(will finish coding later)
“You have to beat us to make it out alive.”
The Elite are five former Clan warriors, now the best of the best. They lay in wait for cats to come and meet their challenge every moon. Win, and you live. Lose, and you die. Only the strongest warriors survive – and it’s hard to do that against the best of them all. As the next group of cats are selected, a young RiverClan warrior has her chance to face the Elite – and face her fate of being either glorified or shamed.
This story takes place a long way in the future, in the lake territories. SkyClan is present. There have been some changes to how the Clans run since then (although most of the core traditions are the same), and now cats are selected to fight for their fate every moon.
Some inspiration for this story is taken from Warriors (of course), but there is some influence from The Hunger Games and The Chase (which is a British quiz show I kinda have an obsession with lol) in here.
Night was falling. There was stiffness in the air as the RiverClan warriors milled around camp, waiting to go to the full-moon Selection. As it was every moon, there was a sense of foreboding.
Nobody wanted to be selected, and Wavewhisker knew it. That message had been told to all Clan cats since well before she was born. She knew not many cats that went to face the Elite made it out alive.
The young warrior sighed. It’s only my second Selection, and I’m dreading it already!
Every moon, the five Clans gathered on their lake island with their warriors. There, the leaders would select the five representatives who would leave the Clan and face the Elite, the best warriors in all of the Clans. If you were a warrior, you had a chance of being selected. As a young warrior, Wavewhisker knew that she likely had many Selections due for her yet – tonight would only be her second Selection.
“Hey, Wavewhisker.” A nose touched her shoulder. Wavewhisker turned to see her sister, Reedbreeze, beside her. “You ready for tonight?” While her sister looked calm, she could see the slightly fearful look in her blue eyes.
“As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.” Wavewhisker shook out her blue-gray fur. “At least we know what to expect this time.” Outside of the Selection, nobody talked about what happened in it. It was a closely-guarded secret by the warriors. When you went to the Selection for the first time, you would find out its procedure for the first time as well.
Reedbreeze shuddered. “Doesn’t make it much better.” She glanced towards the nursery, where kits frisked around the queens’ paws. “I’d rather have kept my innocence.” The gray warrior padded towards the Meeting Stump, where all the warriors were gathering, waiting to leave. Wavewhisker followed her, weaving within the throng of Clanmates.
Pikestar stood on top of the Meeting Stump. Although he wouldn’t get selected himself to face the Elite, as a leader he would choose one cat from another Clan to take part. Wavewhisker didn’t envy the decision that he would have to make: Clanmate or not, could be sending a cat to their death. Does Pikestar ever think about the lives he’s condemned by sending them to the Elite?
“Cats of RiverClan!” Pikestar called from the top of the Meeting Stump, and Wavewhisker raised her head slightly to get a better look at the mottled gray leader. “Our warriors are about to head to our full-moon Selection. May all RiverClan warriors gather below the stump now, ready to go. While I am gone, Flowfur will be in charge of camp.” His gaze flicked towards the nursery, where the long-haired queen stood: she acknowledged the leader with a nod, before proceeding to shoo any remaining kits back into the nursery.
Wavewhisker saw the last few straggling warriors join the group. None of them spoke. She could only hear the streams which surrounded the camp, and a couple of voices of apprentices talking. “I wish I could see what happens in the Selection,” she heard one of them boast, and she shook her head. Just you wait until you’re a warrior, apprentice, and you’ll think otherwise.
Pikestar’s voice interrupted again. “Let’s go!” Wavewhisker heard a thumping noise as the leader jumped off the Meeting Stump. His deputy, Scaleshine, and medicine cat, Newtfoot, followed him, all the warriors falling in behind. Wavewhisker felt herself fall into step next to Reedbreeze at the back of the group of warriors.
As they exited the camp, Reedbreeze glanced back over at her again. She looked a little bit nervous. “Wavewhisker,” she mewed quietly, “I get the feeling something bad’s going to happen tonight.”
Wavewhisker snorted. Reedbreeze has always been a worrier. It won’t be any different, surely? “There’s nothing to worry about. We’ll be back in the RiverClan camp tonight, I promise. Both of us.” It had been only them for most of their lives – they’d lost their mother to illness when they’d just become apprentices, and their father had been claimed by the Elite themselves when their mother had been expecting them. “I won’t let us be separated.”
