Starlight shimmered on a big puddle, glittering like crystals. A shadowy pelt sat face-to-face with an old tom. the translucent spirit sat peacefully around the water source. An angry yowl cut the air.
"You aren't telling me anything!" the old, battle-scarred tom yowled. He slammed his paw into the water.
"The Tribe of Endless Hunting cannot give answers," the shadowy spirit mewed, "we can only give prophecies."
"Well do you have one for me?" the tom mewed crossly.
The shadowy spirit dipped his head, "There will be one who will become five, and they will destroy the power of darkness."
"What is that supposed to mean?" the old tom asked, but the starry cat was melting into the shadows, "Hey! I wasn't finished!" his voice was drowned out by the echoes of his yowls, "I deserve to know!"
Chapter 1: Starting Point
The moon floated in the sky, shining on the blades of grass. The silver strands danced in the brezze, and the faint hoots of owls echoed in the distance.
A brown tabby pelt merged with the reeds, blending in so that it looked as if it were one. The cat stalked through the mini-jungle, in pursuit of prey. It looked around, blue eyes glittering in the moonlight.
A rustling noise in the bulrushed made the cat's ears flick. She turned her head to spot a squirrl from the nearby forest nibbling a seed. The cat crouched, and set a light paw forward, only to carck a stick. The squirrel shot away, and the cat gave chase.
They weaved through he reeds, her eyes shining as she pelted after the squirrel. It strided through the marsh, taking long leaps as it attempted to escape. Then, it let out a screech as the cat caught up, biting down on it's tail. The squirrel tripped, and the cat bit down hard on it's neck, the screech cut of abruptly as the crack of bone exploded into the world, leaving an echo shadowing behind it.
"A squirrel," she mewed, "easy prey for Hawk."
Hawk bent down to gobble up it's meal, but stopped in mid-bend as another rustling sounded up. She turned her head, leaving her prey as she stood up. She whirled around as it sounded again.
"Hello?" she called into the reeds, "Who's there?"
No cat showed. Instead, the rustling became louder.
The rustling stopped. Hawk waited, pausing, then shrugged and turned to her prey again. But when she turned, her prey was gone.
She whirled around to find a cat with a dead squirrel in it's jaws, "Hey!" she snapped, "That's mine!"
The cat let out a hiss, it's gray, dappled pelt shinig silver in the moonlight. It dropped the prey and lunged for Hawk's throat, but she dodged away just in time to rake her claws down the enemy's flank. The cat whirled around and lunged again, stopping mid-lunge and then swiping Hawks muzzle. Hawk fell backward, dazed at the cat's hard blows.
"Mine now!" the cat snatched the squirrel and bounded away.
Blood oozed from the wound. Hawk licked her whiskers. "Fox dung!" she spat after the opponent. She slumped to the ground, preyless once again. She glared at the crushed reeds where the silver cat had raced away.
She ain't getting my prey without putting up a fight!
Hawk raced as fast as she could, following the scent trail the cat left behind. She weaved through the reeds into the forest and, soon enough the scent disappeared into the water.
Unhappily, she leaped into the water. Kicking out with her back legs and churning the water with her front paws, she swam throught the water. It tugged awkwardly at her fur as she sniffed every lilypad she passed. A ring of water formed where a frog had leaping into the water.
She took a deep breath and dived down into the water. She rippled like a fish as she swam in the depths, icy-cold drops clung to her fur as she climbed out of the water. She shook away the clear drops.
She sniffed the grass. No scent. She whirled around pacing around the pond. She stopped in a reed bed and slunk down. She sighed, fur plastered to her skin.
Suddenly, she felt something hard land on her head. She looked down to see a bone beside her whisker. She sniffed it. Squirrel.
Hawk looked up and saw a gray pelt on a branch. It was that cat who stole her prey. She stood up and stealthily walked away, padding behind the tree. She clawed her way up the trunk carefully, scrabbling onto the nearest branch until she reached the cat. It hardly noticed
"Hey you!" she growled. That cat craned it's neck, but noticed too slow as Hawk swatted it off the tree. It let out a screech, the remains of the squirrel fell after the cat. It landed nimbly on it's paws, but staggered to the ground as the carcass of the squirrel fell on it's head.
Hawk jumped down the branches, the safer way, to the ground and trotted to the silver cat. The silver cat sat up, rubbing it's forehead with it's paw. She lunged for the cat and pinned it to the ground.
"You realize you stole my prey you mangy piece of crow-food!" she spat at the cat.
"Well it was juicy and fat and perfect," the cat, a she-cat, meowed mockingly.
"What's your name?" Hawk demanded.
The cat paused, then answered; "Rain."
Chapter 2: We're Chugging Now
Hawk glared at the speckled she-cat, her eyes narrowed and her neck fur bristling. "Hawk," she mewed uncertainly, scanning the she-cat. Her coat was a dappled gray, and her eyes were a clear blue. Hawk lost her grip on Rain and let go. She scrambled to her paws.
Rain smirked, shaking scraps of moss from her pelt, "That is quite a nice name for a cat that can catch such nice prey," she meowed hoarsly.
Hawk rolled her eyes. She didn't need to be bossed around by an annoying, prey-stealing rogue, but for the better of it, she suddenly felt lonely. She licked her chest fur to hide it, but then asked her, after a long pause, "Why don't you stick around?" she began curiously, "After all, you seem lonely, don't you?"
Rain kneaded the ground, "What do you expect me to do?" she asked, "Pluck fish from the river?"
"You hunt fish?" the brown tabby asked, a hint of surprise in her voice, "For a hearbeat I thought you didn't hunt at all!"
Rain bounded past her to crouch at the surface of the pond. Suddenly, a paw flashed out and a silver fish was wriggling beside her. She killed it with a hard blow with her paw. "I only know how to hunt fish, anyway."
Hawk noticed her sleek and glossy pelt shining in the moonlight. She was well-fed and strong, her muscles rippling under her pelt. Though her muscled were not very big, she had the strength of an eagle. She was slender and lithe, too.
