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Caton: Second path


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I wake up slowly, my many wounds vying to be the first to actually bring me back to consciousness.

For a moment, I am not sure who I am, but then my cat identity goes mostly dormant, apparently deciding to continue napping.

Almost on instinct, I burn some pewter and charged Nicrosil, jolt of power enough to shake off the remains of drowsiness. With a start, I remember the reason I didn't just continue sleeping. A glance on the clock piece, incongruously standing in the corner of otherwise sparsely adorned cave, shows me that there is still some time, if, of course, the one I am meeting will bother coming on time himself. But he should, for I have something that he craves.

Sighing, I stand up and head through labyrinthine caves for the house proper, retrieving a package of metal on the way. I swallow several beads of Nicrosil and Pewter myself, just to be on the safe side, though the full nicrosilminds hidden in my body should be sufficient.

He is waiting for me in the room, almost half an hour before the arranged time, his black-striped reddish tail flicking, betraying his impatience. I acknowledge it. In many ways, I.. we? Nya... My identity shifts for a moment until I regain my balance. I can see that the cat has noticed that, and hiss at him for a moment, baring my no longer quite human teeth.

I waste no more time.

"Alfie. Glad to see you here, nya. It was getting lonely out here, all other Inquisitors being busy elsewhere, nya." - my voicebox is no longer quite human, too.

By the way the cat's eyes glazed and moved out of sync, following something that wasn't there, I realized that he was burning Electrum. For a moment I contemplated stopping mid-sentence and seeing if that would cause him to pay more attention to the present, but then, reluctantly rejected the idea.

"The fact that you are here means that you are almost out of Electrum, and came here for more. Very well. Please remember, though that our mine here has not nearly enough gold left. While my Allomatic alloys are prized, and we are reasonably well to do, I still expect something in exhange."

Suddenly, I feel a curious sensation that always accompanied emotional Allomancy since I got a spike in my forehead. It no longer works quite right, and I am still not sure if I can be taken over, but I don't feel like finding out. I tap Investiture. Long practice allows me to somewhat direct the raw force that rushes through me, searching for an exit. My spikes flare in pain, as some of the power leaks through the imperfect connections between my soul and their, but I continue tapping until I have enoough to jam influence of external Investiture, such as emotional allomancy.

"None of this" - I hiss. "Or I'll leave you to enjoy your withdrawal." Emotional influence ceases, the cat whispering something to himself.

Calming down, I unroll two maps from the table on which Alfie has emplaced himself.

Elendel basin


"Here is our operation, as current as I could make it. Nyaaa~ Still working on the communication spikes, I am.

Which brings me to the point. There are several ways you could help Cat Inquisitors, and therefore insure that your supply of this" -I pull out a small box, revealing some metal pellets geared for cat consumption as well as some metal cotton, and give it to Alfie.

"As you can see, our major interests - well, mainly mine, nya, but some others agree, those not too busy eating fish - are in Weathering and Elendel. In Weathering, we need to establish a safehouse and spike extraction zone. In Elendel, we need to establish at least some kind of monitoring in the fifth octant, and there were reports of a gang involving Bloodmaker criminals in the 6th, always a welcome spike. Well. Where would you like to start?"

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Those green, intense eyes burnt into his soul. Alfie kept his eyes down, his orange paws nonthreatening down by his side. He felt his tiny heart pulsate faster against the spike that ran through him.

A shadow of himself pacing walked by him, calm, possessed, with no injuries or worries. Talking to someone about something. He saw a shoulder shuffle. That was something he had developed. He would regularly adjust his shoulders, arching his back as he walked. If he was ever compromised but could not speak he would stop moving his shoulders. Another form lay broken and crushed, being dragged away by something. His long fuzzy tail broken and bloody. Not a future he wanted.

Most of these visions were just specters, dreams from across the spectrum. Little chance of being true. A lot could happen in an hour. Truly seeing was about blanking out the noise and focusing on that one possibility somewhere in the future.

He knew from his viewings that the man would not break his bones and crush him. So he reached his paw forward and took the metal gifts.

He was aware of everything. He could see each change of hue of pink and grey and blue and red, every wiggle of the cat-man's fur as the instincts brushed and soothed each other. He reached inside, felt his power pulse inside him, and flared his tin for a moment. No rage burned red to his eye.

"Thank you sir. I shall serve your cause well to earn more delicious Electrum." They were beautiful, all shiny. Lovely Electrum. A bright light to see in his world.

He considered the man's offer of choice. He seemed sincere enough. He liked fish, a point in his favor. He didn't trust sincerity. Everybody lies. It's not their fault. The world makes them lie. But to the map. He reached up, putting a pair of paws on the map, drawing pictures and lines to illustrate his points.

"I fear we may not survive the journey in the roughs. We have no stable fall back position if it goes wrong and there's a lot of dangerous types there. If you don't mind a few broken bones we could go but..." He moved to the Elendel map.

"They'll not notice me walking, these bloodmakers. But I cannot kill such powerful beings. Perhaps I could lure one off with my allomancy and allow you to take them." His paw slammed down on the base in the fifth quadrant. "We need somewhere to take him, to hide him so we can remove his powers privately. If we have monitoring in the fifth quadrant we can fall back from any assault safely." He smiled, and purred contentedly. "We'll have another type of meat to eat than fish."

