Thunder boomed, rolling out like waves from the clouds, the noise a perfect complement to the spectacular lightning that sizzled across the turbulent night sky. Munkustrap huddled plastered to the side of a large box, his fur wet and bedraggled. He hated the rain, and thunder was one of the few things that made him uneasy. His long, muscular body shivered convulsively, and his handsome face was a mask of disgust. In the back of the box, the Rum Tum Tugger and Alonzo lay quietly, neither comfortable in the wet and both unnerved by the wild storm without. Munku, however, was not watching his brothers. His eyes were trained on a lone four-legged figure perched proudly on the roof of a broken down old car at the highest point in the Jellicle Junkyard. The Cat stood facing the storm, his ears and tail streaming back, gazing into the very eye of the storm itself. His stance almost made Munkustrap shiver...he looked so wild and frightening. He didn't stand braced against the storm in defiance, though that would have been impressive enough; instead, he seemed at one with the storm, leaning to and fro with the wind. He stood as though in utter ecstasy, his head thrown back, his back arched, and his small, lithe body proud. The storm, to him, was an enjoyment.
From here, Munku could make out no true markings on the tom. But then, he didn't have to. He knew who that was.
Trotting out into the center of the yard, his ears flattened and his tail lowered, he struggled through the driving wind and pelting rain toward the Cat who seemed to be the storm's embodiment.
"Mistoffelees!" Munku cried above the noise of the storm, when he had reached the young tom. He could barely stand, the wind shoving him back. But Mistoffelees did not appear fazed.
"No need to shout," he said quietly, turning to face Munkustrap. Soft as his silky voice had been, Munku heard every word. He stared hard at the small black and white Jellicle. Misto's eyes burned with a fierce, wild light, and he was grinning. The intensity of his gaze seemed to cut through Munku, and for a second he felt as though the young magician could see into his very soul. He shivered; looked again. Suddenly he saw, behind the tom's fiery stare, a vacuity that made him nervous. Storms did that to Misto. His magic was like fire in his blood, and he was as wild as any feral Cat. But he could control it, could control the magic. The storms, though, were like power released. Misto was truly wild now, standing in the eye of the storm, his spirit and his magic were inextricably bound to the majestic force of the tempest. He hadn't lost control completely, yet, but he was close. Munku had to get him in out of the storm before he lost control completely.
"Come on!" He shouted over the howl of the wind. "Get inside before you're killed!" He reached out and touched Misto gently. In that second, the spell was broken and the young tom once again looked his age, and no longer resembled the storm-Cat he had been but minutes before. He blinked in confusion. His eyes were glassy, and he staggered sideways under the whipping rain.
"Munku!" He shouted. "I'm going to transport us to Jelly's!"
"Are you sure you're all right?" Munku shrieked back.
"I'M FINE! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!" The storm had heightened.
"WELL, THEN, LET'S--" Munku didn't have to finish, for he was suddenly in Jellylorum's living room, standing next to a gasping Mistoffelees.
"Munku! Misto! What in the world?" Jelly was staring at the two toms as if they had both grown an extra head. Misto was doubled over, almost like someone had kicked him in the stomach, wheezing and gulping in air as though he'd been drowning. Munku helped him stand upright, supporting him as he sagged a little in exhaustion.
"Sorry...Jelly...caught in...the storm...and...well, you know what happens..." Misto looked up at Jelly, smiling.
"You both look like drowned rats," Jelly said with a giggle.
"Drowned, yes," Munku replied, scowling. "Rats, I hope not." Misto smiled weakly.
"Misto, will you be...under control...now?" Jelly asked in concern.
"Yeah...I should...be fine," he panted.
"Everlasting Cat, I hate rain," muttered Munku under his breath. "It's cold, it gets everywhere, and worst of all, it's wet."
Misto chuckled. "I hadn't noticed that," he said as he shook his head vigorously, sending a shower of tiny droplets onto Jelly and the surrounding furniture.
