Blurb: Halfpaw is half everything - half black and half white, half-Clan, her eyes are different colours. Everyone in ShadowClan picks on her, and she is miserable.
In the aftermath of a battle between ShadowClan and ThunderClan, Halfpaw is exiled for something she did not do - and wants revenge on her former Clan. She flees to ThunderClan, where the other half of her bloodline runs, and there, she becomes a warrior - Halfstripe.
Put under pressure because of her past in ShadowClan, Halfstripe soon beats the odds. When she does something that affects all the Clans, the message is through - nothing will ever be the same again.
This is a stand-alone novel by Bramblefire3118.
"Hey, Skycloud, are you there?"
A pitch-black tom emerged in the moonlight, pelt turned silver by its glare. A blue-gray she-cat with white patches padded out from the other end, belly very swollen with kits.
"Yes... Nightshade, I'm... here..." The blue-gray she-cat collapsed onto the ground. "Fetch me... a stick..." she gasped. "I... think I'm kit...ting...." Her words broke off in a yowl.
The dark-pelted cat, Nightshade, padded away for a moment. He came back with a skinny, yet sturdy stick. Placing it into the she-cat's mouth, he shuddered.
"Our kits will be okay," he meowed, licking her head. "They'll be okay."
Skycloud groaned in pain as a reply.
"Everything will be over soon," Nightshade assured her.
Skycloud panted, biting on the stick. A shape came out. Nightshade licked it worriedly.
"Any more?" he asked between licks.
"No," the blue-gray cat replied. She looked at her kit, with not a trace of love in her eyes, just hatred. The she-cat hated her kit from the start, it just looked... ugly, in her world.
"It's a she-kit, I think," Nightshade mewed. "Do you want to name her?"
"You name her," Skycloud snarled angrily.
"Okay..." Nightshade replied weakly, licking the young kit's head. She was half-black, and half-white.
Skycloud laid down on her side reluctantly, so the kit could feed. It mewled, then scuttled over.
"Welcome, Halfkit," Nightshade purred under his breath.
"Don't you dare show favor!" Skycloud hissed.
"Okay..." Nightshade muttered. However, Nightshade knew that he would love her, even when Skycloud would take her back to ShadowClan when she was fit to travel. Nightshade had to head back to ThunderClan, his own Clan, before his Clanmates suspected him of anything suspicious.
"Goodbye, Skycloud," Nightshade whispered, as he padded away.
Skycloud nodded coldly as he left. When her kit had finished feeding, she grabbed the kit by its scruff, and then padded away.
Meanwhile, a dark tabby tom had watched the pair, hatred flaring in his amber eyes.
"I will hate that kit forever," he vowed under his breath. "I will hate her - and treat her like fox-dung, like she deserves, because of her half-Clan origins."
Running away, the dark tabby picked up speed. He wanted to be back at camp when the kit arrived. Then, the pleasure, the pleasure of knowing something no-one else knew about - woukld be in his thrall.
I can't wait, he thought. I can't wait.
"Hey half-cat, get your tail over here and start training."
Halfpaw turned her head towards the spitting brown-and-white she-cat. Shinedusk waned to go out training, again? She had to train for hours on end, from dawn to sunset, and all she'd get out of it was a meager, stringy small meal! She was sick of it.
I want to be loyal to ShadowClan, and be respected, Halfpaw thought. But every cat in this Clan won't let me.
"Are you coming or not?" Shinedusk hissed.
'Don't you dare speak!" Shinedusk snarled. "You filthy, half-Clan mousebrain!"
Halfpaw followed Shinedusk miserably, tail trailing in the marshy ground. The rippling waters of the lake nearby reflected her sorrow, her want for love, and spirit.
"Keep up!" Shinedusk barked angrily, as she started to trail behind. "Because of you, we're late for our training session with Dawnpaw, Hailpaw, Beetlepaw, and their mentors."
Oh no, Halfpaw thought. This is going to be torture.
When they finally arrived, six cats stared at them with cold, icy eyes. Silence held for a minute, then a cat sneered:
"Aha! It's Halfpaw's fault again! I knew it!"
None of the cats replied to Dawnpaw's words. Silence held again.
Stupid Shinedusk, making an excuse, Halfpaw thought bitterly. She always takes an age, to get me in trouble.
"Okay, so today, Hailpaw, Beetlepaw, and Dawnpaw will be doing advanced battle moves," Flywing mewed to the three younger apprentices.
Hailpaw, Beetlepaw, and Dawnpaw bounced around happily, then sat up, erect, eager to hear what Flywing would say next.
"While the most useless apprentice in the whole world of the Clans, Halfpaw," Flywing sneered, switching his cold gaze onto Halfpaw, "will be doing the basic battle moves again, which she still hasn't mastered after six moons of training."
