ORIGINAL IDEA BY HIMG
When everything you know changes?
The scientists wandered round the lab, carefully checking everything. They had made a major discovery-they had created a gene, a new gene. A gene for psychic abilities. And in the very room were their first testers. They were going to plant the gene in six cats and see what happened.
One man, a tall, thin one with a curly mop of wild hair on his head turned to another and said simply: 'Get the gene.'
The other twoleg nodded, turned and punched a string of numbers into a pad on the wall. A crack opened up like a portal, and he stepped in. The gene was kept in the highest security vault in the Hub, out of fear that rival geniuses would steal it.
The assistant reached in and plucked a small container out of the safe. In it was a speck, the width of a piece of grass, a dot. No one would ever have realised that this was one of the most dangerous formulas ever created.
The scientist opened the lid of the container carefully, easing it off like whatever inside would easily smash should it fall to the floor. He took some tweezers from the bench beside him and picked the gene up with the tool. He placed it in some liquid, and put the solution into a syringe. All of the team waited, holding their breath, Would the gene work?
One by one, the scientist injected each of the unconcious cats with the fluid. Not one of the felines even raised a whisker or twitched a claw. They were all drugged, used for the purpose of science. Science that might kill them one day. When the team were done, each if the humans left the room, chattering excitedly.
Little did they know that what they had done might be deadly.
Shadowsun awoke, feeling like his eye was fastened together with bindweed. He forced it open, and blinked blearily. His vision was terrible, he felt like he was squinting through mist. Blinking several more times, his sight cleared up, but his mind felt foggy with tiredness and confusion.
The last thing he remembered was the twolegs leering over him and picking him up in their skinny forelegs. They had pierced something into his side, something sharp, but the pain had gone in a moment. After that, all Shadowsun remembered was blackness, with mulitcoloured flashes blinding his eyes, and then he woke up here.
Struggling to his paws, Shadowsun banged his head on something hard and cold. Growling with disgust, he glanced up. Three rods of shiny twoleg stuff was stopping him from standing up. There were bars on the sides as well. A thin twoleg pelt covered the floor. It's a cage, Shadowsun reminded himself, thinking of the times cats of his Clan had come back after being taken by twolegs.
He had to go back home, back to his Clan. He was a loyal deputy, who would arrange patrols and wake up lazy apprentices in the morning? ForestClan, he thought blearily. Home. That small, simple word sent claws of sorrow through his heart. He didn't know how long he had been trapped here. Three sunrises? Four? Seven?
He cast his eye round the place the twolegs were keeping him. He only had one eye, a ravenous badger had ripped off the second. Stupid badger, he thought gruffly. Thanks to the striped animal, he had so many scars down his back, and a very deep long one down the side of his muzzle.
And then there was his eye. Where one amber eye should be blinking was just a huge scrape of pink flesh, flecked with dry blood. The medicine cat had done all he could to help him, and he was grateful for that. The scar didn't hurt any more.
Clearing his thoughts, he looked round the room. It had straight sides, like all twoleg places, and white walls as pale as stars. Everything was neat and organised. One one wall, several transparent shapes held different liquids, each one a different colour. One was orange like a fox pelt, another green like verdant grass.
He craned his neck to see round to his left. There were three more cats, each in the same cages as he was! Shadowsun was both delighted and puzzled. Why did twolegs need more cats? The three beside him were all sleeping, utterly still. They hardy moved; Shadowsun was afraid they were dead until he saw the soft rise and fall of a russet furred tom's chest.
Feeling comforted, Shadowsun looked left. There were two more cats, two more of his kind! They were as still as rocks too, though one dark ginger she cat scrabbled at the shiny bars once in her sleep.
Shadowsun jumped as he heard a whoosh sound, like the wind was rustling in his ears. It couldn't be the breeze though, he was inside. The noise had come from a twoleg thing. It had come from the wall. Completely bemused, Shadowsun stared as the white spot opened up like a wide mouth. Whoosh, it said, and through its jaws came several twolegs.
They each wore loose white pelts, and one wore a pair of transparent circles over his eyes. How in the name of StarClan do they do this? Shadowsun wondered, horrified. These twolegs had become so powerful, they could command the walls! He mewed in shock, shivering.
At the sound of his mew, one of the twolegs barked excitedly, and jabbed a forepaw in Shadowsun's direction. The brown tabby shrank back into his cage, wanting to hide and be enveloped into the shadows. But it was no use. The four twolegs scurried over to him, and began shouting excitedly.
