c o w a r d
o n e s h o t
Does running away solve your problems?
They say it doesn't but I have no choice.
Enemies surround me.
All this trouble because of one death.
Am I a murderer?
Secretly, I know the answer…
p r o l o g u e
My heart thumped. I saw Broken Shadow in front of me. "You will pay for Dynamite's death, Ice." His words shot through me like he pierced my heart. He didn't, yet. "Beware, Shattered Ice. In the mean time, how about you will be our prisoner and be tortured until you tell us the rebel's secrets. This way, you would pay for his death. The leader's death. But I am leader now…" His cold snarl made me flinch. I didn't mean to kill Dynamite. I was neutral. I didn't support the rebels or the Dark Side. Self defense. He attacked me, I attacked him. I killed him. Simple. "You are a murderer…" a voice murmured in my mind. I pushed that thought away. "Dark Storm! Severed Heart! Bring this prisoner, Number seven oh nine to the ditches!" The guards are coming. Luckily, I was a mutated one. Only Severed Heart was mutated. But I could take on Broken Shadow, then run. "If you can't fight it, run," as my father used told me. But I could fight. But before I could unsheathed my claws, the guards were here. "Good luck, Prisoner 709," Broken Shadow mewed, causally. I couldn't fight against them. So I ran. Running like a cowards. "Catch him, guards!" His voice shuddered through the air. Running is my last option. "You can't run away, Coward!"
Long ago, there was 4 clans. Thunder, Wind, Shadow, and River. They suffered many hardships until Twolegs killed them all. Some scattered. But some of the cats scattered were captured by the Twolegs. Only a few. Tested experiments on them until on Test #1927 worked. They were genetically mutated to be stronger, faster, and more dangerous. More vicious. Then they released them to the wild. The population of the mutants boosted until the Twolegs shot a couple hundred of them. The population died again. Then, it rose a leader. It's name was Guerrilla, whatever that is. Then three leaders stood after him. Guerrilla founded a group of vicious cats, not necessarily mutants, and called it "The Bloods." Guerrilla captured countless kittypets and loners and viciously made them into warriors or killed them. The third leader was Dynamite. During Dynamite's rule, a rebellion rose. A new leader, Silver, wanted to keep the ancient clan ways. She took the name of Silverstar and reestablished StarClan. Her clan was called PebbleClan, for the pebbles that built their home. There was no one to trust. And I accidentally got into Dynamite's way… and that is where all the trouble started.
Only place I could think of that I could go was the rebels. No, then they would catch me. And make me a hero. I hate attention. The forest. The only place I could think of.
t h e s t o r y
I snuggled against my sister, Leaf. I had been in the Twolegplace for three days now with my sister. She is a mutant, yes, but she became a kittypet because she was scared. The house folk don't know about her mutant powers. Yet. I watched the sun rise up in the sky. This sunrise would mark a week from running. Running away. PebbleClan was fairly far away from The Bloods so it was close by here. I remembered the discussion when I landed here, three days ago:
"Who are you? Are you the new kittypet down the block… Oh! Shattered Ice, what brings you here?"
"Two news. You know the new *pack* forming? The Bloods? It had gotten bigger. There is a rebellion. I am lucky to stay neutral until the leader got in my way. Or the opposite. And he attacked me. I killed him. And they are following me!" I whispered, panting. "I need your help. Can I stay here for a few days?"
"What is the second news? You said there were two," Leaf said.
"Mother… mother… she died."
"The Bloods… they killed her. She was trying to protect me. She was the lead rebel, you know? She was going to be Dawnstar before they killed her. Oh Dawn… she landed so softly, in the snow. One swipe to the neck."
"They did?! Oh my… oh Shattered Ice. Stay with me until the coast is clear. I might not leave my house-folk but this is the best I could do. Stay here. I am warning you though, kittypet food is horrible. But being a kittypet is better than having enemies in your tail. Come inside. Quickly. They wouldn't mind having another cat."
"Thanks. You might have saved my life."
"What are littermates for anyways? Come on. Let's go."
I started after Leaf closely. "Come in here." Leaf prodded up the door and gently pushed it. "Here. Walk in. You might have to go to the Cutter though, if you stay long enough. I am lucky. I didn't." The den smelled like roasted stuff. A giant tree was inside the den, cluttered with stuff on it. The tree was a pine, I think. I trotted towards one of those sparkly things on the tree until Leaf poked me. "What?!" I jerked back. There was two Twoleg kits, purring happily. But there was two regular Twolegs. They looked stern, whispering. Then one picked me up, looking sad and concerned. "Don't bare your teeth. Be friendly. Purr," Leaf instructed. I purred at the Twolegs. They looked at me and started purring as well. They brought me up on these things that Leaf calls stairs and up it. They put me in a thing called a basket with a pelt on top of me called a blanket. It is uncomfortable but it worked.
