Enter the Cat Ch. 05


"You're going to have to finish this conversation later. Wade just came out of the quarters and is headed this way," Steven warns.

"Why not finish it now," I ask. "I have no intentions of sneaking around doing things on the sly."

"Thanks for the heads up. We'll have to talk this out between Mitchell and I. When Rosy is ready to talk we'll see what she wants to do," Sam says levelly.

"Micah, I want to talk to you," Wade snaps as he gets closer. He eyes Sam and Mitchell without a word before turning his full attention on me.

"You can not be serious about working elsewhere. Think of how it will affect your sister. She is coming to an age where she needs all of her brothers close by," Wade says and I know he is trying to play on my closeness with Jazzy.

"I can not be an effective leader if I allow someone to ignore my orders and do as they please, when they please, if they please," I say evenly. "Rosy needs to follow rules and know the boundaries so she does not get herself into trouble or danger, or get someone else into danger."

"Look at Jazzy: she knows what is expected of her, what she is and is not allowed to do. Jazzy does not put herself at risk and she does not do anything to put others at risk. Today Rosy very nearly outran us causing someone to take a heavy fall, and very nearly made a mistake when we found prey. Her mistake would have seen her get a kill and the rest of us go hungry. Where does behaviour like that fit into a clan," I ask tightly.

"And what? You'll just leave your sister and your clan, if you can't get your own way on this," Wade demands.

"If I can't ensure the safety of my warriors as well as Rosy, yes," I state.

"I think you have a good point there. But you're missing something. I believe Rosy would do a lot better if she knew the rules," Sam says firmly stepping forward so he is nearly by my side facing Wade. "Not only will it make things safer for those around her, it should reassure her of her own safety. To Rosy, to be safe is to run away from danger. If she can learn that our rules help to protect her she won't need to run."

"Yeah, Rosy was doing so much better when she was learning about clan life before she lost the kitts," Mitchell says as he nods vigorously where he stands nearby.

"You're not irreplaceable you know, Micah. Edwin has more experience as a Chief Warrior than you have," Wade says tightly. "He will be only too happy to take back his old job."

My heart lodges itself in my throat. It seems to miss a beat then starts racing. I catch the slight flare of triumph in Wade's eyes. Was he about to call me on my threat?

"I better start packing then," I tell him levelly.

"Right with you partner," Steven says quietly backing my decision.

"I won't work for Edwin," Sam says tightly.

"Kurt Black has always said he has room for us if we ever want to work for him," Mitchell says with a thoughtful look at his brother.

A muscle starts jumping along Wade's jaw while anger and a hint of something else blazes in his eyes.

"Micah, in my office now," Wade turns sharply on his heel and heads for the house.

I watch until he nearly reaches the house before following after him. He glances back over his shoulder when he reaches the door before heading inside.

My footsteps seem to echo in the house as I walk inside and I glance into the kitchen to see Marissa watching, worry clear on her face while Edwin wears a gloating grin. Malcolm is standing by the sink but I ignore him as I head for Wade's office.

"Shut the door," Wade orders tightly.

I do as ordered before turning to face my father.

"You think you are pulling a smart one, don't you? Scheming to get your own way so you can treat Rosy the way you want to treat her," Wade snaps angrily.

"I just asked Edwin if he was interested in having his old job back, and he's very interested. Not only are you happy to leave your family and sister short of protection, you have to talk the one tom Jazzy is seriously interested in into leaving!"

"I am not going to stay in a position where you make it impossible for me to do my job," I say evenly refusing to become angry.

"You didn't have to go and get Mitchell set on leaving. That will break Jazzy's heart," Wade snaps.

"Mitchell would leave because he does not trust Edwin's intentions towards Rosy," I say calmly.

"Why not? Edwin is serious about her," Wade says tightly.

"The only reason he is interested in Rosy is because I am interested in her. Just like he never gave Donna Stephan a second thought until I showed an interest in her, then he chased after her every chance he got. There has not been a single thing that I have taken an interest in that he hasn't made a play for," I say scathingly.

"When I wanted to train to become Chief Warrior, Edwin suddenly wanted to train as well a week later. Edwin and his interest in Rosy aside, Rosy needs to learn clan rules. I won't be making rules especially for her; she will be taught rules that are all ready in existence. They provide safety and security for all members of a clan -- and that is what Rosy needs above all else, safety and security."

