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              Evalua tion

Episode 3 of Anarchy! Please read and comment your thoughts down below. 

The day was gloomy. Dark, forbidding clouds loomed over the sun, casting the desert into a pale grey light. The weather perfectly reflected how Sandpaw was feeling. Grief still swarmed her emotions. She hadn't left camp in days. Snake had let her rest for a few days. Glade hadn’t returned to camp since he told Sandpaw about the rebels. Oh holy cat, what if he was killed by the rebels? She tried to dismiss the idea but she just couldn’t. He will return, he has to. Sandpaw thought to herself. A small fly swarmed over her head, distracting her from these morbid thoughts. She stated it down with one fast swoop of her small, thin paw. Like a ninja cat. Sandpaw thought silently and smirked at her talent. 

Suddenly, a black shadow stood at the entrance of her den. She recognized the silhouette of Snake and let to her paws. She figured her break from training was over. 

“Sandpaw,” she was right, “we have some um- special cats here to see you.” Snake gruffly meowed, detest showing in his meow. 

“Who?” Sandpaw asked, curiously. She rarely had visitors, besides Fawnpaw who hadn’t come to the hunters since her sister’s death. Too many memories of her, Sandpaw had guessed. And Snake wouldn’t have said “visitors” with so much distaste. Snake seemed to like Fawnpaw. 

“Just come.” Snake ordered. Sandpaw briskly padded up the incline towards the vine-blocked entrance of her and Glade’s den. She emerged and blinked trying to get her eyes to adjust to the grey light. Even though it wasn’t very bright, it was much lighter than in her dark den. When her eyes finally adjusted, she saw three massive, black figures standing in front of her. The air around them seemed to be filled with self centered pride these cats had for themselves. She immediately disliked these strangers. Snake stared at these cats, hate fizzing around him. Snake wasn’t the most loving cat, but Sandpaw had never seem him like this before. It made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. 

“Sandpaw?” The center cat said in a deep voice, filled with authority. 

“Yes? How many I help you gentle cats on this fine day?” Sandpaw practically spat “gentle cats” because these cats seemed like anything but. Snake chuckled at her comment but quickly regained himself and gave her a sharp cuffing on her ear. The cats surrounding the cat who was clearly the leader all gave him sharp glares at laughing at the insult. The largest cat seemed unfazed by the puny cat’s sharp words. 

“I am Shadowclaw, leader of the Shadowclan elite hunters.” He meowed, a little bit too much pride in his voice. He did seem to put a little but to much emphasis on the word “elite”. Suddenly it all made sense to Sandpaw. Snake hated these cats because when he was about her age, he was chosen to train to become an elite hunter. It was all every cat in the hunters sector ever wanted. But Snake had failed and was cast back to the sector and never received his full warrior name so he has become Sand. Just Sand, never to be a full warrior. He had hated ShadowClan ever since.

“My, what an original name you have!” Sandpaw congratulations. This time Snake was unable to contain himself and burst out laughing. Her tried to get ahold of himself but he couldn’t seem to. Sandpaw couldn’t resist smirking a little at her quick whit. This time, even Shadowclaw seemed a little taken back by the apprentices sharp tung. 

“Maybe you will speak to your elders with more respect apprentice.” Shadowclaw ordered. 

“Maybe, you should move your elder booty back to the elders den.” Sandpaw meowed, her gaze locked on his. Before Sandpaw knew what was happening, her head was thrown to the left and searing pain flashed across her cheek. She regained her balance and stood to see who had swiped her. Gasped echoes across camp. 

“That should teach you.” Shadowclaw meowed, his claws glistening with her blood. These cats are fast, she thought. Shadowclaw had swiped her with such force and regained the same position in a matter of seconds. sandpaw spat at the cats feet. 

“Well you came here for some reason. You disturb my peace and swipe me across my face so this better be good.” Sandpaw snarled.

“Oh trust me, this will be.” Shadowclaw meowed. “Sandpaw, you have been chosen as an evaluated.” Once again gasps sounded across camp. Sandpaw stood there, confused. What in cat’s name is an evaluated? “Now, you might be wondering what and evaluated is.” Dark claw meowed. 

