Catalyst by Supergirrl

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Drama, Romance
Published:2008-02-03 20:02:16
Updated:2008-05-04 15:52:35
Packaged:2021-04-21 22:49:01
Summary:With the Erasers, a male has always been the Leader, and females have always been objects. Can one red-haired girl change all that? Eraser!fic, spinoff of Trailblazer

Table of Contents

1. Chapter 1
2. Scent of Female

1. Chapter 1

Hey, everyone, this is my newest fic, Catalyst! It's a spinoff of Maiyri's Trailblazer, which is sort of a prequel to Survivors. This ends up being a prequel to Surrender, but that'll make sense later. Anyway, this is my version of Trailblazer from chapter two on, and will (probably) be completely different. In order to understand this, you'll have to read the first chapter of that, and I strongly recommend you do, not only for that reason, but because it's awesome. I hope you all enjoy this, and drop this and Trailblazer reviews!

Disclaimer: The concept of Erasers belongs to JP, the Leader, Knife, Sparta, and Thera belong to me, and Ursula, Hati, and Skoll are mine.

Warnings: Violence and language

I don't watch the whole fight. I don't have to. The first few seconds of it tell me quite clearly what the rest will be like.

Small fights had broken out in our Room before, but this is completely different. Those had been spats, and were broken up quickly and usually without much loss of blood. Our fights had been almost civilized, compared to this.

It starts without warning, and the first moments are a domino effect, Eraser after Eraser turning on the one next to him, until the whole floor had erupted into chaos. Bones crack and bodies fall; the heady smell of blood fills the air, making me long to morph. I resist the urge, and turn my head away.

Even though I can't see it, my mind still paints a vivid picture of the scene before me from the sounds and smells flooding my senses. I wasn't sure which was louder, the cheers and chants of the crowd, or the howls of pain and the sounds of flesh being rent from bone in the arena. The smell of adrenaline and excitement mingles with the scent of blood, making my stomach churn.

All this suffering, all this death for us, three little Eraser girls, one of whom wasn't even pretty. It was astonishing to me that anyone would give up their lives for us. There was a lot about my kind, I realized, that I didn't know. If I were going to survive this with my sanity intact, I would have to learn everything there was to know.

Finally, the sounds of battle cease, and I can smell the excitement of the crowd calming as the contestants change back into their human forms. My eyes open, and I shudder at the sight that met my eyes.

Only three of the 'contestants' still stood; 'my' Eraser, who, aside from a long scratch down the side of his face, was unharmed, and two hulking, sneering Erasers, scarred and ugly. They look quite similar under the dried blood and grime, and I wonder if they were brothers.

The Leader raises his thick, hairy arm and gestures towards the victors standing proudly in front of us. "We have our winners!"

The crowd roars as we are unchained and led forward, to be given away as prizes. Was this the moment they had all been waiting for? I hear Sparta whimper, and Thera's soft sobs from behind me. I don't let myself cry, or turn to face them. Our survival depended on my ability to plan and scheme, and showing my emotions would only cloud that ability. I needed to be stoic; at least, for now.

The Leader's voice booms over their cheers, "In first place, Hati!" One of the hulking Erasers steps forward, shaking his fists in triumph. "Now, Hati, which of these pretties would you like to take with you?" Hati narrows his eyes, looking over us carefully, and after a moment's consideration, points at Sparta. "That one." Thera screams as her sister is dragged to Hati, but Sparta seems frozen with shock, not making a single sound.

The Leader gives a low, dangerous chuckle. "Excellent choice, Hati. In second place, we have my brother, Knife!" Knife, as I now know him to be called, steps forward, smirking. "Knife, do you have a favorite among these two?" The Leader asks, gesturing towards Thera and me. Knife's sharp green eyes evaluate us, and for a single heart-stopping moment, I am afraid that he might not pick me.