"Rosy has lived as a stray. She has been hounded, abused and tortured as a stray. But as a clan cat she would get the stability and safety she never had as a stray. Once she knows what she can expect on a continuous basis it will give her a sense of security. And when she feels safe and secure she will want to stay here, and hopefully she won't want to run."

I take several deep breaths to calm the anger rising in me.

"So did Edwin like Rosy before he found out I was interested in her? And does Edwin want to be Chief Warrior? Or is it simply because the job is mine," I ask and curl my top lip in scorn.

I wonder what it will take to make Wade see Edwin for what he really is. Edwin, his first born son, has always been the one he expects to achieve major things in werecat society. But then Edwin has always been careful to make sure our father never sees the scheming, conniving, self-serving side of himself.

I see doubt flicker across Wade's face for the first time before he narrows his eyes to look at me thoughtfully.

"Why did you threaten to leave," Wade asks in annoyance.

"Because you are trying to prevent me from doing my job. You tell me to look after Rosy, to ensure no harm comes to her, and promptly handcuff my hands behind my back and throw away the key to the cuffs," I say levelly.

Wade walks to the mantle over the fireplace and studies the photo above it. It is a snap shot of the family taken at Jazzy's eighteenth birthday party.

"I think I will decide in a day or two who will be Chief Warrior," Wade says turning around to face me. "You better go and make sure Sam and Mitchell does not make any hasty decisions."

I stand still a moment as I consider Wade's face saving tactic before shaking my head.

"Either Rosy lives by my rules or she moves in here," I say firmly.

"I can't take the chance she could turn on your sister or your mother. Rosy's behaviour is erratic and unpredictable. Also Doc feels she will be very pissed off when she wakes up," Wade hisses.

"I don't believe Rosy would turn on either of them," I say calmly.

"If she stays at all she will have to stay at the quarters. I won't have her constantly near your mother or sister," Wade snaps. "You will be responsible for her safety while she is there."

"Then allow us to teach her what is dangerous or not acceptable. Werecats from other clans are not going to be so accepting of her mistakes as we have been," I state firmly.

"Do not presume to tell me how to look after a she-kitt who is under the protection of my clan," Wade says tightly. "You are only thinking of your own selfish wants, and you're not considering how this will affect your sister. And what about Marissa? Wasn't losing your brother bad enough for her? Are you going to just turn your back and walk away from your mother?"

"I don't want to leave my sister or my mother, or my father and brothers for that matter. But I want to be allowed to make it safer for Jazzy if she is to be around Rosy. Jazzy seems to think Rosy is her new best friend and I think Donny imagines he is half in love with Rosy," I say in exasperation. "If Rosy is taught clan rules and what is acceptable, she is less likely to be a danger to them!"

"Why didn't you come right out and say that in the first place," Wade demands, "instead of contradicting every order I gave you."

I take a deep breath; I have had about all of Wade's contrariness I can take.

I can simply allow Wade to back down from his earlier orders and save face while not forcing me to leave, or I can stand my ground. But a foreign feeling begins to grow within me - the need to make Wade back down and admit his mistake. I shake it off mentally; to do so would mean a full confrontation with him. Wade would not back down and lose face willingly.

It is wrong for a son to challenge his father. I would only be able to challenge my father-in-law if I had one. Jazzy is my sister and Marissa is my mother. If I challenge my own father when I win I would have no Queen to lead the clan with me.

"You can go back to the quarters for now and we will wait and see how Rosy feels when she is able to speak to me. I don't know why you had to push things to the extent she had to be sedated," Wade says shaking his head.

I have had enough of biting back angry words that it had not been my fault. It is past time Wade sees Edwin for what he is.

"I did not give the order to grab Rosy. I was fine with her leaving to give herself the time and space she needed to come to terms with what she had learnt," I say tightly, my patience spent.

"Edwin decided to grab her. His excuse when I called him on it? He didn't want to possibly have to go to the trouble of chasing her to catch her. It was easier for him to grab her and scare her into a panic than take the chance he might have to do some work at a later stage," I snap angrily.

