Enter the Cat Ch. 03byMygypsy©
The jar as my fist meets the resistance of flesh is accompanied by a meaty thud as I land a solid punch to the mid section of the stray in front of me. A slight grunt of pain is all that escapes his tightly clenched jaws even though I put good effort into the blow.
"I repeat, why were you stalking women," Wade demands tightly.
When no there is no reply to his question, Wade nods to me and I repeat the blow. This time, I strike on the other side of the torso as I search for sensitive spots left by the beating Malcolm administered in an effort to gain answers to Wade's questions.
"What were you doing stalking human women? What did you hope to achieve," Wade demands flatly.
Again there is no answer and I deliver a flurry of blows at Wade's signal. This time groans of pain reward my efforts but I feel no pleasure. Unfortunately sometimes physical violence is the only way to pry necessary information out of a reluctant stray.
We need to know why he has knowingly and persistently been on clan land without permission when he has clearly been doing much more than passing through.
Stray werecats rarely travel in the company of other cats and frequently leave behind clear evidence of kills when they feed in cat form. That and their tendency to travel in cat form during the day greatly increase the chances of being sighted by humans.
Strays passing through are warned to notify us that they will be moving through our territory. This knowledge helps us work out which few strays are troublemakers and which are merely moving from one location to another.
Most of the other clans have similar rules with the movements of strays, and I do know a few clans who strictly forbid strays crossing their clan territory at any time. Clan members always extend the courtesy of asking permission before venturing onto another clan's territory and there has never been any refusal of permission to my knowledge.
"Ok already!" The stray gasps, "I get the message! Stay away from humans."
"What were you doing stalking human women," Wade demands evenly. "Answer my question."
Again there is no answer but I wait for a signal from Wade before punching the stray again. This time I have winded him and it takes a few seconds before he can draw a breath to groan.
"What were you doing on Williamson clan territory," Wade asks.
"I was looking for someone I used to run with," the stray admits before coughing painfully.
"Why the interest in human women," Wade demands harshly with a nod.
I give the stray no time to answer as I deliver several hard punches to his ribs. The blows leave him groaning in pain as he swings by his arms where they are bound above his head and secured to a short chain hanging from a cross beam. He raises his head to glare at me a few seconds before letting it fall forward once again.
It is a real possibility he had formed a relationship with a human, which raises the possibility of interbreeding between the two. This could result in seemingly a human baby being born only to become turned into a stray at some further time in their life. While the difference in the blood make-up is nearly undetectable in a newborn baby it becomes much more noticeable in those about to 'turn'.
Clan Alphas generally try to keep track of any such children in hopes of being able to render assistance at that time in their lives.
"What makes you assume I was looking for a human female?" the stray says, clearly relishing the furious growls his taunt elicits.
I don't wait for Wade's signal this time and aim for the stray's face. I feel teeth come loose and skin split beneath my knuckles as I hand out a savage beating.
Was he hinting he had been hunting the she-kitt born in this territory? Just the thought of a stray like this getting anywhere near Jazzy spurs me on and even Wade doesn't object as I land punishing blow after punishing blow. Cartilage crunches as his nose breaks and I back off several steps as I manage to control the urge to smash his face beyond recognition.
A faint sound from the doorway catches my attention and my stomach clenches as I see Rosy just inside the open door staring at the stray with a look of horrified recognition on her face.
I realise with shock that the stray is talking to her, knows her and when she responds to his taunts she is nearly hissing and spitting in fear of him. Suddenly the pieces start to fall into place and I glance at Wade and see the realisation on his face as well.
"You know him," I ask as I walk towards Rosy.
The stray taunts us all, clearly enjoying her distress and fear. He can't help himself and has to boast of his knowledge of her, revealing a lot of information about them both. He subtly reinforces a fear and distrust of clan cats he admits to causing and when he swears at Wade I unleash punishment once again.
He was the bastard who had gotten Rosy pregnant! He boasted of tracking her down and catching her to repeatedly and brutally rape her. He intentionally hurt her, making what should have been a very pleasurable experience into a horrifying and painful time for her.
