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Chapter 25

Alex strode out of the bushes and stormed toward Cassidie with Kate, Stef and Cat not far behind. “Cassi!” the purple wolf hissed.

Kate saw Cassidie relax as the disguised wolf said, “Hey Allie. Ready to go?”

“I told you not to send a rescue party. We could have gotten caught.”

“Not while I had this.” Cassidie said, standing on three feet and modeling the necklace. “But now that you’re back I believe it should be returned to the owner.”

Cassidie took the pendant from her neck and put it around Alex’s. Alex lifted her head so that the pendant fell to the base of her neck and looked up at Cassidie as the two smiled at each other.

Kate cooed and said, “Isn’t that adorable?”

Alex chuckled and sighed. “How will I avoid detection now?”

Cassidie tapped her chin and said, “Follow me.” She turned to the old wolf beside her and ordered, “Make yourself comfortable, we’ll be back after the battle.”

The wolf nodded and the others followed Cassidie away. Kate glanced around and noticed that two people were missing. “Where’re Mike and Gabby?” she inquired.

“At the palace waiting for the coronation to begin.” Cassidie replied without missing a beat.

After a moment, the path they were on became familiar. “We’re going to the mudpit?” Alex asked incredulously.

Cassidie nodded and they emerged into the initiation clearing. Cassidie waved a paw and her concealment disappeared. Taking a small step back, Cassidie ran and jumped into the mud puddle. She came out seconds later covered from head to tail in mud.

“Your turn Allie,” the mud-slick wolf told her with a small bow and a gesture toward the puddle. Alex sighed and did as Cassidie had done; they looked exactly the same now apart from the conversed eyes: Alex’s were red with a purple outline while Cassidie’s were purple with a red outline.

“Let’s go,” Alex commanded. “Before the rest of the rebellion begins to worry.”

The group hurriedly took off running toward the city. When they got to the palace, Kate took in the sight of all the people, monster and human, crowded around the large building. Taking a closer look, Kate realized that they were crowded around a raised platform on which Jacob and Vincent were standing.

Vincent looked horrible: his skin was pasty and there were large bags under his eyes, which appeared to be bloodshot. He was thinner and he had to use a cane because he limped every time he paced. Finally, Kate saw Vincent look at the sun and heard him clear his throat. A wave of quiet swept through the crowd and all eyes found Vincent.

Kate saw Cassidie motioning toward her and the others and they all followed her up to the platform. They signaled the other rebellion members to get ready and they nodded, awaiting the signal.

“I am proud to announce my son, Jacob…”

Kate saw Vincent getting the crown ready and ran into the middle of the crowd a little ways away from the platform. “If there is anyone who thinks Jacob might not make a suitable king, speak now or bow to him.”

Kate raised her hands to her mouth and shouted, “I object.”

Vincent’s nostrils flared as others took up the call. “How dare you!” Vincent snarled and Kate giggled slightly. “You will bow to your future king!”

“How about we bow to no king at all.” Kate heard Cassidie shout. Vincent looked wildly around for her, but there was no need. Cassidie jumped up onto the platform and cleared her throat.

“Face your opponent, Vince.” She commanded.

Vincent turned to her and grinned in contempt. “Ah, the purple-furred girl, um, Ashley, right?”

Kate giggled some more as Cassidie cocked her head. “Um, it’s Alex and at the moment, my fur is brown.”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter what color your fur is-!”

“Trust me, Vince,” Cassidie said with the slightest hints of a smirk. “You don’t want to get your paws dirty when you ‘kill’ me, do you?”

Vincent growled, but said, “Very well. Marcus, spray her down.”

The same wolf Cat and Kate had seen talking to Jacob in the forest came forth with a hose and began spraying Cassidie down. All eyes stared as everyone realized that the fur was nowhere near purple except on the paws and a collective gasp was heard as Cassidie became fully clean. Everything was visible, from her white fur and purple paws to the cat’s tail and black chest fur.

