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Chapter 1: Lana Leopard Begins

Upon each generation exists a clowder of cats, a band who would fight side by side and conquer the evils of the world. They would take down injustices for all cat kind, and they did it through karate, catraté to be exact, tons of different forms from all over the world, Cat-poera, American Kittenryu, Kung-Mew; throughout the centuries. But the group disbanded, they de-clowdered, one mysterious night and while the in-door cats have mostly lived in peace, the out-door cats have multiplied, a mysterious force pulling in unsuspecting kittens and indoctrinating them into a life of feral outside survival, and one where they hate humans and will go out of their way to destroy the legacy of the beautiful and timeless human - cat relationship, that goes back to Ancient Egypt and China.

—-

Within the current generation, there is a cat, said to he born in the rain, the one cat who loves water, her name is Lana Leopard.  When Lana was but a tiny kitten, she stumbled through a doorway, into a house and into the life of a loving woman, who’s boyfriend had a cat of his own who lived in this house. They quickly took in Lana, with approval kissed her face, then sectioned her off into her own corner of the house, unknowing of another cat. The humans supplied fresh food, plenty of toys, a box of fresh sand to poop in, a great view of a bird feeder and, best of all, access to not only a water fountain but non-contingent access to fresh faucet water.

Lana Leopard’s colored gray fur, with an undercurrent of burnt orange, shined in the moon light refracting through the bathroom window as she drank faucet water; her chin was an off-white color dripping water, her soulful green eyes were slightly curved upward which only made her the more beautiful had two black lines that pulled away to the back of her head and another black line underneath; her lips: black, as were the stripes on her arms, legs, tail and body. Her belly had hints of the burnt orange, but the most peculiar thing about Lana Leopard, besides her obsession with water, was the white heart that adorned her belly.  She jumped down and sauntered into her hallway, then her ear turned a few milliseconds before her brain processed the sound coming from the underside of the hallway door. She stared at the door, knowing it connected to the rest of the house because of the air current coming from below, as well as the two white front paws that suddenly appeared, attacking wildly and blindly from the other side. For a while she thought she may be the only cat in the house if it wasn’t for the scent of one particular cat indeed; she just didn’t know if the cat used to live here or was still residing within. After carefully backing away from the wild white paws, Lana searched the room, looking for clues about the other cat. She spotted some excess strands of fur, three colors layered on top of each other: grey, white and orange. Curious, Lana put her nose up to the fur to get a stronger whiff of the scent, the power of the smell popped her mouth open, like breathing in too much smoke, exhaling, breathing heavily. She now knows the scent of this mysterious cat intimately and confidently.

A few weeks go by, Lana sits by the door, waiting patiently for it to open for her food, debating if this is the day, the science is right and she’ll be able to make a dash for it and get out past the door, into what smells like a living room on the other side. And it’s that moment, the shadows under the door turn into a reflection against the hardwood floor. The door swings open and… just stays open.

 

“Do you think they’ll get along?” The one human says to the other.

“I just hope Magic teaches Lana her ways, she’s 19, she’s basically an owl. I just hope Magic doesn’t stay a loner after all these years.”

Lana carefully and slowly drops her back parallel to the floor and sulks into the living room. She looks up, down, left, right, moving forward, taking in the scent of the other and… she takes another whiff, burnt sage. As she looks around at the house she sees a connected dining room, same wood floor throughout, bookshelves full of old novels covered the walls, Lana checks under the dark blue sofa, no cat... but it’s near, when--BAM, two white paws, no claws out, swipe at Lana from above, she scurries her nails scraping the wooden floor, the lack of friction has her moving in place, now desperate, she pulls in her claws, beans and feet pads on the ground, now enough friction to lunge herself across the room, still being hit at from above, so scary, she now has too much speed, frantic, she fights to end inertia.  She then uses her momentum to her advantage and slides underneath a chair under the dining room table she spotted before... AND safe. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP— Her ears perk upward to the three thumps, the other cat getting closer to her; a final THUD directly above her, Lana covers her face with her front paws.

“Hello, young kitten, scared?  Think of all of this as your first lesson,” the white pawed cat says. The darkness and the smell of the other cat are getting intense. The entire house smells like this other cat, Lana Leopard thinks. Lana curls her tail and sulks to the floor, on the hunt for the other cat, but also ready to retreat at any moment. 

Lana sits there under the table, ears back as those two white front paws once more swipe at Lana from above; it is here Lana notices that the swiping paws have no claws.