Halfpaw knew that they were exaggerating. She knew those moves all too well, and she knew that the warriors would be using her as a weakling loser, because of everything that was completely not her fault. It was pure torture what she had to go through.
"If you apprentices do well," Flywing continued, "you may get selected for the battle patrol, in a quarter-moon. We will be attacking ThunderClan, because those mange-ridden, flea-bitten mongrels have been caught on our territory yet again."
Halfpaw knew that no cat would let her on the battle patrol. They all hated her, loathed her - because of everything.
"Okay," Flywing snickered, "Skycloud and Shinedusk will take Halfpaw. Tanglepelt and myself will take the other three." He signaled for the meeting to be dismissed with his tail.
Halfpaw felt dread overtake her. Shinedusk and Skycloud were the two cats she hated the most.
What's going to happen?
The two she-cats swarmed in, spitting.
"Okay, so attack me," Shinedusk sneered.
"Fine then," Halfpaw growled, "I will."
Pouncing, the black-and-white she-cat leaped. Shinedusk was bowled over in surprise.
"Who's laughing now?" Halfpaw spat, unsheathing her claws into Shinedusk's fur.
"Get off her!"
Skycloud bowled into her, loosening her grip.
"Get off her," Skycloud repeated, pinning Halfpaw down.
Shinedusk joined Skycloud when she pinned Halfpaw down. Halfpaw squirmed under her mentor and her mother's grip.
I hate those cats. Halfpaw snarled the words inside her mind. When she was older, she'd get those ungrateful cats back.
"You admit defeat?" Shinedusk spat in Halfpaw's face.
"Get off her, then."
The two cats moved away, only to let Halfpaw get to her feet. When she had done so, they pressed their matted, unkempt fur against her.
"You're going back to camp with me," Shinedusk snarled. "And you will be cleaning the dens again."
"Should I go help with the other three?" Skycloud asked.
"I can manage this on your own. You go help the toms."
"Thanks." The blue-gray and white she-cat padded away to where Hailpaw, Beetlepaw, and Dawnpaw were. Flywing and Tanglepelt. When they saw Skycloud, they swarmed around her. A few moments later, Halfpaw saw their faces, looking scornful and nasty.
Typical. This is how I am treated every day.
Tell them to stop it, then. A voice rang inside her mind.
Halfpaw pushed the thought away. They'd ignore me.
Leave the Clan, then. Head to ThunderClan. That's where all the cats in the Clan say where your father is.
I want to stay here. If it is necessary, I'll flee there. But while I'm in ShadowClan, I will stay.
"Come on," Shinedusk spat. "Are you coming or not?"
Halfpaw left the training area with her mentor. Worry swarmed through her:
Do I really belong in ShadowClan?
They'll never guess I'm here.
Halfpaw crouched behind the bush, watching cats fall to the bloody ground. ShadowClan had accused ThunderClan of trespassing again, and a full-scale war had been produced.
ThunderClan had the advantage, having more cats than the ShadowClan warriors. Their opponents were being ordered around by a cream she-cat.
A brown cat was at her side.
"Oatclaw," Rosestar mewed, "get away from me. Go slaughter some ShadowClan warriors for me."
After those words were spoken, a ShadowClan warrior, Whiteflight, pounced on the ThunderClan leader. Rosestar winced, but pushed her away.
The Clan's losing.
A black tom from ThunderClan was fighting Shinedusk, scoring clawmarks in her brown-and-white fur. The ShadowClan cat yowled in pain.
"You fool," the cat rasped. "Don't - you - dare -"
"Dare what?" Shinedusk spat.
"I know who your apprentice is," the cat retorted.
"I - Nightshade! Don't-"
"I dare." The ThunderClan cat - Nightshade - spat in Shinedusk's face. The she-cat flinched.
"You will pay," he snarled. "for what you, and your mange-ridden Clan, have done -"
"Done to what?" Shinedusk replied. "I haven't done-"
"Actually, you have. You treat Halfpaw like a - "
Halfpaw flinched from behind the bush.
"Aha! You are the ThunderClan cat we have scented on our territory."
"Let me finish - "
Oatclaw pounced onto Shinedusk and clawed at her. Her mentor fell still.
"You will pay," he snarled, "for what you have done to Halfpaw. And you have. But I will die to protect her. Halfpaw is..."
Halfpaw flinched again. What's he on about?
"Nightshade, what are you on about?"
Snakestar yowled the call for his Clan to gather. Halfpaw turned and ran back to camp.
She mustn't be caught.
Or she would pay the price for it.
When she got back to camp, Halfpaw was scared out of her fur. Sneaking through the back entrance, she came out behind the elder's den to see a grumpy Duskclaw.
"Where have you been?" he snarled. "Snakestar's looking for you."
