This is a special to one of my other fanfics, Purdy’s Survival. It follows his friend Katrina.
Please check out my other books. If you want.
But now…LET THE STORY BEGIN!
Katrina stretched in the sunlight. She had just woken up, and her twoleg (she always called them twolegs, even if other cats called them Upwalkers) was walking around, making those weird twoleg noises that they always make. Such weirdos, really. All tall, and furless. It’s just weird.
She started thinking about when she came. She and her brother, Tom, had gotten lucky, and been given to twolegs that lived right next to each other, so they saw each other every day. Their mom was a kittypet in a different town.
She decided to go out into the open. She pushed open the cat flap, and walked out into the crisp morning air. Her brother, Tom, was already walking out, yawning.
“Hey, Katrina. Nice day, huh?”
Katrina shrugged. “I guess. What should we do? Something fun! Something crazy! Like clawing dogs!”
Tom raised his eyebrows. “I dunno. Seems kind of dangerous, doesn’t it?”
Katrina rolled her eyes. “That’s why we’re doing it! Come on, it’ll be fun!”
“Pretty sure it won’t be.” Tom muttered.
“Ok, see ya!” Katrina started to pad off.
“Hey! Where are you going?”
“To claw dogs.” Katrina meowed without turning around.
“Well, I guess someone’s gotta keep you in line.” Tom caught up with her. “So where are you even going to find a dog?”
“I dunno. Maybe at the construction site?”
“Why would a dog be there?”
“Because dogs are weird.”
“There might be twolegs there, though!”
“Well, duh. Only weird stuff goes to the construction site. Dogs? Weird. Twolegs? Weird.”
“Katrina? Very weird.” Tom muttered.
“I prefer fabulously strange.”
“Loud quiet.” Katrina stated.
“I thought we were naming opposites.” Katrina meowed innocently.
“You are a mouse-brain.” Tom grumbled.
“Thank you.” Katrina waltzed ahead, jumping on top of a old stone wall that overlooked the abandoned twoleg construction site. No dogs.
“Oh well. That’s a shame. Let’s go.” Tom looked around. “Don’t you smell them?”
Katrina raised her eyebrows. “Smell what?”
“There’s other cats here!” Tom whispered. “They laid freaking scent markers! We can’t be here.”
Now that me mentioned it, Katrina could smell it. A strange scent. Definitely cat.
Then she saw a shape slipping between two piles of rock. It’s eyes bore into her for a split second, then vanished, she could tell that they belonged to a fighter. A violent one.
“Ok, yeah, let’s go.” Katrina meowed, and they turned, and ran.
They ran back to their houses. Outside, a familiar silver cat was standing.
“Artemis!” Katrina yelled. “What’s up?”
“Oh, hey, Katrina! I was looking for you. You too, Tom. Cloudy wants to talk to us. He’s waiting in the den.”
“All right, lets go!” They raced behind the houses, into a small plot of forest. They navigated the trees, streams, and rocks until they came to a hollow tree trunk. They crawled in, where a super fluffy white cat was sitting.
“Hi Cloudy!” They meowed in unison. He turned, his dark brown eyes serious.
“I got something to tell you all. I’ve been hearing rumors. From what I’ve heard, there’s some sort of group of cats that have been attacking other cats, stealing food scraps. You gotta stay away from them. Especially their base.”
“Where’s their base?” Katrina asked.
“The construction site.”
“Cloudy, what do you mean? You mean that there’s a-a-a gang? Of cats?” Tom asked. Cloudy nodded.
“I saw them attack. Fast. Violent. They struck another group of cats. They fought. It was…bad. Stay away from them. Please.” We all nod.
“I don’t plan on going near them.” Artemis shook her head.
“Me neither.” Tom agrees.
“Yeah.” I say. “They are not going to take control of this town.”
Cloudy looks relived. “Thanks, guys. It’s means a lot.”
Katrina was wandering the streets two days later. Thinking of nothing in particular. She turned a corner, and found herself facing two cats. They both had scars covering them, and evil smiles. Katrina braces for combat.
The two cats turned. “Well, will ya look at this.” One meowed.
“A little cat, all alone.” The other replied.
“Maybe we should help her.”
“Yeah. Let’s give her something. Like a scar.”
They turned towards her. They bared their teeth in a snarl.
“Take a single step, and you’ll regret it.” Katrina snarled back.
“Oh!” The first one meowed in mock surprise. “Maybe we shouldn’t attack.” They both snorted.
They stalked forward. Katrina struck first. She slipped behind them, and jumped on the second one’s back. He flipped over, and they tussled. They rolled over, clawing each other. Then the first cat jumped in to help.
The three were locked into the fight. None of them backing down.
Finally, they pinned her. There was no hint of amusement in their eyes now. It was pure rage. One of them unsheathed his claws. “Any last words?”
Katrina nodded. “Look behind you.” She meowed with a smirk.
Both of her attackers whirled around. There was nothing there.
Katrina kicked them away, and prepared to pounce when a new voice came.
“And just what is going on here?”
Stranding at the front of the alley, a she-cat stood.
She was pretty without a doubt. She had a milky-brown pelt that was well groomed. But behind her black eyes burned a kind of coldness. Whenever she looked at you, an icy chill ran down your spine. She carried herself with a kind of respect, and power so that you knew, you just knew, that this was a leader. The two toms bowed away from her.
“We found a stray, Strike.”
The she-cat, who seemed to be named Strike raised her eyebrows. “And why does it seem like she just beat you both in a fight?”
They both glared at Katrina, but stayed silent. Strike nodded. “Go back to base. I’ll deal with this one.” The two toms nodded, and backed out of the alley. Strike turned back to Katrina.
“Who are you?” They both asked at the same time. Katrina smiled.
“All right. I’ll bite. I’m Katrina.”
“Strike.” Strike meowed. They sheathed their claws. Strike studied Katrina. “Well. It’s not every day that I come across a kittypet that can beat the Lightings.” She said the word like it was a proper name.
“The Lightings?” Katrina asked.
“My gang. I’m their leader.” Katrina felt like shrinking away. “And I could use some more cats.”
Katrina blinked. “You mean-”
“Yes, Katrina. I want you to join.”
“Me? You barely know me!” Katrina meowed in shock. “And a-a gang? I dunno, Strike. I’ve heard some, uh, bad rumors about a gang-I guess that would be yours.” Katrina felt dazed, and that was not an emotion she was used to.
Strike purred. “Katrina, you remind me of myself. A strong she-cat. Hard-willed. Fierce. Firey. You have claws, and are not afraid to use them. We could rule this town, Katrina. You and me.”
Katrina blinked. “But-but you trust me this much?”
Strike’s face remained neutral. “I don’t trust any cat. I never have. But like I said, you remind me of myself. I don’t take you as a cat to turn down power.”
Katrina thought. She thought of Tom, and Cloudy. She thought of Artemis. “Strike. I just don’t know. A friend of mine…he told me about how you attacked some other cats. Mauled them.”
Strike nodded. “I thought it might come to this. You see, Katrina, there is another gang. They call themselves the Frostbiters. They have some evil intentions. They will not be as kind to the cats of this town as I will be.”
“You plan to take it over? The town?”
“Of course. Everycat will bow down to me. And you, if you join me.”
It was a tempting offer. Katrina wanted it. Bad. But rule a gang? That seemed…vicious. She didn’t want any part of any gang war. Then a thought crossed her mind. If she had sway with the leader, she could protect her friends. Spare them from this war. She wouldn’t lose anything.
“All right.” She meowed. “I’m in.”
“You did WHAT?!?” Katrina was back in the tree-den with Cloudy, Tom, and Artemis. Tom was, of course, yelling at her. “You joined the GANG?!? The one that we SPECIALLY told you to STAY AWAY FROM?!?”
“I have to agree.” Cloudy got up. His voice shook with anger, and betrayal. “I said stay away. You agreed. And now you’re, what? Second in command? You’re about to become a leading figure in a war! Did you ever stop to think that maybe we don’t want you to die?”
The words stung. “Cloudy, it’s not like that. I’ll be fine. I can look out for myself, and-”
Cloudy cut me off. “Katrina, no. I know that you can fight, but this is more than that. If either side wins, this town’s cats fall under gang control. Do you want that?”
