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~book one in the Stamina series~

Prologue

"What are clans?" Someone, most likely Addice, the pack's jester, sneered.

Tibalt bared his teeth, glaring in her direction, then sat up straighter, and jutted his shoulders out, mocking Addice's stance.

"Clans," He snarled, after the pack's snickers had died down, "Are packs such as this one. But they have a code of decency and respect."

Chortles of laughter and barks of disbelieving chuckles rose. "A code?" Addice repeated.

"Indeed." Tibalt replied, face stoic.

"What are you suggesting?" Saba, Tibalt's second, snarled. "That we uphold the same code?"

Tibalt scowled. "No, old crone!" He growled. "We take over the clans!" His voice rose to a yowl, and every cat present save himself fell silent.

Silence fell.

Then the cheers rose.

"Three yowls for Tibalt!" Saga caterwauled, and the pack joined in.

"Ti-balt! Ti-balt! Ti-balt!" They screamed.

Tibalt basked in the glory, a crooked smile spreading across his face.

The clans would be his.

Chapter 1

Nibiru's face twisted into a scowl. It was Lyrr, trespassing on her territory again.

Fool.

She bristled, and the bushes concealing her rustled together.

Lyrr, concentrated on catching a mouse that Nibiru had stalked, didn't notice.

Nibiru hesitated, about to unsheathe her claws, and decided she would wait for Lyrr to botch it and run after it, or for her to catch it.

If she caught it, Nibiru would feast.

And if she didn't, Lyrr would pay.

Lyrr's tail slowly rose into the air, and Nibiru bit back a curse as the mouse trembled, let out a trepidatious squeak, and ran.

Lyrr made to dart after it, clumsily scrabbling over the copper autumn leaves that scattered the ragged twoleg-made ground, but Nibiru intercepted her.

"Oh, Nibiru!" Lyrr muttered, startled.

Nibiru's lips lifted in disgust. "What are you doing here, Lyrr?" She snarled.

"H-hunting," The pale sandy she-cat stammered.

"You're on my territory." Nibiru growled, unsheathing her claws.

"I'm sorry, I won't do it again!" Lyrr wailed, panicking.

Nibiru's eyes narrowed cruelly, and she advanced. "Too late."

She raked her claws down Lyrr's face, then let her run, choosing not to stain her claws with Lyrr's blood any more than necesarry.

The poor cat, she was little more than a kit. Nibiru felt bad about hurting her, but pity made her soft.

She couldn't afford to be soft.

Not in this world.

Chapter 2

As she stalked through the twoleg camp, her ears flattened against her head, the only thing going through Nibiru's head was how much she hated Bella.

Bella was a kittypet, one of the more unfriendly ones, and the current cause of the scratches crossing her flank.

Of course, Bella had been in the right; and Nibiru had trespassed, so she deserved it: she couldn't punish Lyrr and deny herself punishment.

"Bah," She spat, muttering under her breath. "Stupid kittypet dung-brain..."

Large, rough paws closed around her sides, squeezing her slightly. She writhed in the grip of a young twoleg kit, spitting and hissing.

It's eyes were a wide hazel, and Nibiru saw an opportunity. She unsheathed her claws and began scratching at the kit, yowling.

Startled, it dropped her, and it's mother, she assumed, berated it in their strange tongue, before dragging the now-bawling kit away.

Nabiru growled after them, and the kit's eyes widened. It let out a yelp and scurried forward, tugging on it's mother's odd paw.

She huffed quietly, and turned to her flank, licking her sore wounds. They weren't bleeding, but the fur around the cuts were stained with blood, matted and crimson.

Stifling a gag, Nibiru looked around. The twoleg camp was an unusual place, but there was always something she could pawn around or use. Currently, her eyes were fixated on what looked like a limp, dirty, blue mouse, a strong scent of herbs wafting out from it.

Lowering her haunches into a crouch, she crept forward, hooked it on her claws, and grinned.

It wasn't a complete waste to come here, after all.

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