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"Bloodmakers in Elendel. Yes, we will need those abilities if we are to operate effectively in the Roughs, not to mention the spike research won't hurt so much,nya."

I wince, remembering my latest attempt. Many of the bind points are located in similar positions on humans and cats, and my larger body allows for larger room for error, not to mention Investiture-boosted pewter, so many of the experiments with the smaller spikes I perform on myself, and the pain is often more than the pewter should have allowed. A curious phenomena, actually. I realize that my mind was wandering and returned to the task at hand.

"The gang was spotted in fifth and sixth octants. As you can see, in the 7th octant I have a safehouse, which doubles as a small metal shop, nya. It is staffed by humans that are unaware of Caton existence, however, so, although my predilection for feeding and taking care of cats is well known, please limit yourself to the circumspect use of your abilities when in their presence.

Nevertheless, there are several hidden entrances for the cats that lead to the lower levels with the hemalurgic lab, as well as a small tunnel" - I look at my hands, remembering the time, so soon after my death - wait that wasn't me, right? - when I just got pewter, and used it to power myself through digging that tunnel with a pickaxe and a shovel. The first time i had pewter dragged. I shudder at the memory, and return to the present - "Leading right here, nya. If you could lure a Bloodmaker into this alley near a safehouse, we should be able to make him disappear. This would also mean that I will need to go with you. It has been a while since I traveled to Elnyadel." I sigh.

"Deceptions, you see, ever since I changed, I have to wear dark protective glasses at the very least. Very annyaing." My voice starts to slip more often as my excitement rises, and I burn nicrosil purely to calm myself down.

"Necessary, though. We can't keep the captives alive for long, not there, and none of the cats are agile enough to work the spikes yet, I am afraid. In any way, you can rest here until the noon tomorrow. You know where the freezer and the kitchen are, so help yourself. We are out of the bandit, I am afraid, so you'll have to make do with trout and beef. Meanwhile, I am going to prepare for tomorrow. Tell me if you need something."

Edited by Satsuoni
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He listened quietly, images softly flashing in front of his eyes. He was accustomed to some degree of danger. If you were to survive on the street you had to be ready for flashes of violence and brutality. You had to spot those who even the toughest of humans avoided. Thugs, coinshots. Some gangs used cats as target practice, slashing bloody ruts through their fur and crushing them beneath their hands. Even a pewter thug couldn't catch you if you were fast. They couldn't get into holes as small as you could and he could run very fast if he had to. But if they got one hit in... what didn't kill you made you weaker, especially when the bastard who did it was ten times your size. And next time they would get you.

And he was bait for some of the baddest. He'd heard of the bloodmakers. They'd stride into the heaviest of fights and have rips and chunks of their bodies torn out and stride out unharmed. They'd walk into a hail of bullets and laugh as blood gushed out of their bodies.

He gripped a fragment of metal in his paw, concealed beneath the thick fur. He could escape if he had to. Bloodmakers were unstoppable but no better at killing than a normal man. He could run and escape broken and smashed bones. As his sister said, mew sssss, mroww rowwww. Only fight for love, flee if it gets bloody.

"I can make these criminals love me and lead him to your cat friendly safehouse. I do not fight and you need to move ahead of me."

He winced, remembering the pain of his making. It was so intense, burning him down to the core inside of him that he thought no one could touch. Would gold stop that pain? He suspected the only way onwards was forwards, not backwards. He would be leading this person a long way though. The sun would move far in its journey as they walked. But he did not want to make this man mad so he had to make it work.

"I need privacy and nothing suspicious to make the criminal not suspect you want to kill him. If you are not used to Elendel and cannot blend into society we should go on the roofs to watch the criminals from afar." He posed majestically over the map, staring out into the distance and wagging to the wind in his mind.

The man went on, talking of deceptions and putting his glasses on.

He could see the catman's green eyes glowing behind the dark glasses as clear as if they weren't there with his tin. What was he? It was weird.

"Thank you, I will rend delicious meats. Life should be like this. Someone else getting you your food." He nodded his head, as humans did, and walked off, his shoulders wiggling as he left. Time to see if he could find where they stored larger stocks of gold or electrum. He left, going first to feed, then going to explore the compound further, tin brightening every sense and phantom Alfies wandering down each corridor.

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I look after departing cat. From previous encounters, I assume he is going to search for metals. I - we - smile to ourselves. He will find it in the usual place. I had nyaither reason nor desire to move them.

We are currently located in a relatively small manor house built into the rock face of the mountains. These are my holdings. The grounds are mainly covered by forest, and are known as a moderately good hunting area. The main source of wealth, and the reason the house was built here is a small mine containing several allomantic metals, now assumed to be close to depletion (it isn't). The series of caves connect the mine and the house. The house has two stories. The "official" metal lab is on the first one. The unofficial one is deeper in the caves. Both contain some metal geared for cat consumption. The unofficial one also contains other implements. Food is in a cooler cellar built into the rock, and in the kitchen.