"Misto! Do you mind? My humans will notice if all their stuff is wet and muddy!" snapped Jelly.
"Sorry." Misto murmured sheepishly. He had started to feel cold, and just wanted to get rid of some of the excess water. He began to shiver. Next to him, Munku was shivering too, and feeling downright miserable. Jelly looked both of them over and sighed.
"Well, you might as well stay here," she said. "I can't very well stick you back outside. But you'll have to stay in the basement. I'll get you towels. Don't move -- you've already made a puddle on the floor." She shook her head, but she was grinning.
Munkustrap and Mistoffelees glanced at each other and shrugged. Jelly certainly wasn't the world's worst hostess. Her house was warm and dry, and she had food, which was better than Misto's damp, chilly pipe, or Munku's now-soggy box. Jelly was quick to bring the towels, tossing them over the two toms' heads flirtatiously. Misto winked at Munku.
"Come on," Jelly commanded, leading the sopping Cats to the basement stairs. "Down there." She ordered. "You can sleep on the towels under the stove."
"Thanks, Jelly," Misto said with a lopsided grin. He was becoming more exhausted by the minute. He felt like he'd just run around London thirty times. It was just an aftereffect of the storm and his magic, but one that always hit him hard. Noticing Misto's weary look, Munku scooted down the stairs, motioning Misto to follow. Gratefully, the little Jellicle stumbled down the stairs and collapsed under the stove. He was asleep in seconds, and it didn't take Munkustrap long to join him.
Outside, a pair of Cats was watching as the two toms conversed and disappeared. Macavity turned to the young queen at his side.
"Do you understand what you're to do?"
"I do." The queen replied icily. She wasn't a big cat, a little bigger than Mistoffelees, perhaps. Her markings were striking, almost identical to Mistoffelees'. Her body was black, the tips of her ears white, along with her face, chest, and tail tip. Her paws differed from Misto’s in that her right forepaw was white, with a black marking that resembled a fingerless glove; her left forepaw was simply black, with some white streaks. Her right hind leg was white to mid-thigh, with streaks of black and a black spot, and her left hind leg was white to her knee. She could have been Bombalurina's sister, her body lean and attractive, her manner feminine and aggressive.
"How hard can this be?" she continued boldly, her voice musical.
"Hard enough," rasped Macavity. "I have failed before. I expect better of you than I did of my previous agents. Do not fail. You know there is a price."
"I will not," the queen replied confidently, striding into the Junkyard.
"Do not, my Sialynna," Macavity whispered. “Remember that I am not called Macavity the Hidden Paw for my kindness.”
"Munku! Some Cat's coming. I don't know this one." Mistoffelees was sitting bolt upright, gazing out Jelly's basement window.
"Hmm? What's the matter?" Munku groaned drowsily.
"Get up! Someone's coming."
"What? Who?" He sat up, alert, his ears pricked forward in curiosity.
"I don't know. I've never felt this aura before. No magic, but strong nonetheless. A Jellicle."
"Tom or queen?"
"One of Macavity's?"
"I...I can't tell."
"What? What do you mean, you can't tell?"
"I just can't. Her aura is strong, but...I can't tell." Misto looked uneasy.
"Don't worry so much." Munku said in an attempt to comfort the disconcerted Cat. "You're just tired from the storm. You knew she was a Jellicle, and a queen."
"Sure, but that's a key sign. I only know what she -- and possibly Macavity -- want me to know."
"Mmm. Well, we'll have to be careful, won't we?" Munkustrap stood and stretched. Misto's ears pricked, twitching restively. His white tail tip flicked side to side.
"She's coming. Here, I mean. We should go out and meet her." Misto gazed at the window.
"Why?" Munku looked puzzled, his nose crinkling in confusion.
"Better to let her know we sensed her. Maybe she'll back off. Besides, if there's a confrontation, I'd rather it be outside, where I can use my powers without limits."
"Good plan. Is the window open?"
