A Tale of Vengeance
MungoJerrie knew the building’s layout well. He knew it better than he knew they routines on those that called this place home. Bypassing the traps was child’s play, even with the load he now carried. What few cats that were not out on jobs would be on the hunt for food thanks to the recent problems in their supplies. Macavity would be alone in the third floor flat he called his den.
Mungo had made this trip through Macavity’s lair untold times in the past, carrying news both good and bad. One way or another this would be the final time. The line had been crossed. There was no going back to the way things where. Macavity had pushed him too far this time. He had left him with no recourse. Mungo truly didn’t know what the outcome of this final meeting would be. Who would be left alive, Macavity or himself? That question was now put into fate’s hand, he stood ready to enter the doorway to Macavity’s private den.
Macavity sat, more than lay, on a pile of blankets in the far corner of the room as MungoJerrie slowly entered the room. In his mouth, Mungo carried the limp form of one of Macavity’s loyalist followers, Shade.
“Your assassin has failed. She still lives” Mungo said dropping Shade to the ground.
Macavity could tell at one glance at Shade that he had paid the ultimate price for his failures. Such losses were always inevitable in the world they ran in. Shade had served Macavity almost from infancy, along side his twin Ebony. Both had proven their loyalty time and again. Shade may have been the more hotheaded of the two, but he was no less capable. It may prove difficult to replace him, but not impossible. To lose the services of Mungo as well, though, would place several plans in jeopardy, but often risks needed to be taken to eliminate problems. A lot of reworking lay ahead of him. He had tried his best to keep Mungo out of this, but should have seen that was inevitable.
“How did things get so far out of control?” Macavity wondered to himself.
Rumpleteazer sat quietly on the edge of the rooftop above the patch of open ground the kittens chose to play in this day. After her diligence with caring for MungoJerrie during his recovery, and showing common sense by seeking out help when the kitten they were watching moved off into an area far too dangerous for just to two of them to guard her, Macavity had decided she was capable of standing watch on her own. The thrill of babysitting the kitten was quickly lost for her though. These four had to be the most boring kittens she had even met. With the exception of one bad decision on a hunt for food, they never seemed to do anything even vaguely interesting. They would just sit around all day and play foolish games until they started bickering at each other. Jemima and Victoria were constantly at odds with each other. The other two, Electra and Etcetera, were quite often too simpleminded provide more than a target for Vicky to start the bickering with.
“Why do they even bother” Teazer mumbled to herself. Unerringly today’s ‘games’ will end up the same as every other thing they seem to do.
Teazer glanced restlessly back down into the yard. While she was distracted in thought one of the kittens had disappeared.
“Leave it to Cetty to wonder off and vanish again…” Teazer thought. That one had the uncanny ability to just vanish for no reason at all only to reappear some time later from a spot no kitten should have been able to reach. Teazer reluctantly had to admit the kitten had talent in one area at least. She just wasn’t exactly sure what good, if any, that talent could ever be.
Teazer sensed the attack too late to due more than turn towards her attacker and brace for impact. The tiny white blur didn’t quite hit her with the force she had been expecting but it was sufficient to knock her on her back, her assailant astride her belly. Teazer wasn’t sure whether to be ashamed or amused as she looked up at a playful Cetty trying to recover from her pounce.
Cetty’s eyes opened wide almost instantly when she saw the face of the cat she had just pounced. She had gotten distracted from playing and decided to roam a bit when she had noticed a cat she didn’t recognize laying on the rooftop. With a happy greeting in mind, Cetty but all her might into the pounce that would announce her presence. Her happy mood was turning to worry though as she realized that she did in fact know this cat. She had seen her months ago during their ill-fated hunt for food. This was the cat that had led the Paw to the place they had been attacked by the Pols.
Cetty was unsure about Teazer. She obviously ran with Macavity, but the concern she showed towards the Cat that had allowed Jem to escape from the Pols had moved her deeply. Someone that cared so deeply for another just couldn’t be all bad, could they?
“Umm... Hi…” Cetty purred as she rolled off of Teazer. Cetty moved back a bit in case she needed to run. “My name’s Cetty. Etcetera really, but that’s just too long to remember so everyone just calls me Cetty. I’ve seen you before, didn’t I? With Macavity? And the Cat that saved Jem? Is he all right? What are you doing? Who are you? What’s your name? ”
“Teazer.” The world slipped from her lips before she realized what she was saying. All of Cetty’s questions had caught her off guard. It was pretty much useless to deny what she had asked know. Cetty obviously remembered her. Trying to cover it up would solve nothing at this point, and many of the questions were harmless enough. Teazer was also very bored of just sitting here after several hours and needed a break. She looked back over the edge and saw that the other kittens was still playing and turned to answer the questions.
“Everyone calls me either Teazer or Rumple. I just came up here to stretch out and sun myself a bit. Mungo’s fine. His wounds took time to heal but he is strong.”
Doubts started to enter her mind that she really shouldn’t be talking to Cetty. Someone should be along to relieve her shortly and to be caught with Cetty here could lead to questions she didn’t want to have to answer, like how she let a kitten sneak up on her. She did have a reputation to defend after all. She decided it was in her best interest to get rid of her as fast, and quietly, as she could.
