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This story is written by Cinderstar for Zaffie's contest!

Main Characters

Olive - A ginger tabby she-cat with bright green eyes, Olive is fiesty and sarcastic. She loves to joke around and is extremely outgoing and confident. Nothing anyone says can faze her, and she is capable of coming up with a retort to any remark.

Saskia - A pale grey she-cat with blue eyes, Saskia was raised by her father. She was the only she-cat in her litter, and her three brothers were all much bigger than she was. But that didn't stop Saskia trying her hardest and learning all her father's lessons... and becoming the best cat assassin in all the world. She believes herself to be completely and utterly cold-hearted and without mercy, but is she really as cruel as she thinks she is? Being the runt of the litter, she is only just full-grown but still smaller than most other cats. She made her first kill at the tender age of four moons, and by now has killed close to thirty different cat targets.

Rosepaw - A black tom with amber eyes. Rosepaw has been an apprentice for far too long, and his warrior ceremony is overdue. The biggest cat in the apprentice den, Rosepaw feels a certain amount of resentment towards his Clan leader, and wonders if his girly name has anything to do with his delayed ceremony. Rosepaw is a powerful tom with strong, broad shoulders and an aptitude for fighting, hunting, and anything physical.

Smokey - A dark gray tabby and white tom with green eyes. Smart, self-centered and slightly arrogent. originally a kittypet, but ran away because he thought he was better suited for forest life. Taught himself how to read while being a kittypet. Smart from reading several twoleg books.

Chapter 1

Saskia sat down and began to lick the blood from her grey paws. She was proud of herself, she now had killed twenty nine different cats. No one is more cold-hearted than me! She thought triumphantly. She looked back at the body of the black tom she had just murdured. She was certain he was trying to win her affections. I'm so cold-hearted, my affections can't be won over! She narrowed her eyes and purred.

Once Saskia had licked all the blood off her paws, she got up, stretched, and began to walk to her temporary den by a shallow stream. She had been driven away from almost every place she had tried to settle, and she considered that an accomplishment.

Saskia brushed past the ferns hiding the entrance to her den. The tom she had killed had fought hard, and she was tired. Curling up, she fell into a deep sleep. She began to dream. Saskia was in a lush, green forest. She was suprised at the warmth of the sun and realised it must be summer here, wherever she was. Just then she saw the black tom she had just killed pad towarrds her, his fur sparkling with stars.

"I wish I could say I welcome you to the Starlit Forest." He meowed. "But I would be lying if I did. This is where all good rogues and loners come when they die."

"I'm far from good." Saskia hissed. "I'm a merciless, cold-hearted killer. Who are you anyways."

"My name is Dusk." He introduced himself. "I am here to warn you, and send you on a mission."

"Why me?" Saskia hissed.

"Because, your father thought it would be a good idea." Dusk retorted.

Saskia narrowed her eyes, remembering her father. The first cat she killed had murdured him. "Go on." She meowed. "What is this mission?"

"I'll let you know later." Dusk meowed, "But first I must tell you, three other cats will accompany you. When you meet up with them, I'll visit you in a dream and let you know of your mission."

"Why should I do as you tell me?" Saskia hissed. "What's stopping me from running away and abandoning this crazy mission. I walk alone down my path of life."

"Let me put it this way." Dusk meowed, his eyes hardening. "You want to kill your thirtieth cat right? If you don't go on this journey, you will die before you manage to do so. I will make sure of that. You killed me, I have just as much right to kill you." "All right, all right," Saskia growled. "I'll do your silly little mission."

"Thank you." Dusk meowed. He turned his head toward a creamy golden she-cat padding up to them. The she-cat began to whisper in his ear.

"He ate the cactus!?" Dusk meowed in shock. He turned to Saskia. "My cousin isn't the brightest cat that ever lived, and he just ate a cactus and died of a cut throat. I've got to go fetch him now."

Saskia watched as Dusk and the she-cat faded into darkness, rolling her eyes at the thought of a cat eating a cactus.

...

"I hate Badgerstar!" Rosepaw hissed, spitting in the face of his mentor, Talonscratch. "All these moons of training, and he's not making me a warrior yet!"

"Calm down, your never going to earn your warrior name if you lose you temper like that." Talonscratch meowed.

"I've kept my temper for thirteen moons of training." Rosepaw murmured. "My brother has been made a warrior already, and all the other cats who I grew up in the nursery with, and noe you tell me Icepaw and Birdpaw are being made warriors, and they were born after my training started!"

"I'm sorry, that's just the was it is." Talonscratch meowed sharply. "Life's not fair."

Rosepaw sank his claws into the ground. Maybe it's all because of my name. It's meant for a she-cat! I wish I could ask my mother why she named me such a silly name, but she died when I was only a half-moon old.

"Why am I not a warrior! I should be a warrior! I fight and hunt way better than any of my denmates.!" Rosepaw insisted.

"I don't know Badgerstar's reasoning, but I'm sure he has your best interests at heart." Talonscratch meowed icily. "But if you continue on complaining and losing your temper, Ashkit, Snowkit and Frogkit will be made warriors before you."