My sight changes slightly, and I start paying more attention to the smells, crouching for the moment and fighting the desire to follow Alfie to the place I know fish is stored. I hiss to ourselves as I fight the impulse down. Now is not the time. Tomorrow, we have a long trip ahead of us, and the preparation comes first, nya. From the blurring of my night vision I assume that human part is currently prevalent, so I straighten up and go into my room.

Bloodmakers. One way to kill them was to deplete or scramble their goldminds. The compounders, like late Miles Hundredlives (I sigh at the thought of two wasted abilities), are rare and well known, so meeting one was unlikely, and normal bloodmakers could only store so much. Still there was not telling just how much was so much, and I didn't want to kill one by mistake. Which meant that I was going to kill one deliberately. I smile grimly and prepare extractor daggers, taking a moment to admire my handiwork.

The spikes used for cats are in general too small or too convoluted to be driven through human heart directly. However, that is not important. The important part is contact with blood, preferably untainted by contact with other metals at the same locus. Hence, the extractor daggers, made of specially reinforced glass with the hilt that could be screwed off. On the sides and the tip of the blade, several slits allowed blood to access the replaceable core containing the metal spike, which could therefore be made of almost any form. I debated between gold core, or that of precious Atium, deciding on the gold in the end.

Next, I placed additional Nicrosilminds on my arms, wincing a little as the blades cut into the scars left from the previous use, and flaring charged Nicrosil to replenish them. In case of need, I could do quite a few tricks with my Nicrosilminds full, especially with the addition of pewter.

I continue to pack, preparing a small cosmetics kit to hide some of the obvious effects of my transformation, a full extractor glove - just in case - and some loose clothes with enough space to hide a cat easily if need be.

Satisfied, I give in to my urges and wander in the direction of the kitchen.

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He soon reached the door to the ice room. It was a very cat friendly one. He went up to it, lay on his back, and pressed his claws into the indent at bottom. Curling up his body he opened the fridge revealing a host of foods and treats. All for him. It still felt weird, getting his own food. He remembered the past, back before he had to.

Stare into my eyes, human. Why do you think I curl up on your lap? Not because of how much I love you. Not because you deserve this. Because I want to be fed, to be petted, to be beautified. I want you to rub me behind my ears and warm my belly. To make my eyes grow heavy as I curl into you.

His eyes closed shut, his mind clouded and happy. Then from far away he heard a crack as in another room wood smashed down and a sharp angry female voice.

He quickly pushed away the memory. He did not like such thoughts and so imposed his humanity on them when they came, forcing such darkness away. It had been a horrific time. He blinked and shook his head, trying to focus on the food.

There was a big silver fish there, scaley and delicious looking. It smelled reasonably fresh. It was on a metal plate. He supposed if the base was ever attacked they could use these as weapons, smashing the enemies with powerful steel pushes.

He went up on his paws against the edge of the drawer and grabbed it with his mouth and leaned back, throwing his weight against the floor, pushing with his steel against the plate to slow the fall. The plate levitated above him, paws upright, his steel holding it up. It was quite hard to move from here. He was being pushed against the floor by his push. Twisting slightly he pushed the plate to the side and let it fall with a clatter to the ground.

Victory. He took a bite of his capture. But was it worth the effort?

Perhaps he could capture a human like this. Humans were stupid. He could get the bloodmaker drunk or drug his food, gently making the man hungrier and more trusting. Possibilities...

His mind faded to animalistic desire as he began to rip into the fish and feed. He hadn't realized he was so hungry.

Edited by Nepene
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I find no sign of Alfie in the kitchen, and assume that he went to the cold cellar instead. Luckily the proximity of mountain provided them with enough ice to keep it going without any additional expense.

My human and cat instincts agree on the food preferences in this instance, and I eat the fish I boiled before going to sleep. Afterwards, I wince somewhat, but force myself to eat some salad. My digestive system didn't change as much as my appearance, and I still need to balance my diet.

That taken care of, I examine the condition of my nicrosilminds. They are almost full, and I still have some nicrosil left in my stomach. A waste,nya. I gaze at myself in the small mirror hanging on the wall above the table, examining my large, slitted eyes and a scar on my forehead hiding a spike. It will be a long day, or most likely several, and it has been a while... I decide to indulge myself.

My nicrosilminds are full, and there is no pewter in my stomach. I flare the filled nicrosil, and tap investiture, the raw power under Metallic Arts, the same power that makes up my soul. Souls. The power surges within me, and I direct it. It is like trying to direct waterfall with my hands. Fortunately, the spikes, as well as other uses of Metallic Arts, serve as natural drains, so I manage to split the power,directing as much as I could into the spike in my head. In the mirror, I can see my eyes strain, the right one reverting into a more human form with a stab of pain. The remains of the spirit of my old cat soak up the energy and with a sharp tug inside my skull become aware, identity powerful enough to think separately for a while. For a few moments, it sees like I once again sleep with her nearby, neither of us capable of truly loving, but just for a few moments, content in each others presence...

Until nicrosil runs out, leaving me reeling and with building headache.

Enough, nya.

I get to my feet with some difficulty, and go in the direction of the cooler cave. As I expected, Alfie is there, enthusiastically devouring a large silvery trout.

I address him,hoping the he'd hear over the crunching of fish bones.