“Actually I chose up here because it was quiet and empty. I wanted to be alone while I lay out and relaxed. I hope you don’t mind?”
Cetty got the hint and said goodbye before moving off back the way she had apparently came.
“Could you do my one favor?” Teazer called out.
“Would you mind not telling anyone I’m up here? It’s hard to be alone if everyone knows I’m here after all”
“Oh. OK, sure.”
Ebony watched from the shadows as Cetty wandered off. He hag arrived there moments before Cetty had made her arrival. How could teazer let her guard down and let a kitten get the jump on her. Mistakes like that could create problems one day. Something needed to be done about this but that would have to wait for now. He was here to relieve Teazer and take his turn at watch.
He paused long enough to give Teazer time to get back to work before making his entrance. Her concentration was back. She picked up on his entrance almost immediately.
“About time you got here.” Teazer remarked.
“All’s well?” No hint that he had just seen what had happened showed in Ebony’s words or movements. If Teazer wanted to play it this way he wasn’t about to tip his hand to her. Let her believe she got away with it for now.
“When isn’t it? They just sat there all day again. Some things never change. Well, have fun. I’m heading back.”
Teazer decided to head off towards the waterfront to grab a bite to eat. One of the benefits of running with Macavity was access to the supplies that he had set up. Food was never a problem. They had found a hidden entrance to one of the fish canneries at the waterfront. As long as they kept the location of the entrance hidden from the humans that worked there, they could come and go as they pleased.
Twice in one day, Teazer let herself get distracted in thought. Mungo was back at full strength and there were things the two of them needed to work out. She had always felt close to him, but while caring for him during his recovery, she discovered a depth to her feeling she didn’t know had existed. She had always looked up to him as a mentor but this was so much more. Her heart was flooding her with emotions and feelings she couldn’t contain at times. His mere presence brightened her mood no matter how bad she felt. His scent brought her other senses fully aware of everything around her. The sound of his voice soothed away any doubts she might have about what he was saying. She didn’t even want to think about the quivers she felt at his touch. When she was with him she felt complete, like she had never felt before. Happier than she had ever been. She needed to find out if he felt the same, but didn’t have the courage to ask. She needed to wait for just the right moment to broach the subject.
So lost was she in thought that she never noticed she was being followed.
True she did agree to take leave Teazer alone to relax, but since Teazer had decided to go for a walk after taking to that huge black tom, there was no reason to go away anymore. Cetty decided to chase along after her and talk some more with her. Teazer seemed like an interesting Cat and she never did answer all the questions Cetty had asked her.
Cetty noticed that Teazer looked a little distracted at the moment and decided it would have been rude to interrupt her a second time. It would be better just to stay out of sight for a bit and wait until she looked less busy. Cetty had made a habit of trying to stay out of sight when important things where going on. She felt she was still too small to be more than a nuisance to many of the other Jellicles. They would always say she wasn’t a bother but she could tell they were just being nice. She decided it was best to just sit back and watch at times until they had time for her. She was getting real good at it by now. Often times she would move off to a secluded place where she could keep an eye on things until she saw her time to interrupt. This usually required getting in and out of places that most thought impossible to reach. Cetty had found that with enough perseverance, nothing was impossible. If she tried hard enough there wasn’t any place she could not get to.
For now Cetty kept her distance and followed quietly.
Teazer reached with the warehouse at last. She glanced around to make sure there were no humans around to see her and moved off towards the hidden entrance with Cetty watching her every step from behind a trash heap a few yards off. Teazer entered quietly, a fresh meal the only thing on her mind at the moment. She stood silently for a moment to let her eyes shift over to night vision. The entrance was well shielded back in a corner of the cannery that was given over to storage years ago. Old rusted machine parts were scattered all around. None of the humans ever came back here anymore and the lights had been burnt out for months. Teazer wound her way around the discarded machinery quietly moving off towards the heart of the cannery where food was to be found. This was the tricky part, slipping in to the better lit sections and getting a meal without being noticed. The humans were watchful at the main entrances to the building but tended to slack off once inside the building.
With the noise of the machinery drowning out almost any sounds she could make, Teazer darted quickly out of the doorway from the storage area and slipped in behind a bank of machinery against the wall. Keeping to the shadows, and out of sight, she moved around the large room towards where the fresh fish were stored while they waited to be processed. Checking to make sure that the humans weren’t looking her way, Teazer snatched a fish large enough to satisfy her hunger but not affect her movement too much and moved back to the shadows along the wall.
As she made her way along the wall, a large crash came from the storage area. Today was not turning out to be her day. There was no way for her to get out the front without risking getting caught. The path was through a wide open, well light area. There was no way to get through unnoticed and with whatever was going on in the storage area she wouldn’t be able to use that exit until the humans cleared up what ever had happened back there. All she could do for now is to wait until things settled down. At least the had a safe place to hide and food to eat while she waited.