Shinedusk's body lay in the middle of the clearing, brown-and-white fur matted and bloody.
"Just been on my own," Halfpaw replied quickly. "Haven't been doing anything."
Duskclaw nodded curtly, but Halfpaw could tell that he thought she was lying.
Meanwhile, Snakestar bounded up his favorite branch, and summoned his Clan. The ShadowClan cats, young and old, swarmed from the clearing and from the dens.
"We lost the battle;" Snakestar mewed solemnly. "Shinedusk got killed."
A ShadowClan queen, Littlewhisker, gasped, and swept her two kits towards her. The kits, Yarrowkit and Yewkit, mewled in protest. The other queen, Goldenshadow, pressed her fur closer to her mate, Toadspring, and she curled her tail around her swollen belly.
"I know who killed her," Snakestar went on.
He's going to blame me, isn't he? He doesn't care who did it; he'll blame me anyway.
The two elders, Smallfeather and Graycloud, shared words in tense whispers, shooting odd glances at Halfpaw.
"Halfpaw did it," Snakestar mewed casually.
Murmurs of protest rippled through the Clan.
"She wasn't on the battle patrol," mewed Eaglesong.
"She sneaked along," growled Crowsong, the Clan deputy. "I smelt her scent on a bush."
Cries of outrage rang through the Clan.
"Halfpaw," Snakestar mewed smoothly, "do you have anything to say in your defense?"
"I didn't go out of camp."
"Yes, you did."
"Some other cat killed her."
"No, I'm not."
"I don't care." Snakestar spat the words out. "You are exiled from ShadowClan. If you are seen on our territory after sunset tomorrow, we have permission to treat you as an enemy. Leave now."
Halfpaw looked around her Clan - her former Clan - for the last time. Then she turned, and without looking back, ran away.
I will get you back, ShadowClan, Halfpaw vowed, for what you have done to me. But now - where do I go?
She had to get out of ShadowClan territory, or their warriors would slaughter her.
I have no place with them.
She ran to the border between ShadowClan and ThunderClan; the place where the battle was just moments before. Blood was splattered at odd intervals around the clearing.
A stream ran through the middle. Halfpaw leapt over it, into ThunderClan territory.
Maybe I could join ThunderClan.
A voice awoke inside her head.
What if that is the place where the other half of your bloodline runs?
Then I will belong there, another voice spat back.
Halfpaw tasted the air. Fresh ThunderClan scent led to a trail.
I'll follow this trail.
Tasting the air occasionally, she followed the scent. There were no more pine trees: there were other trees, like oak, birch, and the occasional willow dotted along the lake surface. In the light of the crescent moon, the lake looked dark, but with a shimmer of hope in the middle.
Maybe that reflects me.
Sighing, she ducked her head down, and followed the scent again.
A stronger scent came into the air. Large stone walls came into view.
This looks unnatural. How does ThunderClan cope?
Padding closer, she heard a cat's yowl:
Halfpaw flattened her ears. They knew she was there. She couldn't back down now.
A cream she-cat - Rosestar - strode out of the camp entrance. A sturdy gray warrior stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her.
"ShadowClan cat! Come out!"
Halfpaw let herself be seen.
Rosestar's eyes scanned over her. "Name yourself," she mewed. "And why you are here."
"Halfpaw. Rogue, formerly of ShadowClan."
"And why do you seek us?"
Halfpaw took a deep breath. "I want to join your ranks - as a warrior."
"I will need more proof first. Halfpaw, come with me to my den."
Rosestar flicked her tail for Halfpaw to follow. Halfpaw obeyed, seeing the need to follow the ThunderClan leader.
They entered the camp. Dens were scattered throughout a large space. The edges of the camp were covered in stone walls.
"How do you cope with these walls?" Halfpaw wondered aloud.
Rosestar whipped her head back, green eyes flashing. "No one knows how long they've been here," she mewed. "The legendary Bramblestar thought that the walls were made by Twolegs, but then abandoned. When the cats who came to the lake found this place, there was no Twoleg scent in the air." She flicked her tail. "Come."
Rosestar padded towards a gap in a large rock. She went in, and sat down. Halfpaw followed.
This must be the leader's den.
The floor was sandy, and a nest was built in the middle. Halfpaw thought it looked impressive.
"Tell me," Rosestar meowed, "why you wish to join ThunderClan."
"Well," Halfpaw began. "I am twelve moons old. But ShadowClan had always doubted be, because I have half-Clan roots."
"Well then, the name 'Halfpaw' suits you very well, then." A thoughtful look crept into Rosestar's eyes.
Reflecting on it, Rosestar was right. One side of her was black, the other white. She had an amber eye, and a blue eye. And she was half-Clan.
