Cat ran down the stairs and fumbled with the tranquilizer gun until Bluebell just asked for one of the darts. They traded weapons, and with still-shaking hands he jabbed a dart into the snow leopard man. Within the minute their intruder was out cold.

“Alex, that was amazing!” Cat said. “And Kirk! I’m so glad that you’re safe.”

Kirk looked away and mumbled something that sounded like an apology while Bluebell finished tying the man up. He reported that when he’d gotten the rope from the garage, it was empty- Silver was gone.

Image: Bluebell, Cat, and Kirk stand in the hallway. Cat’s hand is on Bluebell’s shoulder. Off to the side in front of them, the snow leopard man is sitting upright, asleep and bound by rope. End description.

The three of them walked to the front door. Cat opened it a crack and craned his neck out. Then, before Bluebell could react, he leapt out onto the porch and took aim with the shotgun.

“Connell,” he hissed under his breath.

“Cat, stop! You don’t know how to-!” Bluebell yelled and ran to grab his friend, but it was too late. Cat pulled the trigger and fired. The recoil made the gun buck upwards and its butt slammed into his shoulder; he grunted, forced back a step.

Image: Cat fires the shotgun. He’s grimacing, eyes squeezed shut and teeth bared; his head is tilted up as the recoil hits him. The open door is behind him, and Bluebell is running outside with a frightened expression on his face. End description.

Bluebell yanked him back and looked out to the road. He was amazed that Cat’s target was someone he recognized: The zebra-headed young man from the train incident. Colby got back into one of the cars, but he didn’t seem to be in a rush. Maybe it was also obvious to him that the bullet had flown wildly off course.

The car lurched forward, turned, and sped down the road. Pieces of gravel flew backwards as the wheels tore at the earth.

Image: One of the black cars is driving away down the gravel road, leaving a cloud of dust behind. End description.