He says slowly, "Well…she's not the prettier of the two, but I think she'll serve me nicely. I want lovely little Red." The Eraser restraining me suddenly lets go of my shoulders and shoves me forward, startling me, and I tumble off the dais, into Knife's waiting arms.

When I hit him, my breath leaves me in a hiss; his entire body is like a brick wall. He isn't as broad as some of the others I have seen today, but he's just as thick.

Muscled, hairy arms wrap around my waist, crushing me to him. He bends his head down so it rests on my shoulder, and whispers in my ear, "I told you I'd be keeping a close eye on you."

I know he can probably smell my fear, but I try not to show it. "And you're just close enough."

He gives a low, dark chuckle. "We're going to get much closer, Red." He spins me around to face Thera, who has tears running down her grimy face. I feel my eyes sting with tears of fear for her, for Sparta, and for myself, but I don't let them fall.

The Leader stares at us for a moment, then looks away, "And to Skoll, the third place winner…your prize."

Skoll-I have never heard a more appropriate name-gestures for Thera's Eraser to hand her over. He shoves her forward roughly, and she stumbles off her dais, falling down onto the floor before Skoll. To my horror, he kicks her, hard, sending her flying backward into the cold metal she previously sat upon. She collapses, her brown hair pooling around her head. Skoll strides over to her, basking in the appreciative cheers and shouts from the other males who have just seen him abuse her. He leans down over her broken form, kicking her again for good measure, then heaving her up into his arms, her limp body hanging over his shoulder.

As he carries her away, she stirs slightly, her eyes fluttering open to look at me, wide with fear. Guilt fills me, and I swear that I will do everything in my power to save her and Sparta.

Knife once again whispers in my ear, "Be grateful I didn't let him have you. She's a lot prettier than you are, but I picked you instead. You're lucky I'm a man of my word."

Hatred for Skoll, for hurting one of my sisters, and at Knife for not caring, fills me, and I hiss, "I'm not sure I can believe that yet."

He laughs. "Come along, little one. Time to go home." Taking a hold of my left wrist, he begins to walk, his long strides covering almost twice as much ground as mine can. I stumble along after him, realizing the depth of what he means. We're going back to his room. This is where my fate will be decided, and my future will be shaped. I take a deep breath, mentally preparing myself for it.

We plow through the dense crowd of Erasers, Knife thanking his congratulators and laughing at the comments directed towards what he will do to me. Overly friendly hands reach out, touching me as I pass. I shudder, pressing closer to Knife. Even he was better than the random gropers trying to cop a feel. At least with him, there is something I can gain.

I feel a half-morphed paw slide between us, trying to touch me between my legs, and Knife whirls, backhanding the Eraser responsible, knocking him down. His gaze falls on me, and without warning, he grabs me, hanging me over his shoulder, out of reach of those touching hands.

His walk speeds up, becoming almost a jog as we reach the narrow hallways branching out of the main room. I grab fistfuls of his shirt so I don't bounce, and I try to get a good look at where we are going. This might be useful, if I ever try to sneak out. He keeps turning, though, left and right, and it amazes me that we haven't gotten lost.

Suddenly, I pass something that makes me want to cry. A small crowd of Erasers has gathered, surrounding Hati and Sparta. Hati is beating her, and they are cheering.

Blood runs down her beautiful face, and she screams as he brings down his foot onto her torso. She rolls away, trying desperately to escape, her sobs reverberating through the hallway. Her eyes fall on me, and a smile lights up her face.

She shouts my name, relief obvious in her eyes. She thinks I am here to rescue her. In her mind, why wouldn't I? I have always been there to rescue her, to protect her and the others.

I call back, "Sparta!" Then I whisper urgently to Knife, "Put me down, I need to help her!"

He halts, then shakes his head, "I can't."

Panic fills me. "Then why don't you save her? You're the Leader's brother, doesn't he have to listen to you?"