"Munku, Munku, Munku -- since when have closed windows been a concern?" Laughing, Misto began to fade. "Coming?"
"Only if you --" Munku broke off as his paws began to disappear.
"I wouldn't forget you." With that, the two toms were standing in the dripping garden outside Jelly's home.
"Who goes there?" growled Munkustrap into the darkness. "Identify yourself, stranger."
Through the foggy darkness, Mistoffelees could make out a dark shape. A soft purr answered. "My, my, what have we here?" The queen appeared, sauntering toward the toms.
"Hello, boys," she cooed, her voice honey-sweet. Misto's jaw almost hit the ground.
"Who are you?" he asked, watching the sultry queen's movements with interest.
"My name is Sialynna," she told him, her eyes burning into his. "And who might you be?"
"Mistoffelees," he said confidently, returning her stare. Her tail brushed his cheek as she circled him. He raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing here? You were looking for us," he accused, not very firmly. His tail swirling about her legs.
"Yes." She nodded, sitting down. "I'm a Jellicle. I've known that for most of my life, but I never had the courage to approach you. My -- my mother was a house cat, and when the family moved, my father, a Jellicle like you, refused to go. I stayed with him, hoping we would return to the tribe, but I never did. A few years ago he disappeared. I've been making my own way since then."
The story was mostly true. She was a Jellicle, and she had never had the courage to tell anyone so. Macavity had shown her how to get what she wanted. She was all fire and spirit, he said, and told her that no tom could resist her charms if she used them the right way. She adored the Mystery Cat, but this assignment... She watched the Cat called Mistoffelees. When she looked into his eyes, something burst within her. She felt freer... but Macavity had warned her that something could happen. He said Mistoffelees was a magician, a seducer, and clever at what he did. Fight fire with fire, he had told her -- seduce the seducer. How hard could that be? He couldn't be older than her younger sister, a year younger than herself. No problem. He wouldn't even know what hit him!
"Well," said Munku, "I'm sure Deuteronomy will accept you back into the tribe. But you'll have to speak with him first." She could have been Misto's twin sister! Where had she come from? Misto had come from a single kitten litter. He was lone, as were all magical Jellicles. Munku didn't like this queen. He himself had been drawn to her, and he felt immune to the advances of queens now that he was controlling the tribe. And he certainly didn't like the look in Misto's eyes when he looked at her. She was much like Bomb, which wasn't bad in and of itself, but she had an undertone of Tugger, and something about her seemed -- not right.
"I'll take her to see Deut," Misto offered.
"Well..." Munku hesitated. "Misto, do mind if we talk? In private?" he said, his eyes on Lynna. She smiled.
"I don't think you're being rude, if that's why you're looking at me," she said kindly. "Go ahead and talk."
Munku pulled Misto away behind a pile of garbage. "What's the matter with you, Munku?" Misto asked in annoyance.
"Misto, snap out of it. She's messing with your head. She's just like Bomb. Just like Tugger. Worse. You need to chill -- you're being way too suggestive toward her."
Misto stared at him blankly. "What? I'm not..."
"Yes you are! You were practically nuzzling her! She's a strange cat. Just back off." Munku rubbed his temples as though he had a headache.
"I was?" Misto looked incredulous. "But...I never..."
"I know. She's trouble, trust me. It's her, not you. Be careful around her."
"Right." Misto shook his head to clear it, looking dazed. "Are you okay?"
Munku was shaking his head to clear it. "Mmm? Oh. Yeah."
Misto looked at him strangely, but turned and trotted back out to where she stood.
"Come on." He said with a grin. "Deut's house is this way."
"Ok." Lynna followed, trotting very close. Misto moved to the side a little, looking at her closely. "Sorry," she said, moving away too.
"That's all right." He hurried onward toward Deuteronomy's home, ignoring this newcomer as best he could.
"Old Deuteronomy?" Mistoffelees called up to the gray Cat sitting on the Vicarage wall.
"Yes, Mistoffelees? Who is that with you?" Deuteronomy asked in confusion. "A littermate?"