As Hawk shook away the thoughts, she snapped back into reality. Then, there were four fish freshly caught in a straight line. She gasped in horror as a splash had sent Rain into the water. She lunged ofrward and caught her scruff in her teeth, hauling her out with a huge fish.
Rain spat it out on the shore, "Stupid pike!" she bit the huge fish in the gills. It stopped abruptly. She stood proudly, her fur plastered to her heaving sides. "Nice meal, though." She pushed a silver fish to Hawk's paws, "I already had my share." she mewed.
I figured. "Thanks," Hawk mumbled. She bent down to gobbled up the oily fish in a couple of swift bites. When she had finished, only the bare skeleton remained.
"You must have been hungry," Rain apologized, "Sorry about stealing that squirrel."
"I like dry prey better, but that's all right," Hawk mewed.
The gray she-cat stalked past her into the reeds, her blue eyes glinting in the moonlight. She lifted her head and flicked her ears. She raced back to Hawk, "I had this dream thing," she began hesitantly, "It was about these huge rock hills."
Hawk sat down and neatly curled her tail over her paws. She pricked her ears as Rain went on.
"And in the dream," she continued, "There were five things."
"Which were. . .?" Hawk leaned in.
"There was a tangled mat of fur," she went on, "A hawk feather, a rain drop, and some ivy tendrils, and then there was something else. . ."
Hawk feather. . . Hawk thought, . . .Rain drop?
"I think that we need to make some kind of journey," she meowed at last.
Suddenly, understanding pierced her like a claw. The Hawk feather was her, and Rain must be the rain drop! So now, if they made the journey, they would have to find other cats to come with them.
"I have it!" Hawk cried, "I know what to do!"
Chapter 3: Starting the Journey
"Well?" Rain asked impatiently.
Hawk paused for a heartbeat, then continued, "I think we should go to the mountains!"
Rain stared at her in disbelief, "To the mountains?" she narrowed her eyes, "But the mountains are so far away!"
Hawk rolled her eyes, "It doesn't matter how far it is!" she snapped, "We need to find the other cats."
Rain leaped to her paws, her fur bristling, "How do we even know if they are cats?" she exclaimed.
Hawk opened her mouth, then closed it again. Actually, Rain was right; anything could be a tangled mat of fur, or some ivy tendrils, or even that other thing! Well just have to keep our eyes peeled. "Come on, get some sleep," Hawk mewed, flattening some reeds down with her paws, "Well leave first thing in the morning."
. . .
A loud splash woke Hawk. She leaped to her paws, fur bristling. The pink light of dawn made her squint, and the first birds of the morning twittered among the reeds. A great blue heron had just set flight, a fish hanging from its long beak. Then, she peered into the pond and saw a gray pelt in the water.
"Rain!" she called, startled, "What are you doing? There is no time to swim!"
"But there is to hunt!" Rain retorted. Her head disappeared underwater, along with her sodden gray fur and her fluffy tail. A ring spread out along the surface of the water where the gray she-cat had just dived into the water.
Hawk slowly put one paw into the water and pulled baack immediately as the freezing water soaked between her claws. She shivered. Suddenly, two lilypads parted to reveal Rains blue eyes glinting proudly and a silver fish hanging from her jaws.
"But we already have enough fish, Rain," Hawk mewed, pawing at the pike, "We can just eat the rest of the fish we have here."
"But I like fresh-kill!" Rain protested.
"Remember you caught these yourself," Hawk retorted.
Rain dropped the fish and shook her pelt, sending droplets of water flying. Hawk stepped back to avoid the water.
"Fine," she sighed, and gobbled up two of the silver fish she had caught the night before.
Hawk bent down and ate up the new fish and another one that was caught the previous night in a few swift bites. She licked her whiskers after her meal.
After they finished eating, they said their good-byes to to pond. Hawk stared at her home before finally turning away and padding after Rain into the forest.
Good-bye. I promise I'll come back.
Chapter 4: Into the Woods
The sun was high in the sky, shining intesified golden rays through a whiff of cloud. The breeze rustled the trees, making it sound like it was whispering to the cats. Hawk trotted along, her head and tail held high. Rain trudged behind her, her head drooping and her tail dragging in the dust.
"What's wrong?" Hawk asked.
Rain groaned, looking up, "I'm so tired!" she sighed unhappily.
Hawk rolled her eyes, "But we have so much to do! The mountains are still far away!" she gazed away to look at the high hills of stone, outlined purple against the horizon. Snow speckled the top, making a soft blanket of white.
Then, she crept her attention to her surroundings. They were at the edge of the forest; the trees started to thin out, there was a small stream trickling beside them, and the lush grass was soft underpaw. The reeds had given way to a softer, more comfortable forest.
Hawk sighed, "Fine," she gave in, "I'll hunt a bit."
Rain slumped to the ground beside th stream, "Oh, good!" before her flanks rising and falling steadily became rhythimic told Hawk that she was asleep.
Hawk stalked away into the thin undergrowth, her eyes and ears pricked. A scuffling noise in the shadows told her a squirrel was pecking around at the roots of a beech tree.
Hawk floated toward it, her paws gliding silently on the ground. Then, she pounced. The squirrel shrieked and raced up a tree for safety, put it was knocked of the trunk when Hawk planted her claw into it's tail. She didn't bother finish it off, she just grasped it's neck and walked back to her friend. The squirrel gave up struggling and hung limp in her jaws, but only the fast, thumping heartbeat told her it was still alive.
Still holding the squirrel, the brown tabby unsheathed her claws and dug heavily into the ground. A somewhat steep dip in the ground told her that the squirrel wouldn't be able to escape. Gingerly, she lay it down in the hole. It didn't dare move.
When she turned around, an icy silence greeted her. Her limbs turned to Ice when she figured that Rain was gone. A terrified shrieking in the shadows told her that Rain was stolen. She raced back to the squirrel, and pelted into the undergrowth with her live prey.