Before her sister could reply, Wavewhisker picked up her pace, leaving Reedbreeze to talk with someone else. She had better things to deal with than to think about her sister’s worrying. Like getting through tonight, she thought, confident that she could avoid the Elite for many moons yet. I’m sure I have many more moons in RiverClan ahead of me. Yet, despite her positive thoughts, a small part of her couldn’t help but feel worried.
Wavewhisker’s body went low to the ground. Bunching up her hind legs, she jumped off the tree-bridge, and onto the Selection island. Fresh scents from the other four Clans spread along her tongue: she recognized the familiar ShadowClan and WindClan scents first, before picking up SkyClan and ThunderClan – Clans RiverClan didn’t share borders with – later.
“We’re the last Clan to arrive.” Pikestar’s voice rang up among his Clanmates. Out of the edge of her vision, Wavewhisker saw the last of the RiverClan warriors jumping off the tree-bridge behind them. “Go sit in our usual spot.” A bare patch in the clearing signalled the spot where the Clan would sit together.
Before the Elite and Selections existed, the Clans still gathered on the island. Wavewhisker had heard these stories from the elders, although none of them could remember this time. She had heard that cats from different Clans had mixed together, as one giant Clan for the night. The young warrior wrinkled her nose at the thought. How strange.
Wavewhisker stayed with her Clanmates, sitting down in their group. She saw Pikestar and Newtfoot trail off: Pikestar to the great oak in the clearing where the leaders would address them, and Newtfoot to the roots, where the medicine cats sat and spectated. Scaleshine, meanwhile, circled around the RiverClan warriors, keeping them in line.
As Pikestar joined the other four leaders, a yowl sounded, loud and clear in the quiet clearing. A large golden tom stepped forward, and Wavewhisker recognised him as Lionstar, the leader of ThunderClan. “Cats of the five Clans! It is time for our full-moon Selection, to decide the five cats that will face the Elite this moon.”
A few worried murmurs arose from the crowd. Wavewhisker saw a fellow RiverClan warrior, Patchtail, flatten his ears.
“Tonight, I invite Pikestar to pick first.” Lionstar dipped his head, allowing the dark RiverClan leader to step forward. Wavewhisker felt herself relax for a moment: someone from another Clan would be the first to be picked.
Once her leader stepped forward, she saw him sweep his blue gaze over the groups of cats. After a lengthy pause, his gaze set on the group of WindClan cats, which were closest to the oak. “I am going to select a WindClan cat this moon.”
A few WindClan cats shrank back in worry.
Pikestar’s eyes were narrowed as he flicked them over the group. Then, his tail twitched. “I have chosen,” he mewed. “White tom, shredded ear? I don’t know his name.”
At once, Wavewhisker saw the WindClan cats turn. “It’s Burrowtail!” A cat called above the clamour, and Wavewhisker strained to see, but she was too far away and couldn’t see over so many heads.
“Thank you, Pikestar.” The leader of WindClan, Tussockstar, stepped forward while Pikestar stepped back. The dusty brown she-cat’s eyes appeared to land on Burrowtail. “You know the rules, Burrowtail. Go sit by the medicine cats.”
The clearing was silent. All the cats, Wavewhisker included, turned to stare. She couldn’t see much from where she was sitting, however.
“Now it’s my turn to choose.” Tussockstar spoke again: Wavewhisker assumed that Burrowtail had joined the medicine cats. Her voice held no emotion for the Clanmate she’d just seen been chosen. “I have decided that I want to pick a SkyClan cat tonight.” She briefly paused, before continuing: “I see my choice now. I don’t know her name either, but she’s a thin ginger tabby with green eyes.”
There was a pregnant pause, before a yowl split the air: “No! I can’t! I’ll never come back!” Wavewhisker turned to see the ginger tabby: they were near the SkyClan cats, who had turned around to expose her.
Tussockstar narrowed her eyes. “Well, I’m afraid you have no choice, SkyClan warrior. Go join the medicine cats.” Her voice still held no emotion.
The ginger tabby’s head slumped in defeat. Slowly, she padded towards the oak, in the direction of the medicine cats.
“Thank you, Tussockstar.” A voice spoke, and Tussockstar stepped back. A gray shape stepped forward: Fogstar, the SkyClan leader. His gaze turned down towards the SkyClan cats. “Litheleap, I’m sure you will represent SkyClan well.”
Litheleap. So that’s her name, Wavewhisker thought.
“Now,” Fogstar mewed while flicking his gray tail, “I shall make my choice. This moon, I will pick a ShadowClan cat.”
Murmurs arose from the ShadowClan cats, who were to the right of the WindClan cats. Wavewhisker couldn’t see them very well either. Fogstar glared at them, however, and they quickly fell silent.