"No," Misto called. "We'll be right up." He and Lynna scampered up, batting at each other's ears playfully.
"Who is this?" Deuteronomy asked, inspecting Sialynna. He gave Misto a strange look. "I was under the opinion you had no littermates, Mistoffelees."
"My name is Sialynna, sir, and I'm not Misto's littermate. My father was a Jellicle, and my mother a housecat," she said.
"Sialynna." Deut nodded. Who could be the father of this young queen? Misto's parents were strays, both of them. Unknown. This kit, however, claimed to be of Jellicle heritage by birth. She didn't, he knew, come to ask to attempt entry by trial, as Misto had. "And why are you here?"
"Sir, she claims she is a Jellicle, and my magic tells me she speaks the truth. She wishes to enter the tribe." Of course. What could Deuteronomy say? The little black magician's ability to test heritages was infallible.
Lyn nearly cursed out loud. He could use his magic in that way? Did that also mean he knew her plan? Could he detect her acting? But no, Macavity had told her that the Black Cat's spell would prevent that. Black Cat was a magician too, much weaker than Mistoffelees, but capable. He would never know.
"Mistoffelees, you know that requires a meeting and a formal introduction. As of yet, you have been unwilling to call a meeting. Will you?"
Misto fidgeted nervously. "Yes, sir. If I must."
"No one else is willing. No one other than you seems to even know of this Cat. Therefore, you must be the one."
"Yes, Deuteronomy. Will you attend? Tomorrow night, at Moonrise."
"Of course. Now if you will excuse me, Sialynna, Mistoffelees." The pair nodded demurely. They seemed totally identical in their motions, and Deuteronomy nearly laughed aloud. He could see exactly what was happening here. The young queen was one of Macavity's, sent to fetch the young magician. She was perfect for the job, clever enough to catch the black and white Jellicle if he let his guard down, and pretty enough to convince him to do so. There was but one catch -- the two were obviously soultwins. Among Cats, especially Jellicles, there were pairs of Cats known as soultwins. Normal mates usually searched each other out, met and fell in love. Soultwins, however, were different. They were linked from birth, each a completion of the other. No Cat could come between that bond. Eventually, all soultwins became mates. In many instances, the two cats looked identical or extremely similar, enough so that they were mistaken as true twins. Coricopat and Tantomile, the telepathic "twins" of the Junkyard, were actually unrelated, as were Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer. The pairs were soultwins. Deuteronomy could not interfere with this bonding of soultwins, even to prevent Mistoffelees from getting himself hurt or even killed. The pair would have to work it out among themselves. He sighed as he watched them scurry off. He could only hope they would recognize the bond before anything serious happened.
Tugger nodded to Skimble. "I don't have a clue," he told the Railway Cat. "He refused to say anything other than, 'It's a surprise.' I wonder..."
"Jellicles!" Misto had appeared on the tire, smiling. Old Deuteronomy sat next to him, also smiling. Munkustrap, however, was scowling darkly, Tugger noted.
"I have someone I would like you all to meet," Misto continued, nodding to a slim shadow hovering in the background. There was an audible gasp as Sialynna appeared, looking all the beautiful, aloof queen. The question, Are they littermates? was on every tongue. She and Misto winked at each other.
"No," Misto said in response to the unspoken question. "We're not littermates. As you all know, my parents were both strays, and I was their single kit."
Tugger's eyes nearly popped. Misto...with this queen? She was absolutely gorgeous. Where in the Heaviside had he found her? Wonder how Vicki's taking this, he thought, glancing over to where the white kitten was seated. Her face was haughty, and she wrinkled her nose. But under her mask, Tugger could see she was fuming. Despite the face that she didn't particularly like Misto, she was proud to be "going" with the romantic, famous magician. She just liked stealing his spotlight, Tugger thought with a grin. It would do her some good to be humbled for once.