"I'm coming Rain!" she yowled through muffled fur.
The squirrel squeaked with her as if it copied the yowl.
Hawk weaved through the trees, her pelt brushing the bushes. A distant wail told her that she was close to her friend.
Finally, her friend came into view, being dragged along the forest floor by a red-furred creature with a pointed muzzle and sharp teeth.
The squirrel in her jaws panicked, attracting the foxe's attention. It let go of Rain and she lay in between a clump of ferns. The fox lunged for Hawk, knowing it would get her and her prey.
Suddenly, a black-and-white flash caught her eye. She whirled around to stare at the cat that had bowled over the fox. Not thinking, she let her live prey go. It darted away and scampered up a tree, glaring down at the fight. Hawk leaped for the fox and slashed at its throat in a pattern; left paw, right paw, while her unknown saviour was tearing open it's belly.
The fox let out a loud yelp that finished in a gurgle. Blood poured from it's belly and it's throat and sank to the ground in it's own pool of blood. It stopped moving entirely as it's life was stripped away.
Rain gtared at the pair, stunned. "Hawk!" she exclaimed, "Y-you save my life!"
"And killed a fox," she replied darkly.
The mysterious helper sat clamly with her tail curled over her paws. "Hello," she mewed.
Hawk dipped her head, casting a regretful glance at her squirrel. It scampered down the tree toward her, but it's life was cut short as the loner swiped at it, breaking it's neck. Hawk gasped.
"Hey!" she growled, "You killed my squirrel!" She was starting to think of it as a friend. Now it was taken away from her.
A growl rose in her throat.
"Thank you!" Rain yowled, diving to the patch of moss beside the mysterious loner. The loner was black and white, with splashes of gray here and there. "You saved our lives!"
The loner shrugged, "It was nothing," the loner meowed, flicking her ears.
"By the way; what is your name?"
The colorful loner dipped her head, "Aqua."
Chapter 5: Welcome to the Club
Rain stared at the body of the fox, "That was a bit of a viscious kill," she meowed.
Hawk groaned again, "And you killed my squirrel. . ."
Aqua rolled her eyes. "And this is how you repay me? I saved your lives!" she clawed the squirrel toward her and gobbled it down in famished gulps.
Hawk curled her lip in the beginning of a snarl, letting out a furious hiss.
"Do you want to join us?" Rain asked Aqua suddenly. "We're going to the mountains!"
Aqua's ears twitched, "The mountains? What are you going to do there?"
Hawk rolled her eyes, "We're going to watch hedgehogs fly!" she snapped.
Rain's jaw dropped, "So we aren't going to the mountains?"
"Yes, of course we are!"
"According to what you just said, apparently not!"
"We still need to gather the cats you said in your dream!" Hawk retorted. "We only have three of the five things."
"Whatever, you decide." Rain bounded into the trees, followed by a confused Aqua. Hawk followed angrily.
They returned to the small clearing with the stream. Hawk strayed away from them, and hunted a bit. She tasted the air, hoping for squirrel, but she only caught a whiff of mouse. She stalked toward to smell, and caught a glimpse of the creature; scuffling in the roots of an ancient oak.
She crouched, her paws gliding over the leaves. She waggled her hindquarters, and leaped, landing squarely on her prey. It's terrified shriek was cut off as she bit deep into it's neck. It hung limply in her jaws, and she raced after her companions.
"So. . ." Rain's voice trailed off. "Where are you from?"
Aqua thought for a moment, "Twolegplace," she replied. She slapped her gray tail against the ground, her lips starting to curl.
"What?" Hawk asked.
Aqua sighed, "I was born in this. . . this twoleg nest. There were cages everywhere, all filled with cats. I can still hear their yowls of fear. . .their angry hisses as the Twolegs brought them to another place to be. . .to be. . ."she trailed off, fear piercing the air.
Aqua continued. "When it was my turn, no-one wanted me, and I didn't want to become a stupid kittypet. So I fought the Twoleg and escaped. Ran away, for days and days, until I was away from Twolegplace. I never want to go there again!"
"Wow!" Rain exclaimed.
Hawk's jaws gaped wide open.
"Join us," Hawk mewed, "We can't make it to the mointains alone!"
Rain waited eagerly for Aqua's reply. Aqua nodded.
"I'll come with you."
"Yes!" Rain gave a little bounce, "We can't stay here forever. Let's go!"
Aqua and Hawk bouded out of the forest after Rain. The trees thined out, giving away to a grassy field. Huge, black and white animals dotted the field.
"Cows!" Rain exclaimed.
Aqua lay her tail on Rain's shoulder, "We'll stay clear of them."
Hawk gazed into the distance. The mointains were purple hills against the horizon.
We're getting close!
Chapter 6: Gotcha!
Thunder clapped overhead, making Hawk flatten her ears. Wind buffeted against her fur, plastering her whiskers against her face.
"Looks like a storm's coming," Rain warned.
Rain was starting to fall from the huge, plump gray clouds in the sky. A raindrop splashed her muzzle, making her sneeze. It splashed into puddles which formed slowly around them. With a bright white flash, lightning struck a tree close to them, making it burst into scarlet flames.
Rain let out a wail of fear, and she leaped away of the spitting flame, which was spread to the next tree. The leaves were hissing and spitting as they were put out by the torrential rain, then set up again. Rain poured down, dripping through the branches.
"Let's get out of here!" Aqua yowled.
Hawk pounded through trees into the reeds, Rain and Aqua at her heels. Her breath was coming faster, and the blood roared in her ears. Fear gave her energy, and suddenly, she stopped abrubtly, skidding in the mud. Rain crashed into her side, making her topple.
"Whoa!" Hawk yowled.
Aqua leaped up to avoid the flailing legs and tails, but she crashed down awkwardly. "Ouch!"
Surrounding reeds were flattened, sending crunching noises echoing into the horizon. A great blue heron, startled, squawked, then went up in a flurry of beating wings, sending blue and brown feathers showering down.
