A yowl of terror split the air. The raven swooped, winging its way down toward the sound. It perched above a clearing, gaze trained on the cats within it. They spoke in words he did not understand.
"Jupiter!" One screamed, "You can't do this!"
The other cat, Jupiter, made a snarling sound deep in its throat, "Oh but I can, sister. And I will." It lunged forward, sinking his teeth into the female cat's throat. The female gave a broken screech, pain and terror ringing true in her voice. The male shook her and flung the body to the side, where it lay, blood pooling from her throat.
"Oh, Saturn," Jupiter crooned, "You never knew when to give up."
He stalked forward, into the trees, and nearly out of the raven's sight. The raven quickly moved so it could see. Jupiter was crouching over three trembling bundles of fur, cat chicks.
The male cat growled, "Which of you is the strongest?" He asked cruelly. A black cat chick crept forward, his tail tucked under his legs.
"You will not hurt Hare and Ice!" He squeaked. Clearly, the chick was terrified.
"Are they strong?" Jupiter queried, folding his tail over his paws.
The black chick trembled, "It's not Hare's fault he's sick..."
Jupiter made a harsh, laughing sound, "Kit, you are wrong. If a cat is weak, they must die. Do you understand? It is a way of life."
"No!" The chick wailed. The pale brown chick beside him struggled to his paws and held his head defiantly.
The adult cat stepped forward, "Is this Hare?" he asked.
"Y-yes," The black one crouched to the ground, "What did you do to Saturn?"
"She was weak too," Jupiter darted forward and snatched up Hare in his jaws, "Say goodbye."
Hare squealed in terror and churned his tiny paws, "Help me, Ice! Dusk, help me!"
And then Jupiter closed his jaws around the chick's neck, a crunch echoing out. The white chick shrieked and so did the black one, Dusk.
"Ice," Jupiter said smoothly, flinging the tiny body away and into the bushes, "What about you? Are you strong?"
She didn't answer, cowering beside Dusk.
"Weak." Jupiter pounced and landed on Ice, his claws sinking into her neck. He gave her a sharp, quick blow to the spine and she lay still.
Dusk stood trembling in front of Jupiter, his legs shaking, "Ice..." he cried, "No!"
Jupiter growled, "You are strong." he hissed, "Do you promise, promise, that you will let go of your loyalty to Saturn? And Ice and Hare?"
Dusk quaked in fear, "Y-yes!" He only wanted to live, see another day, make Saturn proud again...
"Then, kit, come and take the Oath of Blood..."
Dusk never had an easy life. He didn't remember his mother or his siblings, and that suited him fine. Though sometimes he wished he knew life beyond Jupiter's Camp. The rogue camp.
He sighed and shook off the bad thoughts. He was loyal to Jupiter now. To all of them. His friend, Arrow, was padding beside him. He glanced at her as she stopped, dropping back towards to Moss Tree.
"What're you doing?" he hissed, "If Jupiter catches you doing an Elder's job, then you'll get punished!"
Arrow sighed, "It's not right, Dusk, the Elders shouldn't have to work as Slaves."
"None of this is right," Dusk growled.
Arrow cast him a pitying look, "Shut up."
Dusk smiled. Arrow smiled back.
He led her into the forest, his black pelt making the sun seem to burn hotter. He was sweltering in the heat. Arrow's light tabby pelt was short in comparison.
"Dusk," Arrow whispered, her nervous breathing sending chills up his spine, "Dusk. Look."