“No! But maybe I can help. I’ve just accepted a big part in the war. I can help this town.”
“By helping them win?”
“By changing Strike’s mind.”
“She’s a leader. She won’t listen.”
“Maybe she will.”
“It’s worth it.”
“Is it worth more than life? We want you alive, Katrina.”
“And I’ll stay alive.”
“You’re pretty sure of yourself.”
“Do you doubt me?”
“Not before today.”
“Cloudy, this was the opportunity of a lifetime!”
“You’re right. It’s not every day that you accept the request to go to war and die.”
“We’ve been over this, Cloudy.”
Up until there, Artemis and Tom had been watching with a horrid fascination.
“Woah, woah.” Artemis stepped between us. “Cloudy, please. We can get along. You both have a point…”
“I have multiple.” Cloudy grumbled.
“How about we settle this a different way?” Artemis asked.
“Great idea.” Cloudy meowed. “I call this idea leaving.” And he left. Katrina blinked.
“Meeting adjourned.” She went back to her twoleg nest. She laid down, and fell asleep. Unfortunately, her dreams plunged her into her past.
She was at her old town, when she was just a kit. She was playing in a field with Cloudy, and Tom.
“Give it back!” Cloudy jumped for the flower that Katrina was holding.
“Say pleeeeeese!” She teased.
“Please?” And she gave it back. It reminded her of how long she had known Cloudy. She slipped into another dream. She was still a kit, still with Cloudy. A bigger, mean cat came up to them. He kicked Cloudy. Katrina hissed, and slashed his nose with her kit sized claws.
Have I destroyed my friendship with Cloudy? Katrina thought. The dream changed. Her mind slipped away from Cloudy. These were her dreams now. She slipped back to her old town. She saw Tom being bullied my some mean cats. She saw herself, standing up for him. She remembered the brawl she had had with that cat. She still had the scar.
She saw herself begging her mom not to let the Twolegs take her. Her mom had tried. The twolegs were too strong. She wailed as she was taken.
She saw flashes of every cat she’d ever been bullied by. Orphan they had taunted. Do you need your mother, little kit? Oh that’s right, you don’t know where she is. She and Tom had always been shunned away. They hadn’t made any friends, but a lot of enemies at her old town. No one except Cloudy. He had come with them when they ran away. Found their new town. Found kind Twolegs.
But she had always been the strange one. The one that proved stereotypes wrong. She was no meek little she-cat! She was fighter. A warrior. Maybe that’s why she admired Strike. Strike was the same. A leader. A self-starter. And a she-cat. Katrina had always hated those stereotypes. Every time someone had told her to go groom her fur instead of sharpening her claws, she had used them as her scratching post.
But she needed to prove herself. She had been taken when she was young. Her father had run away from their terrible town. She was the odd one out. Maybe that’s why she had accepted Strike’s offer. She needed to show the world who she was. She wanted every cat to know that she was no little weak she-cat. She was as strong as any other cat. And she would prove it to the world. Or at least the town.
But was it worth it, if Cloudy no longer trusted her?
Strike or Cloudy?
She wanted both.
But could she have both?
Or was it take one, and leave the other?
She just didn’t know.
The next morning, she got up early. She padded out into the brisk morning air. Tom was nowhere in sight, for better or for worse. She started to head over to the construction site. When she got to the point that she could see it, she was stopped by two cats. A tom and a she-cat. Both bore the scars of fighting.
“What business do you have here?” The tom hissed.
“I’m here to see Strike. I’m a new recruit.” Katrina locked gazes with the tom until he backed down.
“Strike, huh?” The she-cat did a full lap around Katrina, studying her. “You’re not a typical recruit.”
Katrina stood her ground. “I’m not a usual cat.”
The she-cat snorted. “Yeah. Sure. Who says that you’re not a Frostbiter?”
Katrina shrugged. “I do.”
“All right, well, I’m not letting you in.”
“Who says I needed someone to let me in?” Katrina asked. And she attacked. Ten seconds, two pinned and dazed cats. “Nice doing business with you.” She walked through the rusted gate, and into the abandoned construction site. A tall cobblestone wall surrounded the whole thing. Cats prowled everywhere. There were wood boards just lying places, and they had been moved to form sort of dens. Cats sat in them, out of them, just anywhere. And in the middle, atop a heap of stone, sat Strike.
“Welcome, Katrina, to Thundercloud. Home base of the Lightnings.”
The bulldozer was cool. Strike was taking Katrina on a tour of Thundercloud.
“And over here,” she flicked her tail at one of the wood-and-stone dens, “is the Kitplace. Where mothers of kits, or expecting mothers of kits are taken care of.”
“Wow. You have kits here?”
Strike give her a side-stare. “Of course. And over here is our main guard spot.” It was a bulldozer. It sat in front of the Kitplace. Extra protection. Katrina realized.Two cats sat up top, surveying the camp, and everything around it.
“Ok, that’s cool. Does it work?”
Strike snorted. “Do we know how to operate Twoleg machines? No. To even start, we would need those shiny pointy things.”
“Keys?” Katrina asked.
“That’s the one.”
“So what else do you have here?” Katrina wanted to know everything. Strike blinked.
“That’s really it. Wherever you want to sleep, as long as it’s not in the nursery, you can. Most of us are the same rank. We’re members of this gang. We’re all Lightnings.”
Katrina nodded. “And where do you sleep? In a normal den?”
Strike snorted. “Heck no. I’m not sleeping with any toms. No, I sleep there.” She pointed her ears at the thing (Katrina now saw it was a den) that she had been sitting on earlier.
Katrina nodded, trying to take it all in. “And what’s the social structure like? Are there different ranks?” Strike shook her head.
“Kits are given the highest priority. Then queens are not far behind. Then the wounded. Then, I guess, me. And then everyone else. We protect the cats that need protecting. Everyone else is part of the same rank; member.”
“Ok. I think I get it. That’s why you can sleep wherever you want. You’re all of equal status. You mentioned the wounded? Where do they go?”
“There.” Another den, highly protected. “We have some well trained battle healers.”
“Yeah it’s their proper name. Everycat just calls them healers.”
“Some of our cats that are specially trained to help wounds. They can do it in the midst of battle, but they prefer if they can help inside their den.”
Katrina’s head was swimming with everything. Strike purred, noticing her expression. “Don’t worry. It will get easier. You’ve got me to help you. And no cat will mess with me.”
Katrina smiled, and was about to respond, when there was a commotion at the entrance, and a small gray cat ran in.
“Yes, Slinky?” It was weird to hear Strike calling a cat Slinky. Apparently, these cats didn’t give up their kittypet names when they became a Lighting.
Slinky was obviously exhausted. “It’s, the-the Frostbiters. They’re on our territory!” Strike eyes glinted.
“Thank you, Slinky. Lightings!” She called. “The Frostbiters are here. Let’s go, ah, meet them.”
There was a rousing chorus of yowls, and the cats ran for the entrance.
Strike turned to Katrina. “The moment of truth. Are you in or out?”
Katrina thought for a split second. “Let’s go.” She meowed.
Strike smiled. “I hoped you would say that.” And they ran out of Thundercloud.
Strike stood whisker to whisker with a white she-cat that was just as intimidating as Strike herself.
“Everest.” Strike spat the name. “What are you doing here? You’re a long way from Snowfall.”
A Lightning leaned over to Katrina. “Snowfall is their base. Everest is their leader.”
Katrina nodded. She knew that this was probably going to end in a smackdown. The Frostbiters that were fanned out behind Everest sure looked ready to fight.
Everest laughed. “Why does it matter if I’m away from home? We’re still on our territory.”
Strike snarled. “This is our territory, Everest. Go back to your own filthy land.”
Everest raised an eyebrow. “Hmmmm. No, I think this is ours. If it’s not, well now it is.”
“Then prepare to bleed, Everest.”
“Strong words. Don’t you remember our last fight?”
Strike didn’t wince, but it looked like she wanted to. “The past is in the past. Retreat or defeat, Everest. It’s you choice.”
Everest’s eyes gleamed. “I’m going to love tearing into that brown pelt of yours, Strike.”
Strike bared her fangs. “Come at me, white-cat.”