Several humans can with flashlights to investigate the sound. From her hiding spot, Teazer had a good view through the doorway. Teazer caught movement in one of the beams as it moved around the room and all most let out a groan. Cetty’s white fur stood out brightly as the beam darted across it. So that was what caused the commotion. Cetty must have followed her and bumped into something while slipping through the storage area. How could she have been so stupid as to not notice the kitten following her? The whole situation was her fault. If she had been paying more attention she would have noticed Cetty and prevented her from coming in here. Somehow she had to get Cetty out of here safely, but didn’t look too likely with the humans searching the room. Her worry grew when she saw humans bringing in bulbs to replace the burnt out ones. Apparently the decided it while it wasn’t worth the effort to change them when the room was never used, it was needed for them to figure out what was going on in there. Making it out the hidden entrance would be next to impossible now that the entire area would be bathed in light.
Suddenly another commotion was started, this one in the opposite direction. Something was going on near the main entrance. Teazer shifted around to see what was causing the new commotion.
“I must really be out of it today,” Teazer thought to herself “letting two cats tail me and not noticing either. A lot on my mind or not, this is getting unreal.”
The commotion at the front of the building was being caused by one of the largest toms teazer had the displeasure of meeting. Shade was darting about the front entrance causing quite a stir. While Shade and Ebony may be physically identical and always working towards the same goal, their methods of reaching that goal differed greatly. Ebony always chose to take the subtle approach while Shade had no understanding of the meaning of the word. Shade had the uncanny knack of going off half cocked all the time and usually made matters worse. For once though, Shade might just be the answer to her prayers. A cat in the cannery would cause all the workers to do everything they could to prevent him from getting away with any fish. The humans were pretty strange when it came to this. There were hundreds of fish in the cannery at any given time. They would never miss one or two, but for some reason they always seemed to sound the alarm at the mere site of a cat entering. They even went so far as to chain to Pols at the front door to scare away and cat that would think of getting close. Shade had totally ignored the Pols when he entered as well as abandoned and any hint of stealth. He had just run in the front and hadn’t stopped running since then. Teazer could tell that he was just playing around with the humans. He was providing her with the distraction she needed to get out unnoticed.
Cetty watched as Teazer slipped into a hole in the back wall of the cannery. Although she rarely ever had gotten this far from home she had visited the area around the canneries with Tugger once. It had taken every ounce on pleading she could muster to convince him to let her go along and just watch. In the end it had turned out to be Aunt Bomb that finally got him to agree to take her. Tugger never really could say “no” to her. He was so silly about that at times, all big and strong, not to mention soooo cuute… but when it came to Aunt Bomb he always seemed to give in without much of a fight. Together the two queens finally convinced him that eventually she would need to know where they searched for food, and the canneries were one of the safest places for a young kitten to learn at.
Cetty waited a few moments after Teazer had enter and moved off after her. She paused for a second beside a few boxes that masked the hole from being found on a casual investigation of the building. Convinced that Teazer had moved away from the exit, Cetty slipped through the hole into the darkness.
Once her eyes had adjusted to the lack of lighting, Cetty noticed Teazer slinking around the corner of the doorway into the main area of the cannery. Keeping close to the wall she followed quietly behind her until a shadow dropped across the doorway. Cetty froze in place behind a stack of rusty old cans that looked to have been sitting there since the cannery was built. A distinctly human shadow moved to block out the light that entered the storage area from the packaging area. A tall greasy human was carrying a large piece of the machinery back to the storage area.
The weight in the man’s arms shifted throwing his balance off. As he stumbled towards Cetty, she instinctively launched herself sideways to avoid being crush. The man caught his balance in time to stay standing and not lose his load. Cetty was not as fortunate. In her haste to avoid the man she clipped the side of the stack of cans. The cans cascaded all around her. Cetty moved as quickly as she could to find cover behind a bank of machinery along the far wall.
The man knew he had not even come close to the cans. He had caught a brief glimpse of a white blur moving from the cans scattered across the floor to the other side of the room. How a cat had gotten in past the dogs at the front was beyond him, but that could be found out later. Right now the main concern was catching the cat and getting it out of here. Several of his co-workers were already coming at the sound of the crash, but they would need a bit more light if they hoped to catch the cat in this collection of junk.
Management wouldn’t be excited about them wasting money to replace the lights back here, but they would be more upset if the health department learned that they had cats messing around with the fish. He called out to the others to get the bulbs replaced in the storage area and started to search as best he could in the darkness while the others worked on replacing the lights.
More humans were coming and these were bringing lights. Cetty started to get frightened. She had some idea what the humans would do if they found her and she had always been instructed by the older cats to expect the worse at times like these and plan accordingly. She fell back on the one defensive maneuver that had never seemed to fail her.