But they were born yesterday! Rosepaw thought with despair. "Maybe I don't belong in ShadowClan." Rosepaw meowed. "Badgerstar sure doesn't want me here."

"Don't expect the other clans to take you in!" Talonscratch warned, eyes cold. "ThunderClan stopped being so soft lifetimes ago."

"A life as a rogue or loner would be better than a life being shadowed by newborn kits." Rosepaw hissed. He turned around and ran off before Talonscratch could say any more. Rosepaw isn't a tough name. Badgerstar just doesn't want me to make ShadowClan look bad because of my unsuitable name! I can live as a rogue. I'm a better hunter and fighter than half the clan!

Rosepaw barely noticed the thorns ripping his pelt as he ran beyond clan territory. Soon his paws began to grow tired and he slowed down to a walk. He looked through the branches of the trees above and sighed as the stars began to come out. StarClan, do you watch me even here? Why am I still an apprentice, whil my brother has an apprentice of his own. Help me find my own life as a rogue or loner.

Rosepaw was so caught up in his prayer to his ancestors, he didn't notice the scent of another cat wreathing around him. The next thing he knew he was pinned down by a pale grey she-cat with blue eyes.

...

"Fox dung!" Olive hissed as the squirrel she was chasing ran up a tree. She scowled up at the branches above her. Just then she heard the bushes rustle behind her. She narrowed her eyes as a dark grey tabby and white tom pushed his way out of the bushes.

"Pity about the squirrel." He meowed. "Who are you? My name is Smokey."

"I'm Olive." Olive meowed warily. sunlight caught on something around Smokey's neck and flashed. "Your collar!" Olive hissed. "You're a kittypet!"

"I was a kittypet." Smokey meowed, narrowing his eyes. "I ran away from my twolegs. Kittypet life doesn't suit me, although it did teach me some interesting things."

"What can being a kittypet teach you." Olive scoffed. "That batting around balls of yarn is fun? That dry rabbit dropppings taste good?"

"No," Smoke meowed. "I taught myself how to read."

"Read?" Olive asked skepticly. "What's that?"

"Well, twolegs have these things called books." Smokey explained. " And in them there are markings, called letters, and letters form words. If you can understand the words, they can tell you something, just as clearly as talking can. There are words all over the place around twoleg things."

"Really." Olive meowed, unimpressed. "Figures that a kittypet would find an intrest in twoleg stuff."

"It's not all that bad." Smokey meowed, his fur rising on his back. "It's gotten me out of a tough situation more than once."

"Whatever." Olive rolled her eyes. "If you're not a kittypet, you should get rid of that collar. Most wild cats aren't fond of kittypets."

"I've been trying to get rid of this annoying thing ever since I set foot out of my old twoleg nest." Smokey meowed, his fur flattening. "Could you help me?"

"Fine." Olive meowed, narrowing her eyes. She reached out for the collar and bit it off with her teeth. She stepped back to see what difference it made in Smokey's appearance. "Now you look almost normal."

"Almost normal?" Smokey purred with amusement. "How-" He was cut off by a yowl of fear coming from through the trees. "What's that?" He asked.

"Let's go find out." Olive meowed, not hesitating to brush through the undergrowth towards the yowl. Smokey had no choice but to follow.

Chapter 2

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you right now!" Saskia hissed at the black tom beneath her claws. I outwitted Dusk! I will make my thirtieth kill, without dying before I do! Why do I have to do anything that furball says?

"I don't care if you do or not." The black tom spat. "My life is horrible enough as it is!"

Saskia dug her claws deeper into the tom's pelt. The smell of blood rising from his wounds were intoxicating. It took all her comtrol not to start ripping him apart. "What's your name." She growled. Now Why am I bothering to ask that?

"Rosepaw." The black tom replied bravely. "Laugh if you want, it's my name. It's the reason I'm not a warrior yet while kits who were born after I was apprenticed are."

"Your a clan cat?" Saskia meowed with curiousity. She could never understand how so many cats could stand living so close to each other without ripping the pelts of their so-called clanmates.

"I was." Rosepaw hissed. "I ran away. I'm never good enough for Badgerstar, apparently.

Why am I dithering like a kittypet! I should kill this cat know while I get the chance. Saskia told herself sharply. Just as she began to lunge for the young tom's neck, she felt a something barrel into her, knocking her off her victim. Sorry Dusk! Please don't kill me!

Then she realised the cat that had hit her wasn't black, It was ginger. Standing a few tail-lengths away was a fluffy grey tom. Then Dusk's words echoed in her head: three other cats will accompany you.

"Hey, get off me!" Saskia hised at the ginger she-cat who had pinned her down.

"You were trying to kill that cat, why should I let you go?" The ginger she-cat hissed.

"I'm sorry." Saskia hissed, glaring at the ginger she-cat. "My name is Saskia. I thought that cat was my cousin, who I'm out to get revenge on. When he told me his name was Rosepaw, I realised I was wrong."