"You awake?" Leaf trotted over. I rolled over towards her. "I am leaving. Today. They might know where I am. So I need to go." Leaf sighed heavily. "I knew this day would come. Come on, I am walking you until the end of the Twolegplace. Then you can run." Leaf nodded briskly. "Eat. Eat. I don't care if you hate pellets. Eat." I shoved my nose into the pellets, but spitting them out, moments later. "Eat them, Ice," Leaf ordered. I glared at my super annoying sister. "I don't care if you live here, but you can't boss me around. I am leaving now," I growled. I stomped towards the door. I turned around. Leaf was behind me. "Go away. Kittypet." Leaf was stunned, then she snarled, "Really? Then don't expect any hospitality when you come here next time, coward!" I opened the door, and ran out. Running. Breathing. The snow tingled in my ink black fur. Now I regret having black fur. It is totally visible in the snow. I matted my fur with snow, but it fell off. "Fox dung." I heard footsteps behind me. Faster and faster. Now what?
I turned around, seeing two Bloods. Both looked like mutants, stronger and bulkier than normal. "Nice to see you again, Prisoner 709. Release #27, attack!" I knew that voice. It was Severed Heart. I knew who Release #27 is. I froze. The world froze.
When the Bloods capture a prisoner, they call it Prisoner some number. I am supposed be 709. Sometimes, if you are deemed worthy, you could be released. This was very rare. You are not a prisoner and treated like a regular soldier. Other than the fact that you are second to the bottom of the totem pole. They could take anyone's orders, other than a prisoner. Releases don't have names either. They are Release number something. Last time I checked, there was 31 releases in the history of Bloods. Only seven are alive.
"Come on, Shattered Ice!" A playful voice rose from the bushes. "Or are you slow as a mole? Come on!"
"Fine, Dew's Leaf. I just need to finish this last shrew."
"Ugh… are you going to keep me waiting?"
I knew who she was. The beautiful silver tabby. I had feelings for her. Not like mate type of thing. I wanted to protect her from every danger there was. And she was gone. One day, she wasn't in her nest. It was a few days before the rebellion. Dew's Leaf was right in front of me.
Dew didn't move for a second. Then, she pointed her nose towards Severed Heart. "Never talk to me like that. I am Dew's Leaf, incase you had forgotten, Mr. Heart. I will never follow your orders anyways," she growled. She had changed so much. She started stomping away until Severed Heart jumped on top of her. My heart shuddered. "Don't die… don't die," I murmured. I got an idea. Suddenly, out of no where. It may cost my life. But it didn't matter now. I snarled at Severed Heart, "Who are you killing? I am your target, remember?" I taunted. Severed Heart looked confused for a split second, then charged towards me. But before everything became black, I saw spitting fury in Dew's eyes.
I woke up in a dark lit den. Fifteen other prisoners were in the same room as I was. I was crushed between a ginger tabby and a tortoiseshell. The ginger tom was already awake. Everywhere hurts. Everywhere. Looking down, I saw a pool of blood around my flank. A deep, infected scratch was dug down there. "You are the new prisoner, right? I am supposed to be Prisoner 694 but my nickname is Russo. They say it is a nickname from my russety fur. What is your name?" Russo seemed nice enough but I just made an audible sound, "Prisoner 709. Or Broken Heart."
It changed Dew so much. My compassion for her increased but it wasn't the same. She had changed. Everyone did. My name isn't Shattered Ice anymore. Broken Heart is my name. Everything broke my heart. Dawn, Leaf's argument, Dew… Russo broke the ice. "Now now… this isn't a place to get emotional here. I am lucky. They didn't kill anyone that I loved. They captured me because I am a kittypet! There ain't anything wrong with being a kittypet, y'know." The tortoiseshell was awake now. "Russo is a jerk. You are the newbie, right? Well, four newbies came here yesterday. I am the leader of the prisoners. I am technically a prisoner too, Prisoner 687. But I am the highest you can get if you want to be the top of the totem pole. At least they call me Tri. Call me Tri, nothing else."
The next days were horrid. We were cramped, tortured, and seventeen of our prisoners died of the training. We run. We fight. I never get called for a torturing session until the fifth day I was here.
"Prisoner seven oh nine! Please come to the Tree!" The Tree was supposed be the Tree of Horror, the place where cats get tortured. Sometimes to death. It gets confusing, 'cause Tri's name sounds like Tree. Not tri like triangle. I knew what was waiting for me. The torture. I knew they would try to pry the rebel's secret out of me but, I don't know anything at all. But no matter how much I plead, I would need to know something, to get out of this torture.