Kate grimaced as Cassidie shook herself like a dog and stood with puffed up fur. “I hate getting wet.” The white wolf grumbled for everyone to hear as she smoothed out her fur.

There were several chuckles among the crowd as everyone got used to Cassidie being back. “Hey, Cassi, where’ve you been?” a male sea monster asked from the crowd.

“For the most part, I’ve been ‘dead’.” Cassidie replied, putting quotations around the last word and raising an eyebrow at Vincent slightly. “But I actually got to talk to you cats a bit ago and you kept asking who I was.”

There were several cries of shock as everyone realized what she meant and Kate smirked. “Now,” Cassidie called, turning to a steaming Vincent. “How about we make history repeat itself, huh, Vince?”

The large black wolf looked outraged. “No!” he shrieked. “You’re dead. I killed you.”

Cassidie stared at him with laughter dancing at the edges of her eyes. “If I were dead would this hurt?”

She rushed forward and pulled her fist back, punching Vincent in the jaw and making him stagger. Kate flinched at the crunch that had come from it. A growl began building in Vincent’s throat and he charged Cassidie; the white wolf sidestepped him easily and grabbed his tail. Vincent screamed and glared at his guard wolves.

“Attack!” Kate heard Alex shout and she immediately jumped into action. The entire rebellion surged forward to the oncoming wolf pack and Kate relished in taking down one after another. She had just beaten her third wolf when she heard Mike and Gabriella call for help.

“Kate,” they shouted. “Help us get the non-rebellion monsters out of the crowd.”

Kate nodded, turning into a truck and picking up anyone who didn’t have a tiger on their chest. She followed Mike and Gabriella to a different part of the city where she dropped her load and took off back to the battle. I hope this goes by fast. She thought, changing into an eagle and flying.

Cassidie touched her lip in agitation. Even as a dog-cat her lips were more tender than thawed ground beef.

“Had enough, Keeper?” Vincent called as he stalked forward.

“Are you kidding?” Cassidie let a half smile pierce her lips for a moment before saying, “The fight just started.”

“Well then,” Vincent said lowly. “Why don’t we take this a bit higher?” Shifting onto his hindpaws, the black wolf raised his forelegs and the platform began growing, making them higher. When they stopped, Cassidie turned to Vincent expectantly and nodded to herself when he charged her again.

This time, she rushed to meet him and they collided with each other, biting and snapping at each other’s heads and necks. They circled each other and Cassidie lashed out with a paw, her claws catching Vincent’s flank, making the black wolf roar. Lashing out with his own paw, Vincent just barely caught one of Cassidie’s hindlegs. Cassidie whimpered, but used Vincent’s momentary imbalance to swipe at another of his paws.

The growl that ripped through Vincent’s teeth was met with an equally malicious snarl from Cassidie as the two charged each other again. Cassidie hissed as Vincent’s claws caught her cheek and raked her own claws across his nose, causing him to stagger away slightly, howling in pain. Cassidie took this chance to lung forward and sink her teeth into one of his forelegs. Vincent snarled in pain and batted at her as best he could.

Cassidie let go after a few moments because the taste of blood became too much and she growled at the darker wolf. Vincent lunged at Cassidie and wrapped his teeth around her neck, causing the white wolf to cry out. Using her claws to dig into his stomach, Cassidie kicked him away and backed up a little. Her paw slipped on an edge and Cassidie glanced back to see that she was at the edge of the platform.

Looking up again, Cassidie found Vincent right in front of her with an evil smile on his face. With one shove, Cassidie found herself falling toward the ground. Once again, panic took over and before Cassidie could hit the ground she turned into a bat with… feathers? She soared back up and landed behind Vincent.

He turned with a startled growl and charged her again. Cassidie scratched across his nose again and began scratching, clawing and biting at any part of him that she could. Vincent kept backing away and finally Cassidie surged forward and punched him in the jaw again. Cassidie watched in awed horror as Vincent went soaring over the edge.

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