"This is Sialynna. I met her yesterday. Cats, she wishes to rejoin the Jellicle tribe. She is a born Jellicle, but was removed to her mother's home because her mother was a housecat. Will you accept her?" He looked out over the gathering.
The Cats hesitated, looking unsure. A few of the most prominent figures conversed among themselves. After consulting each other, Bombalurina and Tugger cried out, "Yes!" Jerrie, Teazer, Skimble, Jelly, Jenny, Demeter, Cassie, Pouncival, Alonzo and the rest echoed with a resounding, "Yes!"
Funny, the Tugger thought. The only two who had not cried out a yes were Vicki and Munkustrap. Both sat stock still with stormy expressions. Strange.
Everything was working as it should. Mistoffelees was an easy target...sort of. He was on the verge of discovering her, but a simple twist of her tail or wriggle of her shapely body would throw him off the scent for quite some time. It was strange, but she was feeling closer and closer to him and the others as the days passed. She had even begun to wonder if the assignment was worth it. Misto, Munku, and the others would protect her from Macavity, wouldn't they? And yet, she couldn't seem to bring herself to resist. She still loved the Hidden Paw...but was it truly love? The Ball was a week away, and Misto was sure to ask her. Could she resist him enough to return to Macavity, if he tried to mate with her? Maybe she had gone too far. But no. She still had a strong bond with Macavity. The magician would fall...
Sialynna watched Mistoffelees as he slept. He lay sprawled in the sun on the roof of the car, purring loudly in his sleep. He was smiling, and his ears and tail flipped lazily. Unable to control herself, Lynna reached out and pinned the flipping tail with her paw. She stroked his ears until the stilled, and his eyes opened as he stretched and yawned widely. Still lying on his back, he squinted up at her drowsily.
"Hi," she murmured softly. She would ask him, she had decided, just so Victoria didn't ask first. She couldn't believe she was actually looking forward to the Ball!
"Somethin' wron'?" he asked, his voice thick from sleep. He sat up and started cleaning his mussed fur with a paw.
"Not...wrong." She said, playing innocent. "Just..."
"Well? What is it?" His ears flickered forward curiously.
"Misto, will you go to the Ball with me?" Sia blurted quickly.
He looked shocked. "Of course!" He replied.
"Really?" She was still pretending.
"Why wouldn't I?" He was blushing furiously, and Lynna told him so. At that, he grew even redder.
"I dunno. I thought maybe Vicki..."
Misto laughed bitterly. "She's too stuck-up. Besides, she's furious at me. So's Munku...I don't really understand why." He looked distraught.
"Don't worry so much! Like you said, Vicki's stuck-up! And Munku's such a party pooper! So high-and-mighty, the grand Jellicle leader!" She laughed, pouncing on Misto's shoulders before he could reply. Giggling, she knocked him down.
"You evil queen!" He shouted with a chuckle as they rolled over and over, biting playfully and laughing. Little did he know...
"If we don't stop," Lynna said with a gasp when she was on top of Misto, "we'll roll off the car..." He just laughed. And there was the edge!
He looked surprised as they tumbled to the ground, Sia landing on top of him with a thump.
"Oof! Get off!" He muttered, as he sat up and tenderly rubbed his back.
"You're fine, kitten," Sia said with a giggle, pulling his tail. She scampered away as he cried after her, "I'll get you for that!" Laughing like a kitten, he scrambled off after her.
"Man, what's up with those two?" Rum Tum Tugger asked Munkustrap. The two toms had watched, Tugger in amusement, Munku in annoyance, the two Jellicles' antics.
"I don't know. I don't trust her." Munku growled.
"Lighten up. She's not that bad, is she?" Tugger said with a grin.
"I'm not sure." Munku hissed, stalking away.
Tugger raised an eyebrow. "What's up with him?" he mused, unsure what to think. Shrugging, he trotted off to find Bomb. He was planning on asking her to the Ball...
"Whattsamatta, Jerrie?" The calico queen gazed over at her tiger-striped mate.
"You evah think that maybe them two are soultwins, like us?"