Shade stood off down a side street overlooking their access to the cannery, a look of disgust on his face. “No wonder he has us keeping an eye on her.” He thought to himself. “This one can not be trusted on her own. She is far too easily distracted. Her lack of concentration will one day be the cause of many problems”
Shade had never held his tongue when it came to the failures in others. Unlike Ebony, he had no understanding of the word tact. If the comment was important enough to cross his mind it was important enough to utter. That was the way he led his life. The way he handled both word and action. Shade would never be thought of as indecisive. While some would say he just never thought, those that knew him knew that to not be true. Shade would react instantly to his thoughts. He thought an executed the thought at almost the same time. This trait, while making him difficult to control at times, allowed him to react on the purest of levels. Most of the time this enhanced his speed and reflexes immensely. Unfortunately, at times his first, and only, thought proved to be a bad idea and he reacted to fast to prevent from making a bad mistake. Most often this was evident in his words. Shade had taken an almost instant dislike to Teazer. There was nothing in particular he could point at that would explain his disdain for her. Shade was quick to point out the flaws he saw in her techniques as well as her complete lack of concentration at times. He was overjoyed when Mac had made the decision to keep an eye on her. Shade saw his opportunity to do something about removing her from the fold and instantly volunteered to oversee the surveillance himself. With the help of his brother and a few of the others who had earned his trust, he kept a near constant presence around her. It seemed that Mungo was a bit inaccurate in his praises of her talents, not once had she shown signs of noticing her watchers.
When he heard the crash inside he knew instantly it had to be Cetty that caused it. As much as he disliked Teazer, he accepted that much of her reputed talents were not exaggerated. She would never have screwed up bad enough to cause that crash. It was of no concern though. The crash had happened and she was now trapped inside with humans searching the building. It was one thing to prove her unable to be of service. It was another the abandon her. That was one thing Macavity was adamant about. No one was to be left behind under any circumstances. Only the dead were abandoned and she wasn’t dead yet. Something needed to be done and done quickly. If they found her there would be no way to release her.
The plan was simple. He would charge the front door, set about causing as much of a commotion as he could and pull the search away from Teazer. With any luck the humans would think that he had caused the crash as well. That way, even if Teazer couldn’t get out during the uproar, they would end searching and she could slip out quietly shortly thereafter.
Before the thought was even completed, Shade was moving towards the entrance. The two Pols that stood guard chained to either side of the entrance would prove no hindrance to his plan; in fact they would help greatly. He effortlessly dodged their attempts to strike him and moved quickly inside. Both Pols let loose a racket that the humans could not miss. Causing a distraction would be kitten’s play.
Running along the right wall, staying as far as he could from the back rooms of the cannery, Shade made a conscious effort to throw his weight about to ensure he toppled more than a few items about the room. Timing was a factor here. He had to distract them quickly, and then make for the entrance before they could get close enough to catch him. The thought of making a quick strike at the fish bin was tempting, but too risky to attempt.
As the humans shifted their attention away from the storage area and started to concentrate on the front of the building, He noticed the effect that Teazer’s carelessness in allowing herself to be followed had caused. As he crossed the room, he had a clear view into the now well lit storage area. This would make using the back entrance a lot more difficult.
He cursed silently at the pains that Teazer had caused this day and was almost sorry he hadn’t disobeyed Macavity’s orders on never leaving someone behind. Though the situation was still salvageable, it was not going to be easy. Shade decided the time was at hand to make for the exit. If teazer hadn’t reached safety by now it was unlike he could do any more to aid her in her escape short of getting caught himself. He quickly made for the center of the front door, shifting at the last second to his right. No sense in not playing a bit with the Pols on his way out, he realized. The movement was far too quick and agile for the guard on the right to do more than look on helplessly as he passed behind him and disappeared into the traffic on the street.
Teazer took good advantage of Shade’s distraction. As soon as the humans had cleared the back room and moved past her towards the front of the building, She moved off towards the back exit, paying attention that she wasn’t noticed. She crossed the street and waited, watching both the exit and the street for the others to make their exit. By the sounds at the front it was obvious that Shade was clear of the building even before she caught sight of him heading towards her through the traffic. She shifted her gave back to the hidden entrance and waited, watching carefully for Cetty to make her way out. This was all her fault. If she had just been paying attention none of this would have happened.
Teazer was getting nervous. Cetty should have gotten clear by now. Something was wrong. Teazer started off towards the entrance as Shade arrived at her lookout spot.
“What in the everlasting cats name are you doing?”
“Something is wrong, She should have made it out by now. I have to go help her”
“Not a chance. She got herself into this. It was her that caused the commotion. Leave her to her fate.”
“It’s my fault she was in there in the first place. I can’t just abandon her like that. I have to go back”
“There is no way I’m going to allow you to screw up this entire situation again. You’re carelessness has already cause enough problems. Right now you have some explaining to do to the boss about what happened here. Leave it be, we’re heading back now”
Shade turned to head back to the den. This would be more than enough to show to Macavity that she was a liability if he allowed her to stay in any capacity other than breeding stock. At least that she would prove capable of doing.
Teazer could not turn her back on Cetty. She was responsible. It was her duty to correct her mistake. She darted back across the street. Shade turned at the movement but knew he wasn’t fast enough to catch her. With no way of stopping her he just sat back and watched, cursing her for her recklessness.
Teazer bolted through the hole in the wall at full stride. The humans would still be near the front most likely but they would return soon. She had to get in quickly, find Cetty and get back out. Her eyes scanned the now well lit room quickly, looking for signs of Cetty. Nothing. She paused to listen but could pick up nothing over the background noise. The humans had still not returned at least, finally something was going her way.
A flash of white caught Teazer’s attention from the one place she had failed to scan: the building's rafters.