"Well, I am as ready as I can be. Ready to nap, nya. Just one more thing - decide if you want to claim the gold spike if we get one on this missionya, and tell me in he morning, along with the other thing you might need that I can help get."

I turn and prepare to leave.

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Alfie winced at the the loud sound echoing in his ears, a shiver running down his spine, and lifted his head up from the fish. His head was still swimming with fish and his nose full of the intense powerful delicious smell. He turned off his tin and the overwhelming sensations ceased to barrage inside his head. He sighed with relief and stroked his head, looking thoughtful.

The man looked somewhat agitated. His eyes were red and sore, as though he had too much inside his head and not enough space to fill it. One of his eyes looked worse than the other, the right one.

He really had no idea what the man had asked him. Did he want a cuddle? He looked like he needed one. This was a pretty cold place to do it. Maybe he wanted to share the fish? He really had no idea so he would have to use his electrum.

Burning electrum, he focused his attention on a hypothetical future where he had asked for clarification. A shadow of himself formed, a half minute in advance, lips moving and talking about getting a golden spike. He copied its words,

"There's nothing I love better than lying warm in a soft bed. Rrrrr, I could work with gold. But my physical balance is horrific so gold on its own isn't going to make me a better fighter. If you expect me to fight on my damaged leg a gold spike would be a very unwelcome gift. Maybe if he was a twinborn with pewter." He looked back at the food, then the man. This wasn't in the script for his future but he should ask anyway.

"Do you have any downers I could use on the bloodmaker?"

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I hear Alfie talking as I prepare to leave, so I turn back.

"I don't really expect you to fight if you were to get a spike. I was just asking if you would want it implanted. No matter. If you don't want it, I'll claim it. Investiture works better in combination arts, anyway. Thugs are relatively common Allomancers, especially in criminal gangs, so one could be acquired.

As for your question, no. Most Bloodmakers can shrug off drugs and poisons, including alcohol, as long as they have health, regardless of its mechanism of action. I'll probably have to resort to my scrambling ability to neutralize his or her Goldminds. " I sigh "Bothersome, nya"

"Well, till morning then."

I go into my room. Exhaustion rises in me as if I released pewter after dragging. I collapse on my bed and go to sleep.

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"Gold burners can shrug off poisons if they know they're poisoned. Most humans don't want to shrug alcohol. They get so much pleasure and freedom from pain from drugs. They can speak their darkest secrets and be heard. And of course it requires a lot of power to flush a poison out and few bother to do so if they can sleep it off."

He nodded at the man's comments.

"I heard you had... nicrosil. It can scramble metals? A powerful talent." He had heard of nicrosil in briefings, but no one seemed to know much about the feruchemical powers. Not that he knew that much about these secrets, being a cat. Mew mew.

He went off, exploring the compound and seeking out secrets and mysteries. He found metals, strange spikes, and a lot of blood. It tasted old. In time he collapsed, napping in a room next to a massive vat of pewter shavings.

Edited by Nepene
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I wake in the predawn darkness, feeling unusually lucid.

For a few moments, I try to understand what could wake me so early, but then it becomes obvious, as I once again hear muffled voices. My ears became better since I've changed, although they are still no match for a tineye, or even a proper cat, and while I can't properly distinguish the words, there is no doubt that these voices belong to humans, for while the cat inquisitor quickly develop voiceboxes capable of human speech, they still mostly sound like a crying infant, unless they make an effort to sound otherwise. It is simple the matter of size, in many respects.

The human presence in the night is curious, since there shouldn't be any left around, although...

I quietly go to the window and peer in the direction I've heard the speech from. There is light enough for my eyes to work, and I can see two figures sneaking towards the door of my house. I can also hear what they say now.

"See? I told you those rumors of strange beasts and no one returning were false!"

"I don't know. Why do you think that the lawmen won't follow us here, then?"

"Bah! Some of them are fools enough to respect the property laws, and others are either scared by the rumours or busy being bravely shot in the roughs! No, nobody will follow us here. And look, here is the house of that crazed hermit metallurgist. It looks like nobody is around, and haven't been for a while. We can rest here, and I am betting there is still something valuable inside."

As I thought. Bandits. Well excuse me for lousy housekeepinya! I happen to be the only human around, and cats don't seem to like cleaning much except themselves.

Anyway, the bandits presented an opportunity, as usual. They came in my holdings sometimes, lured by the wildness or the rumors of riches. In fact, there was once a bandit lair not too far from the mine. It proved an excellent source of spikes in the beginning. Nowadays, most bandits were picked up by Cat Inquisitors roaming the woods, some of whom were quite insane, to my eternal shame. I considered. Nyo.

The bandits seemed normal humans, and I didn't have cat in need of the spikes handy. A Harvester... I shook myself, getting back on track. Better to dispatch them and conserve the meat for later. Hmm... Alfie had Zinc, didn't he? I have wanted to try one trick for a while...

I turned from the window and silently went to the door. It took a little while to find where Alfie slept, but finally I have discovered him near my lesser laboratory/ storage room. I carefully touched him, trying not to startle him too badly. He awoke quickly enough. I gestured for silence

"There are bandits going into the house, and I thought I would use this opportunity to check out on the combination technique I wanted to try out. Before I do that, though, please use your Electrum to check if it will harm you. I wouldn't want to damage you."

