Issa you've come! I thought I'd have to kill all of them myself."
And for the next few seconds, the idiot embarrassed himself by making the most stupid noises of all, making himself seem so brave. I slapped my face: I actually felt pity for the fat brat.
However, the feeling did not last. I was content for the stranger (probably found the lard-tub just as ridiculous as I did) to finish off Jack of Diamonds – he was welcome to do so. But I knew Redd might be angry with me if I let the Alyssian get away with killing off her darling Jack.
I guess it's up to me to save his fat rump. Again.
Quietly, I exited the ballroom, turning into my kitten form. Following the Diamond boy's annoying noises, I padded along the hallway until I reached the room on my left. I stood in the doorway.
The walrus-butler stood before Jack of Diamonds, who waved a small knife in the air like a mad man. My eyes wandered to the tall figure whose back was to me, apparently watching Jack. He didn't seem fooled, however, for his grip on the sword he was holding tightened.
"There's only one reward for a traitor," he suddenly said, and the hairs on my back stood up straight. His voice was soft and low, yet I could hear the anger seeping through his words. It was interesting, to say the least. It's rare to see a man of action act so … emotional.
I rather like the sound of this man.
Just as the he began to raise sword into the air, I evolved into my true form, purring contentedly. "And what is my reward?"
The man spun around quickly, and at that very split-second, I nearly dropped down in surprise when I saw his face.
Brown hair framed his fair yet rugged visage. His lips were pursed into an angry frown, and his eyes, a vivid shade of brown, narrowed at the sight of yours truly. But what really caught my attention were the four, parallel scars that decorated his right cheek.
Little Dodge Anders, all grown up!
It had to be him, the very same boy from all those years ago.
Who else could it be?
Aware that I was letting my guard down, I immediately recovered from my initial shock, greeting the man with a smile. You didn't know cats could smile. I didn't know you that you were alive. Even stevens.
There were no words, no yelling, no tears as the Anders boy ran towards me, raising his sword and aiming it my direction. Grinning wildly, I side-stepped him, my claw catching him on the shoulder. He fell to the floor, and I noticed that four cuts had opened up on his shoulder.
Despite the injury, however, Dodge managed to get up and attack me with some kind of weapon reminiscent of a sword. The wound I received in turn was not fatal, but it made me angry nonetheless. The feeling intensified as the shadow of a smirk on Dodge's face made itself known.
At the same time, though, a new feeling for the man was born: admiration. I couldn't help but admire this new brazen quality of the boy, who dared to call me out and challenged me; who, all those years ago, had the impertinence to try and attack me with the intention to kill me!
You're playing a man's game now, I thought as I glared at him.
And thus the fight escalated from there. Jack of Diamonds and the walrus had long since left the room, but that didn't matter. Blows were exchanged and blood was spilt. How my heart fluttered as my claws made contact with the boy's skin! His blood flowed like water from his shoulder and his chest.
But, unlike his father, he never stayed down. It galled me to see him get up time and time again, as if rising from the dead.
We're not so different, you and I, I thought as he drove his sword through my ribcage, ending my 6th life.
As I regained consciousness, I heard his screams: "Get up! Get up, get up, get up!"
In the process, Ander's patience obviously wore thin as he drove his sword into my ribcage once more, thus ending my 7th life.
As I lay dead-still, waiting for the right time to strike, I listened to the Anders boy's shrieking, more so to the tone of his voice. In my mind's eye, I could clearly imagine Dodge, albeit as a young boy, screaming at me, the emotion evident in his voice.
You're still nothing more than a little child.
I took him by surprise, my claw slashing against his thigh, causing blood to run down his leg. He fell to the floor in pain, his sword clattering to the ground and out of reach.
I stood up, re-energised and such. I bared my fangs in satisfaction, grinning in the other man's direction. Slowly, I advanced on him.
Slowly, he backed away for the first time.
"Nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide," I whispered, taking bigger steps towards him. "No chessmen to hold me back this time. No one to save you …"
His bloodied body was pressed against the wall. His hazel-brown eyes met my own, intense hatred emanating from them. In my eyes, I saw only a little boy, cowering in the corner.
I stood over him, smiling in triumph.
"You put up a good fight, Anders, but," I snarled, grabbing by his hair – he yelped in surprise – forcing him to face me, "I'm afraid you have lost. You may have changed physically, but mentally you are still the childish boy I met all those years ago. YOU. Are. NOT. A man," I spat out each word.
Dodge's eyes bore into mine. "You're not a man, either," he whispered. "You are a beast."
"Think so?" I hissed, grinning. Taking him by the back of neck with my other claw, I raised him up to eye-level – his throat was exposed. Smiling, I ran a digit over the exposed, unbloody area – he gasped. "Then trust me when I say …
I raised my other claw, positioned to strike.
" … I'm much worse."
I made to bring my claw down with full force, to finally end this boy's life - -
It didn't make it.
A shot of immense pain coursed throughout my entire body. Growling, I let go of Ander's body, and I grabbed at my stomach: I could feel the blood matting my fur.
I'm dying. Again.
I staggered backwards, bleeding at a rapid rate. I collapse to my knees, almost howling.
I'm used to dying quickly – I don't like dying slowly!
I looked up. Dodge Anders stood against the wall, still weak yet strong enough to stand. In his hand was a AD52 – where it came from, I had no idea. Be it as it may, he managed to shoot me with it in the stomach, I being too busy with him to notice.
Noticing the seething look I was throwing at him, he murmured, "There's more than one way to skin a cat. Or kill, in this case."
And he smiled at me.
The lasting image of his ironic smile as my 8th life came to end.
I remember coming back to life – it felt so strange, waking up to your one and only life.
When I opened my eyes, my vision was blurred somewhat. I could hear Ander's voice, so far away yet so close … he was yelling, but not at me. Something about constructs.
Garnering all the remaining strength I had left – the last strength my latest life had to offer – I stood up, albeit slowly. Rubbing my eyes, my vision became clear once more. Standing not too far way from me was Dodge Anders, his back to me. As if sensing that he was being watched, he turned around slowly, a look of both determination and satisfaction sketched onto his scarred face.
With carnage all around us, and chaos reigning everywhere, we only had eyes for each other.
After a beat, I allowed myself to smile. "You and I … we're not so different at all."
Anders didn't reply. Instead, he raised the AD52.
And that's when I noticed the flow of imaginative energy, and where it led to.
The Heart Crystal!
Hissing at the boy, I sprinted towards the crystal. Razor-sharp card projectiles were fired at me, but I managed to (ahem) dodge them. Looking back, I could see Dodge running fast and firing the AD52, and he was catching up – I could clearly see the look of pure hate aimed at me. If the AD52 didn't kill me, then that look would have done the job.
As I got to the crystal, before I jumped and threw myself into the gem, I could remember thinking to myself:
He's really changed, that boy. Sort of reminds me of myself – changeable, yet doesn't know when to die.
Leaping into the crystal, a white light enveloping my body, I could only grin once as I thought:
But in his case, when we meet again, he'll know.
My grin became wider as my body disappeared into nothingness.
Oh, he'll know …
Author's Note: it took a while, but I finally finished this. The Cat is my favourite character, apart from Dodge, and there just isn't enough fanfics about him, so I began this fanfic – even better, it's from his point-of-view. You can imagine how I, a Cat fangirl, would have felt when The Cat's name wasn't listed in the character lists, so I emailed to add his name, and some other names, to the LGW list. ^3^
I dunno, I'm just fascinated with The Cat, and his complex relationship with Dodge is something I ponder about – I mean, what does The Cat think? Was he even aware of Dodge being all "I-keeeel-you-now!" and stuff – before their fight in the book, (obviously)? Thus, "Metamorphosis" was born.
So, I hope you liked reading it. Drop me a line about any spelling/grammar mistakes. I'm also available as a beta-reader, and if you need one, let me know! :)
Reviews are welcome!