Both sides surged forward. It was nothing like Katrina had ever seen. Cats attacked each other viciously. Claws whirled. Cats yowled. Katrina found herself facing down a charging gray tom. It leaped at her, but she rolled to the side, and kicked him away when he landed. But now she was in the fight. She fought and twirled, letting her instincts take over.
She was felling good, slashing and rolling, until a cat’s claws caught her in the side. They raked through pelt, slashing open eight nasty cuts.
She felt like she had just jumped in lava. Her right side exploded into flame.
“Say goodbye, Lightning.” The cat hissed as it brought its claws down to her throat. A second before she would have died, another cat caught the claws with his own.
“Wassup, Frostbiter?” The newcomer meowed. “That’s a Lightning that you’re hurting.”
The Frostbiter laughed. “So?” And he lunged at the new cat, who yawned, and slipped nimbly away.
“That all you got?” He asked, admiring his own claws. The Frostbiter attacked again, but the new cat blocked each attack with one paw. “I think I’ll take a nap.” He meowed. “Oh, but what’s this? There’s a Frostbiter here. I never knew that.”
The Frostbiter’s attacks got more and more vicious.
“Shame, really.” The new cat kept going. “I guess I’ll have to beat him.” And with one move, he flipped the cat over, kicked his stomach, and shoved him away.
He turned back to Katrina. “So you’re that new recruit? Cool, I’m Thunder. Nice to mee-oh, shoot, that’s a bad scratch. Leopard!” He called over another cat.
“What is it?”
“Hurt cat.” Leopard was a she-cat. A yellow-and-black spotted one.
“I see.” She said. “Can you walk?” Katrina nodded, and limped after Leopard as she led her through the fight. Every time a Frostbiter tried to attack, Thunder would sock them in the face. Not a very cat-like move, but it worked. They came across a dark brown cat that looked at lot like Thunder sitting on a Frostbiter.
“Wassup Thunder?” He asked.
“Not much, Tiger.” Thunder replied, punching the daylights out of a cat that lunged at his throat. “I heard something about a fight. You know what that’s about?”
Tiger shrugged. “Not a clue. I mean, fighting these cats isn’t even a fight. I’m disappointed. Hey, this is the new cat, right?”
Katrina blinked. They were talking about this savagery like it was a game. “Y-yes.”
Leopard intervened. “Tiger. We have to get Katrina to safety.”
“Oh, no problem! You came to the right cats!” And together, Tiger and Thunder drove back any cat that approached them. Thunder started to try and fight with his eyes closed, by hearing, and smell alone, but he stopped when he accidentally kicked Leopard in the ear.
“Sorry.” He mumbled.
They were almost to safety when a yowl sounded above the chaos.
“Strike is dead!”
Katrina paced in front of a healer’s den. They had brought Strike in almost 10 minutes ago. They had told her that Strike was’t dead. Not yet, at least.
Finally, a healer poked his head out, looking exhausted. “Come on in, but you won’t like what you see.”
Katrina thanked him, and stepped in. Strike’s beautiful brown fur was soaked with blood. Three scratched ran down her face. She was hardly breathing.
“Strike!” Katrina ran forward. “Strike, don’t die!”
Strike didn’t respond. Katrina whirled on the healers.
“Will she survive?” She demanded. Strike was her first Lightning friend. She couldn’t lose her. The healers shrugged.
“We’re doing our best.” One told her.
“Who did this?” Katrina wanted someone to blame. Anyone.
“Everest.” One whispered.
Everest. Rage burned through Katrina. The other healers backed away from the fire in her eyes. She shook her head to clear it.
“Sorry.” She mumbled. “Maybe I should go.” The healers didn’t protest. They went back to Strike as Katrina padded out. She didn’t stop to chat with Tiger, or Thunder. She went home.
Tom was waiting. “Hey.” He meowed. “Rough day, huh?” He didn’t bring up the subject of the gang.
“Come on.” He gave her his shoulder to lean on as they padded into her house. “I’m right next door if you need me, ok?”
Katrina nodded. She was grateful that Tom was so supportive.
Tom left her alone.
And to her great surprise, and pleasure, she drifted into a dreamless sleep.
When Katrina woke up, the first thought in her mind was Strike.
Faster then you could say “mouse” Katrina was at Thundercloud. The guards didn’t even bother her as she ran in.
“Wow, Katrina.” So naturally, Thunder did bother her. “Slow down. You ok? Where’re you going?”
“Strike’s den.” Katrina shoved past him. She padded in, and almost cried with relief. Strike was still breathing, and even better, she was sitting up.
“Strike!” Katrina gave her a friendly lick on the nose. “I thought you were dead for sure!”
Strike have a weak laugh. “Sorry to disappoint you. It takes more than a few scratches to kill me.”
“I just…never expected that on my first day.”
Something stirred in Strike’s eyes. Confusion, or sorrow, or maybe guilt? “I’m sorry, Katrina. But every day is a constant struggle for us. We need to beat the Frostbiters.”
Katrina nodded. “I know, Strike. And I’ll help.”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
“But if you ever worry me like that again…”
Strike laughed. “I’ll remember not to cross you.”
“You’d better.” Katrina lay down next to her friend.
And they talked. Just like normal friends would. Not like two gang leaders. It was nice.
But, of course, it had to get ruined.
Cats started to yowl outside. The sounds of a scuffle started. Thunder poked his head into the den.
“Mistress Strike.” He gave an over exaggerated bow. “We have a situation.”
Strike tried to stand, but couldn’t.
“I’ll go.” Katrina meowed, standing up. She walked out, and found herself nose to nose with a scene so horrid, it fit in her nightmares;
Everest stood at the entrance to Thundercloud, her Frostbiters behind her.
But below her was the worst. Two cats were pinned down by Everest’s two front paws, her claws at their throat.
Tom, and Cloudy.
Katrina started forward, but Thunder blocked her.
“She wants you to do that.”
“I don’t care! Those are my friends!”
“One friend and one brother.” Everest corrected. She smiled at the look on Katrina’s face. “I know everything, Katrina. You can’t hide. Not from me, not from the past, not from anyone.”
The words hit Katrina like Thunder had just punched her in the stomach. Everest knew. She knew she was running. From her past. From everything. Everest flicked her tail, and two Frostbiters took over pinning down Tom, and Cloudy. Everest padded forward. The Lightnings tensed, ready for a fight. The guards in front of Strike’s den closed in tighter.
“I must admit, I was suprised. When I learned that Strike had taken in a cat like you, I knew that she must be getting desperate. She knew she couldn't beat me.”
Katrina didn’t know where Everest was going with this, but she was scared out of her wits. Perhaps the most dangerous cat in the world was circling her.
Everest went on. “Do you know my namesake? Mt. Everest. The tallest mountain in the world. The one that everyone fears to challenge. The one that is just awe-inspiring. And I have lived up to it. Today, I defeat my only opposition. Today, the Lightnings die!”
And Thundercloud was plunged into chaos. The Frostbiters surged forward, and the Lightnings intercepted. Katrina attacked Everest, who laughed, and vanished into the fray. Katrina couldn’t tell who was who, everycat was fighting.
“Katrina!” Thunder’s voice sounded next to her. “The Kitplace!” For the first time since she had met him, Thunder looked scared.
“Thunder, I can’t! My friends! They need me!”
Thunder seemed to understand. He nodded, and vanished. Katrina found Tom and Cloudy, dazed but alive, trying to fight off an attacker. Katrina jumped on the she-cat, and sent her running. Tom thanked Katrina, and ran. Cloudy just looked at her.
“You should have taken my advice.” And then he was gone. Katrina whirled around to fight , and was immersed in the battle again. She made her way to the Kitplace, where Thunder and Tiger we’re keeping the Frostbiters at bay.
“Where’s Everest?” Katrina shouted.
“Strike’s den!” Thunder yelled, ducking an attack, and kicking the cat away. “But Katrina, you can’t go in there!”
Katrina ignored him. She turned around, jumping over scuffling cats, and slashing Frostbiters. She had just made it to Strike’s den, when it collapsed. The wood boards lost their support, and fell. The cats around her took no notice.
Then she saw them. Everest and Strike, locked in combat atop the bulldozer. Katrina thought that Thunder and Tiger were the best fighters she had ever seen. Now she saw Strike and Everest. They fought faster than her eyes could follow. Before she could help, her back exploded into pain. She flipped over, dislodging the attacker.