I can only watch as Rosy flees the building but not before looking at me with fear and horror. I glare at the stray and when he replies with scorn to a question from Wade, I
step forward and deliver several short, hard blows up beneath his lower ribs stealing his breath for several minutes.
"How well do you know Rosy?" Wade asks coldly.
"Go to hell you clan mongrel," the stray laughs. "Why should I tell you anything? Yous don't even know what has been under your noses all this time."
"I would have thought someone smart enough to continually elude us for as many years as you have would be smarter than this," Wade says slowly with a shake of his head. "You know we can't let you get away with one: potentially exposing the existence of our species. And two: the rape of a she-kitt. Now if you were to give us the information we want without us having to beat it out of you ... I would be a lot more lenient with you."
I watch as the stray turns the information over in his mind. His eyes dart between the warriors behind me.
"What do you want to know," he asks reluctantly.
"How long have you known Rosy is a werecat," Wade asks.
"Eight, maybe closer to eight and a half years," the stray sneers with a glance my way clearly expecting punishment for his disrespect.
I let it go. I know that we will get more information from him if he doesn't fear punishment at every hint of defiance.
"You mentioned Kendal," Wade says levelly, "would that be Kendal Darnel?"
"Only Kendal I know of," he admits levelly. "We taught her a lot of tricks. How else would she have survived mostly alone for that length of time? Hell even we had trouble catching her. I can generally run her into the ground but the Darnels are the ones who tried to trap her."
"Tried to trap her," Wade queries softly.
I watch the sneer form on the stray's face; clearly he is enjoying taunting us with his knowledge.
"They couldn't catch her so I done them a little deal," the stray licks his lips, his eyes moving shiftily. "I sold her to them. The first time she came into heat fully I drugged her but she was only groggy when they came for her. She nearly managed to outrun them. You should have heard her screaming when they took turns on her. Hell if I didn't know better I would have thought she didn't know what they were doing to her!"
I hear the low growls this elicits from several of the warriors behind me and I glare over my shoulder at them as I swallow my own anger.
"Tell me all you know about Rosy," Wade demands. "Did you know she integrated herself into human society? Is that why you were stalking human females? No use denying it; we know of several reports of women who believed they had been followed at night and watched for an extended period of time. The reports include a large black cat-like or dog-like animal in the same neighbourhoods on the same nights."
When the stray still fails to answer, Wade gives a shake of his head. "It's obvious who you were looking for and why. You're just wasting my time now."
Unease flickers briefly on the stray's face as he glances between Wade and myself.
"You have given us some information. What is your name by the way," Wade asks neutrally.
"Jasper," the stray answers after a short silence.
Clearly he is afraid of us but is determined not to hand over any more information.
"That all? Only Jasper," Wade asks and when there is no reply from the stray he glances at me and gives a slight nod before turning his attention back to the stray.
"Jasper Stray, I as an Alpha recognised by the Were Board of Governors hereby find you guilty of severely mistreating a she-kitt. The mistreatment includes repeatedly mounting her against her will and selling her as chattel to outlaws for carnal purposes. You are also guilty of stalking human females with what could only be a view to force yourself on them sexually." Wade takes a deep breath and resumes. "You have also risked disclosing the existence of our species as a whole by being repeatedly seen in cat form near human dwellings. The sentence for all of these offences is execution, to be carried out ..."
"Wait! Wait," the stray interjects frantically, "I know more about that little she-kitt, more about the Darnels!"
"What do you know?" Wade asks in a cold even tone. I can tell he doesn't care for the stray's attempt at bargaining for his life.
"I tell you," the strays says and licks his lips nervously as he glances at me, "and I get to live. What I know is surely worth that."
"You tell me what it is and I'll decide," Wade says coldly.
"You got to promise me my life first!"
I bare my teeth in a parody of feral delight as the warriors behind me move closer, and he watches us with growing fear.
"Or I can get the information the old fashioned way," Wade says with a nod my way.
"Timny you got your pocket knife?" I ask with a mockery of a smile for the stray.
"It's right here," Timny answers and I growl with satisfaction.
