Finchnose shivered as they headed deeper and deeper into the tunnel. Dark vines encircled them, and only two things kept her going, the knowledge that she was doing this for the rebellion, and Firesoul's pale ginger pelt shining like a torch ahead of her. Undoubtedly, the stern she-cat, who was risking her position and life to do this, would not be amused if she tried to back out.
Suddenly, a cold feeling swept past her, but not the spooky kind she had been feeling up till now. this was an icy thrill, yet tinged with something hotter, like cold fire, and brought with it the scent of the stars and sky. StarClan? "Who's there?" she whispered softly.
For a second there was silence, save Bramblepath shooting her an odd glance. Then a faint voice, for her ears only, spoke. "Beware Finchnose. The greatest danger in this lair comes from your own. When you see the one which the storm rages within, run.
"What?" she said. "I need to know more," she pleaded. But there was no answer.
"Are you okay Finchnose?" asked Violentclaw, frowning. Finchnose guessed he was wondering if she was getting too scared in here.
"Yeah," she said, casting one last glance over her shoulder. Though every muscle in her body screamed, Liar!, she added, "Everything's going to be fine."
Brambles crackled underpaw as I made my way towards the rendezvous. Every bone in my body wanted to drag me back, and my legs felt like iron weights, but what choice did I have? None really. If I led them to her, they would hurt her. If I didn't, they would hurt her. At least this way, they wouldn't hurt me. Realizing how selfish that sounded, I reprimanded myself furiously. That didn't matter right now. All that mattered was finding then and... Where were they?
I looked around the meeting spot. Nothing. "Guys?" I ventured, waiting for the muffled snickers and pairs of glowing eyes to emerge. Still nothing. My heart began to thump wildly in my chest. What was going on? What were they playing at?
Casting my eyes towards the moon, I saw that it had already risen high in the sky. I was late, terribly late, but I couldn't help it. I hadn't seen an opportunity to leave undetected from the group for an annoying amount of time, and I couldn't get caught. Wouldn't that spoil the whole "spy" thing?
"Uh oh..." I whisper, as realization slowly dawns on me. They're gone. And that can only mean- Without another pause, I whirl and go galloping headfirst through the woods. I have to stop them before it's too late!
"... With my new plans for GreenClan, all of you will be well-fed, happy, and your families will..."
I tuned Viperstar out of my head after the first few sentences, searching for two particular pelts. Finally, I located them and sliced through the crowd determinedly. "Hey," I hissed.
"Well, well, well. Look who showed up," said the white one, the tip of his ebony tail swishing back and forth. "We thought you were a no show."
"I couldn't get away," I admitted. "Did you guys tell on me yet?"
"Well..." he said coyly.
"Relax," he winked. Aristo thinks he's so cool because Viperstar lets him get away with anything, including his name. Well, he's certainly not, and I could tell him that if he ever bothered to listen to me. And if I ever got up the guts to.
"We haven't told. Yet," chimed in Risingheart. He narrowed his eyes threateningly. "But we will, if you don't accomplish this mission."
"What?" I said, dreading the answer.
"It's time for you to lead a patrol. Don't worry, it's no real work. We've already picked it out, and they're ready to kill. All you have to do is lead them and feed them." He paused. "Blood."
A chill ran through me. "What is my mission?" I tryiedto keep my voice from shaking.
"To attack and obliterate your little platoon of friends. You joined our side, and you know it. There's no turning back." Turning, Aristo motioned to a pine grove, where I could just make out the outlines of waiting cats, eyes glittering eerily with bloodthirsty intent. "Well. What are you waiting for?"
I cleared my throat. "Let's go."
My heart pounded loudly in my chest as I stared towards the gnarled form of a wood-pile where Viperstar made his home. The cats behind me were practically breathing down my neck in anticipation of battle. Closing my eyes, I send a silent prayer of desperation up into the stars, begging for a little more time. Then Risingheart's claws are tapping a slow, dangerous rhythm on my shoulder. "Well?"
Flicking my tail, I lead the way out into the clearing. If the structure looked imposing before, it's terrifying now. My mind is racing, trying to come up with excuses, but I'm drawing a blank. Now my legs seem all to eager to carry me towards the entrance,
Steeling my nerves, I duck under and lead the way inside. I can't believe this. I'm leading an attack against my own best friends. Can you spell low?
Strongheart dropped back till he was side by side with Finchnose. He sensed something had her troubled, something that could affect the whole mission.
"Are you okay?" he asked gently.
"No," she muttered. "I think StarClan sent me a warning just now. They said that our greatest enemy would be from our own, and that when we saw the one whom which the storm rages within, we should run. What does that mean?"
Suddenly, Ivyfleet's head appeared between them, her one good eye wide with fear. "I can't find Tornadoheart anywhere!"
He let out a gasp. "Finchnose, whoever it was must've already got him! We have to tell Silverbreeze, Reedfur, and Firesoul. We have to find him!" He took off running, but stopped when he saw the expression on her face. "Finchnose?"
