This is a story about four different rogues. These four have impacts on each other’s lives with and without knowing it. They’ll also leave scars on each other that will never heal. There will be betrayal, lies, sabotage, heartbreak, love, and immense joy. This is a story about the things that can tear us apart can also bring us back together.
Prologue - Vaccine
A man about the age of forty pounded on a table screaming and cursing. “What is it?” Asked his co-worker running over. “It’s this!! This will never work! We’ve tried wolves, lions, tigers, coyotes, frogs, birds, rodents, everything! It’s over!” He snarled. The other man was younger about thirty. “Well,” he said, “maybe we should try more simple thinking. Maybe something like house-pets.”
The first man looked at him. “Like what? We’ve tried dogs.” He said. “That was the first thing we tried. But this stupid serum won’t work on them. I’ve checked it more times than I can count, and we can’t edit it, and it’s perfect the way it is. We’ve tried everything.” The second man frowned. “What about cats? Like the pet? Not lions or tigers or leopards or anything like that. Just cats. As you said, there’s nothing wrong with the serum. We’ve tried to tie it to their genetics as well as ours.”
The first man hesitated, thinking about the idea. “Cats.” He said. “Yes. And if we make the serum more adjustable to their frames and exoskeletons and possibly stronger, I think it would work. Imagine how much money we’ll make if this works! And how many lives we could save!” He exclaimed. The second man smiled. “Let’s get to work.”
Chapter One - Tiller and Shadow
A black tom with amber eyes sat up staring out into the night. His only littermate, a russet colored she-cat with forest green eyes, sat beside him. “We can’t stay here, Flare.” Said the black tom. Flare looked at him and flicked an ear in annoyance. “Your right.” She told him. “But, Night you know Sakari won’t approve.” Sakari, their father, was a black tom with white paws and sharp forest green eyes.
Night closed his eyes sadly. “Then we convince him. We have to leave. He’s used to it. We’ve been moving ever since we were kitted.” He growled. Their mother had died soon after Night and Flare were weaned. It had just been the three of them for almost as long as Night and Flare could remember. Night was glad he had a father like Sakari.
When his mother died, Sakari didn’t spend his days mourning with grief. He did mourn, but after he was done he got right back to making sure they all survived. Every moon, sometimes before or after the full moon, they would move camps. Sometimes they would temporarily travel with other loners or rogues. But not permanently. And besides those kind of groups were never permanent anyways.
Night was snapped out of his thoughts as Flare prodded him in the side. “So? Are we going to tell him or not?” Night nodded. “Of course.” He followed his sister as she ran through the forest back to their camp. “Sakari!” She called. “What?” His black frame emerged from the shadows. “Sakari, we have to move.” Said Night. “Why? We’ve barely been here a week!”
Night groped for a response when Flare said, “Something bad here is going to happen. We have to move. You’ve always trusted your instincts, and we have to trust ours.” Night merely nodded, feeling helpless in the situation. Sakari frowned, lashing his tail. He opened his jaws to say something, but clamped them shut, and sighed.
“There’s a group passing by here early tomorrow morning, we’ll go with them.” Night looked hard at his father. He hardly knew anything about Sakari. Whenever they traveled with rogues, he kept his head down and stayed at the back. “We should get some rest, Night.” Came Flare’s voice. “Alright.” Night hesitantly laid down in his nest, and closed his eyes.
The next morning, Night awoke to voices murmuring outside the den. Sakari and Flare were gone. With a jolt he remembered the conversation last night, and sprang to his paws, and raced out of the den. “Night!” He saw Flare beckoning him over, urgently. He raced over to her side. “What is it?” He asked. “Be quiet and watch.”
Multiple rogues and loners were gathered in a ragged half-circle, and two toms were in the middle circling and hissing at each other. One of them was a lithe tom with dark brown eyes, and who’s pelt was darker than the blackest night. The other one was an older silver tom with gray flecks of fur spotting his muzzle and neck. He was no match for the black tom’s speed but he was much stronger.
