A/N: I patched chapter one with a minor rewrite. A character is no longer confirmed dead.
Chapter 2: An Interrupted Rite
Danielle was indecisive what to do. Her mother sealed the deal when she said, "Don't you want to see Christopher again?"
She reasoned that since she wasn't wearing yellow, she wouldn't disappear. If Christopher was there, that's another blow to her theories. "Fine, can I at least wear my regular clothing?"
Her mother gave in so easily. Danielle no longer had to wear that humiliating pink dress. She chose a comfortable white outfit instead. Her mother repeated the mantra to her yet again. Everything seemed well until she arrived in class.
Christopher was missing when the teacher took attendance. She didn't want to disappear. The scenarios her mind conjured up overwhelmed her. "I don't feel so good." She hyperventilated as fears took hold.
"Calm down, you're going to be safe in school," the teacher said.
"It's not school I'm worried about, it's about after."
"Your parents will be here to pick you up."
It seemed inconceivable to her that her parents would abandon her. Nothing even seemed amiss despite her own behavior. She reasoned it would be okay.
She focused on her classes and before she knew it the school day was over. There was nothing amiss and now she was waiting for her parents to arrive. Hour after hour even when everyone left her parents still didn't come.
Her teacher walked up to her. "Come with me." She followed her teacher. "Put this on," the teacher said. In his paws was a bright yellow shirt.
"Why?" she asked.
"Your parents aren't going to come get you. Your parents don't want you anymore. You need to put this on or you will die," he said.
"I don't want to disappear," she said.
The teacher sighed. "They really don't pay me enough for this job. You happen to be one of the brightest students in the class. You figured out the pattern when no one helped you. Your entire life has prepared you for this. All of us went through this, even me."
"I don't believe you," she said. It seemed inconceivable to her that her parents would abandon her with no warning. "You have to be lying." The only anomaly was herself being upset at not wearing her birthday dress. Her mom had shredded it because she was upset with her defiance.
"Look, I can drive you home, but I can guarantee you will die if you don't put these on." He passed the yellow vestments to her again. "The other option, I can drive you to the police and they can short everything out there, but we repeat that phrase for a reason."
"I'll take my chances. Drive me home."
They entered the car. As they drove, her teacher kept trying to convince her to put on the yellow clothes. They soon arrived in front of her house. "I really can't change your mind, can I?" the teacher said.
"I refuse," Danielle said.
"Fine, leave the clothes with me then and go, but you will die if you don't put them on."
Danielle left the car and the teacher drove off. Her parents were home, but she couldn't open the locked door. She kept pressing the doorbell only for nothing to happen. She just waited hour after hour until the sun had set, but her parents still didn't let her in.
She heard a police siren nearby. It was driving over the road containing sparse dishes of food. The food she realized must be meant for pups just like her. She had to run from the police, but they chased her, and she wasn't fast enough.
A police officer stepped out of the car. "Are you lost?"
"My parents won't let me in the house," Danielle replied.
"I'll see what I can do about that," she said. "Wait here with my partner."
Danielle watched the police step up to her house. The door to her surprise opened. She saw her mother talking to the police. Her mother went back into the house and the police returned to the car. She sat in the back as the police whispered to each other.
"The standard protocol calls for us to kill them," he said.
"Oh, I know, but she's so smart and brilliant, that would be a waste, wouldn't it?" the other replied.
"You want to bend the rules for her?"
"Of course, she deserves a chance. We haven't had this much trouble in a while."
Danielle couldn't contain her fear as she heard the police officers banter with each other. "Please don't kill me. I'll even wear yellow." Her teacher had her best interests it seems. It was unnerving sitting in the police car listening to two police openly plan to kill her.
"We'll need to go to the station then. Let's hope an exception can be made," the police said.
"So much trouble over a brilliant pup," her partner said.
They drove off towards the station. She noticed there were other pups her age that were feasting on the meals in the road. They sometimes even fought among each other, but they scrambled away at the sight of the police car only to return after they left.
They arrived at the police station. Danielle walked in escorted by two police officers.
"Is she lost?" another police officer said. "Do you have trouble finding her parents?"
"You wouldn't believe the tale I have to tell you, chief," the female police officer said.
"My partner has a soft spot for her," he said. The two police officers walked deeper into the building while the male police officer kept her company. "You're lucky that my partner likes you or you would be dead."
"I just want to live," Danielle said. She didn't know her price of disobedience would be this terrifying.
"And if my partner has her way, you will."
They waited as minutes passed by. It took an hour before the two police officers returned. "Put these on," the female police officer said.
Danielle gladly puts on the yellow clothing she tried so hard to avoid. They even gave her privacy by allowing her to change in the bathroom. "Am I free to go?"
"I wish that was true," she said. She took a knife from her pocket and walked up to Danielle. "This is going to hurt."
Danielle felt excruciating pain as they cut her left ear off. She used her paws to feel the wound terrified by the blood that was pouring from it. She screamed in agony while everyone watched.
The female that cut her dropped the knife as she completed the cut.
"She gets a second chance," the chief said. "She's lucky. Drive her off to somewhere."
"Alright, we'll be going," he said.
They led Danielle to the police car once more who was trying to focus despite her pain. "What's going to happen to me?"
"We drop you off somewhere then all you have to do is survive. If we ever catch you again, you'll suffer worse than just losing an ear," he said. He seemed annoyed with her. His female partner seemed shaken by what she had to do. "Get out now."
"But it's cold," Danielle said. It was the middle of the night and she felt her clothes didn't provide sufficient warmth.
"We can always kill you right now."
She quickly took the hint and ran from the police car. It quickly sped off leaving her alone in the middle of the city. She took some consolation that there was food in the middle of the street waiting just for pups like her.