Cetty knew her best bet would be to get above the lights. In the rafters, the lights below her would make it difficult to see her. She moved upwards with practiced ease, quietly leaping from machine to box and back again, each leap moving closer to the rafters. With one final leap she covered the remaining distance from the top of the back on machinery up to the rafters and moved as quietly as she could to a spot directly about the lights.
Cetty nearly lost her composure at the sound of the Pols at the front erupting into a fit of barking, but calmed when she saw that the humans were starting to move off in that direction. Shortly after the last had left, Teazer slipped back into the room and made her way out the hole to the safety outside. A frown crossed Cetty’s face. Heading for outside seemed like a much better plan than hiding in the rafters now that she thought about it.
“What in the Everlasting Cats name are you doing up there? We need to get out of here before the humans come back and find you.” Teazer whispered.
“I got scared and this was best place I could think of to hide”
“Why didn’t you just duck back out the way you came in?”
If looks could kill, the one Cetty flashed at Teazer really couldn’t have caused much damage. She just couldn’t put any real anger into the look, though she tried as hard as could. A slightly miffed frown was the closest she could come up with, so she decided to just give up and go with that. She knew she was more mad at herself then anyone else since it was her choice to hide in the rafters, but she really didn’t need to be reminded that she had made a bad choice.
“Will you just get down here so we can get out of here? You don’t want to get caught here. Do you know what they will do if they catch you in here?”
All the kittens were raised on the horror stories of what happened to kittens that got caught in places like the cannery. Cetty had heard more than she had needed to know that getting caught was something to avoid at all cost.
“Now lets get out…” Teazer was cut off in mid-sentence as her world turned to darkness.
Cetty watched in horror as a tarp landed on Teazer. With all that was going on, all the background noises, the machinery, the Pols out front barking, the humans calling out to each other, neither had noticed the human at the door until he had thrown the tarp he was carrying over Teazer. The human moved in on the trapped human but apparently had still not seen Cetty high about. He bunched the tarp up around Teazer and lifter her off the ground.
“Hey, Jimmy” he called out. “I think I caught our culprit in here”
He moved the tarp partially out of the way to get a better look at his catch. He made sure to keep a tight grip all the time as well as making sure that Teazers paws were firmly trapped inside the tarp. Teazer hissed loudly at him but it was more for show than in any real hope of intimidation. Teazer was helplessly trapped in the man’s tight grip and the tarp. Struggling as much as she could, there was no way out of his grip.
She was quite surprised as his grip was suddenly no longer there and she was falling to the ground. As she shrugged off the parts of the tarp that still restrained her, she realized what had happened. Cetty had launched herself from the rafters at the man’s back. Her claws, though small were enough to gain purchase on his shirt and into the flesh underneath. The combination of shock and pain had caused him to drop Teazer. Cetty released her hold on the man and start off towards the exit. Teazer nearly called out to her to go for the main entrance instead but she knew that they stood no chance of making it out that way.
The soon to be no longer hidden exit was there only chance out. Teazer knew there would be hell to pay for compromising the entrance, but there was no other option available. Teazer took off close on Cetty’s heels for the exit and freedom. Both Cetty and Teazer hit the daylight at full speed, darted past shade without the slightest pause and didn’t stop running until the made it back to their home territory.
“The humans have sealed up the entrance to the cannery” The simple statement carried Macavity’s displeasure quite easily.
Shade had returned directly to the lair after leaving the cannery. He had stayed there long enough after Teazer had fled the site to witness the humans boarding up the entrance. Teazer’s insolence and disregard for his authority had just cost them their primary source of sustenance. His anger was partially tempered by the knowledge that this had to be enough to force Macavity to finally deal with her. Macavity could no longer overlook her flaws; the time had finally come.
“It appears that you will finally get that which you seem to have been seeking for so long, Shade. In spite of all her promise and Mungo’s support of her, we can no longer leave ourselves vulnerable to her mistakes. She has cost us much this time. What will her next mistake cost us? I can no longer justify that risk. We must now determine how to deal with this situation. She may have outlived her usefulness, but I still have need of Mungojerrie’s special talents. Leave me, I have much to think about.”
A grin crossed Shade’s face as he turned to leave. Macavity had finally come to his senses about her. His private vendetta against her had been won. He would finally have his vengeance. She would now pay for scorning him in preference for MungoJerrie.
Mungo and Teazer came at once to Macavity’s den when the received his summons. Teazer had been very quiet these past couple of days and Mungo was getting worried. He had tried on several occasion to try and find out what was wrong but each time ran into a brick wall. Teazer did all that she could to evade the question. Mungo felt it best to drop the questions and wait. Hopefully she would tell him when she was ready.
The urgency of Macavity’s summons sparked Mungo’s curiosity. Macavity was always very demanding of everyone around him, but this time it felt different. There was an edge to the tone of the summons that didn’t feel right. It didn’t help that he had sent Shade to deliver it. There were always kittens around for him to use as messengers. If he sent Shade it had to be important.
Perhaps Macavity knew what was wrong with Teazer. He may finally get some of the answers he had been waiting for.