“I see a cat I want to pick. He’s a black and brown tom… I think his name is Shadefur?” Fogstar’s voice rose with uncertainty at the end.
No protest came from the ShadowClan cats. Only one cat spoke. “Yeah, that’s me,” a voice mewed, followed by the faint patter of pawsteps. Wavewhisker assumed that this was Shadefur joining the medicine cats.
Fogstar stepped back, and a small cat took his place. Wavewhisker recognised Waspstar from his distinctive black stripes. The ShadowClan leader looked unimpressed: as RiverClan had to be the last Clan chosen, he only had one Clan of cats to choose from. “It seems that I have to pick a ThunderClan cat tonight,” he drawled.
The ThunderClan cats were behind the ShadowClan cats. Wavewhisker saw their fur bristling, and a couple of them hissed at Waspstar’s words. The ginger leader simply ignored them: instead, his eyes quickly fixed on a cat. “I choose that small gray tabby with the white muzzle and chest.”
The ThunderClan cats started whispering to each other, but Wavewhisker couldn’t pick out any names. They also moved outwards, and the said tabby moved out from the crowd, and to the medicine cats.
Wavewhisker glanced back up at the oak. Waspstar, finally looking satisfied, stepped back, and Lionstar resumed his place once more. Her tail twitched: now, the RiverClan cat would be chosen. Which one of her Clanmates would it be?
Lionstar’s head first turned towards the medicine cats. “Make ThunderClan proud, Smallhazel,” he murmured. Wavewhisker realized that must be the ThunderClan representative’s name. His gaze then flicked to the RiverClan cats. “Now, I have the privilege of selecting RiverClan’s representative tonight. While I have been sitting here tonight, I have already decided my choice.”
Around her, Wavewhisker saw her Clanmates’ tails lifting. Apparently, Lionstar was known for his quick and sometimes foolish decision making.
“The cat I have chosen,” Lionstar went on, “I haven’t seen around much. Pikestar, I believe that they are one of your newest warriors, yes? The blue-gray one?”
Wavewhisker suddenly felt cold. Her Clanmates turned in her direction, but she couldn’t see their faces. She was too distracted.
I’ve just been chosen to face the Elite!? Now what am I going to do?
Wavewhisker stood there, too stunned to move. It was rare for a young warrior to be chosen for the Elite. And now, here she was – one of the youngest warriors, and already chosen. At the thought, she gulped nervously. All I can hope for now is that I can make it out alive.
A paw nudged her shoulder. Wavewhisker turned to see one of the Clan’s senior warriors, Stonesplash, facing her. “You know what to do,” he mewed gruffly to her, his tail flicking, his eyes showing no emotion.
Wavewhisker sighed. “Okay,” she whispered, turning away from the dark-furred tom. She threaded out of the RiverClan warriors, looking at the ground. No cat dared to make a sound, but Wavewhisker felt the stares of every cat as she padded through the clearing.
It felt like forever as she walked, when in reality it wasn’t long at all. Finally, she saw the medicine cats and the other chosen cats. With a sigh, Wavewhisker sat beside Smallhazel, who was giving her a sad and mournful look.
Blinking, she looked back up at the oak. Tussockstar had returned to the front. She began to speak, but Wavewhisker was too stunned to listen properly. “Cats of the Clans, the Selection is over for another moon. May you return to your Clans and prosper, and next moon we gather again to choose five more cats to face the Elite. Clans, you are dismissed.”
The rest of the Clans started to talk, and Wavewhisker turned away. She looked up at Newtfoot, who was with the medicine cats nearby. The tortoiseshell medicine cat flicked her tail, and Wavewhisker joined her side. The medicine cats would return to their Clans slightly later, once all the Elite formalities had been done with.
Around her, her fellow chosen cats did the same. Distracted, Wavewhisker looked behind her. The Clans were starting to leave. With the pang of sadness, she saw Pikestar leading his Clan off the island. I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it back to you, Reedbreeze, she thought.
A mew interrupted them. Wavewhisker looked up to see a pale-furred tom in front of her. His extremities were darker than the main part of his body, and he was taking in the chosen cats with narrowed eyes. He was no medicine cat, Wavewhisker knew that much, but she couldn’t quite remember why he was here.
The pale gray tom cleared his throat, and spoke. “Most of you have heart of me. My name is Rainpoint, and I reside with WindClan.” He nodded to Burrowtail and the WindClan medicine cat next to him before continuing: “However, I have a special role. I am the guide to the Elite, the messenger between them and the Clans.”