The gray tom let out a yowl and leapt, pinning the black tom. The black tom went still under his grip, and the gray tom raised his paw for a final blow. At that moment the black tom darted out from under him, and climbed part of the trunk of a tree, and launched himself at the gray tom, slamming into him. Moments after he took the gray tom’s throat in his jaws.
“Yield.” He hissed through a mouthful of fur. “I yield.” Rasped the gray tom. “Good choice, Tiller.” Snarled the black tom, getting off of him. Tiller rose to his paws glaring at the black tom. The cats swarmed around the black tom, congratulating him. “Good job, Shadow!” They would say. Or, “You showed that old bag of fleas!” Shadow shook them off and padded toward Night, Flare, and Sakari.
“So you three are the newcomers.” He growled. Night studied him closely. He wasn’t much younger than Sakari. He also wasn’t much older than Night himself. Sakari nodded, stepping forward. “Me and these two banded together a few moons ago, and decided we would split after awhile in this group.” He said. Night and Flare nodded in agreement.
Sakari had to pretend he cared nothing for Night and Flare, so they would be protected. Shadow stepped forward. “You look familiar.” He said to Sakari. “And these two look and smell and awful lot like you. The she-cat has your eyes, and the tom has your body and fur.” Sakari said nothing, but stared defiantly at Shadow in the eye.
Shadow lashed his tail before turning away. But as he did he glanced back at Sakari, and said, “Don’t think I’ve forgotten you.” And with that he turned away.
Chapter Two - War
A gray tom with black legs and feet, and yellow eyes slept soundly. “Time to get up, Ray!” Came a loud yowl. Ray opened his eyes, exhausted. He glanced at his friend Ghost. Ghost was a large russet-colored tom with many scars. His eyes were a very pale blue which made them look like they were almost all white. That’s why everyone called him Ghost.
Ray leapt to his paws. And went up to Ghost. “What’s going on? Are they attacking yet?” Ghost glanced down at him with his ghostly white eyes, before looking forward again. “No. Not yet. We’ll wait until they make the first move. But Lightning’s sending multiple cats to go down and spy and talk to them.” Ray felt confusion flicker inside of him.
Lightning was a sand-colored tabby tom with a black paw and yellow eyes. He was their leader. Lightning was never the kind of cat to negotiate with his enemies. He was fierce but thoughtful and open-minded with his team and friends. It was rumored once Lightning became to old, got killed, or injured too badly to be leader anymore Ghost would take his place.
Ray could see how that could be true. Ghost was had a strong leader personality. He would make a good leader one day. Well, if he didn’t die first. On the way out Ray saw Zyedka and Firefight. Firefight was an orange tom tabby tom with green eyes. Zyedka was a dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes. Lightning was talking to both of them. Ray guessed they were the ones along with some others to go try and talk to Shadow’s cats.
Shadow and Lightning were both enemies. Their two groups had been at war for moons. Some cats were awaiting the day Tiller would step up and defeat Shadow so he could be leader and end the war. But for now both sides were too stubborn to surrender. “Ghost, where are we going?” He asked. Ghost glanced down at him. “We’re accompanying the ones who are going to talk with them. The spies will be hiding in the bushes in case we need backup.”
Ray nodded. “Is Lightning going?” He asked. The russet tom shook his head. “No. He won’t risk that.” He growled. Ray thought he could detect a note of relief in his friend’s voice. The two cats walked down a pathway in the cave their camp was in. They eventually came to the entrance. “Who are we going with?” Questioned Ray.
“We’re going with Titan and Zyedka.” Ray nodded. Titan was a large, strong black tom with amber eyes and part of one of his ears missing. He saw Titan waiting at the entrance to the cave. When Titan saw them, he stood up, eagerly. “Is Zyedka here yet?” He asked. Ray shook his head. “Him, Firefight, and some other spies are receiving some last minute instructions from Lightning.”