When their cheers subside, they stared at Shadowsun in wonder, their eyes filled with hope and nerves. Their hairless faces shone with delight, and their gaze began to unnerve Shadowsun. He felt the hair at the back of his neck begin to rise, and he hissed.
One of the twolegs made a gurgling sound like a river, and it sounded happy. The other three joined in with their friend. Shadowsun felt like they were mocking him, and it reminded him of the way his Clan had chuffed and purred at the sight of his broken face after the badger had clawed him.
He growled, snarled and spat at the twolegs, then swiped out at them through the rods of shiny material. He felt satisfaction as he saw one of the twolegs clutch his face, and Shadowsun saw the blood trickly down the side of his muzzle. The twolegs looked at him with new fear in their eyes. He was a wild cat, not a tame kittypet. But their stares still scared him, and he shrank back again, wishing he was as small as the mice he loved to eat.
Then the injured twoleg opened his jaws, and Shadowsun expected to hear a stream of shouting explode from his mouth. But instead, what flowed out was a hiss, the hiss of a cat. The twoleg's words were broken, but Shadowsun understood what he was saying.
We no tolerate violence in lab, it mewed, deadly calm. Understand, kitty?
Shadowsun wanted to bite the twoleg, but all he could do was stare in terror. Twolegs could speak his language now? They understood Cat? Shadowsun nodded feverently, not wanting to hear the mew again, but he did. This time the twoleg mewed, Good. We come tomorrow again. Though first.
It gestured with a forepaw to another twoleg, and spoke in his one language this time. The other twoleg nodded, dashed off, and returned with one of the thorns Shadowsun recognised from days ago. It reached through the bars and stabbed Shadowsun, and the last thing the cat saw with his only eye was the faces swarming over him,
White light streamed into the room. Songflower blinked open her eyes, and prompty hit her head on the top of the cage.
Songflower looked up and around, realizing she was trapped. "Help me! I'm trapped! Get me out of here!"
A pale ginger she-cat from across the room snarled. "Shut up! They'll hear you!"
Songflower tilted her head. "What? Who will hear-" She broke off as twolegs dressed in white entered the room. She dropped into a crouch and hissed.
The twolegs shook their bulky heads. No violence. We will not hurt you, if you cooperate.
Songflower backed into the cage. "How can you understand me?"
The twolegs mewed nothing, and instead began to open the cages in the den. Songflower was lifted onto a cold rock. The twolegs stood together. One of them mewed, We'll be testing your powers now. We need to see if there are any... issues with them.
"What kind of issues?" Mewed a small white she-cat fearfully.
The twoleg mewed, Anything that could cause you to die. Nothing big.
The white she-cat shrunk back.
The two legs spoke to each other in their own language, then picked up the pale ginger she-cat. Telekinesis. mewed the twoleg. You can pick up objects with your mind. The twoleg put the she-cat back on the table, and placed a round object across the room. Focus on this object, and imagine it coming over to you.
She nodded shakily, and shut her eyes. She struggled, but Songflower noticed that the round object was rising, and coming to the table. Hesitantly, the pale ginger she-cat opened her eyes, and in shock, stumbled backwards. The object dropped to the floor.
One of the twolegs picked it up, and the 'head' twoleg nodded. Not bad for a first try. Name?
The she-cat gulped. "Morningsun."
The twoleg took the round object from one of the smaller twolegs, and began to awkwardly move their paw along an auburn, wooden object.
Then the twoleg pointed to a red-brown tom. You can predict things. Focus on Holly here. The twoleg jestured to one of the smaller twolegs. Tell us exactly what she's going to do outside the room.
Holly sprinted out of the room, and the other smaller twoleg followed her, but only slightly. The head twoleg looked at the tom. Focus on her, and tell us what she'll do.
The tom nodded, and shut his eyes. He shook as he seemingly focused. "She's going to get a drink, then jump 3 times, and then return to this room."
The small male twoleg raced out of the room. After about a minute, the two small twolegs returned. They quickly spoke in their own language, then the head twoleg began moving his paw along the wooden object. Wonderful. That's exactly what she did. Name?
The twolegs moved along, and tested each of the cats. Shadewing made Morningsun skip around like a kit, and Whiteflower spoke in Redtail's low voice. Songflower went into Holly's mind, and made her forget her birthday.
