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“Cat…”

The elsen reached down and picked the limp cat up, hugging him closely and nuzzling against his fur slightly. It was the first living thing he had seen in days.

When the cat showed no sign of response, the disease-warped inhabitant started to become distressed.

“Mister cat…?” He pet the Judge, rubbing behind an ear and down to his shoulders. “It’s okay, it’s safe. It’s safe here. The colours won’t hurt our eyes here… I promise…”

Pablo awoke to the sound of soft waves - plastic lapping against hard land. It was a sudden, almost jarring change. Much different to the echoing screams and far-removed cries for help that he had been hearing ever since the death of his brother.

He stretched his forelegs, hissing at the dull stab of pain that came with the motion. He had thought an encounter with a Secretary - one of the purifier’s terrible followers - had left him on his way to death.

But apparently he was mistaken. The feline’s ears picked up on the sound of voices a little distance away, and his tail twitched with some degree of anticipation as he tuned in to who was speaking, and what they could be saying -

Zacharie -

And a nervous one - an elsen, he deduced, as the sounds approached.

“See, amigo. Not dead at all.”

Pablo opened his eyes a sliver, tensing as the strong, yellow, colour of his home burned into his head.

“Mister cat…” The malformed person before him stumbled, “You were… then your friend found us.”

The Judge’s mind reeled for a moment. Nothing was left alive in the pure zones since the Batter had gone on his path of destruction. This elsen should not - could not - be here. So either he had been knocked into a state of insanity by his foe, or -

Or maybe, he had suffered a terrible delusion while he had been unconscious. Maybe the purifier had never been real - and perhaps… perhaps his brother… he had to know.

“…Valerie.”

Paying no heed to the pair beside him, he stood and ran without hesitation to red save block at the end of his zone. If Zacharie and that other man had been so concerned about his injury, Valerie would be worried too, certainly. He was his brother, after all, and a caring soul.

Calling for him to wait, the inhabitant and merchant only caught up with the Judge as he vanished with a droning sound and flash of rings.

“Where did he go? He’s sick…”

“I’m not certain, my friend,” Zacharie touched his mask in thought, “but I have a good idea.”

The joy that Pablo felt was uncontrollable, unimaginable. He had to dodge the crowds of workers. Crowds.

Glancing back, he saw that Zacharie and his apparent rescuer had followed him.

“Well well. Come along, my companions, my brother Valerie will be happy to see you!”

He did not see how the elsen looked unsettled, or how the merchant tilted his head a fraction. Instead, he headed straight to the library, ignoring everything around him - all the noise and the hustle and bustle of the workers scattered throughout.

It didn’t take him long - exhausted though he was - to reach the roof of the building. His brother would be here, Pablo knew, as he took his final steps.

“Dearest brother, Valerie. I had the most vexing dream.”

“Um, merchant, Zacharie…” The man dawdled for a moment. He was watching the cat he had rescued as it happily talked to nothing. “Will the cat sir be alright?”

“Ah,” He spread his hands apart in response, considering his words, “Who are we to presume?”

They looked on, engulfed in silence as the Judge told the tale of his nightmare to his brother, long dead, now merely a phantom haunting his mind.

“We can only hope, my friend.”