As they tumbled down the slope, the ground suddenly veered away. Hawk found her mouth gaping to a soundless wail of fear, while Rain was thrashing frantically in the air.
"Stop!" Hawk whimpered. "It's no use, we can't fly!"
A sharp pain stabbed up her side as she landed on a solid rock. A few tufts of grass softened her fall. Her ears pricked, and she gazed over the cliff in fear. Roaring below, was a huge river, with currents travelling at snake-speed. Her eyes widened in grief as she saw Rain falling. . . and falling. . . and falling. . .
"No!" Hawk yowled. Hesitantly, she called to her surviving friend, "Aqua!"
A flash of brown and gray fur caught her eye. Silver patches shone in the flashes of lightening above their heads. She watched as the brown-and-silver cat swooped down toward her falling friend. An ivy tendril trailed behind him, and Hawk looked up to see Aqua at the other end. Her blue eyes widened as she saw Rain falling into the current.
"Rain!" Aqua yowled in grief.
A loud splash brought Hawk back to reality. Her brown tabby pelt was smothered with mud, and blood oozed slowly from a scratch in her side. She peered over the edge of the ledge, to see Rain and the brown-and-silver cat swimming toward to ivy. Aqua wraped it around herself and was ready to pull the cats to safety.
The cat and Rain climbed to ivy, gripping for paw-hold in the rock wall of the gorge. It was slimy, Hawk realized, and she climbed up the drier wall in a flash. The cat and Rain struggled their way up the ivy.
Her mucles aching and screaming, she scrabbled for a paw-hold in the grass at the top of the cliff. She rushed to a sliding Aqua's side, wrapping the ivy around her just in time to save Aqua from falling into the river.
"Pull!" Aqua yowled her thanks.
Hawk heaved with all her might, Aqua getting yanked along. They worked as one, pulling strongly. Hawk let out a yowl of relief as she saw Rain's dappled forepaws sink her claws into the ground. Hawk heard her hind legs scrabbling to get to safety. Her fur was drenched and she shivered. Hawk shivered as cold seeped through her plastered fur.
Then, she saw the brown-and silver tom leap up. His fur was soaked and plastered to his sides. Mud smeared his pelt, and his amber eyes were bright but determined.
Rain collapsed on her side, and Aqua rushed to her, licking her drenched fur to keep her warm. Hawk dipped her head to the loner in gratituded, "Thank you!" she exclaimed, not wanting to keep her excitement in anymore, "You saved my friend's life!"
Aqua butt in, "And I saved both of theirs."
Hawk rolled her eyes jokingly, "And I saved all of yours!" she finished.
The tom dipped his head in reply, "No problem. If only I hadn't noticed her falling, she would have drowned."
Rain gasped for breath, water pouring out of her mouth as she coughed. Aqua massaged her back. "What's---" Rain was interrupted by another mouthful of water that poured out. As she regained her breath, she asked the tom, "What's your name?"
The tom brightened, "Well hi there! I forgot to introduce myself." he meowed cheerfully, edging away from the cliff's edge, "I'm Tangle."
Chapter 7: Getting Close
Rain sat up, her forepaws trembling from her climb up the slimy rock wall. She shook her head, looking up. After her violent fit of coughing up water, she turned to Tangle. "Thank you. I wouldn't be alive right now if it weren't for you."
Item number four on the checklist: check! Hawk thought.
"Is that the fourth item?" Aqua meowed, almost reading Hawks thoughts.
Tangle shook out his pelt, sending water droplets flying in the air. He had sleek, glossy fur, the silver patches shining in the sun of the now-clear blue sky. Birds swooped overhead, and the cows went along with their chewing. Tangle leaped into the meadow, water droplets sparkling. Soon his paws were drenched. "Isn't this great!" he yowled, spinning around and gracefully jumping around.
Hawk let out a mrrow of laughter. "It is!" Hawk bounded toward him, and soon the others followed. All around Hawk, she felt a sense of belonging. She looked around at her two friends, and their new aquaintance.
Rain laughed and purred, "Guess where we're going?"
Tangle leaped into a puddle, "Where?"
Rain rolled her eyes, "Guess."
Tangle flopped down, "To the. . .Twolegplace?"
Aqua shook her head. "Not even close!" she mewed in disgust.
Tangle thought for a moment, then gazed into the horizon. Hawk couldn't peel her attention away from the mountains, and she hardly noticed that Tangle saw where she was looking.
"To the mountains!" he meowed triumphantly.
Rain gave a little bounce of joy, "Yes!" she meowed, snapping Hawk back into reality, "You want to come with us?"
Tangle leaped to his paws, scrabbling to the top of a rock. "Of course!" He slunk into a hole in the rock, pushing out a pawful of water that dripped from the top, "Listening to the Waterfall. . ." she leaped to the top and balanced on his hindlegs, "Seeing the horizons. . ." he leaped to the bottom and puffed out his chest fur.
Aqua tilted her head to one side, "So you've been there?"
Tangle shook his head, "I've only heard about it," he sighed excitedly, "So why are you going there anyways?"
Rain exchanged an uncertain glance with Hawk. She dipped her head, letting Rain know she could tell him.
"Well, first I met Hawk, stealing a squirrel. . ." Rain began, then started to pour out the confrontaions with Hawk and the dream she'd had. She told him about how they had travelled all the way through the woods, and their meeting with the fox Aqua had saved them from, ". . .It was a viscious kill. . ." then went on about how he'd manage to save her from drowning in the river, and finally finished with: "And now I'm telling you why we are going to the mointains!"
At first, Hawk thought he was asleep, but then realized he was wide awake, his jaws gaped in awe. "Wow!" he exclaimed, "Now I'm definitely coming with you!"
The group of four emerged into a bout of laughter, and Hawk's belly started to hurt. The sun started to sink, staining the sky to flame and the cows started to be rounded away by a dog. Then, Aqua's ears pricked. She stopped laughing and leaped to her paws.