Finally the twoleg came up to the black, scarred tom. You can't be hurt phyiscally. I'm going to strike you with this knife. The twoleg pointed to a thin, silvery object. If this works properly, you will not be hurt. If not, well, you'll be bleeding for several hours.
Songflower winced. Her heart pounded. How can they do this? It's cruel, and insane!
The twoleg stuck the silver object into the tom's side. Nothing seemed to happen. The twoleg pulled it back out, still silver. Grinning the twoleg mewed, Wonderful. Name?
The tom snarled. "Shadowsun. But what does this matter to you?"
The twoleg didn't respond. Instead he spoke to the smaller twolegs in his own language. Then the smaller twolegs began to pick up the cats, and re-secure them.
As the twolegs left, Songflower lay down on the floor of her cage.
How can anyone stand for this?
Redtail paced around his cage nervously. None of the white-pelted Twolegs were racing around, so they couldn't hear his quiet mews. "We need to get out of here," he whispered. "But how?"
"Why don't we discuss it?" One of the cats, Whiteflower, asked softly. She was curled up on the floor of her cage, her ears flat to her head. Her white fur glowed faintly in the dark room the six cats stayed in. "I mean, if we don't agree on a plan, then-"
"I get what you're saying." Another, Shadowsun, interrupted. His scarred pelt was bristling in agitation, and his one amber eye glinted in the shaft of light that came from a tiny, clear window.
Redtail flicked his bushy russet tail. "Anyone have a plan yet?"
"I do not suggest you try and escape." a deep Twoleg voice growled. "We will catch you if you try." The voice echoed around the room, even though there was no Twoleg in sight. Redtail hissed in annoyance. Were these stupid Twolegs everywhere!?
A gasp came from one of the cats - Morningsun, it sounded like. She asked frightfully, "But how did you-" The Twoleg voice cut into her question. "We have recording devices hidden here. If you try to escape, we will see it. If you devise a plan to escape, we will hear it."
Shadowsun's claws raked along the floor of his cage, making a horrible scraping sound. Redtail flattened his ears, trying to block the sound.
"Shadowsun, stop it! You're gonna deafen us with that noise!" Shadewing yowled.
The dark brown tom slowly sheathed his claws as the Twoleg's voice finished, "Now stay there. And no. Planning. An. Esca-" the echoing voice cut off abruptly, leaving the room silent except for the noise of the cats' breathing. Morningsun loudly broke the silence. "So what do we do now?"
Redtail opened his mouth to speak, but closed it and shook his head. "We can't do anything because of that Twoleg and their... uh... 'recording devices'." He sat down, feeling defeated.
Whiteflower shook her head. "No, there's something we can do!" she said in Songflower's voice. "Is now really the time to show off your power!?" Songflower growled. "Oh, come on, Songflower-" "You two, shut up!" Redtail yowled, silencing the two she-cats. "Fighting won't get us anywhere." More quietly, he added, "The Twolegs don't have good hearing, like we do. And those 'recording thingies' don't translate our words." "So?" Shadewing mewed. "How does that help us?" "It helps us because we can devise a plan without the Twolegs seeing." Redtail answered, looking at her.
Morningsun rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that would work if it weren't for those recording things." She flicked a paw up at one of the devices, its hard, black surface gleaming slightly in the moonlight. "But we can do something about them, right? Right!?"
Shadewing looked thoughtful. Then she mewed, "We're not doing something about it. You are."
"Wha- me!? But why?" Morningsun asked, sounding more nervous then curious.
"You have telekinesis, mouse-brain! Remember?" Shadewing growled impatiently.
Redtail flicked his ears, nodding. "I see what she's getting at. She either wants you to rip the cameras from the wall - which you probably can't do - or throw something at them to break them."
"Yep." Shadewing nodded. "So, Morningflower, think you can do it?"
Whiteflower blinked, then mewed, "Your plan is flawed, you guys." When all the cats turned to look at her, her gaze wavered. "Like, what if it doesn't work? What if she can't do what we expect her to do? She's not too good with her powers yet."
Shadowsun sighed. "Right."
"But what if it works?" Redtail persisted. "What if-"
"And how would we get out of the cages?" Whiteflower continued.
Redtail rolled his eyes. "Okay, so we can just basically use our powers against the Twolegs." He stood up, his russet fur bristling. "And if it doesn't work, we'll have to come up with another plan."