"I am sick of covering up the trouble or mess caused by Edwin's laziness. Add that to the fact it is hard to keep good warriors on the payroll because of his poor work ethics and abrasive attitude!"

I was no way involved in Edwin's stupid move of preventing Rosy leaving when she clearly had not been able to cope with what she had been learning and I am determined to make sure Wade knows it.

I take a deep breath and leave the room. There is a tense silence as I pass the kitchen, telling me my outburst had been audible out here, and then I am outside in the clean air once again.

* * * * * *

I halt at the edge of a small clearing not far from a stream. There is no way I could miss the stench of urine and faeces even if I had not been in cat form. Also there is a faint trace of muskiness in the air, and I open my mouth as I breathe through my mouth.

Anger, fear, sweat, but most of all anger is evident in the scents I detect.

I hear the almost silent approach of paws behind me and turn my head to see Mitchell come up not far from me. He moves into the edge of the clearing; he is hyper alert as he moves forward. His nose is up and he is sniffing intently, his ears twitching as he listens for any faint noises.

Some cat has scratched up a large area in what could only be meant as an insult. I find Rosy's scent on a small bush near me and draw my lips back in a snarl of displeasure as I realise the extent of her anger.

She tricked Sam and I into believing she had not been coming around from the sedation. While Sam was getting Doc, I foolishly opened the cage and went in to see if I could help her in any way. She came off the bunk in mid shift, hitting me before falling to the floor only to immediately launch herself at me once again.

I was relieved when she took the opportunity to escape after knocking me down. I saw the rage and desperation mingled in her eyes. In that state, she was likely to do just about anything to ensure her escape. Now with the evidence of her rage in front of me, I am uncomfortably aware of how stray-like she is.

A prickling of unease in my mind and I shift suddenly nervous - I am missing something here. Stray-like ... revenge! Jazzy!

Rosy could be back tracking and circling around even now to attack the most vital cat of our clan! - Jazzy!

"Home! Defend Jazzy!"

I whirl and head back as fast as I can go. I pass Sam and Timny as they are slowing to turn around and then I become aware of Mitchell steadily gaining on me as we race for the home buildings.

Werecats are fast in sprints but few of us have true endurance; I am really feeling the affects of the long run as I reach the tree line surrounding the compound. I catch sight of Edwin and Malcolm by the main house where Wade has undoubtedly ordered Edwin to stay after the earlier conflict. I slow slightly as I try to regain my breath a little before arriving at the house. I do not wish to appear breathless and exhausted in front of Edwin.

"What is going on," Wade demands as I come to a stop near him and start my change.

Mitchell is just finishing his change and I leave it to him to fill Wade in on what has happened so I can get back to human form as quick as possible.

"We found ..." Mitchell stops for several deep breaths. "We followed where Rosy ran. She didn't try to hide her trail or anything - left it clear as day as if she wanted us to follow. We came to a clearing where she toileted and scratched up the ground real bad. She is more than angry, she is totally pissed off."

"Malcolm, get Justin and Donny back over here now," Wade orders sharply.

Malcolm heads for the quarters at a run and Wade turns to look after him.

"Grab a change of clothes for everyone while you're there," Wade adds before turning his attention to Edwin. "Go and tell your mother I said for her and Jazzy to stay inside. Go around locking all the windows and making sure the motion sensors on the windows are working."

I am aware of others arriving but I am unable to do more than brace myself as I feel my body turn human.

"Ah, here comes Dwayne," Wade says with satisfaction and he moves out of my range of vision.

I get to my feet wearily and roll my shoulders to remove the last traces of stiffness from the change. I glance around and am pleased to see all of the warriors are back, Dwayne and Chris being the last two to arrive.

"Mitchell," Wade says and I glance his way, "you know where Dwayne keeps all his fancy electrical surveillance equipment?"

"Yes Boss," Mitchell answers.

"Turn the perimeter motion detectors back on and bring the control box to the main house," Wade orders before turning to me.

"What are your orders," I ask.

"We secure the main house and dig in for the rest of the day and for tonight," Wade says firmly. "Turn the games room into a temporary room for the warriors. I want everyone ready if she returns."

I know by the stressed tone of his voice that he is worrying over her behaviour. She shouldn't be so openly leaving a trail or leaving such an insult behind. It was as if she wanted us to follow her.