Note - the proposed technique will first exhilarate, then hurt somewhat, leaving Alfie with his soul sore for a while. It will let you experience a level of power that you otherwise are unlikely to. The decision whether to agree or not is yours. Either way, I will go to deal with the bandits after your answer.

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He dreamed of gifts of power.

The cat man walked to him. His body was twisted, the bottom half human, the top half a massive cat. Its paws hung out in front of him, black and deadly, holding a gift. A small box. The man approached him, speaking in a soothing voice. "Take this gift. You need it." Alfie stood up and walked to the box. A simple wooden thing with a metal seal. He ripped the seal off and inside was the man's still beating heart, pulsing blood and redness. The man grinned and then faded slowly, leaving only his smile floating in the air.

Something floated in across the black landscape of his mind. An electrum vision of himself, bloody, matted, tired. It spoke, commanding. "REFUSE HIS GIFT. IT WILL DESTROY YOU."

Alfie nodded at himself and walked up. He mewed at himself and rubbed his head across its phantom shoulder. It was best to not say no to himself. He often found himself burning electrum during a dream and had heard many an interesting titbit of the future. He knew he was supposed to burn his metals after he had fallen asleep but he always left tin and electrum alone. He needed them. Perhaps they would kill him one day, but better one day than today.

He felt himself waking up, his tin enhanced ears noting the movement the cat man walking towards him. He was on a cold stone floor in a lab. Several metal deposits were nearby. No one else was around him. He flared tin for a moment and heard a faint step and a scratching. Someone was outside, two people, their. He stilled his movement and pretended to be asleep, burning his electrum and looking through possible futures. Death, victory or pain awaited him.

The man walked in and he pretended to awake to him, stretching out his paws, appearing as casual as he could. No one ever suspected him.

He listened to him, then shook with a stop.

"Bandits..." He shook, hissing involuntarily. His claws came out and his tin flared for another moment, noting the distant steps of what he now knew to be bandits. He wasn't sure whether to flee or to fight. This man said he could help. But could he? Alfie spoke, his humanness dominant.

"I will burn Electrum to determine if I will be destroyed by your feruchemical power or saved. I hope for the second option of course." He was sure he was supposed to remember something but couldn't quite put his tongue on it. He shook his head to clear it and burnt electrum, asking himself an hour in the future what would happen if his future self spoke to his past self and spoke its words out loud.

"The pain is... hot and agonizing to a level I did not know I had but so was the power. The bandits did not break you."

He stopped burning the electrum and looked straight at the man. "I will try it. Perhaps I can overcome my past... these bandits, with your power."

OOC note. The electrum image from his dream was from him contacting his self at the future potential of greatest agony. I am trying to make sure I get across that while his power is useful it is not a fool proof way to see the future and it can often stoke his paranoia unnecessarily. He forgot that future and hopefully the actual future will be less agonizing.

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"Ah, thank you, nya. The idea is simple enough. You have Zinc, so you start rioting their fear. I have Allomantic Nicrosil, which can boost your Zinc, and Investiture, which can both boost my Nicrosil and create a bleedover into your body on touch. I believe that will allow me to boost your Rioting about thousandfold and keep it going for a while, and that such boosted Rioting will kill them before I run out of Investiture in one of my metalminds. We shall see. Let us go. I know a convenient place where we can intercept them. I know you could probably Riot them from here, but I want to observe their reaction. Do stay behind me, just in case. They seem to have guns."

I turn and head for a room that has a door with glass window opening into entry hallway, which I know they were heading for.

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He nodded, agreeing to the man's words. He shook his neck and scratched at it with his claws, shaking off a collar. In the badge attached to his collar was a small suspension of metals ready for usage. It made him happy to always have this at hand.

He grabbed it with both paws and rolled over, belly up, paws in the air. Then he scratched at the metal till it opened and fed him delicious metals. He felt his metal reserves charge up. Electrum, tin, steel, zinc, brass. All ready for usage. He then started pacing after the man, feeling all buzzed up. He flicked his claws in and out, rearing for a fight.

"Should I kill them? Fearing men sometimes shoot themselves to end the pain. I can soothe motivation to crush their spirits and stop them moving or riot depression. What you're doing sounds intense."

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"Ah, no, I believe that should not prove necessary. If I am wrong I'll finish them off myself. Be quiet now... Ah, here they are."

We entered the room from another entrance, and just in time. The bandits have just entered the hall and were looking around. They carried a small lamp. I hoped that with the lamp, glass and the darkness in the room we were in they won't notice us until it would be too late.

"Riot their fear. Softly at first" -I whispered, and waited until Alfie indicated that he was doing so. I could also see the movements of the two men becoming more erratic, one of them grabbing his gun holster. Now was the time.

I knelt down and gently laid my hand on the cat's head, my half-nails half-claw poking his skin a little, swallowed some uncharged Nicrosil, and burned it, at the same time tapping Investiture from the metalmind on my left hand.

It was a rather heavy metalmind, which contained an amount of Investiture that ordinary soulbearer could store in about a year. I compressed it into about five seconds.

Allomancy and hemalurgy, they were both about holes in the soul, the channels through which the power could enter or exit, or so I believed.