He shakes his head again. "We obey the Leader, and the Leader alone. I cannot interfere with this, and neither can you." He starts walking again, and I shriek, pounding my fists on his back. "Let me go! Let me help her! Please, I'll do anything, let me save her!"

Sparta screams, "Please don't leave me! Help me! Somebody help me! Ursula!"

I'm crying as we turn a corner, and they vanish from view. I can still hear the approving roars of Hati's audience and Sparta's cries for help, and I murmur, "Please…" one final time. But my pleas are ignored, as Sparta's were, and I can feel my heart breaking.

After several long minutes, during which Sparta's screams still echoed in my ears, we finally stop outside a grey door with a rusted gray doorknob. Knife sets me down, still keeping a hold on my waist as he reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small copper key. Sticking it into the lock, he opens the door, and pushes me through it.

The first thing that registers is the smell; the deep, animal scent that we all carry. It's stronger here than I've ever smelled it before, and I'm glad it's the only thing I detect.

There are two rooms, the one we're standing in, and one I assume to be on the other side of the door on the far side of the room. There's a mattress set on the cool wooden floor, with tangled blankets hanging off it. A small, beaten-up old bureau is pushed up against the wall, and I can hear the low hum of a mini-fridge plugged into the wall. The room is surprisingly neat, with only a few articles of clothing on the floor. The walls and ceiling are painted a light blue, with the only light coming in from a small, barred window at the very top of the wall.

Knife kicks off his boots, then turns to look at me. He growls, "Go get me a glass of water."

I stare at him for a moment, stunned. Out of all his possible requests I had prepared myself for, that hadn't been one of them.

He takes me by the shoulders, giving me a small push towards the other door. "There's a cup in the bathroom." He had his own bathroom? Did all the Erasers have such luxuries? I doubted it…maybe it was because he was the brother of the Leader?

Not bothering to dwell on this any longer, I stumbled over to the bathroom, opening the door and stepping inside. I flick on the light switch, and take a look around. This, too, is disconcertingly clean, with squeaky white tiles beneath my feet and on the walls. There's a shower stall, a toilet, and a sink, all white, and a cabinet attached to the wall above the sink. I open the cabinet, and inside I find a few bottles of pills that I don't recognize, and a plastic cup. I take the cup out and fill it with water, then realize how thirsty I am. After draining three cups of water, I fill a fourth one for him, then walk back out into the main room.

What I see is enough to make me drop the cup.

((This part is cut, so if you want to read the complete thing, go to my profile and follow the homepage link to my ficjournal to read it. There's not much, though, so you won't miss a lot.))

I'm not going to paint you a picture of everything that happened that night, I'm sure you can figure that out on your own. What I will tell you is that he showed me things I didn't think possible, and opened up a whole new realm of power for me to explore.

Finally, we are both spent. He drapes himself across me, and whispers in my ear, "That, dearest Ursula, is why you will never leave me. No matter how powerful you become, or whoever else you find, they can never give you that."

And he was right.

I never did leave him.

I hope you liked it!


2. Scent of Female

Hey, guys, this is the second chapter of Catalyst! Sorry it took so long, but I hope you'll like it. I think it's pretty good :)

Unfortunately, Maiyri, who inspired this fic, had her account hacked, so it'd be nice if you could all support her in her attempts to get her account back.

Disclaimer: I do not own Maximum Ride.

I lie there, drowsy and content, more comfortable than I have been in a very long time

I lie there, drowsy and content, more comfortable than I have been in a very long time. Knife's long, lean body is heavy atop me, but I don't mind. His body heat is more than enough to keep me pleasantly warm, and the steady rising and falling of his back as he breathes is soothing. I trace my fingers down his back slowly, and feel him shiver in his sleep.

I am entertaining the idea of going back to sleep when suddenly I feel a strange tickling sensation on my left breast, almost like something was moving across it. I open my eyes, and see a tiny black thing, no larger than my thumbnail, scampering across my bare skin. What is this strange little creature? Never before have I seen anything like it, and while it fascinates me, I am just a little bit frightened of it.