Teazer dreaded entering Macavity’s den. Nothing had been said about the incident at the warehouse, and as time on she was getting more and more scared. She knew there was no way Macavity could not know what had happened. Even if Shade kept quiet, Macavity would still know. He always knew everything that happened. She had been expecting to get punished almost as soon as she got back. She could accept the punishment, she had screw up and screwed up bad. It was the waiting that was the problem. Each day it went on she got more and more worried. Mungo had noticed right off that something was wrong and tried to help, but she didn’t want to bring him into it. Eventually he gave up. She could tell that he was worried about her still, but had decided to give her space to deal with the situation. As much as she hated causing him to worry, she just couldn’t get him involved. He would find some way to take the blame. He wasn’t at fault; she was.
She knew when she saw Shade enter that the time had finally come. The grin on his face was more information than she had needed. Shade had been doing everything he could to cause problems for her recently. He used to be so nice to her but something changed. For so long she had wondered what it had been but eventually gave up trying to find out. Every time she had tried he would just snap at her and walk off. For him to be this happy, bad news had to be coming her way. For all the dread she felt, a part of her was happy that at least it would be over soon.
“You wanted to see us, boss?” Mungo asked as he entered.
“I wanted to see both of you. Where is.. ah there she is”
Teazer had stalled a bit before entering the room, but knew better than try and hide. She quietly stepped up to Mungo’s side pressing lightly against him for support and comfort.
“I have a change in plans for you Mungo and a job I need Teazer to take care of. Mungo, I need you to stand watch over Jemima for Shade’s shift as well as your own today. There is something I need him for as well. Teazer, I need you to deliver a message to someone over in the meatpacking district. Normally I would send a kitten, but considering the area and the message that I need sent, I need someone a bit more skilled.”
Both Mungo and Teazer were taken back by the announcement. Neither had expected this to be a matter of business.
“Mungo, go relieve Ebony on the watch. Teazer, here is what I need you to do…”
Something was wrong. Mungo could feel it. There was something going on that just didn’t make sense: Teazer’s recent mood, such an urgent summons, sending shade to get them. Pulling an extra shift on watch was fairly common. Things always seemed to pop up that needed certain attention. Why all the fuss about it this time. Teazer’s job on the other hand was far from normal. Her destination was one of the more dangerous parts of town. Sending a kitten on that mission would have been lunacy, but Teazer wasn’t much more than a kitten herself. She is good, and should have no problems avoiding any danger, but for the boss to put this much faith in her was unusual. Shade may have another job to keep him busy, but there were several others that would have normally have been selected to handle it.
Mungo looked down over the junkyard. Jemima had gone along with Demeter to meet with several of the others today. She would be well guarded and safe for quite a while. Mungo abandoned his watch and raced off towards the meatpacking district.
Teazer’s senses were on full alert. This was a dangerous area and any mistake could be disastrous. She had spent much of the earlier part of the journey in confusion. After her last screw up, why was she sent on a mission like this one.
As she had neared the alleys that led to the meatpackers she pushed the thoughts from her head and focus on the task ahead. Twice already she had evaded roaming packs of Pols. If one of them got their paws on her, it could get real ugly real quick.
She paused at the exit of the alley and scanned the street before crossing to the other side and heading into the next alleyway. As soon as she entered she detected a presence and dove for cover behind several discarded boxes.
“Nice to see you haven't lost all your reflexes” a familiar voice called out.
“Why are you here, Shade?” Teazer asked as she emerged from behind the boxes. “Did Macavity send you to keep an eye on me? Is this whole thing just some sort of test?”
“Well you are partial correct. Macavity did send me after you, but not as some test. You have been a liability for way to long.”
“Wh.. what do you mean?”
“Oh, quit it with the naïve act, playing like you don’t know what is going on. Your questions are getting so tiring. First with you turning on me for that lout, and now this.”
“Turning on you for that.. What are you talking about? I don’t understand.”
“You had your chance. I would have given you anything. I would have made you happier than you could have ever dreamed. But how did you respond? How did you repay my love and kindness? You turned to another without a second thought”
“Your love?? You mean that was what this is all about. I never…”
“This isn't about love. It may have been at one time. It’s about duty. You failed us in yours. Now it is time for me to do mine. When your body is found in this alleyway, everyone will just figure you got careless again and ran into something that you failed to handle. A simple accident that no one could have prevented but you. This way you are removed from the picture and no one, Mungo included, is the wiser. I have to say I would have preferred that the boss just tossed you into the breading selection, wouldn’t mind having a few hours of fun with you, but he decided otherwise. Guess he didn’t want to upset your little boyfriend too much.”
“You’re going to kill me? But you can’t”
“Oh, really, and why is that?”
“Because you don’t have that long to live” Mungo answered.
Mungo had arrived quietly a few moments earlier. He hadn’t been surprised to see Shade was with Teazer at the time. As he listened quietly to Shade conversation with her, things started to make sense. They had tried to keep him out of the picture while they dealt with her. They would have known he would do anything in his power to stop them. Over the last several months, his feelings towards her had expanded well past the point of the mentor – pupil relationship that had brought them together. He had also seen the signs that Teazer was likely feeling much the same. Any threat to her was an attack on him and he was willing to do whatever it took to protect her even if it meant taking on the rest of the group.