It was a Frostbiter. Katrina slashed his forepaw, and he ran away. She turned back to the fight. Everest had her claws at Strike’s throat.
“Say goodbye, Strike.”
“Don’t think so.” Strike slipped out. How she managed to fight while injured was anyone’s guess. Faster than Katrina could blink, Strike flipped Everest over, and had her own claws at the white cat’s throat. She brought them down, but Everest turned, and took the blow with her shoulder. She kicked Strike off the bulldozer. Strike fell bad on her side, and there was a horrible crunch, and Strike lay motionless.
Everest jumped down beside her.
“Today, I become the most powerful cat in the town!”
And she plunged her claws into Strike’s neck.
Katrina didn’t remember anything past that. Nothing but the screaming. She was vaguely aware of herself running at Everest, at Strike’s limp form. She was pushed down by a Frostbiter, pinned to the ground. But the one image that would be seared into her eyes forever was Everest, smiling triumphantly, her claws dripping with Strike’s blood.
She realized that it was not a Frostbiter holding her back. It was Thunder and Tiger.
“Stop struggling! You’ll die if you attack her!” Tiger hissed.
“She killed Strike! I’ll kill her!” Katrina was blind to everything but one thought: Kill Everest.
“Katrina please! You go up there, you die. Believe me, I want to tear her to shreds too.”
Katrina stopped, tears running down her face. “She was my first Lightning friend.” She whispered. “And she’s gone.”
“Katrina.” Thunder looked her. “You have me. You have Tiger. Leopard. Your brother. We’re still behind you.”
Katrina sniffed, and nodded. The Frostbiters were herding the Lightnings out. Katrina took one last look at Strike’s broken body, and made a silent promise.
Everest will pay. It may be the last thing I will ever do, but the last thing she will ever see will be my eyes, just as the last thing Strike saw was Everest’s eyes.
Katrina lay in a den. Well, really more of a prison. The Lightnings has been taken to Snowfall, the Frostbiter base. It was a forest clearing, brambles and thorn bushes placed and woven around the edges. A swift river cut through the middle, and it spilled into a waterfall several fox-lengths tall. A cat could easily survive a fall off it, if they knew how to swim.
The den that Katrina was sitting in now was a small cave beside the waterfall. About halfway up the small cliff, with a narrow ledge being the only way to get to it, unless you want to jump into the river at the bottom. One entrance. One exit. Far enough from Snowfall so that the Lightnings couldn’t launch an attack without being spotted, but close enough so they couldn’t run away. Katrina didn’t want to admit it, but Everest was a very smart cat. A very smart cat with a very smart base.
The cave was so small that only the most important and dangerous Lightnings were held there. Katrina, Thunder, and Tiger of course. Then Leopard, which surprised Katrina. The two cats that Katrina didn’t know. They introduced themselves as Fire, an orange tom, and Whistlewhip, a very handsome and muscular dark gray tom.
The rest of the Lightnings were being held in highly guarded dens at Snowfall.
“Yo. Katrina. Wanna play?” Tiger beckoned her over, where everyone else was playing a game with some dead leaves.
“What are you playing?” Katrina asked.
“Scratchleaf. Want in?”
“I don’t know how to play.” Katrina mumbled as Whistlewhip put all the leaves in a pile.
“Oh, duh. You only recently joined the Lightnings. Scratchleaf is a game we invented.” Whistlewhip explained.
“Wait. You all know each other? Like, personally?”
“Yup.” Thunder meowed as Whistlewhip started to deal the leaves. “I have saved everyone here’s lives except…Tiger.”
Katrina blinked. “Really?”
“Yup. Whistlewhip has saved us all before, plus Strike. Course, no duh, considering his position.”
Katrina was feeling more like an outsider every second. “His position?”
“Sorry. Keep forgetting you’re so new. Whistlewhip was our top spy in Snowfall…so, here. He gave us all sorts of information. Then he got caught by Everest, but fought his way out. Did you see the faded claw wound that Everest has on her neck?” Katrina hadn’t, but she nodded. “Whistlewhip gave it to her. When he got back, Strike made him lieutenant. Second in command. I imagine that’s why he’s in here.”
Whistlewhip looked amused. “You keep meowing like I’m not here. I do know my own history, you know.”
Suddenly, everyone except Katrina moved. Katrina tensed, thinking that maybe a Frostbiter had come in, but they all just lunged for the middle of the circle they were in. Whistlewhip held up a claw with a leaf on it triumphantly. “I win!”
Leopard shook her head. “Not quite, buddy.” She lay out her leaves. “I win.”
“You always win!”
“That’s because she’s smart.” Fire broke in.
They were about to start another round of Scratchleaf, but there was a movement at the front of the cave. Five cats filed in. Frostbiters.
“We’re here for Whistlewhip.” The one in the lead meowed.
The Lightnings subconsciously closed ranks around him. The Frostbiters snarled. “Do not resist.” The lead one warned. But Katrina stood her ground. Then a tail tip touched her shoulder.
“I’ll go.” Whistlewhip meowed. He turned to the Frostbiters. “Do what you want with me, but don’t hurt them.” Then he followed them out of the cave.
“What are you going to do to him?” Fire demanded.
The Frostbiters looked amused. “Everest wants to make an example. And she especially hates Whistlewhip. We’re going to execute him.”
“No! You can’t do that!” Katrina tried to run after Whistlewhip, but the Frostbiters shoved her back.
“Pretty sure we can.” And they were gone. She wheeled on Thunder.
“Help me! We have to save him!”
Thunder shook his head sadly. “We’re too well guarded. We’d never even make it to Snowfall.”
“You told me Whistlewhip saved your life! Is this how you repay him? By letting him die?”
“Katrina-” He started.
“Is this the life of a Lightning? Death every day?”
“Katrina! Whistlewhip is a smart, powerful cat. If we try and break him out, we put more cats in the line of fire. He knows that dying quietly is the best option.”
“Well, I think that not dying is the best option.”
“I know, Katrina. I know.”
That’s how long they waited for news on Whistlewhip. No one spoke. They heard distant yowls. They couldn’t tell if they were happy or sad, exited or enraged.
Katrina paced the cave, not knowing what to think. She had never seen such ruthlessness in cats. Killing one for power. Killing one to make others scared of you.
Killing cats because they get in your way.
Killing cats because you want to.
And yet…if the time came, Katrina knew she wouldn’t hesitate to kill Everest.
What had she become?
She lay down, and fell asleep to her thoughts.
She was woken from her slumber by a snarling sound.
She turned to the entrance, where a single Frostbiter was standing.
“Everest want all Lighting to come to Snowfall.”
Katrina looked at the rest of the cats that were in the cave with her. They looked equally confused.
“Ok.” She stood up to follow, but Leopard blocked her.
“We’re not coming until you tell us what happened to Whistlewhip.”
“That’s none of your concern.”
“Your neck is gonna be none of your concern if you don’t tell us.” Thunder whispered, unsheathing his claws.
They stared at each other for a solid thirty seconds.
Then the Frostbiter snarled. “Fine. We don’t know. He found his escorts knocked out, and Whistlewhip gone.”
“She failed.” It was all Katrina could say. “Everest failed.”
The Frostbiter hissed. “Everest has never failed.”
Katrina knew it was best not to argue. They followed the Frostbiter out, and he lead them to Snowfall.
Katrina had expected Snowfall to be a horrendous wasteland. She had only seen the outside of it when she was brought in. She hadn’t expected it to be the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.
“It’s…amazing.” Leopard whispered. Katrina agreed. Behind the thorn walls, a lush forest meadow sprang out. A slow-moving river cut through half of it, and woven dens adorned with feathers covered the whole thing. There was a big den in the middle of Snowfall that was obviously Everest’s. It was built on logs spanning the river, and the logs were barbed with thorns, so the only way in and out were two logs connecting it to either side of the river. The river flowed out of Snowfall, where it joined another river, and flowed off the prison cliff.
“Wow.” Katrina whispered. In her head, one thought was spinning: How could someone as bad as Everest create something so…good?
“Yes.” The Frostbiter escort meowed, noticing her shocked expression. “We spent a lot of time building this.”
As they went through the entrance, Katrina saw a carving on a piece of wood. Written in Twoleg words. But she had been a kittypet for long enough to read it.