Titan sighed, and nodded. The three cats waited patiently until they spotted Zyedka long with the other spies. “Sorry, I’m late.” He apologized. “It’s fine.” Said Ray, flicking his tail. The spies silently left the cave and went in the opposite direction the others were going. The spies would be watching, quietly from a distance, just incase Shadow’s cats decided to attack.
As Ghost, Ray, Zyedka, and Titan prepared to leave, Lightning came out of his den. “Remember just be friendly to them, and try not to provoke an attack. And Zyedka and Ray will do the talking.” Ray’s mouth went dry. Fear flashed through him. Lightning must have sensed something amiss with him. “Don’t worry, Ray. I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you, but I figured you would be ready for this.” Ray sighed, and nodded, holding his head high. “Don’t worry. I won’t let you down.” He assured his leader.
Lightning nodded. “Good luck to all of you. I’ll see you in a few days.” Ray nodded. It would take awhile to travel there, and they would stay and talk a few days, staying the night to build up the relationship, so there could be less tension as they talked. Ghost held his tail high. “Everyone, follow me!” He said. And with that Ray, Zyedka, and Titan followed Ghost out of camp.
Chapter 3 - Prisoner
A russet colored she-cat, who’s fur was tinged with black and had dark fire-colored eyes forced herself not to pace restlessly in the cell she was kept in. She was in there without about nine other cats, two of them being her family members. She shifted on to her side. “Scorch, stop moving.” Snapped her older brother, Zang. He was a yellow tom with black feet and small yellow eyes.
Scorch glared at Zang. “Mind your own business, would you?” She snapped back at him. “Quiet down!” Rasped an older cat who eyes were narrowed into different sizes. He was dark brown with gray hairs on his muzzle and crazed yellow eyes. He was twitching and muttering to himself. He was her father. Many cats had lost their minds and gone crazy in Lightning’s prison.
Before Scorch’s father had gone crazy she had promised him she would honor their family and escape this horrid place without going crazy. She had come in with three family members. Now she only had one. Her mother had died soon after being locked in this place. Her carcass was still there rotting, forcing Scorch to stare at it every day, and to smell it’s horrible stench.
Once her mother had been beautiful and smelled amazing. Now she was torn apart and rotting. Scorch’s mother’s body was basically a skeleton. The others had ate it as soon as she had died. Scorch and Zang had been horrified. Their father didn’t remember her, didn’t remember them, he was mad. So he participated in ripping apart his own mate’s dead body.
Scorch had nightmares about it. She knew Zang did too. They had been forced to stare, watching as their own father ate her, along with the others. They were forced to watch her die, forced to watch their father go crazy and forget them. He had tried to kill them multiple times. He called them weak cats. He only wanted them for food. Her and Zang stayed close together.
Zang had come from an earlier litter. He had been their only surviving kit. Same with Scorch. Their mother had gotten pregnant again after she had had Scorch. But the kits were gone before they could even come. She had also had another litter after Zang and before Scorch but none of the kits survived. Scorch was snapped back to the present as she heard Zang say, “We’re sorry.”
Their father spat in disgust turning away from them. Scorch pushed away the dull grief that gnawed at her. She laid down, and was just about doze off when a cat entered the cave. Lightning! She jumped up in shock. He had kept everyone down here for over a moon, barely giving them enough food and water to survive. Why was he here?
“What are you doing here?” Spat Scorch, bristling in anger. The others weren’t very friendly towards him either. “I have many strong well-fed cats behind me. I don’t think any of you will want to fight me.” Growled the sand-colored tom. Multiple cats stepped back, but continued throwing him their hostile looks. “W-w-what do you w-w-want?” Hissed Scorch’s father, twitching and spitting, and coughing, harshly. Lightning’s eyes widened when he saw their father.
“Oh my. Take Tikani away!” He yowled. Scorch jerked back at the mention of her father’s name. She had nearly forgotten it. Scorch closed her eyes, trying to remember what her parents were like before this happened. Her mother had been a silver, black, and white tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes. Her father hadn’t had the crazy look in his eyes, and he hadn’t had his gray hairs either. His dark brown fur had been smooth and his yellow eyes and been carefree, and joyful.