"They kept on making me do basic things in training. My former mentor, Shinedusk, and my mother, Skycloud, always terrorized me. The Clan, as well hates me - they always gave me the scrawniest prey, and I always had the dirtiest nest. Tonight changed that."
"I snuck across to the battle. I saw Nightshade -"
"Ah - Nightshade? He's one of my loyalest and trusted warriors," Rosestar mewed.
"Anyway, I saw Nightshade. He pinned Shinedusk to the ground. He was complaining to Shinedusk about the way he treated me. Eventually, Oatclaw, your deputy, helped Nightshade to finish her off."
"I fled. However, the ShadowClan deputy, Crowsong, smelt my scent on a bush. He told Snakestar, and Snakestar, that idiot - he made up this story of me killing Shinedusk. Of course, the Clan believed him, and he... exiled me."
"Hmm..." Rosestar muttered. "This is interesting. I don't blame you. You will be welcome in ThunderClan. I'll see Burningcinder now - that gray tom who was near me as I came out of the camp entrance - to sort you out. You can have a nest in the warriors' den.'
"Thank you, Rosestar. I accept your offer, and I appreciate it."
"Great. Get out of here, and I'll fetch Burningcinder."
Halfpaw padded out of the den, and felt peace in the cold night air.
Maybe I will belong in ThunderClan more than I ever will when I was in ShadowClan.
The newleaf sun warmed Halfpaw's pelt as she padded out of the warriors' den. She had made sure she woke up early, at dawn. She didn't want the ThunderClan warriors to be disturbed by her scent.
A few ThunderClan warriors gathered below a ledge. Oatclaw, Halfpaw realized, was mewing instructions below it.
"Oakrise, take the dawn patrol. Take Lightningheart, Heronflight, and Nutfall with you, and Wasppaw."
Four cats crowded around a reddish-brown she-cat, whose green eyes scanned over the others before she turned around, and taking the cats through the bramble barrier.
Meanwhile, Rosestar lay on the ledge above them, smiling at her warriors.
"The rest of you can stay here for the meantime," Oatclaw mewed loudly. "Rosestar told me she'd be calling a meeting while the dawn patrol was out."
"Why?" A dark ginger she-cat padded forward. She had black legs, ears, and tail-tip."
"Only Rosestar knows," Oatclaw purred. "You'll find out soon, Vixenpaw."
Vixenpaw stared at Oatclaw defiantly.
Oatclaw and Rosestar nodded at each other for a while, then Rosestar stood up on her ledge, and yowled:
"Let all cats gather below Highledge for a Clan meeting."
Cats spilled out from the other dens. Halfpaw could guess where some of the cats slept, dependent on their rank.
A dark ginger tabby, smaller than an adult cat, padded out from one den, alone. Nearby, two kits at by their mother. The black she-cat curled her tail around a brown kit and a gray kit, blue eyes wide. A silver she-cat was beside her, belly swollen with kits.
This is just like ShadowClan, Halfpaw thought. Except... a lot better at making cats feel welcome.
Silence enfolded around the ThunderClan camp. Halfpaw switched her attention to the dark cream cat on the Highledge.
"Last night's battle was a success," Rosestar meowed. "No cat has serious injuries, and thanks to Shimmerwater, all of our warriors will live to fight another day."
A blue-gray she-cat with black flecks waved her tail in acknowledgement as the Clan cheered her name.
"ShadowClan has at least one deceased warrior," Rosestar added. "Shinedusk. That brings me to my next point, what to do with our refugee."
"What refugee?" a warrior yowled.
"ShadowClan, once again, have been treating cats with half-Clan roots unfairly," Rosestar meowed. "They exiled a cat after last night's battle, because that biased Snakestar claimed that she killed her, when it wasn't, because Oatclaw made the final blow."
The deputy said nothing. Halfpaw was surprised; looking at the brown tabby, she expected him to snap back.
"Halfpaw." Rosestar beckoned to her with her tail."
Halfpaw froze. All the cats of ThunderClan were now staring intently at her, especially Nightshade, whose amber eyes showed pride, and something else that Halfpaw couldn't detect.
He is crazy, Halfpaw thought, as she padded forward below the Highledge.
"I, Rosestar, leader of ThunderClan, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. She knows the ways of your code, and wants to see her warrior days in ThunderClan, and because of this, I commend her to you as a warrior in her turn. Halfpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
This was something Halfpaw had always looked forward to. She wished, however, that it was under different circumstances.
"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. In honor of your past, and for how you truly are, you shall be known as Halfstripe. StarClan honors your spirit and your determination, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ThunderClan."
Halfstripe's heart swelled with pride as Rosestar leapt down. She stepped forward, and licked the cream shoulder of Rosestar. Rosestar leapt back onto Highledge, and Halfstripe was greeted by the cheers of the ThunderClan warriors, cheering her new name:
Night stretched on in front of her vision. Halfstripe was unsure if dawn would ever come. Standing at the entrance, stone walls and brambles by her side, she felt different.