The rush of raw power mainly followed the channels opened by Nicrosil, through my hand and into Alfie, where it boosted his Zinc, burning it in a single burst. Mainly, but not all, and I could feel my consciousness expand, briefly wondering if the cat under my hand could feel the same. For a short time, I could feel as if I were ascending.

A brief shudder ran through my body as first Zinc and then my own Nicrosil burned out, but the sheer pressure of the power was enough to keep the channel open without metal. In fact, i could feel some of the excess pressure activating my Pewter ability, albeit weakly.

Horrible screams attracted my attention, my perception of time slowed down somewhat. I switched some of my attention to the bandits. My investiture was running out, but I could see that my plan was a success.

The bandits has just been subjected to the rioting boosted about three thousandfold over the Nicrobursted Rioter maximum power. They were... not happy.

The more timid of them was lying on the floor twitching and foaming at the mouth. From the dark color of the foam, I could tell that it was likely blood. He wasn't long for this world. The screams were issued by the second one. Even from my vantage point I could see his eyes bulging out, all muscles of his body spasming, before his last scream turned to gurgle and he dropped to the floor. I could tell from my expanded senses that was dead, most likely heart failure.

At that moment, my Investiture ran out. With a shudder, I released my grip on Alfie's head and waited a few moments for the pain in my stretched, battered soul to subside, and the sense of ... diminishness... to become less.

Belatedly, I remembered that while I was more or less used to such experiences, they could be quite traumatic at the beginning, and switched my attention to the cat, wincing a little at the stench of voided bowels reaching me from the hall.

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Alfie was quiet as a mouse, sneaking softly across the floor. He couldn't move fast for any length of time but he had always been good at stealth and his tin enhanced hearing made him even more sensitive to how he did it. Ever touch of his orange paw to the ground was like a scream in his ear.

The bandits would be screaming soon too. They'd pay for what they did to his family. The only good bandit was a dead bandit. He looked at them, pacing towards the entrance. There was only so much you could force an emotion. You had to inspire it in bits. He saw one walk through a shadow and a moment's fear ran through his face. He focused on that and rioted the man's fear, amplifying it beyond all reason. The man cringed and shook for a moment. A second later he soothed the man's bravery. Not heavily, just enough to blunt the will that the man had that held him there. The man stopped, sweeping back his green cloak, sending tiny fragments of rocks and dirt flying out through the room.

The other man looked back, wondering what was up. Some danger out there? Alfie rioted the man's fear too, making him see shapes and shadows and monsters awaiting in the deep dark night. At this time there was enough light to define your nightmares but not enough to reveal them. The man started taking faster breaths and looking from side to side.

He left them alone. They looked wildly from side to side, their fear increasing naturally. It would fade soon enough. But with just the right nudges he could make this ember into a raging fire.

The man touched him.

He could feel the power in him. It could do anything for him, take him in whatever direction he chose. A fire of power, intense and hot. So very hot that his insides hurt. He tried to force it through his spikes, like directing a river through a narrow tributary. It was almost too much power to contain, leaving him raw and broken. He shouldn't have agreed to this. Then he reached some special point and the force of the power broke through him, torrenting out. Raw fear flooded the area, filling up the men. This power needed no subtlety or slow build up. It was, absolute.

And then the flood stopped. It dissipated into all of his holes, filling him up. Alfie felt different. He wasn't sure what it was. He walked up to the still live man, shaking with fear of their power. He stepped onto the man's chest and leant over him, staring at the bloody man and spoke in a refined and adult voice.

"I know it's not proper to eat your enemies, but boy, am I tempted. Those graveyards don't have unlimited space. Sometimes you've just got to eat them up to save space. The ground can't eat all of them."

His head started heating up, every heart beat pounding in his head. He couldn't control himself, couldn't move his paw up in the slightest. There was something else in possession of his body. He had a splitting headache.

She licked the man's face, tasting the blood on him. Then she turned her cat head round and looked at the man, speaking in the same accent.

"I'm Violet by the way. Currently expanding my enemy list." She winked at him.

Edited by Nepene
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I stared. Yes, it could be expected, given the circumstances. Didn't we do just that yesterday? Except her awakening must have taken poor Alfie by surprise. Well, it is not her place. She will submit, or we will show her the error of its ways. The energy from the latest burst still invigorates us, blending our essences stronger than ever, and we allow ourselves to slide a little deeper into insanity ever lurking on the edge of our consciousness. When we speak, it is in a strange double voice, one voice a high female, the other a rusty tone sounding like a dry corpse. Normally we would have not shown this side, but this is not a normal circumstance.

"Violet. Yes we remember your dominant personality, mental spike number two. A head of the pitiful gang of a human bandits, you died whimpering in fear, but do you remember it?We harvested you, and cooked you in valeriana sauce. You were not too bad.