The brown she-cat looked like she was going to be sick. "The one whom the storm rages within... Strongheart, Ivyfleet, I'm so sorry. Tornadoheart wasn't gotten by whoever it was. He is the traitor. And when we see him-"
Hearing a noise behind them, Strongheart whirled. Fernheart gasped beside him, hazel eyes wide. Slowly, each member of the rebellion turned, shock etched plainly on their faces. Firesoul let out a hiss of rage and scraped her claws against the dead end they had just come to. They were cornered in the narrow passage. And facing them, his stormy blue eyes hostile and murderous, was Tornadoheart.
My knees practically gave out on me when I saw the shock and hurt on Ivyfleet's face. I never meant for this to happen. Please, understand, somehow.
"Attack!" I yelled, cannoning into the group. I collide with a large ginger tom. Strongheart. Uh oh. I may have bitten off more then I could chew, but I was no quitter. Yowling for all I was worth, I locked into him, clawing and scratching away tufts of orange fur, sending blood spraying.
"Oh no you don't! Coward! Traitor!" The powerful tom gets to his paws and puts one massive paw on my head and the other digging into my back. Shoving me against the tunnel wall, he begins hammering his fists on my back. Pain vibrates through my spine as I flail my back legs uselessly, trying to land a blow. Behind me, the closely-knit branches are starting to give. Fear made me fight even harder. I latched onto his throat and don't let go.
"I'm... taking... you with me," I hiss, struggling for breath.
"Oh no you don't!" He cannoned into me, and suddenly, the wall is gone, replaced by thin air, and we're falling, falling, falling...
The impact of hitting the ground knocked the wind right out of me, but I quickly realize I need to get out of there. Branches and limbs are plummeting to the ground, and the structure gives one final groan before collapsing. I curled into a ball, trying to sheild myself. Flying debri and dust peppers my fur, and a roaring sound pounds itself into my skull.
Finally, I raised my head and looked around. Moaning cats are already making their way out of the wreckage. However, the wood is littered with more still bodies. My heart clenches painfully. "Oh no... Ivyfleet! What have I done?"
Aristo calls from behind me. "Viperstar's not going to like this, but we have to tell him. Come on."
"But what about..."
"I think your cover's been blown," pointed out Risingheart. "Come on. It's time for you to become a full member of GreenClan."
"Oh. Great." I gaze back at the ruins of Viperstar's lair. I have to make sure my friends are okay, but- They're staring at me, waiting to see if I'll make the fatal mistake of not coming. Giving my fur a shake, I padded toward them.
Yes, I know. Any decent cat would never have the heart to turn their back on their friends, to walk away. And as I did it, something seemed to desperately grab at me, cling to me, beg me to stay. It was fate calling, but I ignored it. Destiny and heroism aren't everything in this world. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do just to stay alive. However, fate got one thing, as it pulled on every part of me. It got my heart, and kept it there, with the bodies of my friends.
And so I walked away from the rebellion, and Ivyfleet, with the knowledge that I might never see them again, or be responsible for their deaths one day. Fate might call, but it will never hear me, nor understand me. It sometimes feels like there's a tumultous storm within me, two halves battling for the right to live. I guess that's why they call me Tornadoheart.
Reedfur raised his head weakly. A pounding headache made him feel like his skull was about to burst open. Then he realized what had happened. They were in the remains of what had once been Viperstar's headquarters.
Mixed emotions surged through him. They certainly had struck a major blow to GreenClan, but at what cost? Scrambling to his paws, his eyes fell on something furry next to him, and he almost wretched. It was a cat, the body twisted and flattened, eyes bulging in fear. He didn't recognize it; it was probably an enemy warrior, but he felt sick anyway. No living thing deserved that.
Who else is dead? Not any of them. Please. Not Silverbreeze. "Guys?" he croaked. "Anyone out there?"
"Reedfur!" Strongheart loped toward him, relief shining in his amber eyes. "You're okay."
"Wow," said a voice from behind them. They turned to see Snowdrift climbing out from under a crooked log. The pale gray she-cat turned to help Birdsong out too. Slowly, other cats began to emerge, some sporting injuries, others just looking striken.
Ivyfleet looked the worst emotionally. Her eyes were hollow, as if she had seen a ghost, only ten times worse. She sank to the ground at Reedfur's paws, not moving to clean her fur of debri and dirt. His heart twisted in sympathy, but he had too look for Silverbreeze. Had to find her. Before it was too late.
"Silverbreeze?" he called hoarsely. His ears pricked as he made out a faint reply. Clawing at some branches, Reedfur felt his whole body go limp with relief as he saw the familiar pair of blue eyes staring pleadingly back at him. "Can you walk out now?"
"Yeah, but Reedfur, it's not me I'm worried for. It's Finchnose. She's badly hurt, and-" Silverbreeze's voice was abruptly cut off, like she had choked on the words she was saying. Reedfur's belly plummeted. It was then that his eyes fell upon the smaller body, brown fur drenched with blood, and eyes tightly shut. It was only the rising and falling of her flanks that told him she was still alive.
Then, just as Strongheart approached, Finchnose's flanks stopped moving, and she ceased breathing.