Snow may look appealing at first, but up close it’s cold. Very cold.
The Frostbiters came out of the dens to watch as the Lightnings were brought in. Katrina was surprised to see that a lot of the Frostbiters were mothers. Fathers. Kits. Young ones.
The Lightnings were brought to the banks of the river, facing Everest’s floating den. Everest came out, and Katrina’s eyes burned with hate. So close…yet so far.
“Lightnings!” Everest spoke completely relaxed, like she wasn’t facing about 20 of her fiercest enemies. “You are now our prisoners. And so, I have come to a decision. Some of you are worthy of being Frostbiters. And so I propose this: you will be sent on…missions. We must prove to this town that we rule them now. Follow our commands, and we might consider you for an option. If you fail to obey us…” Everest looked at Katrina. “You will be punished. This is all.” She flicked her tail, and the Frostbiters led them back to their various jails.
“Soooo…any idea what she meant by ‘missions’?” Fire asked once they were back in the cave.
“Yeah, they meant ‘dirty work’.” Leopard spat. “They’re all going to sit back and relax while we do everything they don’t wanna.”
“That…sounds like something I would do.” Tiger put in.
Thunder smiled. “Yeah. It really does.”
“Hey!” A Frostbiter’s voice sounded outside. “Quiet down. You’ve got a hard day tomorrow.”
The day lived up to expectations. It was, by far, the worst day of Katrina’s life.
All the Lightnings were brought to Snowfall again, and Everest addressed them again.
In short, they were each given tasks. Stealing, raiding, destroying.
Katrina was told to wait in an alley, and steal from the first cat that came around. Spread the news that the Frostbiters now ruled.
Katrina stepped out of the shadows.
“I’m so sorry.” She whispered, tears running down her face. Then she lashed out with sheathed claws, and took the little cat’s mouse.
She brought it to Everest. “Are you happy now?” She spat, laying down the mouse. “How far are you willing to go?”
Everest just shrugged. “Far enough.”
Back in the cave, the prisoners were locked up again for the night.
“So…what’d she make you guys do?” Tiger asked.
“She made me attack some stray cat’s dens.” Thunder told them. “I didn’t know that it was possible to hate Everest any more than I did before, but I do now.”
“She made me help plan out the best ways to attack things.” Leopard snarled.
“She made me mug a kit.” Katrina told them.
“She made me do a border patrol with some other Frostbiters. She said if we found a stray cat…” his voice trailed off.
There was silence.
“Maybe tomorrow will be better. Let’s get some sleep.”
Katrina nodded, and fell asleep.
The next day wasn’t better. If anything, it was worse.
As was the day after that.
And the day after that.
But on the fifth day, some good came out of the terrible tasks.
Katrina was given the task of collapsing some stray cat dens. She, and three Frostbiters were overlooking the alley.
“All right. Go!” One of them meowed.
They all (Katrina blinking away tears of guilt, and anger,) jumped onto the makeshift dens.
“The Frostbiters rule now!” One yowled. The strays scattered. One of the Frostbiters started to give chase, but Katrina blocked him. She couldn’t stand putting those innocent cats through any more than they had been through already.
“We’ve done enough.” She snarled.
“Ooh, look who’s becoming all soft.” The Frostbiter she-cat retorted.
“Say that again, and you’ll find out what my claws feel like.”
“Somehow, I’m not scared.” The other two Frostbiters started to watch, sensing a potential fight.
“You should be.” Katrina whispered.
“Oh that’s right. You trained for one day under…who? Strike? That little mangy flea-pelted-”
Katrina lunged. She didn’t even care that she was outnumbered, and probably out-skilled. Strike was her friend. No cat was going to talk bad about her.
“Do not insult Strike in front of me.” Katrina hissed as they fought.
“Oi! Break it up! Break it up! Sheesh. She-cats these days.” Katrina turned, blood dripping from a scratch on her ear.
The Frostbiters shrank back. Katrina’s jaw dropped.
“Yeah?” Whistlewhip was right there. Like, right there!
“I…I thought you were gone. They said you escaped, but-”
“Wait. You’re Whistlewhip?” One of the Frostbiters asked. “The one we were all told to hunt down?”
“Shot straight through the doughnut hole.” Whistlewhip replied.
“Kill him.” The Frostbiter hissed. Whistlewhip just sighed, and jumped into the fight. It was over in a matter of seconds. Katrina didn’t even have time to help. Whistlewhip now stood on top of three dazed Frostbiters.
“Come on, Katrina.” He acted as though nothing had happened. “We have a rebellion to spark.”
“Hold up a minute. A rebellion?” Katrina followed him out of the alley. “You’ve been organizing a rebellion?”
“Yeah.” Whistlewhip gave her a look like ‘duh’. “You really think imma let Everest win?”
Katrina stumbled over an uneven curb. “No! Well…I didn’t know. Everest is the most powerful cat in the town.”
Whistlewhip was silent. He led Katrina down an alley.
Katrina had had enough of alleys.
“Come on.” Whistlewhip jumped on top of a dumpster. “I wanna show you something.”
Katrina followed him up the Twoleg building, jumping from windowsill to windowsill. When they reached the top, Whistlewhip started down at the town. They could see for miles up there.
“Look around. What do you see?” Whistlewhip asked.
“Uhhh. A bunch of houses.” Katrina wondered where he was going with this.
“Look closer. Right there.” He pointed with a paw. “What do you see? Look with your heart, not your eyes.”
Katrina followed his gaze. “I see…lives. Individuals. Cats, Twolegs, even dogs.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere.” Whistlewhip meowed. “This is my favorite spot. You know why?”
“A lot of reasons. Look behind you.”
Katrina did. “A forest? What’s so special about a…oh. That’s the forest with Snowfall?”
“Yeah. And you can see Thundercloud from here too. It’s a reminder. This little war, it doesn’t change anything. We can’t change everyone’s lives.” He looked at her, and pointed to the forest with Snowfall. “But we can change theirs.”
Katrina smiled. She saw where he was going.
“Look at the sun.” He told her. She turned to look at the sunset. “We can’t keep the sun from setting on the world. We can’t give light to the darkness.” He looked at the forest again. “But maybe we can bring light to them.”
“I think I get the point.” Katrina meowed.
“I think you do too.” Whistlewhip nodded. “But really. We have to get to sleep. We have a rebellion to spark!”
Katrina was standing in an abandoned Twoleg nest. It was crumbling and ruined, but compared to the Snowfall prison, it was the best place Katrina had ever slept. She had made herself a bed of moss and bracken, and had almost fallen asleep when three more cats came in.
“Whistlewhip?” She asked.
“Yeah?” He replied groggily.
“Who are they?” Whistlewhip was instantly awake.
“This is the rest of the rebellion.” He said.
“Hold up. Katrina?” One of the cats asked.
“Slinky?” Katrina barely remembered his name.
“Oh, you know Slinky? Cool, cool. This is Wax, and Keefe.
They each gave a nod of hello. Wax was a white she-cat with dark brown eyes. Keefe was milky brown tom with blue eyes, and the top of his head was golden.
“So this is the fabled Kat cat?” Keefe asked.
“Yup.” Whistlewhip answered.
“Kat cat?” Katrina asked.
“You were in the prison with all the, uh, important cats, right?”
“Kat cat.” Keefe laughed. “That will never grow old.”
“She was.” Whistlewhip answered Wax.
“Am I going to be known as Kat cat for the rest of my life?” Katrina asked.
“That would be great, yes.” Keefe told her.
“Oh boy.” Katrina muttered sarcastically.
“We should really get down to business.” Was interrupted.
“Nah. Imma hit the sack.”
“What?” Katrina asked.
“Get the bye-byes.”
“I’ve never heard of any of these.”
“What do you mean?!?.”
“Drowsiness is me.”
“Are these Twoleg sayings?”
“Oh my gosh! You need to catch up on the latest stuff. I meant I was going to sleep.”
“Oh. You could have just said that.”
“But what fun would that be?”
In response, Katrina curled up, and went to sleep.
“She’s fun!” Was the last thing she heard Keefe meow as she slipped into dreams.
As usual, she was tormented by nightmares. Strike laying dead with blood dripping from Everest’s claws. Everest’s taunting words. I am now the most powerful cat in this town. Everest smiling as the prisoners were taken to Snowfall.