I shift slightly, allowing myself to observe its hasty progress along my chest. My movement unsettles Knife, and he very nearly rolls off of me. He catches himself at the last moment, and notices the thing crawling across me. A grin spreads across his face, and he says, "Breakfast, Red." He lowers his head to my breast, and opens his mouth, flicking the black thing into his mouth. Chewing contentedly for a moment, he pauses, pulling his hand out from underneath us both and tilting my head so our lips meet. Bits of the black thing go from his mouth to mine, and I swallow it. The taste is not bad, if a bit bitter. Knife is watching me, waiting eagerly for my reaction. I smile, and our sharing of food becomes a kiss.

This is another Eraser thing I have learned from Knife; if an Eraser comes upon a particularly delectable morsel of food, they share it with their partner as a sign of affection. It is just one part of a seemingly endless procession of Eraser customs that I have been learning, but one of my favorites. Another thing, though I do not know if this is unique to Knife or common, is to sleep tangled together, relying on each other for warmth. It has taken me some time to get used to Knife's weight atop me, but I have come to enjoy it.

After a moment, I pull back, and look into Knife's sleepy green eyes. For the first few minutes after he wakes up, his face is always softer, less guarded. I'd like to think that I'm the only female to have ever seen him like this, but I know that I'm not.

"Ursula?" His voice is little more than a hoarse whisper, but I listen closely. He only ever uses my real name when he's about to say something important, and I sense that this is one of those times.

"Yeah, Knife?"

It takes him a moment to respond as he kisses my ear, giving it a light nip before murmuring, "Do you want to come to court with me today?"

I try not to show my satisfaction at this promising turn of events, and act as if I actually have to consider it.

"Well..." I pause, pretending to think. "I suppose." Knife smiles, and untangles our wiry bodies, then stands. "A shower then, my Red?"

I prop myself up on one arm, and look up at him through my shaggy hair in a way that I know he likes, "Go get it warm for me, I'll be there in a minute."

He gives me another, more suggestive grin, "Until then, pet."

I watch his retreating back as he walks into his bathroom-I am not yet ready to call it 'our' bathroom-and allow myself to fall back onto the bed, a smile on my face. So far, everything is going to plan.

The idea of actually going to court is not the important part of my plan; the meaning behind is what bodes well.

In the two weeks I have been here, I have learned that rarely do female Erasers leave the rooms of their partners unless the male has the intent of taking the relationship beyond partnership. By bringing me with him today, he has shown that I will not be discarded when the next batch of females arrives, and the next stage of my plan can be put into motion.

I have not wasted my time, stuck here in this claustrophobic room for fourteen long days. I have come up with a plan, a simple one, but one that I think will be successful. First of all, I had to work my way into Knife's trust and favor, and charm him into wanting to keep me around. That had been a success, since Knife seemed smitten by me. I don't entirely understand it; I am not as beautiful as the other females, or as meek or agreeable as they are. Still, I do not question it, as his affection for me is essential. After he begins taking me to court with him, I will use my proximity to the Leader, both physically and through Knife, to find out as much about him as possible. I will learn everything about him, his likes and dislikes, his fears, absolutely everything. I will find the chink in his armor, and bring him down.

Knife calls my name, startling me from my thoughts. I shout back, "I'm coming!" and stand up, letting the thin sheet that I had tangled around myself fall to the floor. I will put my plan into action, but for now, I must continue with my charade with Knife. I know that without him, my plan is useless.

And besides, deep down, I know I am starting to enjoy being around him.

Okay, this bit in here was cut. If you want to read it, go over to my ficjournal; you can read the whole fic there.

About ten minutes later, we have yet another tie, but there isn't time to try again. Apparently the Leader doesn't like it when Knife is late, so this contest will have to be decided later. For now, we must get dressed and go out into the real world.