"Which two?" Rumpleteazer rolled over to look Mungojerrie in the eyes.
"Misto an' Lynna."
"May'aps." The cockney queen said sleepily, rolling over and curling up. "Naw, Teazah, I'm ser'yous now."
"Well, they could be, ya know. They do kinda seem like it," she arched her back and looked at him upside-down.
"I wondah if she'll ask 'im to the Ball. Or if 'e'll ask 'er." Mungo rolled over and drifted back to sleep.
"May'aps, Jerrie, may'aps..." Teazer snuggled closer to her mate, her paw around his neck.
The night of the Ball had come at last!! Mistoffelees was grooming himself to perfection. Oh, he couldn't wait to see Sialynna. She had disappeared two days ago with the other queens, as was customary. The second day before the Ball, the toms and queens separated, so the first dance would be that much more energetic and special. He began stretching and warming up. He couldn't wait to show everyone what he could do...again!
"Teazah, look!" As Mungo escorted Teazer to the Ball, he spotted Misto and Lynna, hand in hand.
"Yeah. I guess you were raiht aftah all, Jerrie."
"Lynna, when we get to the Ball, we'll be separated. Don't worry too much, because when we dance the Dance of the Toms and Queens, and the Dance to the Everlasting Cat, we'll be together. OK?"
"Sure..." Lynna smiled brightly, and it wasn't an act. Not only did she get to attend a Ball with a Jellicle she ... almost ... loved, she was about to finish the assignment Macavity had given her. He would be so pleased! She sighed.
"Jellicle Cats! Come out tonight -- Jellicle Cats, come one! Come all! The Jellicle Moon is shining bright! Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball!"
Misto was an amazing singer, Lynna thought to herself, watching his limber body bend and twist as he sang in that soft, velvety voice of his.
When he made the music in the Yard rise, he turned and beckoned to Sia, his eyes aglow. Running to him, she leapt into his arms in delight as he swung her around. Together, they danced for several minutes in the spotlight, spinning and leaping wildly. By the end of the dance, Sia was so winded that Misto had to carry her over to the pipe, where he set her down. He isn't even breathing hard! she thought to herself, amazed at his agility and Terpsichore.
The Ball continued, and Sia watched in interest during Munkustrap's little solo during the Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles.
"Of the Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles, together with some account of the participation of the Pugs and the Poms...and the inter-ven-tion of the GREAT RUMPUSCAT!"
As Munku went on, Lyn began to feel sorry for the tabby. The other cats were not cooperating very well, and Munku was obviously stressed as it was. The poor thing was clearly killing himself to make this Ball special for Deuteronomy, and no one seemed to notice. When he moved to sit down, Lyn thought of going to him, but held back. He didn't like her much, and she didn't want to add to his problems. She wouldn't have been able to, anyway, for as she stood --
"Macavity!" Sia's head jerked up as the ginger tom flew through the yard, her signal. She would take Misto tonight.
"Macavity's a Mystery Cat, he's called the Hidden Paw," sang Bombalurina.
"For he's a master criminal, who can defy the law." Sia returned, cutting Demeter off. The yellow tabby looked surprised, but backed away, smiling at Sia, letting her have a shot at dancing.
"He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the flying Squad's despair -- " Bomb sang.
"For when they reach the scene of crime -- Macavity's not there!" Lynna sang in reply.
The two queens continued the song, the toms drooling over their silky voices and svelte bodies. Both queens managed to look sultry and confident at the same time. They could have been sisters, their movements suggestive and feminine.
As the song ended, Sia looked to find Misto. She met his eyes, and saw that her trap had worked. He would be easy.
Then Macavity reappeared, distracting Munkustrap while his rats spirited away Old Deuteronomy. Munkustrap was not so easy to get rid of, however, and he and Macavity fought fiercely for several minutes. Munku was eventually thrown to the ground, bleeding badly and semi-conscious. When Lynna moved to help him, he hissed fiercely at her, his eyes suspicious. For a moment she panicked. She'd been discovered! But the Demeter intervened, hushing Munku and leading him tenderly away, his eyes closed in pain and exhaustion.