“Hey! Hey!” Katrina shot up, and her head bonked into something hard.
Keefe fell down.
“Ouch! Did you have to hit me in the nose?” He laughed, wiping away some blood from his nose.
“Sorry.” Katrina said. “Had a bad dream.”
“Oh.” Keefe’s grin faded. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s fine. So, why were you standing over me?”
“I was about to wake you. We’re moving out!”
“Moving out?” Katrina asked.
“Yeah! We’re laying siege to Snowfall today!”
Katrina was instantly up. “Today?”
Wax walked in. “Yup. We have to free the prisoners. Your claws sharp?”
Katrina unsheathed them. Ten curved, deadly slits of keratin. “Of course.”
Whistlewhip padded over. “Everyone ready?”
“I’m ready.” Meowed Wax.
“I’m ready.” Added Slinky.
“I’m ready.” Whispered Katrina.
Keefe smiled. “Ready as we’ll ever be.”
The five cats of the rebellion crouched in a secluded clearing, housed by bushes. Katrina peered through the sheets of rain, and if she really tried, she could see the side of Snowfall.
“All right. Everyone know their part?” Whistlewhip whispered. They all nodded. “Ok. We’re gonna have to do this fast and hard. Rendezvous point is the abandoned Twoleg nest. Stick with your partner, and protect each other at all costs.”
Katrina nodded. She and Slinky would be breaking out the prisoners in Snowfall, while Wax and Keefe made a distraction. Whistlewhip would be getting the prisoners in the cave.
“We can do this.” Slinky meowed confidently. For such a small cat, he was really strong, and fast. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” They all split up. Slinky and Katrina ran to the side thorn barrier of Snowfall.
“Dig! Dig! Dig!” They started to dig under the thorns. In almost no time, they had enough room to shimmy under. They were back in Snowfall.
“Ok, I think the jails are over…there.” Katrina pointed with her tail.
“All right, let’s go!” They ran over, staying to the shadows, and hoping the rain would disguise their scent. They got behind the first prison den.
“I don’t hear anything…” Slinky murmured. Katrina pressed her ear to the den. He was right. There were no cats there.
“Uhh, Slinky…” Katrina realized something. “Slinky, it’s a trap!”
“Look around! There’s no cats here!” She was right. That was what had felt weird about the camp. It was deserted. “They were planning for this! We have to run!”
“We can’t just leave the rest! If it’s a trap, we have to warn them!”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that.” A voice from behind them spoke. They turned around. Everest stood there, with about ten Frostbiters on either side. “We knew you would try and break your friends out.” Everest purred. “Get them.”
The Frostbiters lunged for Slinky, and Katrina, but stopped as another voice sounded from the trees above.
“Ohh, you just made the wrong move.” Everyone looked up. Thunder stood there, along with Tiger, Leopard, Fire, and Whistlewhip.
“How?” Everest hissed. “I had my best guards there!”
“I can swim, you piece of dirt. I just jumped off the waterfall into the cave.” Whistlewhip snarled.
Everest hissed. “You’ll never find out where the prisoners are.”
“We already know. They’re at Thundercloud.” Katrina meowed confidently. It was a total bluff. But she saw Everest’s eyes flash with surprise, shock, and fear, and she knew she was right.
“Well, you’ll never get there. In fact, you’ll never get out of here alive. Kill them.” The Frostbiters surged forward again, and Thunder, Tiger, Leopard, Fire, and Whistlewhip jumped down to join the fight. Katrina had been waiting for this moment since Strike had been killed. The chance for revenge. The chance to avenge her friend. She attacked Everest.
Everest smiled. She smiled. Everest parried Katrina’s attacks with ease. Katrina would miss one, Everest would land one. Finally, Katrina leaped up, tucked in, and did a flip, landing with her hind claws slashing Everest’s back.
Katrina blinked as Everest hissed in pain. She didn’t actually expect that to work. Everest lunged faster than an adder. Claws outstretched in a killing blow, Katrina didn’t even have time to move.
But Keefe did. He shot out of no where, and caught Everest’s claws in his own, raking them away from Katrina’s neck.
“Oh no, you don’t.” Keefe smirked. He attacked Everest, and Katrina joined in. Together, one slash at a time, one roll at a time, they drover her back toward the river. Everest’s glare turned from hatred, to slight fear.
After what seemed like forever, Everest’s back was against the river, her hind paws standing in the shallows.
“You will never win.” Everest hissed.
“I think we already have.” Keefe shot back. Everest lunged, but Katrina intercepted the blow, and Keefe kicked Everest back, and she fell fully into the river.
But the river was shallow here, and Everest was not washed away.
Blood dripped from her wounds, yet still, she did not give up.
“Surrender, Everest.” Katrina commanded. “You’ve lost.”
“Oh, that’s what you think.”
“No.” Keefe stepped in. “That’s what we think.”
“Oh, that’s so much better. Two flea-pelts telling me-”
Katrina had enough. She jumped at Everest, and knocked her flat on her back in the swift water.
“I’ll kill you.” Katrina whispered. She had wanted to say that the moment she saw Everest. She unsheathed her claws.
“And you still think you’ll win?” Everest meowed. “What will happen when they find out I’m dead? What will happen to the Lightnings?”
Katrina’s paw dipped slightly. “What do you have planned, Everest? Why are you so smug?”
“Some things surpass the brain of a mouse.”
“And most things surpass the compassion of a fox-heart.” Katrina whispered.
“I don’t need compassion. I have power.” Everest whispered.
“Tell me. What are you going to do to them?” Katrina demanded. “Tell me!”
“Never.” Everest surged up, kicking Katrina back. Katrina fell back to the shallows. She felt claws digging into her shoulders. Everest dragged her into the deeper water. “Say goodbye, Lighting.” She shoved Katrina underwater.
Katrina thrashed, and fought for air, but Everest was strong. Katrina got weaker, and weaker. Her attacks came slower as her air ran out.
She heard Keefe yowl something, it sounded like “No!” She felt the weight being lifted off her. But Everest had somehow trapped her in the reeds. Katrina was too weak to break free from them. She saw a white shape join the fight above, Wax, maybe?
Then the last of her air left her.
And everything went black.
Katrina’s mind floated in the dark. Memories, thoughts, and wonderings flashed past her. She knew she was dead.
But then…did dead cats still think?
Did dead cat’s lungs still burn for air?
No…that’s a living cat.
But she still wasn’t waking up.
She replayed her last conscious thoughts. She remembered being drowned by Everest, Keefe yelling something, A white cat jumping into the fight, nothing else. Just darkness. Just this one tiny spark of reality in a mass of chaos. It was like trying to find your way blindfolded through a maze of cactus. You don’t know where to go, how to escape. All you can do is stand still, and wait.
But wait for what?
She tried to catch glimpses of the memories as they flashed past.
One memory floated past slower, and Katrina saw what is was.
Two pairs of eyes.
Everest’s, as they were drowning her.
And Keefe’s, as they were saving her.
She focused on that memory. She needed to see them again. The war with Everest was not done. And Keefe was awesome. She couldn’t just leave him. They had just deleted Everest together.
She forced her eyes open.
She took a huge breath, and looked around. She was lying on a riverbank, the forest around her unfamiliar. She stood up shakily. She didn’t recognize anything.
A forest behind her, and a slow river in front of her. The rain must have died down as she was out.
Of course. She realized. I must have drifted downstream.
“Told you you should have listened to me.” Katrina whipped around. Lounging on a tree branch, holy mouse tails, was Cloudy. “You almost drowned.”
“You forgotten what I look like?”
“Cloudy? What are you doing here?”
“You mean, what are we doing here.” He jumped down from the branch, and out of the wood behind him came Tom, and Artemis.
“Tom! Artemis! You’re here!” She ran forward, and brushed against each of them. “I’m so happy to see you!”
“Katrina! Are you ok? Cloudy said you drowned!” Tom exclaimed.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I must have washed up or something.”
Cloudy snorted. “I pulled you out.”
Katrina turned around. “You saved me?”
“Yeah.” Cloudy turned away. “It’s what friends do.”