I plop back down onto the bed, and watch Knife open the dresser, and begin to pull out clothes, tossing them over to me. First a pair of his jeans, long and large, along with a baggy blue t-shirt. I start to pull the t-shirt over my head, thinking it is for me to wear, but he shakes his head. "No, Red, I've got something else for you." That makes me a tiny bit nervous; what does he have in mind?

Curious, I sit up, and watch him root around for a moment. He emerges holding a pair of smaller, thin jeans with a darker coloring than his. I breathe a small sigh of relief: the pants aren't too bad. I idly run a hand through my hair and watch him paw through piles of clothing before finally pulling out a strange piece of clothing, something I've never seen before.

It is black, and made of a supple-looking, sleek material. There aren't sleeves and it doesn't look big enough to fully cover my stomach, though I'm sure this is not high on Knife's list of priorities. The front is split and has a pair of black strings hanging down from it; I assume you lace these together through the holes to keep the thing on. Just by looking at it, I can tell that this is something I will not enjoy wearing, but Knife's expression tells me I don't have a choice.

I say, "What the hell is that?"

He smirks. "Your corset."

Standing up, I take it from him and shoot him a dirty look. "You expect me to wear this?"

Knife purrs, "Of course."

I frown. "Well, you'd better not expect me to do anything in it; it looks too tight for me to breathe, let alone speak."

Another smirk. "Let me help you get it on."

Ten minutes later, I'm tottering down the hall, struggling to keep my balance atop the four-inch high shoes Knife pulled out after lacing me into the unbearably tight corset. I have discovered the hard way that in shoes like these, baby steps are the only way you'll move forward without toppling over. I turn around to look at Knife, who is a few steps behind, watching this spectacle with an expression of infuriating calm.

"If I break my ankles wearing these stupid shoes, I'm going to kill you with one."

He laughs. "Well, it'd have been worth it."

I roll my eyes, ignoring him. It's taking all my concentration to just stay standing, so now is not the time for a witty retort.

All of a sudden, his arm, muscular and long, wraps around my waist, lifting me off the ground for a single unpleasant moment. Then I am back on my feet, but this time with a strong arm to hold me up.

I grab hold of his left hand, using his arm for balance, and murmur, "Thanks."

His response is a low grunt; it's obvious that the time for conversation is now over. I don't particularly mind the relative silence, using those few moments to collect my thoughts.

I know we will be near the Leader, but how near? Close enough for me to overhear what he's saying? Will I even be allowed that near? I hadn't seen any females up there before…

Maybe I could talk to Jewel, coax information out of her. She had always liked me, and was fairly open; hopefully that was one thing that hadn't been beaten out of her.

What had once been the faint, distant noise of the courts has been getting increasingly louder, and the halls we walk through became less and less deserted. A few curious looks are shot my way, like they're surprised to see me out of Knife's room. Some, from the half-naked unfamiliar females languishing about the walls, are jealous. I feel the tiniest of smiles reach my lips, and I stand up a little straighter, holding my head high with pride. No matter what any of them say or do now, the fact is, he has chosen me, not them.

Finally, we reach what I recognize as the final corridor outside of the courts. Knife stops, bending low to hiss in my ear, "Now, my brother doesn't know I'm bringing you out today, and trust me, he's not going to like it. He won't attack you or me if you don't do anything that offends him, even though he doesn't like you. Your best bet is to just stay quiet, don't make eye contact, and stay out of the way, and hope for the best."

I nod as a burning feeling wells up inside of me. If I play my cards right, if I am successful in this, I will free myself and my sisters, and get vengeance for Jewel and the countless other females he has broken. A sick mixture of excitement and fear wells up inside of me, but I don't let it show, instead forcing my face to stay neutral. I rise up onto my tiptoes, kissing Knife quickly before he can realize my change in expression.