“You can’t take him!” Yowled Zang, throwing himself in front of Tikani. Lightning narrowed his eyes. “Did Sky die?” He questioned. Zang winced. It had been even longer since they’d heard the name of their mother. “How did you know?” Asked one cat, a gray tabby tom with blue eyes, coming to stand beside Zang. “I guessed since that Zang here looks so defensive just against his father, something must have happened to his mother.” He said.
Scorch came forward as well glaring at Lightning. “Why are you here? To torture us?” Yowls of agreement came from behind her. Lightning narrowed his eyes. “I’m here to make some use of you traitors. You-” He was cut off as one cat yowled, “Traitors?! We’re neutral! We’re not part of this war! We don’t care about you or Shadow!” Scorch saw how Lightning was about to single him out, to punish him, so she quickly threw her head back, yowling loudly in agreement.
Multiple others followed along. Lightning lashed his tail in frustration. Tikani hissed and spat and paced, angrily. “We’re taking him away.” Snarled Lightning, motioning to Tikani with his tail. Scorch’s eyes widened. “No!” Lightning flicked his tail, and multiple cats came in, snarling and spitting. One grabbed Tikani’s neck in his jaws. “No!” Yowled Zang.
Lightning snapped at Zang, biting him hard in the shoulder, making his eyes go wide. Lightning then clawed his face, snarling. Scorch finally couldn’t control her temper. She lunged at Lightning, her legs outstretched, and claws unsheathed. She landed on him, clawing, and spitting and hissing, bitterly. She bit down, on his neck. Someone rammed into her, digging their claws into her shoulder blades.
Scorch blindly lashed out. She could hear the sounds of battling and snarling around her. Her attacker raised his paw and brought it down upon her head. Scorch blacked out.
Chapter Four - Testing
A dark brown and black tabby tom with blue eyes shrank to the back of the room, hissing at the Twoleg who was trying to pick him up. No not again. He wouldn’t let this Twoleg torture him any longer. “Get away!” He spat. A yellow tom with green eyes looked down at him, from the large flat metal surface he had been placed on. “Come on, Falcon. It’ll be alright.”
A gray and black tortoiseshell padded up from behind the yellow tom. “Yeah, Hank’s right. It’ll be fine.” There were five cats on that large metal surface. Falcon was the only one who refused to get on. “Easy for you to say, Rock! Don’t you like Twolegs?” Rock shrugged. “Not these ones, but other Twolegs can be nice.” The Twoleg scooped him up.
Falcon yowled and squirmed, in the Twolegs firm grip. The Twoleg placed him on the table with the five other cats. Falcon spun around, hissing, lashing his tail, fear glimmering in his eyes. All six cats huddled against one another as the Twoleg took a large thing with a pointy needle at the end, full of liquid. It approached Falcon.
Falcon backed up. “Falcon!” Cried out Hank. The Twoleg jammed the needle into Falcon’s neck, and everything went dark.
Falcon awoke with a start as his alarm went off. His head throbbed and everything was fuzzy. He looked at his alarm. “I’m late for school!” He yelped, springing to his feet, as he ran down the stairs. A blast of dizziness hit him in the head as he felt the urge to yowl in alarm like a cat. He shook it off, but what he couldn’t shake off was the feeling that he’d missed something.
He rolled his eyes before grabbing his stuff, and sprinting out the door. From there he ran to school. When he got there his friend, Rock was waiting by the gates. “Falcon, you nearly missed the bell!” He exclaimed, grabbing him, and began to pull him behind him. “Ow, ow, OWWWWW!” Cried out Falcon, as Rock pulled him by his collar to the front doors of their school.