“Cloudy, I’m really sorry…”
Cloudy turned back to her. “No. I shouldn’t have been so hard on you. You’re my friend, Katrina. Nothing’s gonna change that. I didn’t realize how serious the war was until Everest kidnapped us.”
“Wait what?” Artemis asked.
Cloudy ignored her. “I know that you were fighting her. So…I’m sorry.”
“I forgive you, Cloudy. And I’m sorry too. I should have listened to you.”
“We can agree to disagree.” Cloudy smiled, and brushed his flank against hers. “Ok, but spill. What’s going on, why are you half-drowned, beat up, and clawed? And also, who’s Keefe? You were murmuring about him in your unconsciousness.”
Katrina laughed. “Ok, come on. I’ll tell you the craziest story you’ve ever heard.”
Artemis, Tom, and Cloudy gathered around Katrina on the riverbank, and she told them everything. Strike, Everest, the prisons, the rebellion, the escape from Snowfall, everything.
They were a good audience.
When the story was over, Tom scooted closer to Katrina.
“Badger’s claws!” He meowed. “You went through all that?”
Cloudy stood up. “Well one thing is obvious.” He looked at Katrina. “I’m in.”
Katrina blinked. “What?”
“I have a score to settle with Everest. So I’m in. I’m going to that Thunderpoof place, and I’m gonna claw Everest.”
“No, Cloudy I can’t ask that of you!”
“You didn’t. I’m doing it. That’s final.”
“Yeah.” Tom stepped forward. “I’m in too.”
Katrina blinked away a tear of happiness. “You guys are the best friends EVER!”
“Um, I hope you don’t mind if I back out of this one…” Artemis nervously smiled.
They all laughed, and shared the moment.
The moment was broken by a distraction in the form of Slinky.
“Katrina! Thank goodness I found you! I’ve been looking forever!” He was panting hard.
“What is it, Slinky?” Katrina asked.
“We stormed Thundercloud. Released the prisoners. We’re fighting the Frostbiters now. For better or for worse, it all ends today.”
Katrina ran through the woods. Ahead of her, Slinky raced, following a path. Behind her, Cloudy and Tom were following.
“Come on!” Slinky yelled even though none of them could run any faster.
The they left the woods behind, running through the town. They avoided Twolegs, and monsters the best they could (hey, that one Twoleg was in the way). They finally all reached the construction site.
Katrina heard the fight before she saw it. Cats yowling, screeching. She jumped the stone wall in one leap…
…and entered the most chaotic sight she had ever seen. Cats tumbled around, yowling and fighting. The Lightning prisoners may have backed down before, but now they knew that it was now or never. Do or die. There was no sign of Everest, but her second in command, Icicle, was fighting like five cats himself. The only thing holding him back from killing all the Lightings were two cats: Thunder and Tiger. They fought like their namesakes. The force of thunder, and the speed of a tiger.
She saw Leopard, tending to a wounded cat while Fire batted back any cat getting too near.
Whistlewhip spun and clawed two cats at the same time.
Then she saw Keefe. Her heart skipped a beat. He was running toward her. He tackled her in a hug.
“Oh my gosh, you’re alive!” He cried. “I was so worried about you, and I wanted to come look for you, but there was no time, and-”
She stopped him by flipping him over, and touching her nose to his.
“Stupid fur ball.” She purred. “Don’t apologize. Just watch my back out there, ok?”
Keefe smiled. “You know I will.” And with that, they charged into the fight. Katrina recognized some of the cats, both Lighting, and Frostbiter. She jumped on top of one cat, and slashed her back until she fled from the battle. Keefe was already fighting a large tom, and Katrina lunged, and knocked the cat away, sending him sprawling. Together, they slashed and kicked, spun and ducked. They subconsciously made their way forward to Icicle.
But they never got there. A white blur shot out of nowhere, smashing into Keefe. He flew into an old den, which promptly collapsed on top of him.
He screamed in pain. Only his head was visible from the wreckage, contorted in pain.
“Keefe!” Katrina yelled. She ran toward him, but the white cat stalked out from behind the den.
“Katrina, Katrina, Katrina.” She circled Katrina, unexplained hate raging in her eyes.
“Wax! Keefe is hurt! We have to help him!”
Wax just stood there. “You don’t get it, do you?” She spat.
Katrina blinked. Then realization dawned on her. “You…you hit him in there.”
“But then…what do you want with me?” Katrina asked. “And what do you want with Keefe?”
Wax’s eyes burned with rage. “You ruined my life.” She hissed.
“What do you mean?” Katrina asked. She knew that time was wasting. Keefe could be dying!
“Keefe.” Wax whispered the name. “He loves you.”
What does this have to do with anything? Katrina thought. “So?” She asked.
Wax just stood there. Claws unsheathed, eyes like balls of fire.
“Oh.” Katrina meowed as she realized. “You love him, too.”
Wax didn’t answer. But that was an answer in itself.
“Wax…I never knew.”
“You didn’t have to. You could have just died like you were supposed to.”
“What do you mean?”
“You think Everest tangled you in those reeds in the river? No, no, no. I did.”
“What? I thought we were friends!”
“MAYBE WE COULD HAVE BEEN!” Wax yelled. “But no! You chose Keefe, and he chose you! So where does that leave me? You clawed out my heart, Katrina. So I’ll claw out yours.” She lunged, but Katrina rolled aside.
“I don’t want to hurt you, Wax!” She pleaded.
“That’s funny.” Wax hissed. “Because I really want to hurt you.” She leaped, and Katrina caught her. The fight began. Wax was good. There was no doubt about it. Katrina was forced to remember every fighting move she had ever learned, ever tried. And she was still holding back. She didn’t really want to hurt Wax, but Wax was pouring out all the hate she had stored for days, pouring it into her claws.
Katrina forced herself to unsheathe her claws, and fight back. They kicked, rolled, slashed, and ducked in a deadly dance. Eventually, Katrina turned the world out, and only focused on her opponent. The cat before her.
Wax’s claws slashed at her face, passing a whisker-length from Katrina’s eyes. Katrina response with a back leg sweep that knocked Wax to the ground.
Wax sprang up, and kept fighting. Katrina was tiring, and Wax knew it. Her attacks got stronger, and stronger. Faster, and faster. Katrina was forced to retreat. But Wax flew through the air, knocked Katrina to the ground, and pressed her paw to Katrina’s throat.
Wax smiled evilly, and pressed down. Katrina struggled for air as Wax choked her.
Katrina’s eyes found Keefe’s. He couldn’t move, but Katrina could tell that he knew exactly what was happening.
“Enough of that.” Wax released her paw, and unsheathed its claws. “Time to die.” She plunged her claws down, but before they could connect, she saw smashed in the face, and flung off of Katrina.
“You. Don’t. Hurt. My. Sister.” Tom stood before Wax.
Wax laughed. “And you’re going to stop me?”
“No.” Cloudy walked up behind him. “We are.”
They attacked her, and started to driver her back.
Katrina ran over to Keefe, and started throwing wooden boards off him.
“Keefe! Are you ok?”
He shakily got up. “Y-yeah. I think…I think so.”
She gave him her shoulder to lean on. “Keefe, did you…did you know?”
Keefe shook his head. “I had no idea about Wax.”
Katrina nodded. “Also, what happened at Snowfall? After I got swept away.”
“After Wax tried to drown you. I can’t believe I thought she was my friend.”
“We all did, Keefe.”
“I know, but…Katrina, she let Everest get away. Everest ran away, and Wax convinced us not to follow.”
“I know.” A voice behind them meowed. “Isn’t it…great?”
Katrina turned around. Standing behind them was a cat Katrina hoped to never see again.
Everest had entered the battle.
The battle froze. Everycat turned to stare at Everest. She looked horrid. Pelt ungroomed, scratches from her fight with Katrina and Keefe. But she carried herself with a kind of dignity that said ‘I don’t care what you think. I’m the best.’
“Ah, and Katrina’s here. Pity. I hoped I might, or really, Wax might have been able to drown you.”
Keefe growled. “Say one more thing bad about her, and you’ll be looking for your ears.”
“Those are brave words. Wanna back them up?” Everest attacked, and the battle started back up Frostbiter and Lightning clashed in the fight of fights. Everest slammed into Keefe, knocking him down. Katrina hissed, and jumped on Everest.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Tiger and Thunder punching Icicle repetitively in the face.