“Its like you read my mind,” Sandpaw remarked, bored with this whole conversation. 

“Well every 100 moons, as you know, ShadowClan holds a remarkable event.”

“The Shadow Festival!” Sandpaw breathed. Every cat in all of the enslaved knew of the Shadow Festival, it was hosted every 100 moons. The Shadow Festival was a grand even where all cats gathered in the ShadowClan camp for one moon and it was a grand celebration. There were challenges for every cat to participate in and food to full bellies for moons and moons to come. It was the Monarch’s way of rewarding the enslaved. With the Shadow Festival Sandpaw knew, came the Deserted Games. The most grand even at the end of the Shadow Festival where one young apprentice form each sector was stranded in the desert and the first cat to make it back, won ultimate glory. 

“Well as you know, we need an apprentice form each sector to come and compete in the Deserted Games. We are not guaranteeing you a spot, we just need to assess your abilities and if you pass, you will begin training with a past Hunting Victor.” Shadowclaw explained. This had been all Sandpaw ever had wanted, a chance to prove herself and earn her warrior name. 

“Over the next few days, my colleagues and I will be assessing you hunting skills to see if you are eligible to compete.” Sandpaw’s heart raced. This was her chance! 

“I accept you offer.” Sandpit meowed, trying to sound dignified and like she really didn’t care about this.

“We did not ask for your permission, this is something that is required of you.” Shadowclaw replied calmly. Sandpaw snorted and padded around the group of ShadowClan hunters. I will show them that I am not a cat to be pushed around. Sandpaw nodded resolutely to herself. Late dawn light began to shaft through the scrubby trees that surrounded the base. In the distance, Sandpaw could hear the soft sound of desert bird song. The ShadowClan cats filed to the fresh kill pile, taking their share of the biggest prey. They have settled in well. Sandpaw snarled to herself. All other hunters seemed to be thinking the same thing as they glared at the newcomers who were chowing down on their hard caught prey. 

“Sandpaw!” Someone behind called her. It was Lilac, a senior hunter. “I heard about the great news, congratulations!” 

“Thanks Lilac, but its not that big of a deal.” Sandpaw said, trying to sound conceived. “Are you kidding me, its a huge deal! Your going to be a victor!” 

“Woah, woah, woah there Lilac. First I have to be accepted into training. Then I have to pass the trainers test. Oh and there was one more thing, what was is? Oh yeah, I have to actually win the games.” Sandpaw snorted and walked away. Of course this would be a big deal to Lilac. Ever since she was almost chosen to compete, she thinks that everybody chosen automatically wins. And since when does Lilac even talk to me? Sandpaw sometimes hated when cats tried to get close to her because of something she did. She only needed one friend, and that was Fawnpaw.  She heard Lilac calling her but Sandpaw didn’t bother turning around. Instead, Sandpaw headed towards her den to tell Glade the good news. She sprinted across the dusty clearing and zipped down the entrance of the burrow. The musty scent of home filled her nostrils as she shot in.

“Glade, I have some great news!” No one answered her call, “Glade?” She called once again. But silence greeted her. Oh right, she thought, he abandoned me. Resent bubbled up inside of her. Was I not enough for you once more Glade? Sandpaw sourly thought. 

“Sandpaw?’ Snakes voice sounded from the entrance to the burrow. 

“He abandoned me.” Sandpaw spat.

“I bet he is thing about you right now, wherever he is.” Snake tried to sooth her by coming to law down with eh in the center of the den. “And when he comes back-“

“If he ever does,” Sandpaw interrupted. 

when he comes back,” Snake meowed, “he will be very proud of you. Just like I am.”

“Thanks Snake, you always know what to say.” Sandpaw whispered. Snake licked her ear and pushed himself back to his paws. 

“I will see you tomorrow kid.” Snake promised.