The ginger she-cat looked disbelievingly at Saskia and got off her. "I'm Olive, and this is Smokey." She meowed.

"Pleased to meet you." Saskia muttered.

Smokey looked at Rosepaw. "She almost turned you into a porridge!" He meowed with amusement.

"I am not a porridge." Rosepaw meowed with confusion. "What is that anyways?"

"A type of twoleg food. I read about it." Smokey explained. "And you almost where"

Breaking her eyes away from Rosepaw and Smokey's comversation, Saskia turned to Olive. She knew what she must do, even though she couldn't stand being around most cats. It couldn't be more abvious that these were the cats she was meant to travel with. Could I have been grouped together with a weirder group of cats? she rolled her eyes.

"Now, everyone, listen up. I have something very important to tell you!" Saskia announced.

...

Olive couldn't believe her ears. Saskia, who seemed to be a ruthless killer, had just told them all that it was their destiny to go on a mission, all four of them.

"Why should we trust you? How do I know you're not leading us into a trap?" Olive meowed suspiciously. "After all, you did just admit to trying to kill Rosepaw."

"Sorry, I son't have anything to make you believe me any less or more." Saskia sighed. "I'm just passing on a message, and I know it could be disasterous if we don't go."

Olive sighed. "Four cats, complete strangers traveling together, one admiting to atempting murder. What could possibly go wrong?" She heard Smokey laugh behind her.

"I'm in." Smokey meowed. "I've read about missions, and they sound exciting."

Where does this cat get all this stuff! Has he read about everything? Olive wondered, rolling her eyes.

"I'm in too." Smokey decided. "There's no life for me back at my clan."

Olive rolled her eyes. "I guess I can't refuse, seeing that everyone else is going."

"Okay then." Saskia meowed. "Let's find a place for the night. I'll let you know what are mission is tomorrow."

"Fine then." Olive meowed sharply. "But whatever you say, I'm not going to share a den with you. I still don't trust you."

Chapter 3

Smokey woke up to Saskia's voice. "Okay, I can tell you what our mission is now." Saskia announced.

"What?" Smokey asked, jolting himself awake. He couldn't believe he was going to be on an actual mission. He had read all about them in books.

"There is a group of cats who call themselves The Shadow Claws." Saskia began. "Every night, they creep through the shadows, and kill their enemies while they're asleep. Aparently they can move so quickly and quietly that the shadowy blurr they become is unnoticeable. They also steal kits to join their ranks, and when cats are suddenly found dead or missing, there is no way to tell what happened."

Smokey felt a shiver run down his spine. This really was like the books he read.

"So what are you suggesting we do?" Rosepaw asked, his eyes wide with fear.

"We have to find their camp," Saskia meowed, a hungry gleam in her eyes. "And destroy them. The best way to do that is to kill their leader, who calls himself Talon. Apparently he's the only one who knows how to give cats the power of the shadows, and supplies it, and if he dies, all the cats become normal cats again."

"How do you expect we do that?" Olive asked. "If they find out we're after them, They just need to send out a patrol and we're dead in our nests." Smokey could tell beneath the spite, the ginger she-cat was as scared out of her fur as the rest of them were.

"It's dangerous, but I'm in." Rosepaw meowed, trembling. "We promised yesterday we'd go with Saskia. A warrior never breaks a promise." He cut off. "I mean, I never break a promise. I can never go back to being a clan cat, no cat there appreciates me."

"I suppose we can't back out now." Smokey agreed.

"I go to save a cat who I'm certain will be killed, and it lands me in a situation where I'm almost certain to lose my life." Olive sighed. "What is this world coming to? I suppose I can't back out, if everyone else agrees."

"Come on then, let's go." Saskia meowed, flicking her tail and stalking off into the undergrowth. Smokey began to follow Saskia and fell in step beside Olive.

"I'm sorry I got you into this." Smokey meowed. "This is all my fault. If I hadn't agreed, you wouldn't have had to come along."

"It's not your fault." Olive snapped. "It's my fault for trying to rescue Rosepaw! If I hadn't done that, Saskia would've killed him."

"Any decent cat would try to save another in trouble." Smokey soothed. "Where did you come from?" He asked, trying to change the topic.

"My back story isn't important." Olive meowed, "I'm here now, that's what matters. I don't like to dwell on my past. How long have you been away from your twolegs? You don't reek of them, so you must have been away from them a while."

"I didnt have any specific housefolk, twolegs as you call them. I lived in a giant twoleg nest filled with books. It was called a library. Everyone who came to visit and borrow books looked after me. During the night, when no twolegs were around, I would read the books." Smokey explained. "Most of the stories I read were filled with adventures, and I began to grow restless, so one day, I slipped out through the book return slot and ran away. I wandered the forest for a while, and now here I am."

"Oh." Olive meowed. Smokey suspected she didn't really understand what he was trying to tell her. He understood. He guessed if he hadn't taught himself how to read, he wouldn't have understood any of that either.

...

Rosepaw felt numb with horror as he padded through the forest. He heard Olive and Smokey gently talking to each other behind him.

More coming soon! :)

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