Maybe it's because I'm in ThunderClan now, Halfstripe thought, shaking off the feeling.
It was the night after her warrior ceremony. As in traditional Clan custom, new warriors had to sit vigil outside the camp, looking out for their enemies, and, most importantly, reflecting on their new, warrior status.
The thought scared Halfstripe slightly.
What if ShadowClan attacks again?
Snakestar was known for a quick retaliation if his Clan lost in battle. He was hungry for power.
He won't. They had a cat killed.
A faint line of pink could now be seen. Halfstripe felt a glow of hope. Snakestar wasn't going to attack tonight.
I am proud to be a warrior. Of ThunderClan... I will see. Maybe, if ShadowClan is convinced, I could return there.
The thought made her uneasy. She pushed it away.
Maybe I will become ThunderClan.
Sunlight started to shine on the trees in front of her. Murmurs came from the camp beside her: Halfstripe angled one of the ears in that direction.
Pawsteps pattered through the camp. Warrior's feet, thumping heavily on the ground. A couple of smaller paws thundered beside them.
"Halfstripe, your vigil is over," a voice sounded from somewhere inside the camp.
Now that her vigil was over, Halfstripe started to feel tired. She padded into the camp, where some of the older cats were waiting, with a few apprentices - one, a dark ginger tabby named Foxpaw, the other gray-and-white - Wasppaw.
"Where's Vixenpaw?" Burningcinder asked, as the smoky gray tom padded over to the tabby.
"Er... She's sleeping!" Foxpaw sounded triumphant. "She always sleeps in."
Burningcinder scowled, as if the warrior didn't believe the ginger apprentice.
"Okay, okay!" Oatclaw padded in front of some of the warriors. "Nightshade will lead the dawn patrol, with Foxpaw, Antfoot, and Pebblefall!"
Some more warriors, as well as Vixenpaw, exited their dens and went around Oatclaw, crowding him. Meanwhile, the dawn patrol gathered, muttering something in their small group.
Not bothered to listen anymore, Halfstripe meandered to the warriors' den. She found her nest, and lay down, needing her sleep after the coldish, newleaf vigil.
I am happy, for now, Halfstripe thought, as blackness enfolded her vision. I just wonder what will happen next.
"Care to join us?" The black tom's amber eyes shone. "Rosestar wouldn't mind you hunting with us."
"Okay, Nightshade, I'm coming."
It had been a quarter-moon since she had joined ThunderClan. Since then, she had helped out with work in the Clan: hunting, and marking the WindClan border. Rosestar had told her not to go over near the ShadowClan border, the cats of her former Clan might spit at her, for betraying their Clan.
"Wait until you've been with us a half-moon," the ThunderClan leader had said to her the day after her warrior ceremony. "ShadowClan won't be suspicious anymore then."
Today, so far, she had been doing nothing until Nightshade had asked her to join his hunting patrol. Now, as she padded out of the ThunderClan camp, along with Nightshade, Foxpaw, and Lightningheart, she felt happy. She enjoyed life in ThunderClan - and hatred had festered for ShadowClan in replacement.
They can pay for what they have done to me, Halfstripe thought.
They reached a tree near the lake shore. It was magnificent - a large oak tree.
"Have you been here before?" Lightningheart asked. Her white pelt was fluffed up in the early morning sunshine.
Halfstripe shook her black-and-white head.
"It's called the Sky Oak," Lightningheart mewed casually, flicking her tail at it. "It's been called that ever since the four Clans moved beside the lake many, many moons ago."
"Silence!' Nightshade mewed, breaking Lightningheart's and Halfstripe's conversation. "We will meet back here at sunhigh. I will hunt with Foxpaw. You two," he flicked his tail at Halfstripe and Lightningheart, "will hunt together."
Halfstripe and Lightningheart nodded. Even after they turned away, Halfstripe could hear some of their discussions between each other:
"Foxpaw, tell me, how do you hunt a squirrel?"
Their voices faded into nothing as Lightningheart and Halfstripe padded away. Soon, they came near another building.
"Abandoned Twoleg nest," Lightningheart growled. "Don't go in there. You might trample Shimmerwater's catmint supply, that has been growing for many moons - she won't forgive you for it."
As if on cue, Halfstripe saw the blue-gray she-cat's head poke out from nearby, as she padded around the nest.
It looks different to the ThunderClan camp, Halfstripe reflected. These walls weren't made out of stone.
"Shall we hunt now?"
"Yes - yes, you show me. I still don't know my way well around ThunderClan territory yet."
"Okay then, fair enough." Lightningheart flicked her tail for Halfstripe to follow. "Come on, I'll show you a place which is nice and plentiful with prey..."
