The 13th Kat

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Chapter 19

“We’ve finished!” Nazar cried in celebration as he burst into the lounge. “All the weapons are in working order, and we’ve laid them out so everyone can pick which ones they want.”

There was a general outcry of glee from the rebels who were in the room, and Demile practically ran upstairs to let everyone else know. Niketas, Xarmen, Mihran and Rehan went straight down to the cave to pick their weapons.

Nadalia heard from the kitchen and came rushing through. “You’ve finished already? I thought you’d be another week, at least. We can start moving tonight,” she said. “Dad, have you got a second?”

“Sure,” the old man said, and went through to the back room with his daughter. “This is about the other plan, I assume?”

Nadalia nodded. “I’ve found out where one of the main transmitters is, if you can get into that one, just set my clip running on a loop; there should be some way to get it out through others as well. It’s on the border between Regions Three and Four,” she said quietly.

“If I head out with you tonight, I should be able to get close enough to infiltrate their airwaves by the time you reach Saphrax,” her dad suggested. “I’ll get on the air and let Nazeli know you’re ready to go, whereabouts do you want to meet up with her?”

“Somewhere in Region Three, I think. We’ll probably be heading through Three, straight for the south coast. Anywhere she feels comfortable,” Nadalia told him. “I’d better get in touch with Mari, tell her to get ready to put the plan in action,” she said, and disappeared to call her friend.

Down in the caves, Levon and Drystan were admiring Nazar’s work. “Any chance we can practice aiming with these before we use them for real?” Drystan asked.

Levon answered. “They’re much the same as shocker pistols, really.” Then he realised not many of the rebels had practice with shocker pistols either. “I suppose a bit of target practice would be a good idea though. I’ll set something up outside,” he said, taking a couple of weapons and a crate lid upstairs.

Rehan was looking at the ’Fire Works’crates. “Are we taking any of these things?” They had all heard what happened when Levon and the others had tested one of them.

“Yeah, we’ll take some of those. I’ll get a bag, we can put some in there,” Nazar said, picking up another crate lid and heading up.

Several hours later, when the crate lids were full of holes where they had been used as targets, the rebels left the house they had been staying in for so many months. They had left their belongings and broadcast equipment in the care of Meb and her family, who were also going to be running the weapons through old sewers and tunnels to an agreed on meeting place, so they had nothing to weigh them down as they moved across the regions.

“Right, we’ll have to be careful when we travel. Too large a group will attract attention,” Levon said as they left. “Why don’t we split into our groups now, then we can meet up again when we collect the weapons?”

Xarmen cut in. “How about we go with the original groups we decided on? Five people travelling together looks less suspicious than seven or eight,” she said. Since they had altered their plan to account for Mari and Nyneve dealing with the guards, the group who were going to distract them had decided on other tasks.

Levon agreed. “Right then, Niketas, Xarmen and Tsoline with me. We’ll take the long way and catch public transports.”

“We’ll get ourselves a private transport and go round the purple districts,” said Nazar, before leading Mihran, Demile, Aleyn and Isolde off down a side street.

Drystan spoke next. “We’ll take the water, Nads and I can swim and Loras can take David, Ryan and Lucy in a boat,” he said, indicating the three hemsepans dressed once again in concealing cloaks.

“So that leaves us lot getting private transport and heading down the main roads,” said Rehan. “Where exactly are we meeting Nazeli again?”

“Same place as we’re meeting up with each other,” Drystan replied. “We’ll see you lot in a few days, then.”

“I’ll tag along with you until you reach the coast of Region Four,” Nadalia’s dad said as they all separated. “It’ll be nice to have some company on my way home.”

Mari opened the door. She had managed to sneak an extra bowl of soup out of the kitchens to bring to Alaric, and was hoping to get it to him before it went cold.

“Yuni, is he awake?” she asked the young primate who shared his cell.

Katayun nodded. “He’s awake, but he’s getting worse every day. I don’t know how much longer he’ll last,” she said, looking worried.

“Alaric? I brought you some soup. You want to try a little bit?” Mari knelt on the floor next to him.

Alaric focused with difficulty. “Alright.” Mari raised his head and spooned a tiny bit of chicken-flavour soup into his mouth. “That’s nice,” he said.