“Yeah, see you.” Sandpaw followed him out to get some prey. The day had gone by so fast and the first signs of night began to show. The sun was beginning to waver under the dunes in the distance. Sandpit yawned and stretched her front paws out, bringing her chest to the ground. She stood tall and shook her fur out. She smacked her lips and licked teeth. Padding over to the fresh kill pile, she noticed a group of other apprentices staring at her with hatred in their eyes. She stuck her chin out and lifted her tail high into the air as she grabbed a sand mouse. She brought the small creature back to her den and dropped it at the entrance. Before she walked in she shouted across the clearing at the group of apprentices, “its not my fault I'm better than you.” She could hear them hissing at her and she dove down into her burrow. Maybe this is why I don’t have any friends. She thought. Sandpaw didn’t care though, she only needed Fawnpaw. Not that group of stupid cliquey apprentices. She sat down to enjoy her nightly meal in peace. Before she knew it, her belly was full and she didn’t even bother to take the scraps out before she curled up and fell asleep right in the middle of the den. Tomorrow is a big day for me. She thought as her mind was whisked away into the land of dreams. 

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She woke up to many voices swarming like flies around her den. A sharp claw prodded her in the side as she shook herself into full awareness. There, standing in front of her was Shadowclaw.

“Time for evaluation apprentice.” He meowed.

“This early? Its not even moonrise yet.” Sandpaw complained.

“The best hunters don’t need light, just their noses. Its only for today then we will be out of your fur forever.” Shadowclaw promised. “Wait a minuet, what if I make it?” Shadowclaw snorted at her comment.

“That’s unlikely.” He said. Sandpaw snorted and followed him outside the den.

“Where are you little goons?” Sandpaw asked. “They are assessing other potential apprentices for the choosing.” 

“Oh..” Sandpaw whispered. She forgot there were going to be other apprentices in her base being assessed along with her. As she stepped out of her warm den, frigid night air blasted her face forcing her to close her eyes. She opened them and blinked back tears that were welling in the corner of her eyes. 

“Your first task will to be to catch five species of small prey in the dunes before sunrise. Fail to do this and you will not continue with the evaluation process.” Sandpaw’s heart skipped a beat. Five pieces? In the dark of night? Before sunrise? How is that even possible! Sandpaw took a deep breath and tried to think of the best places to hunt. 

“Return here with all five pieces at sunrise. This can be any prey, just five pieces.” Shadowclaw sent her off and Sandpaw sprinted towards the dunes. Her leg muscles began to heat up and sent warmth across her body. Sand flew behind her as she dug deep into the sand with her powerful, thin hind legs. She felt the crisp air whipping around her face. The force forced her to flatten her ears to her head, oblivious to all noise around her. She slowly came to a halt many fox lengths from the dunes. Sandpit began to smell the air. She picked up a few different scents of desert mice or sad vole but nothing fresh. She wandered around for a while following anything that might lead her to some prey but all just dead ended. Sandpit was beginning to become hopeless when she picked up a stronger scent of desert mouse. She eagerly began to follow the trail. 

It led her in strange directions she had never seen before and without the light of day, it was virtually impossible to see where she was going. She heard a fain scuttling of small mouse feet a fox length ahead of her. She stopped suddenly to make sure she was down wind of the creature. When she was sure she was, Sandpaw began to hunt it. At first she quietly begun to creep up on it. She leapt far and landed squarely on the tiny creature. She swiftly broke it neck and brought it back to where she started the hunt. Sandpaw dug a small hole and plopped it in. She scattered the small creature with sand and began to hunt in the opposite direction. It was very difficult to find the required amount of prey in the dark. Most scent trails just ended up leading her on false trails then her trying to find another fresh trail. Sunrise was almost upon her and she needed two more pieces of prey. The night had seemed to only last for a few moment. But Sandpaw was determined to finish the challenge to that arrogant fur ball of a cat. Sandpaw managed to find a small jack rabbit roaming alone in the dunes but the sun was beginning to show its first rays of light. Sandpaw begun to panic as scampered madly about, trying to find anything. But it was too late. The sun was rising fast and she needed to head back to base before it was too late. She hung her head low and collecting her four pieces of prey and begun the journey back. 