"Don't worry," Alonzo said reassuringly. "It's not you. He's just tired."
That, of course, made Lyn feel better.
Her eyes focused on Munkustrap, Sia hadn't seen Misto disappear, but when she searched for the magical Jellicle after Macavity fled, he was gone.
"We have to find Old Deuteronomy," the Cats chorused softly.
Tugger stood and glanced around. "You know, you ought to ask Magical Mister Mistoffelees! The Original Conjuring Cat! And there can be no doubt about that."
There were murmurs of disbelief. What could the little tom do? He could barely control his powers.
"Wait!" cried Tugger. "Please, listen to me, and don't scoff. All his inventions are off his own bat! There's no such Cat in the Metropolis -- he holds all the patent monopolies for performing surprising illusions and creating eccentric confusions! The greatest magicians have something to learn from Mister Mistoffelees' Conjuring Turn!" Tugger's eyes scanned the group. "And we all say, Oh! Well, I never! Was there ever a Cat so clever as Magical Mister Mistoffelees?" He leapt down from where he stood on the garbage heap, still singing. Sitting on the tire, Demeter, Bombalurina, and Munkustrap were grinning as they hummed "Aah-mm, and Ooh-oo," as a little background harmony for Tugger.
"He is quiet he is small, he is black, from his ears to the tip of his tail! He can creep through the tiniest crack! He can walk on the narrowest rail! He can pick and card from the pack, he is equally cunning with dice...He is always deceiving you into believing that he's only hunting for mice!" There was hushed laughter at that. Lynna raised an eyebrow, her head cocked. Was Tugger suggesting Misto was hunting her? If so, he appeared to have the hunter and the hunted confused.
"He can play any trick with a cork, or a spoon and a bit of fish paste, and if you look for a knife or a fork and you think it is merely misplaced...You have seen it one moment, then it is GONE! You find it next week, lying out on the lawn!" He pointed to the sky above with a flare. Sia's eyes widened as Misto appeared, spinning downward on a rope that was attached to...what? Nothing? His coat flashed with sparkles, the only thing lit in the Junkyard after Macavity had so unceremoniously doused the lights.
"And we all say, Oh! Well, I never! Was there ever a Cat so clever as Magical Mister Mistoffelees?" Misto was on the ground now, and running his hands along the rope, he made it vanish in a flurry of sparkles and a tinkle like breaking glass. At the sound of his name, he spun to face the Cats, throwing out his paws and whispering, "Presto!"
His coat flared, and the Yard's lights blinked on. The Cats oohed and aahed. Twisting and spinning away as Tugger kept singing, he pointed to a spot on the ground and a blue lightning bolt leapt from his claws to the spot, with a bang and a puff of shimmering smoke. He turned the opposite way and repeated the motion. The third time, however, he pointed and nothing happened. Tugger kept singing, but the others grew quiet and Misto looked at his paws in disbelief and embarrassment. He tired again...and it worked!
Tugger, by now, had finished the five "Oh! Well...s." And was singing, "His manner is vague and aloof..."
He certainly didn't look aloof, spinning and displaying his dancing ability to its fullest. His lithe body executed even the most difficult of moves with ease, and he earned little mews of delight when he kicked his left leg slowly and gracefully over his head. He pirouetted several times and approached Victoria. He touched her and a little blue bolt shivered through her. She giggled. He fouetted around the outside of the cats, and Lynna noticed Munkustrap grinning and motioning him on with a paw at each turn. When he finally reached the center of the stage, leaping and doing a frontward roll to end his little display, Tugger exclaimed, "MA-gical!" And Munku threw up his paws in delight and made a gesture that seemed to say, "Go Misto!"
"And not long ago..." Misto's ears pricked, and he spun towards Tugger, shaking his head as if to say, No, don't tell them about that!