Halfstripe followed the she-cat, on a mission for hunting. Pride thrilled through her, and she knew she had made the right choice when it came to finding ThunderClan.
However, one thing was on her mind, one which she had never asked herself before:
Could my father be... Nightshade?
Halfstripe padded into the camp, following Antfoot, Oakrise, and Wasppaw on the dawn patrol. It was the day after the Gathering: Halfstripe didn't go, but she was interested to know what happened.
You can never know what Snakestar might say at the Gathering, Halfstripe thought, picturing the ShadowClan leader in her head. Did he say anything about her exile? If he did, what did he say?
"Did you hear the news?" Pebblefall asked, as she padded up to the patrol.
"No, we've been on dawn patrol," Wasppaw mewed.
"There's been position changes in ShadowClan."
Halfstripe's blood ran cold. This isn't good.
"Crowsong retired, apparently." Pebblefall meowed, flicking her tail. "Skycloud is the new deputy."
Halfstripe opened her moth in shock. Not her! She can't - I know what she would do.
Nightshade, who was nearby, twitched his tail nervously, while his amber eyes shifted their gaze from one cat to another in the clearing. It was obvious that he shared Halfstripe's discomfort.
"She's dangerous," Halfstripe whispered hoarsely.
A few cats turned to Halfstripe.
"What do you mean, dangerous?" Rosestar mewed, as she padded over. "Halfstripe, explain." She jumped onto the Highledge, and lay down on its ledge.
Halfstripe moved towards the foot of the rock. The cats in the clearing crowded together.
Halfstripe moved her front paws uneasily.
"Come on, Halfstripe," Rosestar prompted. "I'm not going to bite."
"Skycloud is my mother," Halfstripe began. "She has always been cold, unforgiving, and hungry for power."
Mistsong, one of the queens, herded her kits into the nursery. The two kits, Briarkit and Cedarkit, started to complain, but Mistsong hushed them.
"She cares about no-one, but herself," Halfstripe went on. "She broke the warrior code, and gave birth to me - the father is not a ShadowClan cat."
"And that is one of the reasons behind your biased exile?" Rosestar asked.
"Yes," Halfstripe meowed. "Anyway, she is cruel. She told her Clan to treat me like fox-dung. She even trains her apprentice, Beetlepaw, in a rough manner, although not as rough as I was treated."
"Hmm," Rosestar mewed. You have a fair point. Very well, Halfstripe. Does anyone else want to give evidence?"
The cat was Nightshade.
The Clan sat in silence for a moment. Finally, Rosestar flicked her tail.
"Very well, Nightshade, what do you wish to say?"
The black tom jumped on Highledge, beside Rosestar. The cream leader jumped off, and moved towards Halfstripe, sensing it was something important.
"About eighteen moons ago, I met Skycloud at a Gathering. She had a cold heart, but I sensed that she might have something else inside her that I didn't know. That night, I asked her to meet by the ThunderClan and ShadowClan border. Reluctantly, she agreed."
Halfstripe began to feel uneasy.
"I grew to see her as a friend. She never showed any sympathy for me. However, I had some feelings for her."
Murmurs rippled through the Clan at the word 'feelings'.
Uh-oh, Halfstripe thought. She almost knew what was going to happen...
"We started to meet each other every few nights - for a while. Soon, she started becoming late to our meetings."
"Why?" Oatclaw called from his position near Highledge.
"Because I can't tell you," Nightshade huffed at the tabby deputy. "Anyway, one night, she came, and started to have a kitting in the clearing."
Halfstripe felt cold blood go through her veins. I was right, I was right.
The words echoed: I was right, I was right.
"She gave birth to one kit, a she-kit. Skycloud took her back to ShadowClan."
"What was her name?" Burningcinder meowed.
"I can't tell you," Nightshade mewed.
Ha-ha, Nightshade. You can't fool me. I know now that you are my father, and you can't stop me.
"About a moon ago, I met a ShadowClan border patrol. I heard some of their speeches as they walked away. They said stuff like 'Oh, let's go see what Halfpaw's punishment is' and 'Halfpaw is a dirty half-Clan mousebrain'. I also heard that her mentor was Shinedusk. I knew that ThunderClan and ShadowClan were having war between each other, and if a battle came, I would target her, and pay her for the price she did to that apprentice." He took a deep breath, then continued: "Then the battle came. As I had planned, I targeted Shinedusk, and pinned her down, scoring clawmarks down her side. I spat words at her for her cruel deeds, and I retorted with fairness, one that all cats should have. Then, I saw Halfpaw peeking out from behind a bush."
"What did you do?' Rosestar asked.
"I did nothing, just the same," Nightshade replied. "Then Oatclaw came along and helped me to finish her off. After that, ShadowClan retreated, and went back to camp."