Nothing happened on the way back but Sandpaw pricked her ears to catch any noise of prey hiding in the sand. The base began to form out of the sand as Sandpaw neared. It seemed to grow out of the desert ground and in the heat, it shimmered like it was only a marriage. Just before she turned onto the final path back, she heard a faint scampering from a small bush nearby. She quickly dropped her prey and sprinted towards the sound. Yes! there it was! A small desert vole nibbling on a seed. Sandpaw stalked it carefully. She was just about to leap when suddenly the vole perked its hears up. Only then did Sandpaw realize she was downwind. She cursed her carelessness but it was too late, the vole had already scented her. She leapt quickly after it as is scampered away. Her claws missed its tail by a gran of sand. She quickly recovered herself and sprang agin, trying to land on top of it. Sandpaw landed with a loud thump. She cracked her paws oped a little to see if she had caught it. There was nothing there. She hung her head low and slowly sat up. 

Suddenly, a small mass began to wiggle in the sand. Sandpaw had caught it after all! She quickly snapped its neck and pinned it down. She felt the life leave it’s small body. She gave her thanks to the cats of fait for supplying her with the creature. She picked it up and returned to where she had left her other prey. When she neared the spot, she saw a few other apprentices who were being assessed sorting though her prey.

“Hey!” Sandpaw yowled as she flung herself at the smallest cat. That cat let out a startled yowl as Sandpaw pinned her down, claws fully extended. 

“Drop. My. Prey.” She growled, digging her sharp claws deep into the young cat’s shoulder muscle.

“Let me go and I will.” The cat, who Sandpaw recognized as Sunpaw, replied. But Sandpaw was in no mood to play any games. She dug her claws deeper and deeper, making soft streams of blood flow out and onto the sand. Sunpaw yowled in dismay and tried to wiggle free. But any attempt just caused her more pain. 

“Let my sister go!” an older apprentice known as Duskpaw said.

“Make me,” Sandpaw yowled. Duskpaw looked like he was about to leap on Sandpaw but other cats swarmed out of camp to see what the commotion was all about.

“What is the meaning of all of this?” Shadowclaw asked. “Sandpaw why do you have that young cat pinned under you?” Shadowclaw asked. 

“Because,” Sandpaw growled through gritted teeth, “this pile of scum was trying to steal my hard earned prey.” 

“Sunpaw!” One of Shadowclaw’s goonies cried. “You were supposed to find your own prey. Not steal other cats!” The ShadowClan cat scolded. Sandpaw hated how easy going this cat was. This cat was a thief and deserved to be punished. Sandpaw deserved to be a chosen and dug her claws deeper into the cats shoulders. Sunpaw yowled in pain and begun to flail madly trying to shake Sandpaw off. Sandpaw thought she had given this apprentice a good enough lesson for today. She leaned down and whispered, “don’t ever take my stuff again.” Sandpaw pushed Sunpaw away and spat as she regained her feet. Dusk paw glared at Sandpaw as he licked his sister’s wounds clean. Sandpaw met his gaze unwavering. 

“Sandpaw, why did you attack that young cat?” Shadowclaw asked, but his eyes showed no concern towards the young apprentice.

“She took prey that rightfully belonged to me. I worked hard to get it and this ignorant cat, took it from me.” Sandpaw explained, shooting glares at Sunpaw as she did. 

“I respect you believing in what is yours. It is a very good quality in a cat.” Shadowclaw praised. 

“She deserves to be punished!” Dusk paw screeched. “She hurt my sister for no good reason.” “No she will not be punished. In fact she showed great promise today.” Shadowclaw meowed calmly.

“What! She attacked a cat!” Duskpaw exclaimed.

“Because your sister took something Sandpaw worked hard to get. And because of this behavior, your sister has gotten herself eliminated from being an evaluated. Now come on Sandpaw, we have many things to do.” Shadowclaw summoned her with his tail. Sandpaw hated to be guided but followed because Shadowclaw seemed to be in control of the situation.

“What!” Dusk paw exclaimed. Sunpaw hung her head low in shame. Sandpaw looked over her shoulder to see Duskpaw glaring at her. She swished her tail and padded back to camp.

“Congratulations Sandpaw. You have made it to the next task.” Shadowclaw explained her next task. everything else that day went by in a blur. Task after task seemed to fly by. Sandpaw did all with little struggle but many small, errors that resulted in Sandpaw leaving embarrassed or her muzzle in the dust. Tasks included: catch one piece of prey in a tree, catch one in a burrow, and many other crazy things that Sandpaw didn’t understand the point of. There was also many tactical things such as crouching, crawling, position, leap, and many others. Sandpaw was exhausted by the end of the day. The drills seemed to go on forever even though the day flew by. Soft rays of swn light began to peek across the dunes as Sandpaw was running more drills. She was practicing her leap and Shadowclaw as deeply watching her.