If what you just said now was a threat, though" - we hiss menacingly and withdraw a flask with a pewter bead inside, holding it in our paw - "You should recognize your place, ghost of the dead human, and lie low until called" -we hiss with a sudden rage - "Your metals, if you had any left after a Nicroburst, would not save you. You are a spike, and unlike Inquisitors of old, a cat can survive for a while with up to three spikes removed, so you can be replaced" - we crush the flask in our hand, feeling blood coat the metal, and tapped Investiture from another metalmind, for just a moment, concentrating on the resonance of the metal in our hand. The fact that we could burn it helped, and it was only a moment before pewter ignited trailing mist, first black, blacker than night, then, as we release Investiture, white and luminous, licking the scratches from the glass and coating the paw in a strange silvery sheen. This was wasteful, of course, all that power escaping with merely a touch actually getting into a body, but.. We grinned, baring our elongated fangs "Behave yourself, or you will be replaced" - we crush the last remains of the metal in the powerful hand - "And burned to nothing like this bead."

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Violet licked her lips. It was frothy. She could taste the air and fear in his blood and boy was she excited. The man was nattering on about how he'd crush and destroy her and melt her down for scrap but she didn't really fear him. It wouldn't be the first time she'd died. She spoke, her voice delicate but firm.

"I used to be a follower of the Path. I can't remember much but flashes come to me. Things that were ever so important to me, that defined who I am. There was an old religion that I liked a lot. The Canzi. We were all part of the divinity. A tiny fraction, but part of it nonetheless. We were all alive before we were alive and we chose this life. We chose what we would be. Some were good, and were rewarded well with beautiful bodies. Some were bad and were given broken and damaged bodies. I was beautiful before and..." She rubbed a paw across her face, feeling the softness, feeling the hardness of the spike in her eye.

"I am beautiful again. In a way. But everyone has to one day return to the divine with what they had. What form will we be, I wonder? Broken and pierced souls, with other souls stabbed through them. Every place we go we leave a bit of ourselves behind and replace it with those we kill."

She rested her head on her paws, yawning, and looked straight into Satsu's eyes and speaking with steel in her voice. "If you kill me Satsu, I will rip as much of Alfie out with me as I can to gift the divine. I'll feed my spirit with his. If you burn me like your metals I will forge my soul to yours and do my very best to annihilate you for taking away my second chance." She opened her hand, and revealed the small piece of metal inside.

"I still have steel and brass in my belly, unburnt. Metals to burn. I could escape faster than your pewter could ever make you. But this magic powering my mind won't last forever. So, be seeing you." She smiled and winked again, then retreated.

Alfie slumped, all the fire taken out of him. His head was finally beginning to clear though he had a massive headache. His whiskers drew back and he purred in pain.

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We were amused by its comments about escaping. Truly, it knew nothing about how fast we could move with the boosted pewter. If nothing else, we could jump with much greater acceleration that any Coinshot could afford on the account of its body being ripped by its own Push. Neither did it know that without direct contact, overly boosted Nicrosil created a bubble of Nicroburst effect, withing which any Allomancer burning metals would find him or herself without anything to burn very fast. The chances of it successfully escaping were slim... But we urged caution to myself. Arrogance and overconfidence were preludes to a fall, something that we have seen many, many times...

But its time, like ours was running out, burst of Investiture expended. I shook my head to clear it a bit, and went to the side of the cat, who was in obvious pain I knew well enough. I sat near him and started to gently massage several point on his head, something that I found helped me in similar situations.

"Something tells me hat we better limit ourselves to common Nicroburst, since it doesn't affect spikes." - I remarked idly - "Also, you should decide what to do with your second mental spike. I am relatively certain I can replace it without adverse effects, but the decision is yours."

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He nuzzled against the man's hand, enjoying the massage. The pain in his head was starting to clear and clarity returned.

When he had gained the initial spike of power he had little idea how to control it. It had flowed evenly to all his spikes, including the zinc. That had worked well. But one spike had started pulling the power more strongly to it...

"Thank you for pushing her back. She took complete control. Yeah, no nicrosil for me any time soon. Or less, at least. She said some bad things. I don't want to risk death. She didn't do anything bad. Not yet. I think." He blinked a bit, still confused.

"I think I'll nap. If you're ok with it." He looked up at the man, searching for approval or disaproval. Something nudged him, from inside. "I'll get a new eye as well. I want to cover up my eye for the public. Be prettier."

Edited by Nepene
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"If you say so... Without Investiture, much of her influence should fade soon enough, since she is more memory than identity. But be warned, if it takes too much control for too long, I'll consider forced replacement after all. Please try to control it."

I remove my hand and rise.

"It is already light outside, we should be leaving soon. Rest and prepare, there is a nice soft chair over there. I'll take care of these" - I nod at the corpses. - "I'll pick up the eye for you from the lab. I usually prepare them after spiking, just for the cases like this one."

I swallow and burn pewter, lifting two corpses by their hands and dragging them out of the room and towards the kitchen.

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Alfie nodded. After that burn it was like all his reserves had been burnt raw and used up and he was suddenly very tired. He didn't care about anything but making the burn go away. He padded to the chair in the corner. He curled up, nuzzled up to his tail and slept. One last thought flashed through his mind as he dozed off. "I would look very good with blue eyes."

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I carry the two corpses to a room beside kitchen, featuring a large stone table for butchering, where I quickly gut and wash them. I don't bother skinning, since most cats eat skin anyways. I then cut them into pieces, which I place into waterproof bag. After cleaning the place up, I deposit meat in the cooler cellar, and go to pick up Alfie's eye.