Nightshade shuddered slightly, then he continued yet again: "The next morning, Halfpaw was named Halfstripe in our camp. I was proud. Prouder than most. And the reason behind that is..." His voice faltered.
Nightshade is definitely my father, Halfstripe thought. He just doesn't want to admit it.
"I know you won't be happy with this," he mewed. "I committed a crime for my actions, many moons ago. This is what created one cat in our Clan."
All the cat's gazes turned to Halfstripe. Halfstripe strode out, then pounced up to join Nightshade on Highledge.
"I believe, due to this information, that Nightshade is my father," Halfstripe mewed casually, flicking her black-and-white tail at the black tom sitting on the Highledge alongside her.
The cats below murmured between each other; Halfstripe was unsure if what she said was the right thing or not.
Was I right? she thought worriedly. Or was my guess wrong?
Rosestar padded in front of Highledge, twitching her thick-furred tail to silence the warriors. "Nightshade, is this true?" she mewed hoarsely.
The black tom looked at his paws, then back at the ThunderClan warriors. "Yes," he whispered hoarsely.
As soon as Nightshade muttered that ward, Halfstripe heard some words of outrage spit from the ThunderClan cats:
"We thought you were loyal!"
"Silence!" Rosestar moved towards Highledge, Nightshade and Halfstripe both jumped off. "I will not punish Nightshade. He has been loyal to ThunderClan."
"But he had kits with a ShadowClan cat!" a cat yowled from the crowd.
"I know that." Rosestar's voice was ice-cold. "But his kit belongs with ThunderClan now, does she not?" she mewed, shooting a glance at Halfstripe as she spoke. "I do not feel the need to punish him for his actions."
"I. Have. Made. My. Decision." Rosestar stressed each word as she spoke. "This meeting is dismissed. Oatclaw, organize the patrols."
The brown tabby deputy dipped his head, and padded towards a cluster of warriors and apprentices.
"You two," Rosestar meowed, snapping Halfstripe back to attention. "Did you know this information beforehand?
"Yes," Nightshade mewed, looking at his paws again.
"Halfstripe?" Rosestar asked. "What about you?"
"No," she replied. "I guessed. All I knew about my father - before this meeting - is that he was not from ShadowClan. ShadowClan despises cats with half-Clan roots."
"It depends on the leader, actually," Rosestar mewed quickly. "Many moons ago, when our ancestors came to the lake, there was a cat named Tawnypelt. She was full ThunderClan blood, but she moved to ShadowClan when her bloodthirsty father, Tigerstar, was leader there. She was the sister of the legendary Bramblestar."
"Whatever, then. Snakestar hates half-Clan cats. Skycloud hates them too."
"But she had kits with a ThunderClan cat," Rosestar reminded her.
"She hates me, then."
"Hmm," Rosestar mewed thoughtfully. "For now, we will take no action. Let's just wait until the next Gathering. Then, you two can both go," she added. "I presume, Halfstripe, that they didn't let you go to a Gathering when you were in ShadowClan?"
"Okay, I promise I'll take you next time. Anyway, it's time that you go on patrols." She pointed to the small cluster of cats still surrounding Oatclaw. "You'd better do some good service for your Clan!"
"Thanks, Rosestar," Halfstripe and Nightshade mewed, before padding away.
As Halfstripe joined the group, she felt happy.
Happy that the truth of her parentage was out at last.
She was half ThunderClan. Now, she knew, she would belong there, in ThunderClan.
Halfstripe jumped onto the fallen log, excitement tingling in her paws. She had finally, after moons of waiting, been allowed to go to a Gathering.
Rosestar, standing at the head of the patrol, flicked her tail for the ThunderClan warriors to go onto the island. The cats plummeted into the clearing. No Clan - apart from ThunderClan - was here yet, for now.
"Come on!" Lightningheart had padded over to her. "Let's go see if we can chat to some warriors from WindClan and RiverClan - when they arrive."
Halfstripe was grateful to the white she-cat. She hadn't been to a Gathering yet - she hadn't met any cats yet from WindClan, let alone RiverClan - a Clan that Halfstripe didn't share a border with anymore.
They settled down near the front, where Oatclaw stood alone, where Shimmerwater wrapped her tail around her blue-gray paws.
A yowl sounded from behind. Halfstripe turned her head. A sleek black tom was leading some cats onto the island. The cats behind him had sleek, glossy fur.
"That's Bravestar," Lightningheart meowed from beside Halfstripe. "The leader of RiverClan."
Bravestar paused below the biggest tree in the small clearing. Bunching his muscles, the RiverClan leader jumped into the tree.
The deputy, a blue-gray she-cat, joined Oatclaw below the oak tree. The medicine cat, a patch-furred brown tabby, joined Shimmerwater. A younger cat, an apprentice by the looks of it, joined him. She had ginger fur.