"Want to do some cutting Malcolm? Edwin? Teach this stray to be more respectful of all females? Make sure he'd never be a threat to one again," I ask on a low snarl.
I nearly miss the snarls of agreement beneath the stray's shout of disbelieving fear as he realises what I mean. I watch in grim satisfaction as the other warriors close in on him and his arms are released from the chain above his head. He is wrestled down onto the floor despite his struggles. He has years of experience surviving as a stray and almost fights free. I take him down to the floor of the shed with a shoulder to the stomach and once Edwin and his team have hold of the stray I back off.
He has admitted to brutally raping a female on several occasions but as a stray he probably would not know the standard but seldom used punishment of castration is not used by our clan. Still the scare value of the threat should yield the information he claims to have.
I watch as he fights wildly almost breaking free. Edwin punches him several times in the face before he and Malcolm manage to pin the stray successfully.
"The knife cut me!" Chris hisses in stunned surprise. Blood soaks one sleeve and down that side of his body indicating a serious injury.
"Chris! Oh shit!" Malcolm's voice is filled with panic and both Steven and I immediately move to help hold the stray down so Malcolm can go to his brother.
The stray fights our hold briefly but outnumbered and over-powered he soon eases his struggles.
"Where is all that blood from?" Malcolm demands frantically. "Your arm isn't that bad!"
"It's not his! Damn it!" Steven says from the other side of the stray.
I become aware of the weakness of the struggles of our prisoner and look down as I realise I am kneeling in something wet. There is a large dark patch on one thigh of his ragged jeans and a growing pool of blood beneath him. A cut runs up the thigh and across the groin of the leg Chris had been holding down. Steven is jerking his t-shirt off over his head and quickly presses it where blood wells from beneath the fabric rapidly in a pulsing rhythm that tells of an injury to a major artery.
"Femoral artery," Edwin mutters even as he keeps his grip on the injured prisoner.
One glance tells me the blood loss is fast reaching fatal levels and the position of the cut prevents adequate pressure being applied to stop further loss. I feel for the pulse in the stray's neck even as I take in his ashen face and colourless lips.
Wade kneels down and places a hand on the stray's chest over his heart, but the weakening pulse beneath my fingers already tell me Steven's attempts are achieving very little in prolonging the stray's death.
"We're doing all we can for you," Wade tells him quietly. "We were trying to scare more information out of you; you were not meant to be injured."
"A fat lot of difference it makes now!" Jasper gasps and I can hear the weakness in his voice.
"What is it you were going to tell me about Rosy?" Wade asks gently and motions for us to ease our holds on him.
"It's my baby ... don't mistreat it just 'cause I'm a stray ..." His voice trails off and although he opens and shuts his mouth nothing more comes from it.
"No kitt will ever be mistreated here," Wade tells him. "You have my word as an Alpha."
Less than a minute later the stray breathes his last breath.
I stand staring at the now dead stray for nearly a minute before glancing at the warriors standing around the body. Malcolm is still occupied with his brother but everyone else is starting to shift from foot to foot restlessly.
"It was an accident," Wade says quietly.
"I'm sorry Boss," Timny says contritely. "I only meant to prick him with the tip of the blade."
"It's not your fault," Wade says quietly, "It all happened so quickly ..."
The speed with which death can strike is horrifyingly fast; I know it wasn't meant to end like this. The execution would have been carried out quickly and cleanly; no one should die terrified and in a pool of their own blood.
I feel kind of sick as I realise Rosy will probably believe his death supports all she has been told about clan cats killing strays.
"What now Boss?" Steven asks in the heavy silence. The accidental killing of the stray has left us all quiet.
"Go get cleaned up in the shower here. No one is to clean up in the quarters; I don't want Rosy upset anymore than she has been," Wade orders. "First one through go grab clean clothes for everyone so you don't go back there stinking like a dead stray."
I supervise the wrapping of the corpse in an old sheet before helping to clean up all traces of blood in the room with the aide of a high-pressure hose.
Wade has left the shed no doubt to report the death of the stray and relay the accusations made against the Darnels to several other Alphas who have had trouble with the outlaws.