That’s right! Wavewhisker had heard of Rainpoint, but she hadn’t seen him before. Apparently, he was the only cat in the Clans who knew where the Elite lived, excluding the few Honoured cats who had managed to beat the Elite.
“Tonight, we will head to the WindClan camp to rest,” Rainpoint mewed. “Tomorrow, we travel to the Elite, and you will meet them before the trial begins. As always, I and any possible survivors return close to the new moon.”
Wavewhisker shuddered. Somehow, I don’t envy Burrowtail. He has to deal with his Clanmates tonight, and them knowing what he has to do.
“Medicine cats, say your goodbyes. We shall be off to the WindClan camp now,” Rainpoint finished, his eyes sweeping over the other Clans’ medicine cats.
A tail touched her shoulder, and Wavewhisker jumped: however, upon turning, she realized that it was only Newtfoot. Her gaze locked with her medicine cat’s. “You’re young, Wavewhisker,” she mewed quietly, “but make us proud. Tideheart would be proud of you, taking after him.”
Wavewhisker bowed her head at the mention of her father. Tideheart had faced the Elite before she’d been born, and died. She’d never met him, and her mother had had to raise her and Reedbreeze alone. “He’ll be proud of me if I do what he couldn’t.”
“He’ll be proud of you for trying,” Newtfoot whispered. “I have to go now, Wavewhisker. Remember, RiverClan is proud of you.” The tortoiseshell bent forward: Wavewhisker and her touched noses for a brief moment, before she turned back on her and padded off.
Wavewhisker turned back towards Rainpoint. The other medicine cats were also finishing. Smallhazel was talking in hushed voices with her medicine cat, Leafpad; Shadefur and Cedarstripe of ShadowClan were farewelling each other; Litheleap was resting on her medicine cat’s shoulder, not wanting her to leave. “You’d be so useful out there, Finchfeather,” Wavewhisker heard Litheleap mew. “I don’t feel ready for this.”
Finchfeather lowered her head, and mewed some quiet words of encouragement to Litheleap that Wavewhisker couldn’t hear. Her attention switched back to Burrowtail, who wasn’t talking with his medicine cat. She knew they would say their goodbyes tomorrow, when they would depart for the Elite. The white tom was staring at Rainpoint, who in turn was glaring at the rest of the departing medicine cats.
Finally, they were gone. Rainpoint cleared his throat, and Wavewhisker’s gaze flicked over to him. “Now that the rest of the medicine cats are gone, we shall head to the WindClan camp, where we will spend the night. Barkpelt and I will take the lead,” he mewed, his tail flicking to the WindClan medicine cat.
The two WindClan cats turned and started to lead the way off the island. Burrowtail and Shadefur were quick to follow. Wavewhisker found herself at the back with Smallhazel; the ThunderClan warrior showed little emotion as she padded forward. Sighing, Wavewhisker said nothing, and padded quietly beside her.
And so the journey begins.
On the walk to WindClan, most of the cats were silent from shock. Wavewhisker knew that her mind was blank from surprise. All she did was fall into step with Smallhazel and pad on through WindClan territory, staring around the unfamiliar landscape.
It was her first time being on WindClan territory – for that matter, any Clan’s territory apart from her own – and Wavewhisker missed the feeling of having marshy ground underfoot. She couldn’t imagine living out here with no fish and the wind in her fur. A cold leaf-fall breeze blew past her, and Wavewhisker shivered: being out on the moor at night certainly didn’t help.
The only cats speaking were each other were Barkpelt and Rainpoint. She could see the two WindClan cats at the front, their heads bent low as they murmured to each other. The RiverClan cat longed to know about what they were talking about, what they had to say. Is it something about the Elite? Wavewhisker wondered briefly, but then she realized that Rainpoint wouldn’t say something like that to his medicine cat.
Finally, the two toms fell silent, and she saw Burrowtail’s tail rise. The group of cats slowed to a halt, and Barkpelt turned to face them.
“Welcome to the WindClan camp,” the brown medicine cat mewed, dipping his head. “Tonight, you will sleep in our spare den, which I will show you to shortly one we head –”
“Wait a moment.” A voice spoke. Wavewhisker turned to see Burrowtail. The white tom’s fur was bristled. “Do I have to sleep in there too, since I’m a WindClan cat?”