It is in the hidden laboratory, where most cat inquisitors are made, so I descent into the mountain proper and follow a meandering path that I know well. The portion of the more solid rock where the laboratory was placed is surrounded by softer, more brittle stone, so wandering off the path could easily trigger a cave in on the trespasser's head, in addition to several artificial traps, most of which the cat would not be able to trigger.

I reach the door. I remember how I made this place, soon after I got pewter. The first cats were made upstairs, in a more traditional metallurgist laboratory. Here, there was a part of the mine shaft, now mostly collapsed. I had to reinforce and expand the place, using the boosted pewter - and speaking of boosting. I swallowed another handful of Nicrosil beads. Power bursts like the one I just tried on Alfie, were costly, nicrosil being rare -I was one of the few people making it - and only marginally less expensive than gold on the current market - not that there was much demand outside Tathingdwel. And refilling a single one of my metalminds required almost half a kilo of the stuff, I was literally eating it like candy afterwards.

Consumed by such thoughts, I reached the door, a great slab of stone and metal, too heavy to move even for a pewter savant. The cats had their own, smaller entrance, too small even for a human child, and relatively well hidden. I boosted my pewter to Nicroburst level and opened the door. After going through a dark corridor with some branching tunnels, i reached a more normal door with a switch beside it. This newfangled "electricity" was sure coming in handy, and of course my hidden laboratory had its own generator.

The lights revealed a medium-sized room with rough stone walls, a pristine table with a cat-sized soft pad and a set of restrains in the middle, and array of my instruments ranging from the surgery hammer-knife to a delicate stone scalpel, as well as a collection of drivers. A medicine cabinet stood in one corner, and in other was a larger storage chest, towards which I headed. Fake eye covers were crafted individually for each cat receiving an eye spike, so that it would look like a remaining eye. It was a colored glass with a magnetic base, strong enough not to fall off, but removable. Some cats preferred their to be permanently affixed, so I took several eyes designed for Alfie and a tub of glue before turning to exit. After a brief hesitation, I go to the medicine cabinet and take some medicine against headache, smelling not unlike catnip. Than I leave the lab and return to the house, only to find Alfie fast asleep. Well. Better let him rest. I only hoped the awakened spike won't make him change body gender spontaneously.

I returned to my room and set down to work on designing various phenotype projects. Engineer. Next one should definitely be Engineer.

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Alfie dreamed.

Four legs good, two legs better. He was ready for battle. His pike was long and sharp with the tooth of a snake on it, his armor thick and orange to block their blows. He had forged it from the finest of materials and it was ready. He was on a quest to defeat the biggest baddest black snake once and for all. It was a vile creature which all hated. He was walking through a swamp at the time. It was wet. Very wet. He scratched his head, and forged on.

From a afar, a group of reptilian monsters watched. They were the most beautiful of all creatures, with green and orange scales and powerful sexy claws. And they were hungry.

"Oh yum yum, a tender delicious cat to feed on. I want to bite its skin and taste its blood and eat its bones." Said one.

"I am so hungry, there's no good food here." Said another.

"Quiet" Said the third, bigger. "We need to stalk it silently for the kill." The others disagreed and squabbled and clucked.

Alfie strode through the swamp unaware, looking for his fated foe. He strode from morning break to nightfall with no sightings. So he waited, peed, danced and played his flute, and set off again. Suddenly he heard a whisper from his side. "Show yourself" He shouted out to the night.

From the night strode three monsters of evil and malevolence, part of the dark one's own retinue. They strode on two legs like him but had none of the beauty of a cat. He had heard of these monsters. Their claws contained a deadly toxin that would paralyse him and let them feed.

One shouted "Give yourself up, scum, and let us fill our bellies."

Another, bigger, shouted. "Welcome to the island, you will never leave."

The third, biggest, simply said. "Die."

The three monsters circles him, trying to take him from all angles. His spear was sharp, but he could not destroy them all. From his side he drew a weapon he had made. Gunpowder packed in a soda bottle with nails and anything sharp, a fuse at the top. He was ready.

All three charged at once, claws at the ready. Alfie jumped up high above them, avoiding their deadly slashes. They collided into each other and fell stunned. As he flew up through the air he tossed his now lit bomb downwards and blasted the monsters to hell.

Falling back down, he sighed, in relief, safe. Then he saw in front of him something. The skull of some massive reptile in the ground. He poked it with his spear. It reared up, massive, wings shooting as far as the eye could see, a bloody monster of a snake. Not a skull.

He breathed in. "Oh sh-"

Alfie sat up, now awake. Another nightmare. He had too many of them now. He got up, stretched his paws, and paced off in search of Satsu.

OOC. I didn't have much to do so I thought you might appreciate this dream. Alfie does have a serious fear of reptiles. He's had some bad times over the years with them.

Edit. Soon he reached him. He stood at the door and saw Satsu there, working. He quietly paced to a near spot, sat down, and purred softly.

Edited by Nepene
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I lift my gaze from the diagrams of human and cat, with detailed annotations on kind, position and angle of the spike for donor and acceptor necessary for a certain effect, and see Alfie sitting nearby, purring. I nod to him, and start cleaning up my notes, packing them into a waterproof bag, which I hide in my pack. I then turn to him.

"So. I am ready to go. Are you ready?"

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