He moves eagerly into the kiss, cupping the back of my head with his hands, and pulling me close. After a moment, he pulls away, his eyes softer than they were a minute ago.

"Just…don't do anything to make him mad, Ursula. If he does, I won't be able to do anything about it, and I don't want to lose you." His expression is so tender that, for a moment, I want to confide my plan in him, not keep any more secrets between us, but I don't. As much as I want to, I can't risk it.

"C'mon, let's go." I take a hesitant, shaky step forward, and Knife walks with me, almost completely supporting me.

I know that the courts have not changed since I was last there, but somehow, they seem different. I wonder at that for a moment; is it because I'm less scared than I was then, or am I more frightened than ever? Staring out at the crowded hall, packed with Erasers, eating and fighting and-I cringe at the sight of this-fornicating, I suck my breath in. It isn't until Knife murmurs, "Breathe," into my ear that I realize that I have been holding my breath.

Slowly, we make our way towards the far end of the hall, where I can see the Leader, lounging on his throne, surrounded by his cronies. As we near, I forget Knife's warning, and stare at the Leader's eyes.

They're the same bright, piercing green as Knife's, but at the same time, not. Knife's eyes are either devoid of emotion or hardened, but the Leader's are calculating, taking everything in and trying to figure out how to best work things to his advantage. I don't like them. I don't like them at all.

When we are within hearing range, the Leader purrs, "Well, well, well, looks like my brother's bitch has been brought out to play."

Fury courses through me, but I don't let any of it show, keeping my blank mask that had worked so well on Knife earlier.

The Leader watches me for a moment, clearly hoping for a reaction. When it becomes obvious he's not going to get it, he turns his attention to Knife. "So, brother, I can assume that she pleases you?"

He replies in an oddly quiet voice, "Yes, my lord. Very much."

A strange sort of half-smile flickers across the Leader's scarred face. "Perhaps you'd be willing to share her some time?"

I shudder, biting my lip to keep from gasping out of fear. He can't be serious, right? I moved closer to Knife, anxious to hear his answer.

He nods, not making eye contact. "If that is your wish, brother. Say the word, and I'll do it."

I feel rage ignite within me anew, and I want to smack Knife and howl and run away, but I force myself to stay silent, my face utterly blank and emotionless. I don't know how I do it, but somehow, I manage.

The Leader's attention shifts to another Eraser, so Knife and I continue forward. As soon as we are out of earshot, I hiss urgently in his ear, "You can't be serious, you can't let him have me!"

He murmurs back, "Of course not, Ursula, he doesn't even like you. He was just saying that to see if he could get a rise out of you. You ignored him, which was the right thing to do."

I breathe a sigh of relief. "That's just as well, because if you had wanted to hand me over, I would have killed you. Does he even have the right to do that, though? Take away someone's woman?"

Knife nods. "Yes, the Leader has absolute power over us. He can break couples up, take whoever he wants, do whatever he wants." Not giving me a chance to respond, he continues, "Just hide back here and stay quiet, if he doesn't have to see you, he'll forget it soon enough."

For once, I am eager to obey, and allow him to tow me back behind the throne. He whispers, "He'll want me up there with him, just stay back here until I come back."

I nod and try to look as if I intend to actually do what he's asking of me. Knife grins, and kisses me quickly. "Good girl."

I watch him walk up to the Leader, and they begin to talk, though the room is too loud for me to hear what they're saying. I can ask Knife about it later, for now, I need to focus on talking to Jewel.

I wait for a few minutes, watching Knife and the Leader talk, making sure they are deep in conversation before I lean forward, sinking onto my hands and knees and crawling towards the pile of rags Jewel sits in. The floor is filthy and my progress is slow, but after several long, nerve-wracking moments weaving between the legs of males, I am directly behind Jewel.

It occurs to me that I have no idea what to ask her; it's true that I need information on the Leader, but there's no way she can tell me everything she knows about him. But I can't just sit here, I need to find out as much as I can in the limited time I have.