Wax was being cornered by Cloudy and Tom, who seemed to be holding their own against her.
But Katrina tumbled around with Everest, scratching and biting. She finally managed to kick Everest away, and jump onto the nearest thing she could find…which happened to be the bulldozer.
Keefe jumped up too, glaring at Everest. “Come and get it, kitty.” He taunted. Everest launched herself up, and Keefe caught her shoulders. Katrina flipped into her back, and kicked Everest off the top of the bulldozer.
Unfortunately, Everest grabbed Katrina, and they both fell off.
They hit the ground in a cloud of dust, and Katrina rolled under the Twoleg machine. She started to get up, but stepped on something pointy. She looked down and saw a silver-y thing that was slightly rusted. It was about the length of a whisker, and looked like a big, straight claw.
But Katrina had seen her Twolegs use them before.
“This is too good.” She murmured. She knew exactly what it was.
A key, perhaps, to a bulldozer.
Hooking up the key with her claw, Katrina shot out from under the bulldozer, and saw Keefe up top still.
“Keefe!” She yelled. She flung the key at him. It bonked him in the head, but got the message across.
“You’re crazy!” He yelled, picking up the key.
“Love you too!” She yelled back, and ran under the bulldozer to the other side, and tackled Everest.
She flipped her onto her own hind legs, and kicked out, sending Everest sprawling.
Then she turned, and jumped back into the bulldozer.
“Hmmm.” Keefe was examining the complicated board of buttons, wheels, and levers. “Where does this key go?”
“I dunno.” Katrina shrugged. “Try…here.” She poked the key into the steering wheel. But of course, she didn’t know it was a steering wheel.
“Maybe…here?” Keefe pokes the key into a lever. “Nope.”
Bam! Someone was hitting the glass. Katrina looked up. It was Thunder. He smirked, and pointed a claw at a small hole. Katrina put the key in it. It slid in. Thunder made a turning motion. Katrina copied him, and there was a rumble, and the engine sputtered to life. Thunder nodded, and jumped back into the fight.
So of course, the small victory had to be ruined. Everest jumped in through the window, and knocked both Katrina and Keefe to the ground. Keefe slammed into a window. Katrina fell into a part below the wheel (as in the steering wheel) and landed on a pedal. The huge machine made loud beeping noises and rolled backwards. The cats behind it scattered.
“Ooh!” Katrina stepped on the other pedal. The bulldozer went forward, much faster than it had backwards.
“Katrina! A little help?” Everest had Keefe pinned against a door. Katrina stepped fully on the forward pedal, and the dozer shot forward. Everest was thrown off of Keefe. Keefe quickly grabbed the dazed Everest, and threw her out the window.
“Hey Keefe! Try running on that small wheel there!” Katrina suggested. Keefe did, and Katrina lightly pushed the pedal. The dozer turned to the right. Keefe ran the other way. The dozer turned left. Katrina hopped up onto the seat, and yelled out the window.
“All Lightnings! Please gather behind this bulldozer!” The Lightnings broke ranks, and ran behind the bulldozer. Katrina jumped on the pedal. Keefe ‘steered’ as in he randomly changed directions when he felt like it. They plowed over dens, and scattered Frostbiters. The Lightnings gave yowls of glee, and charged the disorientated Frostbiters.
“We’re winning!” Keefe shouted. Unfortunately, in his happiness, he fell off the steering wheel, and the bulldozer lost control.
“Ahhh!” Katrina hit the brakes, but it was too late. They plowed into the side of Thundercloud. Katrina was thrown around, and a pain flared in her right paw. The bulldozer gave a slight shudder, and fell still.
“Katrina! Are you ok?” Keefe jumped down to the pedals.
“No.” She whimpered. “My paw…”
Keefe looked at it. “Yeah, this looks sprained. We gotta get you to safety.”
He helped her to her feet. They managed to stagger out onto the seat, and out the window. They picked their way down the rubble to the ground, and Katrina curled up underneath a ruined den. There was no sign of Everest. Wax was cornered by Tom and Cloudy. Icicle was tangled in some assortment of rope, wood, and his own tail. Tiger and Thunder’s doing, of course. The Lightnings were winning. The Frostbiters has lost their lead when the bulldozer plowed through them.
“Katrina, stay here. I’m gonna get Leopard.” Keefe meowed. Katrina nodded, and Keefe ran off.
“Hello, Katrina.” It was Everest. “Your paw looks bad.”
Katrina stood up shakily. “Try me, Everest.”
“As you wish.” Everest hit her with both paws in the chest, and Katrina flew backwards into the den. It fell down on top of her. Pain flared in her stomach. She screamed in pain. She could barely breath. There was so much weight on top of her.
This is where I die. Katrina thought. She knew she had just broken a rib, and her good paw was trapped under a heavy wooden beam. It was pitch-black under the rubble.
She heard the distant sounds of battle. She heard Everest yell, “She’s dead!”
She heard Keefe scream, heard the anger, the sadness, the hate in his voice.
No, Keefe! I’m alive! Katrina thought. But she knew that she would feel the same way if she were Keefe. And there was no escaping from here…
Then she heard a scratch.
A a wooden board above her head was lifted off.
She took a breath.
“Katrina! Are you in there?” It was Tom. Katrina could barely for words, but she choked out a feeble ‘yes’
“Hold on! I’m coming!” Tom kept lifting off the rubble, until Katrina could move again. She tried to stand up, but her legs were too weak. “Leopard! A little help!” Leopard came over.
“Ooh, that looks bad. That’s very bad. We gotta get you into a medicine den.”
With the help of the two cats, Katrina stood. The battle was almost over. Only Everest was left fighting, with Icicle at her side. Keefe brawled with Everest, while Tiger and Thunder pummeled both Icicle and Everest.
The rest of the Lightnings stood around, licking their wounds, mourning the dead, and being tended to. Most of the Frostbiters had run.
Finally, the three Lightnings still fighting overpowered their opponents, and pinned them to the ground.
Keefe turned around. There were no words to explain the relief in his eyes, the joy. He seemed to want to run over to her, but he was pinning the most dangerous Frostbiter under his paws.
Tiger meowed something to Keefe. His face turned grim. He nodded. Tiger hopped off of Icicle, left Thunder to hold him down, and padded over to Katrina.
“We have to kill them, right?” Tiger asked. “I mean, they’ll just gain more followers.”
Katrina had never actually thought about that. “Y-yeah. I g-guess so.” She stammered.
Tiger nodded. Leopard broke in. “All right, all right. Give the patient some space.”
Tiger padded back to Everest. He rose his paw in the air.
“Icicle. Remember that plan I made for if we ever lost?” Everest hissed.
“Yeah.” Icicle nodded.
Everest kicked out with all her strength, sending Keefe toppling backwards.
“Go, Icicle. Do the plan.” Everest was pinned again, but Icicle ran to the wall, and jumped to the top.
“Any Frostbiters still here, and loyal, retreat with me!” He called. Only one cat appeared and went with him.
She jumped to the wall beside Icicle. Looking at Katrina, she yowled something.
“I will always be your enemy!” And the two Frostbiters jumped over the wall.
It was just Everest left.
Tiger raised his paw again, then hesitated. “I…I don’t feel right about killing a cat in cold blood.”
“Y-yeah. It’s not right.” Thunder agreed.
Keefe nodded. “You’re right.” He looked at Katrina. “Are you ok with this?”
She nodded. “Let her go. But Everest, if we hear even the slightest whisper that the Frostbiters are back, we will hit you with the full force of the Lightnings. Get lost.”
Everest nodded, scrambling to her feet. He looked genuinely afraid. “I-I’ll go.” She scampered towards the entrance. Then something changed in her eyes.
It wasn’t fright, or relief.
It was amusement.
And sick happiness.
Katrina didn’t even have time to prepare. Everest turned faster than a snake, and flew at her, claws aimed at her throat.
It all happened in the blink of an eye. Something intercepted Everest in midair, and suddenly she was laying dead on the ground, with Whistlewhip standing over her.
“She lied.” He meowed. “She was never scared. She just wanted a chance to kill Katrina”
Katrina looked down at Everest’s dead body. There were Whistlewhip’s claw marks in her neck, the same spot that Everest had struck Strike in.
But there was no denying it.
Everest was finally dead.