“Here, you’ve been looking after him all this time, it only seems right you should be doing this,” Mari said quietly, handing the soup to Katayun. “I think I’ve worked out what’s wrong with him,” she told her.

“What?” Katayun asked.

“One of the workers in the prison kitchens has been tampering with Alaric’s food,” Mari explained as Katayun continued to feed Alaric small mouthfuls of soup. “I looked into it, and the meals Alaric’s been getting are modified to contain almost no nutrients at all. They’re basically starving him slowly.”

Katayun almost dropped the bowl. “That’s horrible! Why would they do that?” she exclaimed.

“Shhh!” Mari looked frantically at the door. “They don’t know I’m down here, if I get caught we’ll all be in trouble. I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve got an idea. Let me look into it, and I’ll get back to you.”

“So where did you get this soup from?” Katayun asked.
“The kitchens upstairs, they think it’s for me,” Mari replied. “I’ll try to bring extra food down when I can. But hopefully you won’t be in here much longer. The rebels are moving,” she whispered.

“Nads,” Alaric said, trying to sit up.

“Stay there, you’re still sick,” Katayun told him, holding his paw. “You can talk lying down.”

Mari leant forward slightly. “Nads is fine, Alaric. She’s on her way here, with some friends. They’re going to help everyone get out of here.”

Alaric nodded weakly. “That’s good. I’m glad they haven’t caught her. Is she with the Kat? I think the two of them would get along very well.”

“I don’t think she’ll mind me telling you now,” Mari said. “She is the Kat. She’s bringing all the rebels down here, along with some secret weapons that I’m really not allowed to talk about. They should be here within a week,” she told them.

“That’s great!” Katayun whispered excitedly. “We’ll be out of here soon.”

Saphrax was in his office reviewing the reports from Regions Two and Three over the last couple of days. A lot of them mentioned unusual activity or groups of people travelling through the areas. There was a report from his coastal enforcers about three cetaceans escorting a boat carrying three ’highly suspicious characters’wearing long dark cloaks. He had a feeling that they were all connected somehow, and was giving himself a headache trying to piece it all together.

“What am I missing here?” he muttered to himself. “What has been going on that I can’t see? What?” he called through the door at the knock.

Nyneve walked in. “I’ve been asked to pass you a message from Melicia,” she said, clearly annoyed at being used as a messenger. “She wants to talk to you about the proposal you made a few months ago, and pass on a recording that she came across.”

“Right now, or later?” Saphrax asked. Much as he was hoping to make up with Melicia, he wanted to figure out the strange reports before doing anything else.

“She said this evening, after she puts your daughter to bed. Did you want me to say anything to her?”

“Would you let her know I’ll be happy to talk to her later? That’s all.” He waved Nyneve out of the room and returned to his reports. “Maybe if I put them in order of when they were written…” he mumbled as the door closed. He shuffled the papers around on his desk until they were in date order.

They all seem to correspond with each other, he thought to himself. This one mentions two felines, a primate and a lizard travelling together on public transport at the same time as this one about the three primates, cat and lizard travelling together down the main roads. It looks like all these groups mentioned are going in the same direction, except the cetaceans and the boat. What do they have to do with anything? I wonder…

“Vasag, would you come to my office? I’d like to ask you about something,” he said into his two-way radio. Just because the public weren’t allowed to have them didn’t mean he couldn’t.
If this is what I think it is, I’ll be needing his help to sort out the rebels once and for all, thought Saphrax.

Shakrem watched. He and the rest of Rehan’s group had arrived at the meeting place the day before, and found Nadalia, Drystan, Loras and the hemsepans waiting. He was keeping watch for any patrolling enforcers, but it seemed that nobody ever visited the area. He was about to go back inside the warehouse to switch places with Ziazan when he saw something move in the shadow of the next building.

“Hello? Is anyone here?” someone whispered. “I’m looking for Drystan, I made cookies for him.”

Shakrem sighed in relief. “We’re in here, Nazeli. I’ll send him out,” he whispered back, and went to tell Drystan his mother had arrived.

“Mum, get in here! Someone might see you!” Drystan called quietly from the door.

Nazeli slipped into the building and closed the door. “Is this everyone?” she said, looking around. “I thought there’d be a few more of us.”

“Nazar and Levon are still making their way here with their groups,” Nadalia said. “It’s good to see you again, Nazeli.”