Morningsun steadied herself, concentrating on the cameras. A small crack was heard, but the camera still stood in place.
"Try again," Redtail encouraged. Morningsun stared at it again, the camera now falling to the floor.
"Yes!" Shadewing yowled triumphantly, then hearing a Twoleg, she cursed. There was a few minutes of silence as the cats tried to think of a plan.
"Shadewing?" Shadowsun meowed thoughtfully, "Isn't your power controlling things? And Songflower, isn't yours manipulating memories?" the two she-cats nodded.
"Why?" asked Songflower.
"Shadewing could control a twoleg to let us out, then you could manipulate all the twolegs' memories to think we never escaped." Shadowsun explained.
"It could work," said Whiteflower.
"Let's try it, then!" mewed Morningsun excitedly.
"Hey, twolegs! Get in here, you pieces of crowfood!" hissed Shadewing.
"You should not treat us like that." growled the twoleg who came in. Shadewing closed her eyes, thinking of only the twoleg. When she opened her eyes, the twoleg was still. Move forward. Shadewing thought, and the twoleg did exactly so. Let us out.
"No. I will not let you out." said the twoleg. Whiteflower hissed in anger. Let us out. thought Shadewing again. The twoleg hesitated, then took something jingly out of a pocket in it's fur, and inserted it in the cages.
They were free.
All of the cats raced out of the room, and after the twoleg regained his senses, he began chasing the cats. Songflower lept onto a shelf, and attempted to project a message to the minds of the twolegs that had spotted them. The twolegs looked confused - Songflower tried again.
"The cats are not here - it's just a trick! They are getting out of their cages! Run, stop them!" shrieked one of the twolegs.
"Nice work, Songflower." said Shadowsun, "Now let's run." slamming into a door, which slid open easily, the pack of cats ran into the sunlight.
"We're free!" cried Morningsun, practically bouncing up and down with excitement. As the cats came to a stop(far away from the twolegs), the cats allowed themselves a sigh of relief. It was a beautiful day; birds chirping, mice scurrying.
"We're free." echoed Redtail. Shadewing and Shadowsun had each caught prey - a mouse and a bird repsectively, and were devouring it.
"Save some for us," complained Whiteflower in Songflower's voice.
"Just because we're free doesn't mean you can do that again." Songflower said irritably.
"Don't fight," cautioned Redtail, "Being free also doesn't mean we're safe, so you shouldn't let your guard down."
"Being free also doesn't mean we're safe," mimicked Whiteflower(of course, in Redtail's voice).
Shadewing stifled a laugh, "Whiteflower's right by-at least I think- saying that we should still have fun..?"
"That's not what I'm saying! I'm saying Redtail's becoming annoying!" Redtail twitched his whiskers.
"You're the one becoming annoying," said Redtail.
"You're both annoying. Does that settle it?" growled Shadowsun.
"Yes." muttered Whiteflower and Redtail - Shadewing and Morningsun both burst out laughing, being joined by Songflower. The sun was going down, quickly spotted by Songflower.
"Maybe we should find a camp before nightfall." the others agreed, and they set off.
Whiteflower awoke the next morning in the makeshift den they had made under a tree the night before. She stretched, wincing as the dawn light flooded through the tree's roots and into her eyes. Blinking rapidly, she looked around the hollow area.
Morningsun, ever the cheerful one, had fell asleep stretched out across the small area, apparently not realizing that it would make some of the others uncomfortable. Redtail hadn't made much of a fuss, but Songflower had chosen to sleep as far away from the others as she could, as had Shadowflight. Trying not to step on anyone's tail, Whiteflower picked her way across the "den" to the entrance.
Poking her head out of the den, Whiteflower discovered that someone had been out hunting, as there was a small collection of prey just outside. Shadowsun, she realized. He'd been the deputy of ForestClan, after all. He was used to getting up early.
Whiteflower emerged fully from the den and sat down, waiting for the others to wake up. It would be hard, she refllected, to figure out were to go from there. She couldn't just abandon them, could she?
Glancing backwards, she could see the others' pelts through the tree's roots. For all the ways their personalities conflicted, Whiteflower had gotten used to being around them. After all, they'd escaped the Twolegs together. She owed them some kind of friendship, or at least allegiance and respect.