Edwin is by one of the benches when I carry the restraints we used over to be hung on their hook. He grins at me and glances at Steven, Malcolm and Dwayne who are the only other ones left in the building.
"Sounds like that stray had Rosy all trained to open her legs and let him climb on whenever he wanted to," Edwin says in a very soft whisper and I turn disbelieving eyes on him.
"A little bit of kindness and I bet she'll let anyone climb on and show her what it's all about," Edwin says in those same soft tones as he moves away from me. But he isn't fast enough and I am on him with a growl of pure fury as I take him down to the floor and begin launching punches at him wildly.
"Hey stop it!" I hear the other three yelling in chorus.
I become aware of the other three trying to drag us apart and I clasp two hands full of shirt near Edwin's throat forcing the others to rip his shirt to pull us apart.
"What the hell was that about?" Dwayne demands angrily as he, Steven and Malcolm force me back against the wall.
"I don't know," Edwin mutters from where he is getting to his feet and dusting himself off. "He just totally lost it for no reason."
I glare at him. To repeat his words would be useless. Even though he often caused me trouble no one would believe he would say such stuff about a she-kitt, any she-kitt. I shake my head. And I realise the best I can do is keep a watchful eye on him around Rosy just in case.
I walk away from the others and run both hands through my hair pushing it back off my forehead before clasping my hands behind my head as I try to calm down.
I really need to get it cut, I let out a gusty snort. Some poor bastard dies bleeding like a stuck pig and I'm worrying about a haircut? Man! I really need to get a grip!
* * * * *
I am the last one to use the shower and take my time washing away the filth I imagine clings to me after dealing with the stray.
A meal is being cooked when I walk into the quarters and I glance around the lounge room and kitchen quickly looking for Rosy.
"She's hiding in Sam and Mitchell's room," Steven tells me quietly.
"That bastard told her nothing but bullshit about clan cats," I say tightly as I run a hand back over my head brushing my hair off my forehead. The stray claimed to have known her for over eight years. How are we to undo so long of being fed lies about clan cats?
A feeling of helpless anger fills me. My inner cat rages at the pain and suffering Rosy has endured at the hands of others. I want to smash my fists into something, preferably Edwin's face, until this anger is gone.
"Want Pete to go and see if he can get her to come out to the lounge room?" Steven asks.
"No, I'll give it a try. She seemed like she wanted my approval until now," I say thinking back on the last few days. "Maybe she'll try to avoid doing anything to aggravate me," I add thinking on Jazzy's remarks about how dominance affected she-kitts.
"Do you think he trained her to be nothing more than a trouble maker," Steven asks quietly.
"That's one of things we will need to try to find out," I admit softly.
"Shame Mitchell isn't here. She'd already be out in the lounge room," Pete says.
I take several minutes to ensure I am totally calm before making my way to the bedroom where she is hiding. She is curled up on Mitchell's bed hugging his pillow to her. She avoids meeting my eyes when she glances my way as I enter the room.
I can smell her fear thick in the room and take in the way she is laying hunched over the pillow. I try tempting her out of the room with food, refusing to let her eat in there despite her intense fear. She needs to learn none of us intend to hurt her and the best way to learn that is for her to be around us and see how we treat her.
"Leave me alone," her voice is thick with misery. "I want Mitchell."
"What is it you want? Mitchell explains things to you, doesn't he?" I ask patiently.
"Am I in trouble?" She whispers after several minutes, "Am I going to be punished?"
"Well you shouldn't have gone near the brick shed as you know, but no, you're not going to be punished. Not this time," I say evenly not wanting her to think she can get away with knowingly breaking rules. "Now come out and try to eat something."
I have to urge her off the bed and out to the lounge room and immediately she wants to return to the safety of the bedroom. It is hard not to lose patience with her, and as I try to coax her to stay she claims to be scared of Edwin and his team who are in the kitchen.
"Why?" I ask in growing exasperation and watch as she tries to pull away from my light grasp on her uninjured wrist. It seems like her progress has regressed drastically
today and I am not sure how to reassure her or show her that no one intends to harm her. My inner cat urges me to hold her, comfort her, but I am not sure how she would take it at this stage. All I can do is offer support with my presence.