While walking down the street, I heard an echoing meow.
Ren's eyes bulged when a large group of alley-cats surrounded us. He hissed. They returned the gesture. The blazing sun above made it difficult to count the exact number of bandits.
A sour taste brushed against my tongue. "Just passing, fellows." I tried to keep my voice even. "No need to trouble yourselves with a few travelers."
A scared female--missing her left eye--stepped forward. Unlike the other alley-cats, she carried a toy bag. "No trouble ... just leave your fish and toys, then you can go on your merry way."
I licked at my whiskers. "I'm afra--"
The scent of burnt fish entered my nose. A black suit wrapped around Ren, and he charged into the alley-cats.
My heart thumped. "What are you doing, Ren?" We could have ended this peacefully.
An explosion ripped through the ranks of alley-cats. Three of the bandits charged me from behind. A second wisp of burning fish entered the air.
No choice. I added a third. "I'm sorry it came to this." Reaching out with my mind, I took hold of the feather-and-stick toy in my bag. My body felt hot. My fur began to grow.
The three alley-cats leaped into the air.
My heart pounded. I truly was sorry. In the blink of an eye, my fur turned into steel spikes and impaled the three cats.
More explosions erupted from Ren's black haze. Echoing meows rolled through the streets. A strong gale hit me in the face, pushing me backwards. The bandits turned to run. Dust filled the air.
After blinking the pain and grime from my eyes, I looked at Ren. "Are you alright?"
Ren spat. "I'm fine, but I burned a good bit of fish, and my mouse-chew toy is ruined."
I tried not to laugh. ... I failed. "That's not much, considering you took about half of them out."
Something felt wrong. For some reason, my load was lighter. I glanced back and saw that the food bag was gone. With a quick look at Ren, I noticed that his was missing too.
I gasped. "We've been had."
Next: Part 11