I lean forward and say softly, "Jewel, it's me, Ursula."

For a moment, she doesn't respond, just lying there, silent. The horrible thought that she might be dead flashes through my mind, but then she lets out a raspy cough and murmurs, "Ursula, you have to go now."

Relieved that she isn't dead, I reply, "Jewel, I need your help. Sparta and Thera were taken by Hati and Skoll, I don't know if they're even alive right now…" Unexpectedly, tears well up in my eyes. I haven't cried at all in the last two weeks, I was so focused on my goal of saving my sisters.

Jewel, with a great effort, sits up and turns to face me. Her face is a faded representation of its former beauty, and the sight of it makes me want to cry even more. Slowly shaking her head, she whispers, "Ursula, you need to go now. If the Leader finds you here, we'll both be in trouble. Go back to your Knife, he'll be good to you. If Hati and Skoll really have had your sisters for this long, there's almost no hope for them. There isn't any for me, either…"

"No, all I need is your help, and I can save you, save Sparta and Thera. Please, please, Jewel, I need your help. That's all I-"

She cuts me off by giving me a surprisingly strong shove, pushing me away from her. "Ursula, go away! If he finds you here, he'll kill me and hurt you. I'm not scared to die, but I don't want you to meet my fate. Go now, save yourself!"

Tears threatening to spill, I crawl backwards, away from her. She gives me a small, sad smile, then collapses back onto the pile of filth.

My trip back seems to take twice as long, because my heart is filled with mourning for her, along with my sisters. I'm on the brink of tears the entire way, and every few seconds, I have to pause to wipe them from my eyes. As I finally reach the place Knife left me in, I look up, seeing him still deep in conversation with the Leader. How can two men share blood, yet be so different? Knife is not perfect by any means, but he treats me like an equal, not an object. He feeds me, clothes me, and protects me, though I could take care of myself. But the Leader is cruel to everyone, cruel to his subjects, his women, even his own brother.

But before I have much longer to ponder this, Knife is suddenly at my side again, sitting down next to me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder again.

He says, "Good news, my brother says-" Then he notices my reddened face, and asks in a softer voice, "What's wrong?"

I shake my head. "Nothing, Knife. I'm fine. What did the Leader say?"

He switches back into his happy tangent about whatever it was his brother said, but I ignore it, staring at Jewel's limp body, wishing there was a way I could help.

After a few minutes, he seems to realize that I'm not paying attention at all, and his voice trails off. He brushes a lock of hair off my forehead, and murmurs, "What's wrong, Ursula? And don't lie to me, I know you're upset. Just tell me." With that, he pulls me into his lap so that I face him. Leaning in close, he rests his forehead on mine, and says whispers in a voice that is full of something…concern, perhaps? "Tell me what's wrong, I won't get angry, I promise."

For a moment, I blank out; I can't tell him the truth, obviously, and I didn't have a good lie prepared. Then, completely unbidden, the tears I had been holding back begin to trickle down my cheeks, and I find myself sniffling, on the verge of crying. That moment of hesitation is enough for me to come up with a story to tell, and I run with it. "I'm just…I'm just so jealous of all those other females you've slept with. What if they were prettier than I am? Better than I am, smarter than I am, better for you? It makes me feel so inadequate, I just can't deal with it!" This story is complete, total, and utter crap, but my tears are clearly convincing enough for Knife, because he pulls me in to his chest, and buries his face in my shaggy hair.

His voice barely audible, he murmurs, "I promise you, you're more important to me than they all were combined." Then he says something incoherent, and falls silent.

For a few minutes, we sit there, oblivious to the world around us. I drop my fake-crying act, and enjoy this moment of peace.

Then he pulls away, and gives me a soft smile. "Forget about them, they weren't important, now or ever."