"We going to catch her if she comes back," Edwin asks eagerly.

"I thought I told you to go inside and make sure your mother and sister stay inside, out of all possible danger," Wade snaps as he turns towards Edwin angrily.

I turn away and look around to see who has changed and who is still in the process of changing.

"Sam, I want spy cameras set up inside the quarters and around all of the sheds," I say as he stands up and brushes his hands together to rid them of grit. "If she comes back I don't want her sneaking up on us. It might be wise to be ready to catch her and put her back in the cage if she is showing any signs of aggression."

I hear Sam give a low-pitched growl but don't call him on it. I know he can be relied on to do whatever Jazzy's safety demands.

Within twenty minutes we have motion sensors set up around all the buildings as well as cameras to catch any sign of Rosy if she should come back. Everyone is on edge. We have never had to defend our home but it had all been planned years before because of Jazzy's illness.

It is just on dusk when one of the perimeter motion sensors sends out its silent alarm. Wade, Dwayne and I are in Wade's office watching the monitor when it happens. Dwayne sits up alertly and with a few quick keystrokes has the area where the alarm was triggered on display.

"Could a rabbit have set it off," Wade asks when there is no sign of movement.

"It is possible with several rabbits," Dwayne mutters quietly but I can tell he has his doubts.

No sooner has Dwayne spoken then a shadow beneath one of the Silky Oak trees moves and a dark form slinks to the next tree.

"Damn," I mutter. I really wish Rosy hadn't come back. All she has achieved is to reinforce Wade in his belief she could be dangerous. I hate to admit it but I am left to start to consider this also.

We follow her movements as she sets off motion sensors while skirting the clearing using the cover of the trees. There are no more alarms and the tension makes the back of my neck bristle. An alarm flashes on the monitor board and Wade hisses as he glances at it.

"Damn! She's inside the quarters," Dwayne says sounding surprised as he rapidly brings the inside of the quarters up on the monitors.

Rosy is in the lounge room of the quarters still in cat form as she crouches by the window with her head lifted high. Her whiskers are twitching and her ears flick back and forth nervously as she turns her head from side to side.

"She's checking to see if anyone else is there!"

I glance at Wade; surely he can't be surprised she is so cautious.

"We're going to have to replace the fly screen in that window," Dwayne murmurs and I concentrate on the window. A faint movement comes from it and I realise it is shredded. Rosy must have leapt up to rip at the screen before making the leap that would get her inside.

I watch as she slinks towards the hallway door and I head for the games room to order Sam and Mitchell to change to cat form. I pass out dart guns to Malcolm and Timny who are excellent shots before heading back to the office.

"Where is she," I ask in a whisper.

"Sam and Mitchell's room packing her stuff," Dwayne answers in a whisper.

"She changes forms fast," Wade comments.

I nod but don't voice an answer as I watch the monitor screen. Rosy is glancing around the bedroom while she stands by one of the beds with her backpack in one hand. She has on a light shirt that reaches mid thigh but I can tell by the way it moves as she turns it is not fastened down the front.

We follow her on the monitor with cameras as she heads back to the kitchen. She pauses momentarily in the hallway but it is apparent she is listening. In the kitchen she grabs several packs of jerky from the pantry before pausing to listen once again.

"She's wary," Wade comments.

"I don't think she likes anyone much here at the moment," Dwayne says with a grin.

"She'll eat then head for where ever it is she hides out," I say voicing my opinion.

"No, she'll probably make a nasty mess of the quarters before she leaves at the very least. She's got the mentality of a stray, nasty and vindictive," Wade says with disappointment.

We watch as Rosy helps herself to a hasty feed of roast pork and plain milk before heading for the lounge room window.

I hear Wade give a faint grunt; he's realised he has misjudged her.

She pauses with one foot on the windowsill as she looks back over her shoulder and glances around the room. She freezes as she stares directly at the camera; her eyes narrow and her lips are drawn back in a snarl.

"She's made the camera," Wade says assuredly.

"Yeah," I agree and I catch Dwayne's nod from the corner of my eye as I watch Rosy change to cat form swiftly. She snatches up her backpack in her jaws and then launches herself from the window.

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