As the sun started to rise more, Shadowsun returned with more prey. The dark brown tom dropped two more mice on the makeshift fresh-kill pile and looked down at Whiteflower with his one good eye. She forced herself not to shudder as her gaze flickered to the mess that had once been his other eye.
Gruffly, Shadowsun met her gaze and said, "So, someone else is finally up." He glanced over Whiteflower's shoulder to the snoring bundles of fur in the makeshift nest. "Those fluff-brains have been asleep far too long."
Whiteflower nodded absently, still considering whether she could leave or not. She jolted back to attention when the former deputy cleared his throat.
"Should we go back to ForestClan?"
Whiteflower blinked, surprised to hear Shadowsun voicing her own thoughts. Then again, she usually voiced her thoughts in other cats' voices, which was kind of the same thing. And yet, it was still different to hear the actual cat speaking her opinions.
Clearing her throat, Whiteflower spoke softly, in her own voice for a change. "Yes," she admitted. "I was thinking about that, actually, and I think maybe we should return to our Clan."
"But what if they don't accept us?" Shadowsun said, still looking straight into the she-cat's eyes. "We're different now, Whiteflower. It might be difficult for us to rejoin the... normal cats."
"So?" Whiteflower said, slipping into Shadewing's voice before she even noticed she was doing it. "They don't have to know. We can keep a secret, right?"
Shadowsun narrowed his eye. "We'll see." He brushed past her and padded into the shelter to wake the others.
Later in the day, all six cats were lying lazily in the sun, full-fed and content - or, in some cats' cases, as content as they ever were - when Shadowsun suddenly stood and turn to look at all the others.
"We're never going back to ForestClan," he announced.
Redtail blinked rapidly, startled. "What?" he asked, his voice coming out more high-pitched than normal. "We have to! We're Clan cats, right?"
Shadowsun shook his head. "We're not normal anymore. Besides, Whiteflower agrees with me, don't you?" He directed the last part at the white she-cat.
Whiteflower flinched as four sets of eyes swiveled her way. "I never said that, exactly," she muttered, purposefully speaking in Shadowsun's rumbly voice.
Morningsun rose to her paws, all traces of her former blissful sleepiness gone now that everyone was being serious. "We have to go back," she whispered, looking almost upset for once. "ForestClan is our home!"
Songflower rolled her bright green eyes, which looked even more vibrant than usual in the direct sunlight. "Like they'd even want us back," she said, not trying to hide her hostility. "We all know what the Clan thought of us before. Why would they want us back now that we're freaks too?"
Every cat seemed to look everywhere except at the other cats. In the past, the cats had been rogues, kittypets, and even murderers. Why would anyone want to welcome a group of cats like that?
Shadewing was the first to break the awkward silence that followed. "I agree with Shadowsun and Whiteflower," she declared. "The Clan doesn't need us."
"But we have to go back!" Morningsun blurted, sounding close to tears. "What will we do if we don't?"
Redtail stood and walked over to Morningsun, murmuring comforting words to her. He was about to say something to the others, but Whiteflower beat him to it.
"Shadowsun's right," she insisted in Morningsun's voice, feeling like it was odd that she should use the other she-cat's voice to contradict her. "We can't go back. They'd never accept us."
"They have to," Redtail spat, clearly annoyed with Whiteflower for not letting him speak. "We're Clan cats!"
"Not all of us are," Songflower muttered, aiming her words at the former outsiders.
Shadowsun's claws dug into the ground as he watched, frustrated, as the cats turned against each other in an overlapping arguement. The battle-scarred deputy looked like maybe he wanted to dig his claws into cat flesh, so Whiteflower raised her voice and spoke over the chaotic arguing.
"Quiet," she snapped. "Not all of us have to go back if we don't want to."
The cats quieted down, waiting for "Shadowsun" to speak again. Clearly, none of them had noticed that Whiteflower had been the speaker. Shadowsun dipped his head slightly to Whiteflower and addressed the small group.
"We can't go back because we're different," he explained. "They wouldn't understand us."
Shadowsun's words brought about a bout of protests from most of the cats. Whiteflower took advantage of the confusion to slip out of the den.
Maybe Shadowsun was right. The "normal" cats would never understand them now. They'd changed, and there was no way that they could ever be accepted back into the Clan.
Still, as the sun's rays shone brightly on Whiteflower's pelt, warming her, she couldn't help but feel chilled.
Would they ever really belong anywhere?