Shade was over half again his size and had spent much of his life in one fight or another. Mungo had always preferred stealth and speed to all out combat. He nearly died in his last fight. Only having surprise on his side and the Pols more than happy to leave him for dead and move on to a livelier plaything saved his life. None of that mattered to him now. This was a fight he had to face if for no other reason than to keep Shade occupied long enough for Teazer to find safety. This time he would not be left for dead. Shade wouldn’t make that kind of mistake. He asked one last blessing of the everlasting cat before issuing his challenge to Shade, he asked that Teazer be allowed a full and happy life somewhere safe. He could not be a part of that life, but asked that his sacrifice would have some meaning.
Shade turned to face Mungo with a trace of amusement on his face. He saw his chance to feed Teazer a taste of the pain she had caused him. Before he removed her from this world, she would be made to suffer the loss of the one who had stolen her from him. In her remaining moments of life she would know the pain she had caused.
Wasting no time on idle banter, Shade launched himself at Mungo. For a cat of his size, he was remarkable quick and agile. He had to be to have survived this long on the streets. Mungo’s reflexes were almost fast enough to get him out of the way. Dodging to his left, he managed to get out of the path of shade himself, but did not quite get clear of his extended paws. The strength of the blow was weakened as he rolled away and his fur blunted the severity of the damage caused by Shade’s claws. He rolled back to his feet and turned to face shade in one fluid movement. He had no intention of letting shade know he had already drawn first blood.
Mungo turned his head quickly and yelled to Teazer to run. He knew the bravado he showed in calling out to Shade was nothing but words. All he could hope for was to slow the larger cat down enough to allow her to escape. Teazer knew it as well. She only paused for a second before turning and starting to run. Even if the two of them fought him side by side they could not win. Mungo had taken this fight to save her. As hard as it was to leave him, she accepted that there was no other answer and refused to let his sacrifice be in vain.
Looking back at Shade, Mungo was better prepared for the attack this time. He darted underneath Shades extended claw and landed a blow to a hind leg as he passed. He had to keep moving quickly and had little chance to put much power into the blow. One missed step and the fight would be over and Shade would be off after Teazer even before she had cleared the alleyway. Although the attack had little strength, he felt his claws get through the fur and pierce the skin just above the knee. It wasn’t a damaging blow, but it might make Shade a bit more cautious and that would slow the fight, giving Teazer more time to flee. Not even flinching at the scratch, Shade turned faster than turned and caught Mungo with a swipe of his paw that sent Mungo reeling. Dazed, Mungo shifted to the defensive. Shade moved in with a flurry of swipes, his jaws snapping at any opening he sensed in Mungo’s defenses. Speed, agility, and luck on Mungo’s part saved him from many of the attacks but for each attack he dodged, another was immediately right behind it. For each swipe he was unable to dodge and was forced to block, a second swat of those huge paws found its target. His defenses started to lessen with each second that passed and each blow landed seemed to grow stronger and stronger. It the pace of the battle was having any effect on Shade, he was hiding it well.
Suddenly, Shade arched back and let out a scream of pain. The source of the scream was quickly evident. On his back, claws dug in tightly and teeth trying to find purchase in his neck, was Teazer. She had returned to do what little she could to aid Mungo. She saw no reason to continue on without him. To die in battle at his side was better than to go on without him knowing that she had left him to that fate.
Shade gave up trying to shake Teazer from his back. He dropped to the ground and rolled over, smashing her under his weight. Stunned by the pressure, teazer lost her hold on him as continued to roll back to his feet. Seeing that Mungo was still slowed by the previous onslaught, and not wanting to have to face two adversaries at once, Shade quickly move back over to teazer and delivered a series powerful blows to the stunned kitten with his paw, knocking her unconscious and removing her from the fight.
The growl brought shades attention back to the real fight at hand. Teazer had caused a good amount of damage to his neck, but even wounded he saw little threat from Mungo. His attacks on him had drained much of Mungo’s strength and even witnessing the assault on Teazer could not bolster his waning strength enough to pose a serious threat. It would only be mere moments until this fight was over.
Shade never got to continue the fight. He barely had time to realize his error. The growl had not come from Mungo. Mungo was still too weak from the pounding he at taken to do more than start crawling to teazer in the hope that at least in their final moment they could be together once more. The growl had issued from behind a row of sharp fangs, the fangs of a Pollicle. Shade saw at least half a dozen of the beast charging at him from all sides and saw a familiar face in the background. Tettlestim watched the attack from a distance. Shade launched himself at the nearest Pol. Wounded as he was, and with no visible means of escape, Shade decided to attempt to try and even the odds.
The battle was entirely single sided. In his weakened state, the Pols tore into him with reckless abandon. With claws and fangs, they quickly took the upper hand and soon after ended the fight. As one of the Pols moved off in its bloodlust to continue the fun with Mungo and teazer, Tettlestim called him back.
“Leave them, we got what we came for. Lets go. They weren’t part of the deal.” he commanded.
The Pol looked at the two Jellicles and back to Tettlestim. As much fun as it would be to play with the Jellicles, he wasn’t about to argue with Tettlestim over it. He quietly moved off to join the rest of the pack as they headed down the alley and around the corner.