"Come on." Seven soldiers were behind me, one was Severed Heart. Broken Shadow would probably be waiting for me. I didn't protest when they started to encircle me. Before I knew it, the halls of doom faced me. The giant oak tree was high up in the sky, towering other trees. Red stuff was splattered on the roots. Blood. "Hello, Prisoner. This is your torture session."
My torture session. I panicked. This was true panicking. But surprisingly, my voice was slow and steady. "I think I know that, Broken Shadow." My hands were sweaty. "I thought you were that smart too, Prisoner 709. Now, let's start, shall we?" His cold voice made a shiver down my spine. "Prisoner, do you know anything about the rebel's secrets?" I knew the truth. "Spit it out before it gets any worse," Broken Shadow snarled.
"No. I don't. And that is the truth," I answered. And that was true.
"Nice liar, Prisoner. But plenty lie. And you are one of them. Let me say this once more. Do you know any of the reb-" He was cut off by a silver tabby. Dew. Her fur was soft as always. Her clear blue eyes was clouded with something. Worry? "Stop staring at me like that! Come on!" Dew lunged at Broken Shadow. Shadow scurried up a tree. "This isn't over."
"Don't get this wrong. I hate you. I can survive by myself, you know. They had captured the others." Dew's voice was clear as day. She was a fighter. She reminded me of an ancient cat named Squirrelflight. I heard stories about her. "Why are you keep on staring at me? There is other pretty cats you can moon over!" Dew growled. "Someone called Tri." Tri likes me? "Ice, come on!" I instantly registered into my former name. I liked it better than Broken Heart. It sounded so much like a Broken Shadow. But Tri likes me? I never knew that. Tri was okay but Dew was better. Tri was a fighter but a commander. She is a natural leader but has a soft spot too. I don't like soft spots.
We landed in a small hollow. "This is PebbleClan," Dew announced. "I already have my warrior name, Dewleaf." *But to me, Dew, you will always be Dew.* I thought. "You can be Shattered Ice for now. Tri is here too, with a cat named Russo. We renamed them Russetfoot and Tri. She didn't want to change her name." Typical. Tri was independent and had her own mind. The breeze brushed through my ears. The soft wind of New leaf indicated warm weather. This was like paradise. But it wasn't. There was the Bloods.
I woke up, the next day. It was a busy day, where everyone was being ordered around by Silverstar. I don't trust her. She is too Goody Two Shoes. "Shattered Ice, you must have a warrior name to be in PebbleClan," she announced four days after my release. "What about Tri?" I retorted. "Tri is an exception. She threatened that she would kill all of my nine lives and kill the deputy as well. Tristar doesn't sound nice though." *Probably making that up* I didn't trust her. "Fine. Call me Icefrost. That is better than my birth name, right?"
I shared a den with Russetfoot. He is funny and a lot less plump than I thought he was. An efficient fighter. He doesn't pry into my information. A nice friend to have. For Tri, she is like the assistant deputy. There is already the deputy, a rebel called Ricochet, a former rogue. Many doesn't have clan names. I barely see Tri. I never see Dew too. After my escape, she keeps her distance away from me. The only time we are less than two meters away from each other is when he are hunting on a patrol. My heart still aches for her but I know it is impossible.
"Hey, Russetfoot!" I called to him one morning. He was snoring away. "Wha?" "Wake up! You are on dawn patrol!" I shouted. An elder named Fuzzytail was right behind me. "The entire clan can hear you, young'un," he whispered. But Russetfoot was already awake. "Dawn patrol? Did it already left?" His fur stuck out in different directions. He ran towards Ricochet. "Greetings, sleepyhead. Come on, you are on my patrol."
Silverstar was up. "Every cat, old enough to catch prey, please go in the hollow for a clan meeting. Today, we are going to start planning the Great Battle. The battle which we will win. The battle that will be remembered forever! I will lead you, PebbleClan!" The group of early risers cheered. "Silverstar! PebbleClan! Silverstar! PebbleClan!" It was like Silverstar was their dictator or something. "Tri, Dewleaf and Ricochet, please come into my den after the dawn patrol. And Icefrost too." I jerked up. "The dawn patrol may leave now."
Across the clearing, I saw Dew avoiding my gaze. I slowly walked up to her. My heart was thundering. "Hello, Dew."
"Dewleaf. I am not Dew anymore."
"Why are you here?"
"'Cause I am."
"That isn't a reasonable explanation."
"Are you scared?"
"Meet me in the old Pine tree. After midnight. I need to tell you something. In private."
"So you guys will come here on the left of them. Icefrost, fight Broken Shadow until he is weakened. Then let him kill you. I will kill him for victory," Silverstar finished. "So you are letting me die for this cause? Why can't you fight him yourself? I am not your pawn," I growled.