"Dog!" she yowled.
The laughing stopped abruptly and then Hawk heard it; the ecxited yapping of a dog that was heading straight for them! Then, she spotted the white shape charging at them.
"Run!" Rain yowled.
The group fled across the field toward the mointains. Twolegsplace was in close view, and Hawk's muscles started to ache again. Her belly yowled in hunger and she toppled over, watching the group flee without her.
"Hey!" she yowled, panting, "Wait. . . for me!" she was gasping fpr breath, and she heard the dog's barking getting closer. She was too weak to lift her head, and she felt the rumble of the ground under her as the dog's paws thudded the ground.
The small shapes of her friends disappeared into the distance, and the dog was at her tail. Suddenly, a pure-white flash slammed into the dog, making it topple over.
What is happening?
Chapter 8: Let's Get Out of Here
Hawk gasped for breath as the tiny pure-white cat battled with the dog. She shivered as she caught sight of a long, ugly scar across one of the cat's eyes. I wonder what caused that? But she didn't want to know.
The dog was given a few blows, then whimpered and raced away from the cat. The cat's fur was fluffed out and its teeth were bared, her back in a high arch. She let out a warning hiss after the dog.
How many more lives need to be saved? She stood up and eyes the cat wearily, "Thank you for saving me," she mewed hesitantly.
The cat spun aroun, her neck fur bristling. Hawk'e ears pricked as she heard her friends' distant calls as they came racing back toward her.
The white cat sat down and licked her paw, blood oozing from a wound where she had torn a claw. Tangle scurried up and hissed at the cat, "Who are you? And what did you do to Hawk?" he demanded.
Hawk's eyes widened at her friend's strict orders. The cat stood up, her paw lifted off the ground to prevent hurting it, but it twitched like a mouse.
The cat began to speak, "My name is Ivy," she meowed mysteriously, "And I just saved this cat's life." She pointed her tail at Hawk. Hawk's neck fur began to bristle as she took offense.
Rain bounded up to Ivy and sniffed her, "Thanks for saving her!" she exclaimed, bounding up to Hawk and sniffing her pelt anxiously.
Hawk rolled her eyes.
Tangle sat down, licking his ruffled chest fur. "I'm Tangle, and that is Hawk---the one you just saved---Rain, and Aqua," he introduced the group. "We are going to the Mountains," he meowed. Then, he leaped into a patch of tall grass. When the grass stopped twitching, he peered out, shifting his gaze to each of the cats. Then, he staked out, chest fur brushing the ground and his haunches high in the air. He waved his tail.
Aqua stifled a laugh. Hawk buried her face into her paws to make her laughing quiet. Rain just burst out laughing, rolling around in the short, stubby grass.
Ivy just stared at him, one brow raised and her jaws slightly open. "Why are you going to the mountains anyway? I hear it's cold up there, and prey is unimagineably scarce."
Aqua turned to Rain, "I believe it is you cue," she meowed casually.
Oce again, Rain started to tell Ivy the story about her dream of five things; a hawk's feather, a raindrop, a tangled mat of fur, an ivy tendril, and the other mysterious thing. She poured out the entire story of their long adventure.
". . .and now we meet you." Rain finished.
Hawk glanced at Ivy, who was probablt half-asleep. Ivy gazed out to her, then to the other cats. Then she let out a quiet, "Oh. . ."
Hawk felt it was her cue, "Do you want to join us?"
Ivy licked her paw again, "Sure, why not?" she angled her ears at Tangle, "I am positive that it will be fun. . .seen as what he just did."
"Great!" Rain exclaimed cheerfully.
Aqua stood up, pointing to the setting sun, "We should find a place to rest," she warned.
Hawk nodded her agreement, her belly yowling with hunger and her legs aching, "And hunt," she added.
Tangle stood up and padded through the grass toward Twolegplace, "Twolegplace is the only place we have in order to saty away from those monsters that patrol the field," he mewed.
The rest of the group slowly followed. The sun soon set behind the forest and stars dotted the sky. Moonlight shone down, silver lining the blades of grass.
Hawk gazed up to the sky, enjoying the feeling of a cool breeze weave through her fur. Around her, she felt safe and a sense of belonging. We are almost there, she thought.
Twolegplace came into close view, behind a tall hedge. Tangle sniffed the thorns, then went back, coughing.
"It smells awful!" he complained.
Looks like there's more danger to come.
Chapter 9: The Thunderpath
Tangle backed away from the hedge, coughing and gagging. Ivey cautously padded toward her, but Aqua knocked her away.
"I'll check it out," Hawk meowed bravely.
Her groupmates looked uncertain as she pushed throught the thorns that were tugging at her pelt and scraped her ears. Tall grass and murky water lay in a steep dip, and as she looked up, a hard, flat, black and very familiar surface caught her eye.
Hawk leaped away as a huge, roaring monster sped past, splashing up a wave of brown water. It's hard, red shiny pelt shone in the dim light that came from the tiny suns at the edges. Its grumbling faded away into the distance.
Hawk then became dizzy, imagining the sickening crack of bone as a moster hit one of her goupmates. She shook it away with horror, her forepaws trembling.
Rain shouldered her way to the front of the group. She looked staright into Hawks blue eyes, "So?" she demanded.
Hawk took a deep breath, "There a Thunderpath on the other side of the hedge." she confirmed.
Murmurs of annoyance sounded from Ivy and Tangle, while Aqua shuddered. Rain's legs trembled, and pain throbbed at the scratch in Hawk's flank.
"What are we going to do?" Rain wailed.
Hawk scanned the hedge and the field, "Well, the field ends here, so we have to cross the Thunderpath."
"What!" Tabgle shrieked, "There's no way I'm crossing that thing!"
"But we have to!" Ivy replied.
"Only if we want to!" Tangle countered. He slumped to the ground, mud plastering to his paws.
Hawk sat down beside him, "Aren't you tired?" she asked him.
"Or hungry?" Aqua added.