Barkpelt sent an unimpressed look at his Clanmate. “Yes, Burrowtail, you do have to sleep in the spare den. You know that’s an Elite tradition.” He then cleared his throat, and looked at the non-WindClan cats. “Sorry about that. Once we head inside, I’ll show you the spare den. I’d also suggest you get a lot to eat, as I hear it is a good day’s journey to get to the Elite.”
A day! Wavewhisker suppressed a groan. Clearly they had some distance to travel.
“We have an early start tomorrow, so make sure you get lots of sleep, too.” Rainpoint was speaking now. The tom shot a long look at each of the five cats facing the Elite. “I won’t hesitate to wake you up if you sleep in. Now, follow us into the camp.”
Silently, the cats started to thread through the gorse barrier, Barkpelt in the lead. Burrowtail and Shadefur followed behind them. Wavewhisker followed behind the ShadowClan warrior, her fur rising at the thought of being in an opposing Clan’s camp.
In the darkness, as she emerged from the gorse barrier, she could see that the WindClan camp had some noticeable differences. There weren’t many dens, as far as she could see. Her gaze flicked to the other side of camp, where some boulders were: she swore she saw a cat sitting still on them. That could be Tussockstar.
“I don’t like this,” a voice murmured beside her. Wavewhisker’s head shot to the right, where she made out Litheleap. The SkyClan warrior didn’t look nervous, but she didn’t look comfortable, either. “There’s no cover over here, and all the WindClan warriors are staring at us.”
Surprised, Wavewhisker turned her head. Litheleap was right. A large group of WindClan warriors were staring at them. Lovely, she thought, grumbling.
“Okay, back off, warriors. Go back to your nests.” A wiry shape streaked across camp, and Wavewhisker recognized the WindClan deputy, Galesweep. “These cats have had enough for one day, and you know it.”
There was a pause before the WindClan warriors turned away, a few of them grumbling. Galesweep gave them a sharp look, before going to join Rainpoint and the Elite group. The gray tabby turned to dip his head to the non-WindClan camp. “Greetings. Welcome to our camp. I apologize for our warriors: they do that every moon.” He paused before turning to Rainpoint. “I assume you’re going to show them the spare den?”
Rainpoint nodded. “Yes, I am,” he mewed to his Clanmate. “I’ll keep you updated with any issues, but I’m sure it will be fine as always.” His dark tail flicked. “I’ll deal with it from here. Barkpelt, you can go too, I think.”
“Alright.” Barkpelt dipped his head to Rainpoint. “See you tomorrow.” The medicine cat left their group, Galesweep beside him.
Now it was just them and Rainpoint. Wavewhisker kept her gaze on the pointed tom, who flicked his tail. “The spare den is over here.” He turned to his right, where there was a medium-sized gorse bush. He squeezed under a gap, and the rest of the group – including Wavewhisker – followed.
They emerged inside a small – but surprisingly cozy – den. It felt different to the dens in RiverClan, but Wavewhisker decided that this wasn’t too bad. It’s only for a night, I guess. There were five nests made up around the centre of the den, all fresh – she assumed that the WindClan apprentices had been tasks with preparing these nests today. There was also a small prey pile there with a couple of large rabbits, probably for them to eat.
“This is our spare den,” Rainpoint mewed. “We have your nests ready for you, and some food. Hopefully the food here should be enough, but if you’re still hungry, you can try for what’s left on our fresh-kill pile. Also, do get some rest. I expect you guys up at dawn. If you want to find me, I’ll be in my den which is next to here. Now, I’ll leave you here, and have a good night. If you get lost, ask Burrowtail.”
Burrowtail didn’t look impressed at the responsibilities being thrust upon him: he gave his Clanmate an unimpressed look as Rainpoint turned to exit the den. Before anyone could say anything, he was gone.
Litheleap was the first cat to break the silence. The SkyClan warrior’s whiskers twitched in surprised. “He gets his own den?”
“Of course,” Burrowtail mewed loftily, his good ear flicking irritably. “Rainpoint gets a ton of perks, being the Guider of the Elite.” The white WindClan cat padded over to the makeshift fresh-kill pile. “Might as well eat, I guess.”
Wavewhisker nodded, and joined Burrowtail at the fresh-kill pile. She took one rabbit, while the WindClan cat took the other. She settled down beside Litheleap and Smallhazel, the three she-cats sharing the one rabbit, while Burrowtail and Shadefur shared the other.
They all sat in silence, eating. Wavewhisker knew that tomorrow would be hard, and she savoured the last few moments of the freedom she had.
Tomorrow could be the beginning of the end.
time to go