I smile back. It's obvious that he's still concerned about my miniature breakdown, so I decide to distract him with something else. I ask in my most pleading voice, "Knife, I'm hungry. Could you get me something to eat?" Not only should this appeal to his need to take care of me and satisfaction at doing that, I am actually quite hungry.

My prediction is perfect, because he nods willingly, "Of course, my Red. What do you want me to-"

He never gets a chance to finish. From behind me, an anguished cry comes. "You killed my mate! You took her away from me!"

I don't even have a chance to turn around to see who was shouting when Knife stands up, causing me to fall to the ground, and lunges forward as one with the other males who had been standing on the Leader's dais. I finally manage to turn, and for a split second, I see a lone, scrawny-looking male, who is throwing himself at the Leader, half-morphed.

Then the courts erupt with the sounds of flesh being rent from bone, of teeth tearing and ripping, of blood being spilt. Howls and snarls mix with a single voice, shrieking in pain. I am reminded of the fight over myself and my sisters, the one that had almost certainly lead their deaths. Closing my eyes, I turn away.

Then, as quickly as it begun, it is all over.

I look back at the scene, and wince. The poor lone Eraser who threw himself at the Leader with no fear is now in a thousand pieces, strewn across the floor, his blood forming a puddle at the Leader's feet. Males who had fought to defend the Leader are scurrying away, clutching pieces of their kill. Among them is my Knife, splattered in blood and shooting an almost beatific grin at me. He leaps lightly onto the dais, and in a heartbeat as at my side again.

Into my lap he drops several dismembered body parts, looking extremely pleased with himself. Plopping down beside me, he points out the different parts, "See, these were his hands, the sweetmeats. His liver, which is my favorite, and the cheeks, which are delicious. You said you were hungry, and what better than fresh meat!"

I stared at him for a moment, unsure how to react. On one hand, body parts that had, only a moment earlier, been inside a living, breathing Eraser. On the other, the smell of fresh blood, the warmth of it, had trigged some eon-old instinct within me to feed. And I was so hungry

Knife didn't wait for my response, instead picking up the liver and tearing it in half, handing me a chunk of it. I hesitantly take a bite as he chews happily on his section of it, and the warm, heady taste of blood fills my mouth. Now I can see why Knife was so pleased with himself for getting this meat; it tastes nothing like the dried and bloodless meat we normally get.

Knife says, through a mouthful of the decapitated Eraser's cheeks, "Red, take a bite of this, it's amazing." He pulls me in for a kiss, the same as the one we exchanged earlier, back in his room. He's right about the cheeks, though. They are succulent and utterly wonderful, so much I almost don't notice something.

The Leader is staring at us, a strange expression on his face. It's a mixture of annoyance, anger, and pure hatred, which I'm certain is directed at me. But for the moment, it is not important, so I ignore it and him, pulling away from Knife and smiling at him. "They were delicious, Knife."

He smiles back, but the Leader calls out, "Knife, come here!" Knife stands up immediately, and starts to walk towards him, but then hesitates, and glances down at me. "You don't mind me leaving you alone?"

I shake my head, and reply, "Of course not. Go on, Knife. He needs you." With that, Knife is already loping towards the Leader.

I wait for a moment, looking around to make sure no one is watching me. Then I grab what is left of the Eraser, and crawl back over towards Jewel. I move more quickly than I was able the last two times; everyone is so wrapped up in eating their share of the male, they do not notice me.

When I reach her, Jewel notices me immediately. It seems that the fight has made everyone alert. She props herself up on one elbow, and whispers, "Ursula, I told you not to come back here!"

Ignoring her, I drop the remnants of the Eraser into her lap, and hiss, "All I need is information, Jewel. Just tell me what you know about him, and I'll leave you alone."

She stares for a moment at the meat in her lap; no doubt this is the most she has had to eat in a long time.

Then she looks back at me, and with a smile on her face, purrs in a voice that almost sounds like that of the old Jewel, "I know how you can destroy the Leader."

I hoped you liked it, and review!