 

The other cat’s voice echos from above, “You’ve used your excess speed to your advantage. That is the way of kitty culture. You will learn, as I did from my sensei before me, how to be a proper cat, as long as you live in this house with these humans, I can help.”

Lana looks over after being swiped at and sees a silhouette on top of the bookshelf, the highest level in the house; the only thing flickering light, her light green eyes, clearly worn with a wise and weary glaze of seeing the deep emotional moments of life.

"How did you get up there so quickly, Magic?" Lana asks.

"The—Wait, how did you know my name?” Magic asks.

“The humans said it,” Lana responds.

“Ah yes, the humans. You may call me Majestic Magic, as is my proper name. Anyway, cat rules, alpha cat always gets the higher ground, so as to have an advantage, I've trained and accomplished this my entire life. To gain the higher ground is the way of the cat and, in fact, the first rule, always have the high ground, always have the advantage," the elder cat responds, "First my first lesson, now the first rule."

In the heat of the moment, Lana Leopard on her guard, the light flickers on with the sound of a switch; it's the human couple that lives with them turning on the light. Both cats are blinded and off guard.

"Oh look, they are play fighting and obviously Magic has won, she has the high ground, so cute," the female human says as she scratches the elder cat Majestic Magic's burnt orange cheek. Magic leans in, "Oooh, good ole girl, you are, Magic."

Magic leans in to be pet, she’s a tabby cat, grey with a white undercurrent, spots of black stripes and two orange cheeks adorn her stern yet beautiful face. On her chest are two triangles, one black and one orange. Above her forehead are five black stripes, the middle ones forming an orange diamond. The male human finished scratching Magic’s cheek then says, “DINNER! Fresh wet food in your bowls! Don’t pee on anything to mark your territory!”

“That’s Step 2 of being a cat,” Magic says as she spots Lana running for the open front door.

The humans exit the front door, and just as the door is closing, Lana Leopard makes a leaps to get outside. Magic jumps down and blocks Lana's path.

"In a hurry?" Magic says, the door clicking to a close behind her.

"I love it here, but I want to go outdoors, catch a bird," Lana responds.

"No!" Magic said with defiance, “You can’t, that’s... that's how my sister died… and you’ve let your guard down.” Magic leaps up onto the table landing carefully between the car keys and sunglasses, she lunges back and swipes at Lana, knocking her backwards, doing an unplanned backflip, landing defeated on her side. She digs her claws into the wood floor, one claw failing and scraping through. “Rule One: Always have the higher ground; Rule Two: Scent your Territory,” Magic continued, “I’m going to give you to the count of five to get up; I know we just met, but I see only good vibes within you... and I can sense you have found the scent trail to the top.”

Lana smirks and springs to life, pulling herself up on three paws, holding her side with the fourth. She looks up to another bookshelf, this one filled with TV on DVD boxsets, above them was a window and another shelf, hidden behind a carded action figure was what seemed like the highest point in the house. So she jumps onto the shelf pulling herself upwards, clawing a season of Planet Earth too hard pulling it out and as it falls to the floor. Magic pulls her weight backwards, wiggles her back, and then leaps onto the shelf below Lana. Now, Lana intentionally pulls out DVD sets, letting them drop on Magic. Magic weaves left and right, carefully climbing avoiding the heavy TV on DVD sets.

Lana flips upwards and lands above the bookshelf, she then carefully crosses the top of a curtain rod. Magic reaches the top of the bookshelf and sees Lana on the other side of the curtain rod. Lana thinks, “momentum.” And walks back onto the rod, looks back at the top shelf with the action figure and makes a run for it, front legs parallel as are the back hustling for the momentum to make it to the top shelf on the other bookshelf. As she runs out of track she catapults herself forward, landing on the corner shelf wedged between it and the ceiling, but now her momentum is too great, and she spins clockwise on her belly arms flailed, knocking the action figure and protected sheath off the shelf and as she spins  toward the wall she tries to slow down, having overshot her trajectory, she closes her eyes to brace for impact, but she goes through a bunch more action figures knocking them all down revealing what seems like a secret room.

She spins to a stop and rubs her eyes as they adjust to the lack of yellow light, mostly dark. The room is dimly lit dark blue and gold, both colors emanating from the same location. Lana follows the light to its source, her green eye lit up, the dark blue illuminating the orange around Lana’s nose as she looks mesmerized. As she moves in closer she realizes the gold light is coming from one object while the cobalt another. “Whoa, they’re weapons,” Lana says to herself. 

“Not just any weapons,” Magic says from behind. “These are the weapons of the Catraté Fighters, and I was once one of them.”

TALE CONTINUED IN THE NOVEL

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