It was delicately prepared just for her alone to eat in the middle of a deserted road. There wasn't any traffic at all. She took a bite of the sandwich at least savoring its taste. "At least the food is good," she muttered to herself.
She finished her meal. She decided to sleep on the sidewalk hoping the nightmare would end.
Daylight offered no respite. Pain jolted her awake. An adult dug his claws into her back. "You're awake, are you? Let me have some fun. I want to hear you scream."
She ran away from the adult, but every time she ran towards someone else, they chased her away. She learned that not even ones that looked welcoming would welcome her. They awarded her with sudden scratches on her body as she got closer. She quickly ran off in the opposite direction. She ended up in a dark alley where they finally gave chase. They walked on by as if she didn't exist.
This explained to her why her parents acted as such during that one strange day. She was now experiencing that very moment first-hand. She had to stay out of sight of everyone else. She was hungry. She rummaged through the trash to find a half-eaten sandwich with flies around it.
The sight was so repulsive she lost her appetite. Every time she tried to leave the alley, anyone she saw reacted with outright hostility. If she wasn't quick enough, they would have injured her. She had to wait until everyone else was off the streets.
Night time finally came. It was just like she suspected, a lavishly prepared meal was waiting for her in the middle of the road to enjoy. She understood now but didn't understand why her kin did this. She ate the meal, it even came with utensils and everything.
She walked around thinking of what to do when alone in the night. She spotted a police car in the distance driving towards her at a glacial pace. She remembered she lost an ear because of the police the first time. She ran the other way. It kept following her until she came upon the sight of another meal placed on the road itself.
The police car turned away, but it still blocked the exit from the road. She couldn't go backward. She enjoyed the meal there was no one to disturb her. She wandered around the streets, but it was just her alone. There were no other pups in sight.
It was like clockwork where they forced her to go to another location once more. This time, the police car was slightly faster, so she had to run to evade it. It was just like the last time. They led her to food and left her alone. She remembered the lessons of yesterday. She had to find a place to sleep alone where she would be out of sight. It wasn't comfortable living on the streets, but there was no other choice.
The sound two euplerids were making disturbed her sleep. She noticed that there was another pup nearby that had worn out clothing and was in far worse condition than her. The two adults picked that pup up delicately. She was sure that they saw her, she made only subtle sounds but no outward movements. She was afraid of what they would do. They walked away ignoring her completely.
She connected the dots. The pup she met in the park last year had to be referring to this event. She would end up living not with her parents but with two guardians that loved her as if she was their own. She just had to survive until then.
As the days wore on, it was impossible to maintain adequate hygiene. Her clothes became ragged and dirty. At least, she felt safe now. She learned what they permitted her to do. The police were there to guide her towards food. They never tried to catch her even though they were moving towards her.
She met a pup today. He was hungry and in the same condition as she was.
"Do you want to share?" she asked.
He laughed. "You haven't figured out everything yet."
She took a bite of cake, and so did he. They shared the fork and spoons because they were only one pair. She heard the police car approaching during their meal. She made the decision to run away. The other pup remained taking his time eating the cake.
The police never disrupted his meal but kept watch from a distance. She only got a few nibbles. She searched the streets for a meal but couldn't find any. She learned that food was precious. She found another obscure location waiting for night to come again. She had a theory, if two pups were together, the police would separate them.
The police cars guided her towards food, but she wasn't the only one this time. There was another pup approaching from the opposite direction. She tried to share but the pup wouldn't run when the police cars started closing in on them slowly.
It was then she decided to fight. She scratched the pup. After a brief struggle, it was apparent she was the victor as he limped away. She savored her prize, the meal placed in the middle of the road. She finished her meal, but before she had time to relax the police advanced from both sides. The defeated pup was well within their sights. They killed him then quickly left giving her a path to escape while the other one continued towards her.
It was routine, she had to fight for survival if there was anyone there. At least, not all matches resulted in death sometimes they just limped away hungry but alive.
She listened to four police officers talk from her hiding spot. It was then she realized that two of the police officers weren't her kind at all. It was the first time she saw another species up close.
"We know you want our pups," the euplerid accused.
"We're part of the ZPD," the feline said.
"That lie won't fly by us. You've been trying to cause trouble. I can see it," the partner added.
"Well, at least you're afraid," the euplerid gloated. "We kept you alive because we would like you to help us with something."
"What makes you think we would do that?" the tiger said.
"I believe it's in both our interests. You see, there's been a problematic pup in our midst. The soft police chief decided to give her another chance. Who knows what she might do with the knowledge." Danielle realized they were talking about her.
"What your suggesting is treason," the other euplerid said. Seeing as the other animal defended her, maybe she was still safe.
"Don't tell me you want someone with an ear missing."
"You're right, it's unfair. I guess we can let this slide once."
She tried to run away. The police must have known where she was all along, but it was futile. There was no escape. They passed her to the tiger and cheetah.
"Leave, don't come back or there will be consequences. Al Catpone is not welcome here," the euplerid said.
"We'll be leaving immediately," the cheetah said.
They herded her into a ZPD police car.
"I thought we were goners," the tiger said.
"There wasn't even a single pup to kidnap, police were everywhere. Pups constantly followed their parents," the cheetah said.
"What's going to happen to me?" Danielle asked. She supposed it was relief she wasn't dead. It was an anomaly nonetheless.
"We'll teach you some tricks to perform. You should bring in lots of money for us. What are you? a mongoose?"
At least, she was alive.
A/N: The fossa start displaying aggression towards their own offspring in captivity when they reach twelve months of age. The solution to this problem is to simply abandon your own pup. I am taking some liberties here.