"This phenomenal Cat produced seven kittens right out of a hat!" The crowd sighed. Going along with it, Misto grabbed a blanket and motioned to Cassandra. Covering the Burmese, he gestured over the cloth, blowing glitter from his paws. When he jerked the blanket away, the Cats gasped in amazement. Old Deuteronomy!
Tugger, eyes wide, sang softly, "And we all say...Oh. Well I never...was there ever a Cat so clever as Magical Mister Mistoffelees?" Misto held his glittering paws up to his face, grinning devilishly. The he ran to Deut and jumped into his arms, licking his fur and purring. Deuteronomy smiled and nudged his head, then set him down and hugged him.
Suddenly Munku appeared at the head of the group. Old Deuteronomy nodded at him slowly.
Munku's eyes welled with tears, but he quickly blinked them back. The other toms looked about in confusion. What was this? Munku never cried.
"Jellicles!" He called, his voice hollow and joyless. "The time has come to choose the next Cat to be sent up to the Heaviside Layer!" The Cats grinned at each other, but the event seemed more solemn than usual.
"With a heavy heart, I am to inform you that this year..." He choked and took a shuddering breath, recomposing himself.
"This year, I will take on this great responsibility." A ripple of surprised murmurs was heard from the gathering.
"Since Grizabella and Gus have left us, I am forced to choose the eldest among us, and the most worthy. Oh, Wise Deuteronomy, we shall miss your council and guidance." Munkustrap bowed deeply and nodded. His eyes were misty, and Old Deuteronomy reached out and hugged him.
"This is not goodbye, my son," Deuteronomy whispered. "Not farewell!" He cried to the Cats. "But until next time! I give you Munkustrap -- your new leader!"
Slowly, Munku lead Deut to the tire and, his face glowing with pride and joy despite his sorrow, he lead Deut to the Heaviside Layer. As the group separated, and Deuteronomy disappeared into the Heaviside, the Cats found themselves in pairs. Sia and Misto looked at each other, unsure.
"I guess we..."
"I suppose we should..."
"...go somewhere else." They said together, and burst out laughing.
"I love you," Misto said softly, nuzzling her. She fought to keep her wits, returning the nuzzle. Macavity, she thought.
"Mmm..." She batted her eyelids. Just until he falls asleep...
Then he lay down, his paw around her body, purring. He made no further advances, leaving her to decide. Slowly, his breathing evened out, and she knew he was asleep. Moving swiftly, she grabbed a nearby board. As she returned, Misto stirred and muttered, "Lynna, what are you doing?" His eyes opened, and he saw the board.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled. His eyes widened, and he would have called out, but it was too late. Looking at his unconscious form, Sia shuddered. Rapidly, she bound his paws and gagged him. Lifting his body, she ran for the safety of the alley.
"Macavity?" Lynna called into the darkness, her voice a mixture of love and hatred.
"Ah, my Sia. My little Lynna. You have done exceedingly well!" A silky voice purred from the shadows.
Macavity's heart leapt with joy. He had feared for the life of the pretty little queen -- how he loved her. He was so worried Mistoffelees would steal her heart.
He glanced down at the still form of Mistoffelees. His brow furrowed in pity and sorrow. The little black Jellicle had done nothing wrong, but he did have a reputation to uphold. When a group of his mangy strays had banded together and demanded he torture and kill the little magician who had destroyed their plans time and time again, Macavity, fearing for Lynna's safety, had agreed. Now, gazing down at the Cat at his feet, he saw him in a different light. He looked so much like Sia, his features young and innocent. Macavity himself was only two years older than Mistoffelees. He shuddered and steeled himself inside, allowing the madness to well up. His feelings for Mistoffelees fled, and he kicked the little Jellicle hard in the ribs.
"Come, Lynna," he said. "Bring the little wretch along." His eyes flared red in the darkness, and his voice was like gravel on sandpaper. Lynna lifted Misto gently in her arms and followed.
Part Two: Truth
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