“Rock, let go, you’re choking me!” He cried out. Rock sighed, and let go. “Did you finish our homework for English? Remember we had to read that one series . . . what’s it called?” Falcon shrugged. “I forgot. But the last book was called ‘Coldest’.” Rock nodded. “Oh now I remember it was called ‘The Steel-Hearted.” He said. “Anyways, did you read them all?”
Falcon shook his head. “No. Not nearly all of them. I only got to book four.” Rock winced. Falcon sighed, nodding. There was about fifteen books in that series. Their teacher, Mr. Yoshida had given them the deadline of two months to read all fifteen books. Falcon didn’t know why. All their teachers were extremely weird in their school. Especially their french teacher.
Mme. M. She had never told them her full last name or first name. She always just insisted they called her Mme. M. She was extremely mean to them as well. She yelled at them, and gave them infinite work to do.
Later that day at lunchtime Falcon, Rock, and some friends devised a plan to gain money. A betting game. Other students joined in, and bet mounds of money, and lost most of it. Falcon smiled. He was rich! But later that day in Mme. M’s class, they were going on some sort of walk. They left school and went deep into the forest with her.
She began to speak English. “Now I know some of you have a lot of money.” She began. Confusion and fear swarmed through Falcon. Somehow this didn’t feel right. Their teacher’s eyes turned a glowing yellow. Pain spiked through Falcon. He let out a cry and his body fell to the ground, convulsing.
Falcon opened his eyes, drowsily. He gasped. Multiple Twolegs surrounded him pointing and yowling. He hissed, clawing at them and backing away with wide eyes. Pain shot through every inch of his body. But somehow understanding filled his mind. He could tell what the Twolegs were saying. Sort of. “She just said we were going on a trip! Like a Field Trip. How we used to go on in Elementary school.”
Falcon’s head pounded with confusion as he listened. “What is she? Is it a snake?” The Twolegs seemed petrified as the biggest Twoleg seemed to shapeshift, and transform into a serpent. Falcon cocked his head, confused. Another Twoleg emerged from the undergrowth. Multiple did. They carried large needles, and stabbed them into multiple Twolegs.
Then they turned to him with wide eyes, and stabbed him.
Chapter Five - Who They Are
Night looked up at Shadow. He looked awfully familiar, but he couldn’t place his paw on it. He glanced back at Sakari and Flare. Flare was hanging around Tiller, as she had been doing lately. Sakari seemed to be avoiding Shadow as much as possible. He seemed, almost scared. Ice crystals dangled off of trees, as the group of cats trekked through the snow.
“Hello, Night.” Came a voice. Night jumped, and whirled around to see Shadow. “Don’t do that!” He snapped. Shadow had been doing that a lot lately. Shadow’s eyes widened in fake hurt. “I’m so sorry!” He said, his voice haughty. “I didn’t mean to disturb your mind thoughts!” Night rolled his eyes.
“Mind thoughts?” He said, exasperated. “What does that even mean?” Shadow shrugged. “Don’t ask me, your the one who has them.” They both hesitated not speaking for awhile. Shadow finally spoke up. “I know you have questions about me and Tiller.” He said. Night looked at him, surprised. “Why would I have questions about you two? All you did was battle for leadership. That’s normal in rogue groups.” He said, looking at Shadow, frowning.
Shadow looked at him. Night thought he saw a flash of longing and sadness in his eyes, but it was just a glimpse, so he couldn’t be sure. “Sakari and Flare are the only things I have right now.” Said Night. “Ever since this whole thing started between your and Lightning’s group I can’t really trust anyone.” He said. Shadow frowned.
“What? But you just came to my group. And you were never in Lightning’s. It couldn’t have affected you that much.” He said. Night shook his head. “It’s affected us more than you could ever imagine.” He said, pain flashing through him, as he thought of the war. Shadow looked at him, and Night looked away. “I should get going. I promised Flare I’d hunt with her.” Said Night. Shadow nodded. “Alright, go ahead.”
There was something horribly familiar about the black tom. Night just couldn’t put his paw on it.
More Coming Soon