"So you want to be exiled? Good luck with that."
"I agree actually with Shattered Ice." Dewleaf was glancing my way.
"You are both exiled!" Ricochet growled. "She led us to victory during the first battle. We can trust her. Icefrost, you might be with the Bloods."
I would never be with the Bloods or PebbleClan. I looked towards Dew. She nodded. This second told me how much we were in common. We were meant for each other. "He isn't. I know him. He is my adopted brother. I am an orphan because of you!"
"I wouldn't kill Dusk and Sunset. I told you, they died when a fox bit them."
"I scented your scent all around it, Traitorstar. I am leaving. Ice?"
"I hate you, y'know," Dew told me after a day or so after the exile. "I think I know that," I replied. My love for her had strongly increased.
"I love you."
"I hate you," she replied, but it was lighthearted. "Geez, why don't you do love someone else?"
"You are perfect."
'This conversation had gone wrong' I thought.
But that night, I curled next to her and slept… dreaming of our kits close together.
I woke up to the sound of cats yowling. I turned my head, seeing Broken Shadow with his deputy, Severed Heart. Scarred Moon stood next to him with Fido. The war. It was happening today.
"Wake up!" I shook Dew. "What?" she replied, groggily. "The war," I said, "is happening right now! Or the Bloods are setting it up anyways."
The entire morning, The Bloods were preparing for the battle. PebbleClan didn't appear until late afternoon. "SilverstarClan, attack!" Silverstar looked tidy as usual. "She named her clan, SilverstarClan. How wonderful," Dew whispered to my ear. I chuckled. The battle raged on all afternoon into the evening. SilverstarClan was loosing, by a ton. Silverstar was sitting tidily with her neat groom paws on her lap, watching the entire battle. No harm done to her. I noticed that Russetfoot became her pawn and he was fighting Broken Shadow. Russetfoot was a heavily muscled cat but most likely under Silverstar's orders, he fell down. Broken Shadow swiftly cut his neck open. I jumped out of my hiding spot, running towards Russetfoot. Broken Shadow glared at me but started towards Silverstar. "Russetfoot…" I murmured. "Remember your true enemy… it is S-" But Russetfoot died right then.
"I, Silverstar of SilverstarClan will kill Broken Shadow forever!" Silverstar cheered. She walked towards Broken Shadow. My entire life past through me. My birth. My days of plentiful food. The day when I realize I was a mutant. The day when I watched Broken Shadow kill Silverstar. The day of my death. My death. I was meant to die today.
Running towards Silverstar, I pounced on her, surprising her. She had a bad grip on me. Shaking my fur, I unsheathed my deadly claws, two inches long. I sliced her stomach open, her first life gone. Then her neck. Then her flank, her leg, her everywhere. Blood spilled around me. "N-not over y-y-yet. I am coming b-back, Trait-t-or." Then she slumped. Everyone was watching me in horror. Then Hades broke loose.
Everyone took sides. Half took my side. Half took Silverstar's side. "For SilverstarClan!" a pale calico tom yowled. But I wasn't listening to them. I needed to go to Broken Shadow. Something I needed to finish.
"Nice to meet you, Escaped Prisoner #709. Come on, kill me," Broken Shadow growled. Something was wrong. If I killed him, I thought, then his followers will kill me. A trap. But before I could process that through, I sliced his neck open. "Coward. Stupid. You will need to fight me next." Scarred Moon was standing above me but Severed Heart pushed his way through. Then Severed Heart jumped on me and everything went black.
I was in murky waters. Nothing. Stars dotted the sky. "Nice to meet you again," a familiar voice greeted. I turned around. A reddish tom stood there. Russetfoot. Russetfoot. I was on the border line of death and living. "Choose," he said wisely.
I lived enough already.
I didn't need to have another life.
I didn't need suffering.
I grasped his hand, and never letting go of it.
It has been six moons since his death. Shattered Ice's death. I was frozen in shock as he died. Cats took sides again. Broken Shadow, Silverstar, and the new rebels. The Bloods were defeated. For half a moon, there was peace before there was a civil war. We won, the rebels, and built four clans as there always had been. IceClan, TreeClan, RussetClan, and after a huge debate about it, SilverClan. It represented the dead cats, except for one. TreeClan. TreeClan was lead by Treestar or as you may all know as Tri. She was the rebel's leader during the civil war. She was granted an award, a clan named after her.
As for me? I never choose to live in a clan. Too boring for me. Too dull. But after a moon of the wars, I was pregnant with kits which I named Frosty Ice and after my mother, Dusk. I knew the father. And he wasn't a coward.
It was peace after that… but sometimes, I wake up shrieking about the world ending again.
Maybe that will happen.
Maybe it won't.