Hawk's belly yowled with hunger. He legs ached and she was terribly thirsty. She scanned her groupmates, their eyes and pelts were dull and mud smeared their pelts. Dry blood stained Ivy's flank, and Rain's ribs started to show.
"We're all hungry, Aqua," Ivy meowed desperately.
How can't we find prey? It's greenleaf! Hawk thought grimly. She looked back at the hedge, and suddenly, she had an idea, "Maybe we should cross the Thunderpath," she meowed, "Maybe there's food on the other side.
Tangle looked up, his eyes desperate. He dipped his head uncertainly.
"Good," Aqua meowed, "Now let's get moving."
The group pushed through the hedge, thorns scraping their pelts. Dead leaved crunched beneath their paws, until they emerged to the long grass at the edge. Monsters roared occasionally past.
"It seems quiet," Ivy mewed, scanning the hard surface.
Hawk stood at the edge of the Thunderpath, but before the hard black stuff. They stayed in the reeds as the roar of a monster started in the distance.
"On my signal, we run to the other side," Hawk ordered, beckoning her tail.
The hard, shiny pelt of a blue monster shone in the dim light. As it roared past, it sent a wave of slimy brown water, leaving a horrid scent behind. Then, all was quiet, except for the faint whisper of breeze.
"Now!" Hawk yowled.
The group leaped onto the Thunderpath. Hawk strayed behind the rest of her friends, watching as they sprinted across the Thunderpath. Suddenly, Tangle let out a yelp and tripped, falling behind. Hawk skidded to a halt and spun around, and in the distance, she saw a familiar bright light and a low grumble reached her ears.
A monster. Coming fast.
"Tangle!" Hawk leaped forward, grabbing his scruff. She struggled, desperately trying to haul him up. His weight slowed them down. The beam got closer and closer.
"Get up!" she growled through muffled fur. Tangle slowly got to his paws, and Hawk could taste the monster's acrid scent. Her ears ached at the loud roar as it was a few tree lengths away.
Tangle finally staggered to his paws and stood shakily on his paws. He stared in fear at the monster. Blood roaring in her ears at the risk she was taking, she scittered behind him and thrust him forward, where he was sent flying into the reeds on the safe side. Hawk winced at the light as she waited for death to come to her.
Pain shot through her as teeth dug into her scruff and hauled her way from the monster that was a fox-length away. She felt the hot wind brush her tail-tip as it was a whisker-width away from being crushed. She was thrown onto the safe side, followed by Rain.
"T-thank you, Rain!" Hawk stammered, her legs shaking in fear, "You saved my life!"
Rain nuzzled her friend and nosed her into the hedge. "Come on, " she meowd, "We have hunting to do."
Chapter 10: A New Addition
Hawk crouched in the shadows, scanning the moonlit clearing for any sign of life. Stars twinkled in the sky, making her pelt silver. She tasted the air, the her ears pricked toward a bushy tail coming from a pile of dead leaves.
She crouched, creeping forward. Her tail barely touched the ground as she stalked toward it. She pinpointed a location where she would spring, and she fixed her gaze on its thick, bushy tail.
She felt for undergrowth beneath her paws. Not a sound. Then, muscles tensed, she sprang quietly, the squirrel not even moving. She chomped it in the back of the neck, a loud crack echoeing through the forest. She stood over her catch until snatching it up to bring it to her friends.
By the time she got back, Aqua and Tangle were working on a make-shift den. Ivy was gulping down a sparrow, and Rain was staring at the sky, her eyes shining and a half-eaten mouse at her paws. A plump rabbit lay in the middle of the clearing beside a shrew. Hawk dropped her catch on the pile and took a place beside Rain.
When Rain didn't say anything, Hawk began, "It's a beautiful night, isn't it?" she meowed.
"Yeah," she mewed distantly.
Hawk followed her gaze to the tangle of branches above their heads. The breeze weaved through them, making them rattle. the leaves whispered to each other.
"Whatcha lookin' at?" Hawk asked, uncertain.
As in a snap of reality, Rain shook her head. "Oh, sorry," she meowed, "I wasn't really paying attention."
Hawk nudged her in the shoulder, "You're tired," she mewed, "Get some rest and finish that mouse before a hawk does."
Hawk got up as Rain gulped down her mouse and sniffed around the roots of an oak tree. Thick, green moss was clumping around the trunck, and she scooped a huge cluster up, dragging in back to to finished den.
Aqua dragged away Hawk's squirrel and ate hungrily, her eyes lightening up. Hawk brought the moss into the den and made five nests.
Tangle settled in one of them, "This feels better after an entire day of travelling. . ." he finished with a huge yawn, then curled his tail over his nose.
Aqua brought the shrew to Hawk, "Eat, then rest," she meowed, sinking into the moss.
Ivy sank into a nest, her eyes dull with tiredness, "I can't wait to wash," she muttered, licking her chest fur.
Hawk ate her shrew in famished gulps. She settled beside Rain, then closed her eyes.
. . .
Hawk was awakened by a ick in her shoulder. She lifted her head, trying to adjust to the half-light. it was past moonhigh, but not yet dawn. Rain was twitching in her sleep, muttering things.
"Mint leaf. . ." she murmured.
Hawk poked Rain sharply in the flank, "Wake up!" she hissed, trying not to wake the others.
Rain lifted her head quickly, her blue eyes wide. She gazed into Hawk's blue eyes, "The dream!" she exclaimed, "I saw a mint leaf with out things!"
"Well, then," Hawk meowed, "Let's keep our eyes open."
Rain lay her head on her paws, "When are we going to get to th mountains?" she asked.
Hawk shrugged, "We'll get there when we get there," she mewed, "Our journey isn't over yet."
"I figured," the flecked gray she-cat meowed.
Hawk patted her on the flank, "Come on, get some rest," she sank down in her own nest, "We have a big day tomorrow."
. . .