“I’m glad to see you’ve been keeping out of trouble, Nadalia,” Nazeli said with a smile. “So, would you mind explaining the plan to me? Drystan only gave me the basic outline last time we spoke. Understandable, of course, but if I’m taking part then a few details would be appreciated.”

“Sure,” Nadalia agreed. “Though, I should probably warn you, there’s something very unusual about our plan. It involves an extinct species.”

Nazeli looked perplexed. “What exactly do you mean by ‘extinct species’?”

Nadalia smiled. “I’ll show you. Loras, could you help me explain things to Nazeli?” The two women went over to the corner where Loras sat with the three cloaked hemsepans.
“Don’t panic when you see them. They’re not like the ones we’ve all learned about from history,” Loras reassured the older cetacean as she approached.

Rehan came running in from her watch post. “Drystan, Nazar’s group are here. They’re just heading over now, they look like they ran into some trouble on the way though.”

“Alright, I’ll see what the problem was. Wait, do you think they might have been followed?” he asked.

“I don’t think so. If they were being tracked they wouldn’t have come and led the enforcers here,” Rehan said, as she led Drystan outside to talk to Nazar.

Nazar came running up to Drystan as soon as he got outside. “Demile’s been hurt. We ran into some enforcers, they tried to capture us but we managed to get away. I don’t know where Aleyn is though, I think they might have got him,” he said quickly. “Who’s here? She needs help.”

Mihran and Isolde approached, practically carrying Demile between them. “There’s us and Rehan’s group. I don’t know if anyone knows anything about medicine though,” Drystan replied, opening the door so they could get through easier.

“What happened?” Ovsanna asked, noticing Demile’s condition as the group entered the building.

“Demile’s been hurt and Aleyn’s missing,” Mihran told her. “Is there anywhere we can put her down? Her leg’s broken.”

“Yeah, over here,” Ovsanna responded, indicating a corner where some old cushions had been piled up to serve as a sleeping area. “Nazeli’s arrived, by the way. She’s meeting the hemsepans at the moment.”

“Of course, mum’s here!” Drystan said, looking exasperated with himself. “I’ll go get her, she might be able to help Demile.” He headed over to the corner where Loras and Nadalia were explaining everything to his mother.

Ovsanna looked at Mihran. “Did you say Aleyn is missing? What happened to you all?” she asked him.

“We got pulled over by some enforcers,” Nazar answered her, flopping down onto the cushions next to Demile. “They wanted to know what we were doing driving around at night. Then they recognised Aleyn and Demile, and decided to try and arrest us all. We scattered, and I heard Aleyn shout, but when I got to where I’d heard him from he wasn’t there. The transport had gone, too, so we had to find another one. That’s why it’s taken so long for us to get here.”

“So how did Demile hurt her leg?” Ovsanna asked.

“I tripped over a rock when we were running around in the dark, trying to get away from the enforcers,” Demile answered. “And I don’t think it’s broken, it’s just twisted or something. It’s not serious,” she told Mihran.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” declared Nazeli. “Let me have a look and see if there’s anything I can do.”

Demile twitched as Nazeli examined her leg. “I’m sure I’ve only twisted my ankle or something. It doesn’t feel broken or anything.”

“No, it’s not broken, but I think you’ve pulled your knee somehow,” Nazeli said. “You’ll have to rest it for a couple of days before you go storming Saphrax’s base. I’ll get you something for the pain.”

“Thanks mum,” said Drystan, who had been watching. “Looks like we’ve got a couple of days delay, everyone,” he called to the others in the room.

Ziazan came rushing in a few hours later. “I’ve just spotted Levon and the others. They’re heading this way, should be with us in a couple of minutes.”

Sure enough, Levon and his group came in a few minutes later, soaked to the bone. “It’s raining out there,” said Tsoline sulkily, shaking her fur all over the place and drenching the people nearest her.

“Right, we’re all here. The rats should be arriving at the meeting point with our equipment tomorrow morning. I’ll see if someone can get a message to them, ask them to stay there for a bit. It’s not far to Saphrax’s base from there,” Nazar told his brother. “We’ve got to wait a couple of days, Demile injured herself, but we should be there by the end of the week. It’ll be good to finally get him back for everything.”

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