“Good job today Sandpaw.” Shadowclaw complemented.

“Thanks!” Sandpaw panted. She had worked very hard to earn Shadowclaw’s approval. Even though she didn’t like this cat, she wanted him to approve of her and prove herself to be an elite.   She really wanted this.

“Its time to head back. We will make the final announcement at moon high.” Sandpaw padded fairly back to camp. The desert heat began to subside and the coolness of night began. Once they were back in camp, Sandpaw grabbed some prey and plopped down, dust rising around her. Moon high was coming and Sandpaw could hardly wait to see who the chosen were. All of the enslaved would gather at the great tree to hear the choices. 

Sandpaw eagerly dug into the mouse she got and licked her jaws. The warm taste filled her mouth and begun to water. She eagerly devoured the small prey to somewhat fill her belly. The base begun to gather under the meeting willow, the only large tree left in base. Sandpaw heaved herself up, muscles aching from the long day of evaluations. Together, the cats ran together towards the great tree. Sandpaw felt pride in running with her sector. And she felt great that she had had the privilege to be among the evaluated. She knew whatever happened, she would always have this memory with her. 

“Welcome cats of the enslaved!” A large cat, most likely form the elite warriors, stood at the base of the tree, on a big root. No cat responded, in fact some even snarled at this powerful cat. “Now, many young apprentices have ben evaluated today. And we just want to say, all of you have done great. Even if you are not chosen to be a selected, you might still ahem a chance at becoming an elite. Each head elite with announce the elected from each sector. I will start with the selected from the warriors sector.” The large cat begun to name names Sandpaw had never heard of before. Each apprentice went up to the great tree and gathered there to be taken to ShadowClan in the morning. Sandpaw took her seat next to Sand and eagerly awaited Shadowclaw’s announcement. The elite warrior said the hunters will be selected fourth out of the six sectors. After the Warriors Sector came the Rangers Sector. The Rangers were the patrol cats and patrolled all of the enslave and directly worked for the Monarchy. Six rangers were chosen, none of which sandpaw ever heard of. All of the cats looked the same from the Rangers, dark grey pelts with black tabby stripes. Sandpaw had heard that if you didn’t have these exact markings, you were thrown out of the Sector and were banished to survive alone in the desert. 

Next came the healers sector. Some names sounded familiar to Sandpaw, but strangely Sandpaw hadn’t seen Fawnpaw among the gathered yet. 

“The next selected is Fawnpaw!” A nice looking she-cat announced. Sandpaw gasped and so did Snake. How could she not have told me she was being evaluated! Sandpaw felt very betrayed by her friend. But then again, I didn’t tell her either. Sandpaw immediately felt bad for jumping to conclusions. Her friend padded shyly up and sat with her healer friends. Fawnpaw had switched sectors with her mother when she was very young but seemed to like healing more than hunting. Sandpaw didn’t understand her friends choice, but she respected it and they tried their best to stay friends. After all, the healers sector wasn’t very far away so Fawnpaw visited often. 

“Next we will have Shadowclaw announcing the six selected from the Hunter’s Sector.” Sandpaw drew in a sharp breath. Shadowclaw proudly waltzed up to the big root and sat down daintily. 

“First we have Ivypaw!” Sandpaw yowled for her fellow apprentice who she barely knew. “Next we have Rootpaw and Grazepaw!” This time Sandpaw didn’t yowl. These cats were the ones who were staring at her the other day. Only three more! I better be one of them! “Joining us up here will be, Duskpaw and Hailpaw!” Duskpaw over me! Sandpaw thought, dismayed. “And the final hunters selected tonight will be…” Shadowclaw was pausing for dramatic effect. Not funny! Hours seemed to clock by as Shadowclaw tried to be dramatic. Sandpaw’s heart skipped a beat when he took in a breath. “Sandpaw!”

~End of Episode 3~

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