Haw lifted her head, watery light filtering through the den walls. She blinked sleep away, then stumbled into the clearing. Aqua and Rain were sharing a rabbit, while Tangle stretched luxuriously.
"There's nothing like an awesome stretch in the morning!" he hooted.
Hawk let out a mrrow of amusement, then padded toward the tree. She flexed her claws then scratched the bark, leaving claw marks that scarred the trunck. She scored rips in leaves and clambered her way up the tree. She sat in the tree.
"Hey!" she called, "It's not so bad up here."
Aqua clambered her way up the tree, then gazed through the branches. Her blue eyes widened.
"I can see the mountains!" she exclaimed.
In a flash, Hawk's three other companions raced up the tree. They stared through the gap, fighting theri way to have a look.
"We're almost there!" Tangle yowled, "Yay!"
The group giggled in amusement.
Ivy butted in, "We should leave as soon as possible," she mewed.
Rain puffed out her chest, "I agree," she agreed, "The sooner we leave, the better."
Chapter 11: Twolegplace
Hawk led her group of friends through the forest, the dawn sunlight filtering through the trees above their heads. A breeze stirred the leaves, making them spiral. The trickled of a steam whispered through the trees as the padded along in silence.
"Are we there yet?" Tangle asked irritably.
Hawk rolled her eyes, "No, Tangle."
"Almost, anyways," Aqua added.
Hawk leaped over the stream, followed by Rain. Their pelts were dull and paws were sore from the trek. Suddenly, Tangle tumbled down a slope, yowling in jopy as he rolled down the hill.
Hawk let out a giggle. She leaped her way down, followed by her groupmates, until she slipped on a reed and rolled down the hill beside Tangle. Dizziness swirled in her head, making the world spin.
Suddenly, a dark shadow covered them. She heard a thump and then Tangle's yowl of pain. She crashed into him.
"Sorry!" Hawk stood up, pulling Tangle away from the structure that stood in front of them.
Aqua looked up, "A Twoleg nest," she looked down at Hawk and meowed sarcastically, "Great."
Ivy shuddered, "I hate Twolegplace!" she exclaimed.
Hawk crept to look beyond the corner of the wall, then peeked. Tangle peeped above her, followed by the others.
A huge Thunderpath stretched in front of the nest, monsters grumbling along and screeching. A pair of twoleg kits were playing with a boulder-thing that bgounced of their paws. There were tiny trees dotting the yards.
"Not my type of living," Tangle pointed out.
Rain murmured her agreement.
"Well, the mountains are on the other side," Hawk meowed as the purple hills became visible behind a tangle of Thunderpaths and nests.
"We have to go through it?" Tangle gazed at her, uncertain, "No way am I moving!" He slumped to the ground.
Hawk nudged him in the shoulder, "Come on, Tangle!" she mewed, "You wanted to come with us."
Tangle looked up at Hawk, then turned to Rain, Aqua and Ivy. He smiled a tiny bit, which surprised Hawk. I thought that was physically impossible. she shook the thought away.
"Tangle looked up at Hawk again, "Okay," he got to his paws.
"That's the spirit!" Ivy butted him in the side with her head playfully.
Hawk turned to the sun. It was high in the sky. "We should cross the Thunderpath before it gets dark," she concluded.
"Again?" Aqua complained.
Hawk nodded, "And no-cat will be left behind," she looked sternly at Tangle. He looked away quickly.
Rain and Aqua took the lead, taking the group to the edge of the Thunderpath. Hawk heard the barking of a dog, its long tongue lolling out of its mouth. Hawk could see the dog now, getting closer and closer. . .
"Dog!" Hawk warned. A monster's growl sounded in the distance, its blue shiny pelt shimmering in the sun.
"What do we do?" Rain panicked.
Ivy spun around, her claws unsheathed and her fur fluffed out. "It's either we fight it," she meowed, "Or we risk our lives by crossing that Thunderpath while that monster is coming."
Hawk leaped to Ivy's side, "I'm fighting," she decided, unsheathing her claws. Shje leaned over to Ivy, "I owe you one," she murmured.
Ivy turned to her, "No problem," she meowed.
Hot wind gust at Hawk's fur as the monster roared past. Hawk sheathed her claws, and she started to panic.
"How about we cross the Thunderpath?" she decided, as Aqua, tangle and Rain were already halfway across.
Ivy looked at the dog, then the Thunderpath, then cast another swift glance to the dog, then leaped onmto the Thunderpath. Hawk followed and their pelts brushed as they sprinted across the Thunderpath. They leaped onto the other side as a white monster grumbled past.
Hawk's ears pricked as she heard a shriek of joy. It wasn't a cat, then she whirled around to see a twoleg kit running towards Rain with paws outstretched.
"Rain!" she yowled, "Twoleg! Run!"
Rain looked up at the Twoleg kit and leaped out of its reach. It let out a yowl of frustration as it chased the cats all over its garden. An adult Twoleg swung open the door to see what all the noise was. It yowled at the Twoleg kit and it froze, letting the cats escape. They burst through a hedge and crashed into something soft.
Hawk looked up to see a slender cat with beautiful, mint green eyes.
"Oh, sorry!" Hawk apologized, "We were. . .er. . .running away from that stupid Twoleg."
The cat with green eyes sprang to her paws, her gray tabby pelt shining in the sun. "You're not from here, are you?" she asked.
"Nope," Tangle replied, shaking his head.
"What's your name?" Aqua asked, getting up.
The tabby she-cat blinked, "Hi! My name is Mint. Welcome to my garden!"
Chapter 12: The Escape
Hawk stared at the kittypet, her eyes narrowed. Rain quivered impatiently beside her.
"We aren't here for a visit," Hawk meowed, "We are just passing through."
Mint's eyes lit up, "Are you going on an adventure?"
Aqua looked confused, "Er. . .Sure."
Tangle leaped onto the rock that was beside a patch of marigold, "We are going to. . ." he placed his paw above his eyes, ". . .the Mountains!"
Mint cocked her head to one side, "Where's that?" she asked curiously.