Mungo watched them leave in confusion. Why had they been spared? What had he meant, ’got what we came for, not part of the deal’? Mungo gave up trying to understand and struggled to his feet. His strength was slowly returning. He padded over to Teazer. She was bruised but it wasn’t too bad. A few days of rest and she would be fine. The question was where could they rest?
Teazer let loose a soft purr as she slowly opened her eyes. Even in pain, she realized that they must have won somehow. Either that or they were dead and she had to hope that dead didn’t hurt this much. She looked over and saw Shade lying motionless on the ground and looked back at Mungo, a thankful smile crossing her lips.
Mungo gave her a few moments to regain most of her bearings. The blows she had taken rattled her quite a bit, but she was well enough to move on her own in a few moments. Mungo grabbed Shade by the scuff of his neck and half carried, half dragged his body to a nearby place that he knew they could rest for a while and that teazer would be safe while he finish this business.
“And what would make you chose the term assassin?” Macavity asked softly.
“The time for games and lies is over. I know you sent Shade to kill her just as you put me in his place on the watch to try and make sure I didn’t interfere”
“I don’t argue the fact that I tried to keep you occupied nor that I sent him after her. I asked what makes you think she was the target and he the assassin?”
It all started to make sense to Mungo. Tettlestim’s pack wasn’t there by accident.
“Shade was the target all along? You made sure he would be out in the open and made sure the Pollicles knew where and when to find him...”
“Shade personal vendetta against your mate was making...”
“As you said the time for games is over. You two may be lying to yourselves but some things are obvious. It may not be an official mating nor have been consummated, but that is only a matter of time. It is also not pertinent at the moment. Shades vendetta was making him too focused on matters that were of no real concern. He was neglecting his duty to all of us in his hunt for vengeance towards her. He could have aided her but watched as she made mistakes. He could have prevented her from returning to the warehouse to retrieve that kitten, but stayed his hand and let her blow everything to pieces in that one. Yes, that is what has had her so worried as of late.
“And you saw the Pollicles as a convenient solution to the problem. In his desire for vengeance, Shade deserted whatever bogus mission you made up for him and hunted down Teazer only to get waylaid by a roving pack of Pols. A nice clean way of removing an obstacle that can not be traced back to you unless you could talk to the Pols responsible and no cat around here would ever consider that an option.”
“So true. Such a shame that you had to get involved though. I would have much preferred to keep it quiet.”
“If I hadn’t gotten involved, teazer would have died before the Pols could have done their part of the job.” A look of revelation crossed Mungo’s face. “But you had planned on that didn’t you? You made sure the Pols got there after he had had enough time to kill her. You not only used her as bait but were going to have him kill her first thus removing two problems at once”
“I would not say that I would be too disappointed if she were to have not survived, but also consider that she may have been needed to distract him long enough for the pols to get a clear shot at him. Her death was not a needed part of the plan”
“You’re a beast, nothing but uncaring, unloving beast. How could you do some thing like this to those whom have shown you nothing but loyalty.”
“I do what needs to be done. But now I am faced with a dilemma. Shade’s true passing needs to remain a secret. You are a threat to that secret though. I could just kill you here and remove that threat, but I grew tired of the senseless killing quite some time ago. Killing may have its uses, but there are other ways. Here is what I offer you, go now, leave the den and find a new place for you and your mate and never speak of this again.”
“And how can I trust you to not come after us and just finish the job later”
“As long as you keep silent I have no need for vengeance. Shade went rogue and tried to kill Teazer. You interceded and stopped him. That is what happened.”
“What you say happened..”
“Is there really a difference?”
“No, I guess there isn’t.”
“But know this. If I must deal with this again, I will be forced to resort to senseless violence and finish the job Shade attempted. Neither of wants that. Go now and never return.”
Mungo returned to quiet safety of the burnt out shell of a building where he had left Teazer to rest. He wasn’t entirely sure what he had expected from the confrontation with Macavity, but was certain taken back by it all. They had lost the closest think they had to family and home, but they still had each other. Together they would search out a new home and a new life.
He was surprised to find Teazer was not alone when he entered. He wasn’t exactly sure how Cetty had gotten here, but by the smile on Teazer’s face she was more than welcome. Anyone that made Teazer happy at a time like this was more than welcome in his home, if you could call it that.
Teazer looked up at his entrance, a look of joy in her eyes at seeing him safely back. Her expression changed to one of worry quickly after looking into his eyes. She gingerly got up and excused herself to Cetty, moving to Mungo’s side, curious as to what had happened.
“It is time we moved on. We are no longer welcome within the group.”
“But where will we go? What will we do now for food and shelter?”
“We will be OK. Something will come up. Don’t you worry little one. We’ll find something”
“Umm... I have an idea...” Cetty added softly. “You could talk to Old Deuteronomy. He can help you if anyone can. That’s his job and everything. He’s real good at it too”
Cetty’s enthusiasm was highly addictive. Mungo looked at Teazer questioningly. Teazer smiled and just nodded in agreement.
“Would you be nice enough to set up a meeting with him for us, kitten?” Mungo asked Cetty.
Cetty quickly agreed and bolted off in search of Old D leaving Mungo and Teazer alone. Mungo looked into her eyes. Their world was changing for the better and the future was in front of them for them to make of it as they would.