Rain pointed with her tail toward the huge bush that blocked the sun, "That way, but we have to escape Twolegplace."
Mint gasped, "Why would you want to leave your housefolk?" she asked, flabergasted.
"We aren't kittypets!" Tangle spat in disgust.
Mint shrunk backwards slightly, shifting her paws. "Oh," she mewed.
"We aren't from here," Hawk repeated.
The kittypet's eyes shone."Right," she meowed.
Hawk started to pad away, "I think we should be going," she meowed, slipping toward the bush.
Aqua and Ivy followed Hawk, and Rain hesitantly followed. But Tangle stayed behind.
"Aren't you coming?" Hawk called to Tangle.
Tangle sighed, slowly getting to his paws,"Bye, Mint," he padded away, tail drooping.
As they started to push their way out of the hedge, a call came from behind them, "Wait!"
Hawk whirled around to be face-to-face with Mint.
"Can I come, too?"
Tangle lifted his eyes and looked back. He looked at Hawk, giving a tiny, pleading nod.
Hawk rolled her eyes, "Are you sure you want to leave your housefolk?" she asked.
Mint nodded hesitantly.
"Then, let's go," Hawk meowed.
She looked at the rest of her friends. there were six of them, including her. She remembered when Rain stole her prey, the Aqua killed a fox, the Tangle save Rain from falling into a gorge. Ivy saved Hawk from a dog, and now Mint was tagging along to help.
Hawk gave a tiny, but physically imposwible, smile. Then she turned and led her friends over the fence. She scrabbled with her hind paws to get a grip to get onto the other side, then leaped down. Ivy followed gracefully.
Hawk scanned the field. There were nests dotted everywhere, and a Thunderpath sliced through it. The mountains caught her eyes, but they were much bigger now.
Ivy raced toward them, followed by Mint. Rain and Aua took off at the same tim, wile Hawk jerked her head to Tangle. He leaped forward and she bounded after him.
Suddenly, Ivy was bowled over but a big, round thing. She toppled over with yelp, and a familiar, faint squeal sounded.
"Get out of here!" Hawk ordered loudly.
Her friends pricked their ears as the Twoleg kits came into sight, chasing the boulder thing. One ran forward, then spotted the cats. She raced for Ivy, paws outstretched.
"Ivy! Run!" she warned.
Ivy got to her paws and skipped away, nearly avoiding being caught. Tangle and Hawk leaped forward, scratching and thrashing at the kit's kind paws.
It roared with pain and swipd down at the cats, Tangle was knocked over by a huge, twiggy paw. Hawk sank her fangs into one ofthe toes, gagging as she tasted iron in her mouth. She spat out red, and the Twoleg kit yowled in pain, pelting away. But the Twoleg kit forgot the blouder thing.
"Come on, Tangle, let's got out of here," Hawk hauled him to his paws.
Rain and Aqua peered from behind a clump of ferns, while Ivy stuck her head out from a rabbit den.
"Okay, I think it's safe!" Ivy called.
The group soon got back together. Rain stared intot he distance, excitement lighting in her eyes.
"The mountains!" she cried, "We're close!"
Chapter 13: The Arrival
Hawk's legs ached as they approached the edge of the woods. She was tired of walking through Twolegplace, her pads sore and raw from the hard Thunderpaths. She slumped down beside an oak tree.
Mint stared at her, "We're stopping?"
Hawk didn't loom at her, "Okay! We are stopping her for the night. . ." she decided, her eyelids falling.
She felt dust on her pelt as Tangle dropped down beside her, then Rain crashed down. Ivy scratched the oak tree, leaving claws marks in the bark, when suddenly, Aqua sprang for a bush.
"What are you doing?" she asked Aqua, when she gazed at the leaves, "What are those?"
"Dock!" she meowed, "Great for sore pads!"
Hawk sprang up and snatched a stem from the plant and rubbed it against hewr paws. The juices cooled her pads and the pain was relieved.
Hawk looked in disgust at Mint's collar. Mint froze, "What?" she asked.
"Your collar," she mewed, pinting to it with her tail, "Take it off."
Mint stared at her, "What? Why?"
"Do you see any of us wearing collars?"
"Then you should take it off."
Mint scratched the collar, the soft stuff tearing in her claws. Suddenly, with a snap, it broke free, and was sent sprawling on the forest floor.
Mint felt her neck with her tail, "I'm free!" she skipped around the clearing, chanting: "I'm free! I'm free!"
"Bury it so that your Twolegs will not come after us," she ordered, "That would be a horrible encounter."
As Mint buried her piece of twoleg rubbish, the brown tabby felt a sharp prod in the shoulder. She spun around to face Ivy.
"What?" she asked, then she saw it.
The sharp tipped mountains were in front of her. Eagles swooped at their tips, no more than dots in the sky. Snow was scattered on their tops.
"We are here," concluded Ivy, "We have reached the mountains."
Aqua and Rain let out yowls of victory, while Mint and Tangle pranced around, chanting "We're here! We're here!" Hawk and Ivy stared up the mountains. Hawk notice something moving, getting bigger and moving quickly. She squinted to see it, then panic flooded her.
"Run!" she yowled. A giant rock was rolling down the mountain.
As her groupmates noticed, it was close to hitting them. Ivy flattened her ears to the roaring of the rock and leaped away, followed by a yowling Tangle. Rain, Hawk and Aqua raced away, while Mint stood frozen in horror.
"Mint! Get out of there now!" Tangle screeched.
Mint jerked her head and stared, as the rock closed in on her. Tanglke dived forward, his heart pulsing fast as the rock was only a tree lenth away. Tangle grabbed Mint by the scruff and started to haul her away. Mint regained her footing and they both leaped, the rock a tail length from Tangle's flank.
Hawk screeched, "Mint! Tangle! Run faster!"
To be Continued...
What happens next? Will Tangle and Mint escape the rock or be squished like mud? Find out in the next book, Meeting the Tribe