"Hey Dustthorn! Elmfall! Come join us!"
Two cats, RiverClan by their scent, twitched their ears as Lightningheart spoke. They then turned their heads, and padded towards the white she-cat, sitting down nearby.
"Who's your friend?" one of them asked. He was a brown tabby with black legs.
"Dustthorn, this is Halfstripe," Lightningheart meowed. "A ThunderClan warrior."
Dustthorn looked at Halfstripe for a while, then nodded. "The name suits you," he muttered under his breath.
"Thank you," Halfstripe replied.
Dustthorn nodded, and looked down at his brown paws.
"Don't worry about him," the other RiverClan cat, Elmfall, meowed. "Dustthorn's a bit shy."
"Here comes Applestar!," Lightningheart yowled. "WindClan is here!"
All the cats in the clearing turned. A mottled brown she-cat led the WindClan cats into the clearing.
The WindClan cats streamed in. One cat joined them - a lithe light brown she-cat, with a stumpy white tail like a rabbit's.
"Rabbitswift," Elmfall meowed. "It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you too, Elmfall," Rabbitswift replied. "Who are your friends?"
"This is Dustthorn of RiverClan, and Lightningheart and Halfstripe of ThunderClan."
Rabbitswift nodded at each cat as Elmfall named them. When Halfstripe's name was called, she nodded in reply. Rabbitswift gave a small smile before directing her attention away.
A light cream she-cat ran across the log, leaping into the air, landing on the ground, and sprinted at the large oak, stopping at its foot. "ShadowClan is on it's way," she meowed.
"What - where's Snakestar?" Applestar asked.
Primrosewing said nothing. She padded towards Shimmerwater and the medicine cats, and joined them in their circle.
"Where's Snakestar?" Lightningheart whispered to her.
"I don't know..." Halfstripe whispered back. "But I have a bad feeling about tonight..."
As if on cue, the ShadowClan cats appeared. But no large dark brown tabby was in sight.
Halfstripe's blood chilled to the bone. Not her, not her, please say that Snakestar is not dead...! Not her, why her, oh StarClan, please say that Snakestar is still alive...
The cat that was leading the ShadowClan Gathering patrol was Skycloud.
The cats stood in silence for a moment, no one moving. Eventually, Skycloud swept her tail, pouncing off the log. The ShadowClan cats spilled onto the island. Thankfully, no ShadowClan cats joined them. Halfstripe breathed a sigh of relief.
What would ShadowClan say, if they knew I had joined ThunderClan?
"Eurgh, Skycloud...' Rabbitswift spat, flexing her muscles. "I'd never liked her."
Skycloud joined the three other Clan leaders standing in the tree. Smirking, she twitched her tail for silence, as she sat on the branch - the one where the leaders spoke from, Halfstripe presumed.
"I have some sad news," she mewed loudly. "Snakestar is dead!"
Oh, fox-dung. Halfstripe thought, cold blood rushing through her veins. Skycloud's now leader... this isn't good.
"I have visited the Moonpool," Skycloud went on, "and have received my nine lives, and my leader's name, Skystar." She sneered the last word cunningly.
Some of the ShadowClan cats started cheering "Skystar" when their leader had finished speaking.
"Eaglesong is our new deputy."
Eaglesong, a silver tabby, nodded below the oak.
He hadn't had an apprentice when I left... did he get either Yarrowkit or Yewkit?
"We have no news to report, apart from the fact that we have two new apprentices. Yarrowpaw has been apprenticed to Toadspring, and Yewpaw to Eaglesong."
Cats, not just from ShadowClan, started cheering for the new apprentice's names. None of the others she was sitting with cheered; Halfstripe guessed that they shared a dislike for ShadowClan.
Skystar then stepped back, and Bravestar stepped forward. He had nothing to report, and same with Applestar, who went after him. Finally, Rosestar stepped forward.
"We have a new litter of kits," Rosestar began. "Firekit, Winterkit, and Flashkit. We also have a new warrior: Waspstrike."
Waspstrike nodded from nearby as the Clans cheered his name. He had saved the Clan from a fox, and Rosestar, as well as Oakrise, said that he could have his warrior ceremony. Halfstripe had seen his littermates, Foxpaw and Vixenpaw, watch with undisguised envy as their brother got named as a warrior of ThunderClan.
All young cats want to be warriors, Halfstripe thought, thinking of her time as an apprentice of ShadowClan.
"This Gathering is over, may StarClan light your path."
The murmurs started up again as Rosestar ended the Gathering.
"Do you think that Skystar is a threat?" Rabbitswift asked.
Elmfall and Dustthorn nodded, before padding away to join Bravestar and RiverClan, who were about to leave the Gathering.
Lightningheart and Halfstripe stayed silent for a while. Then Halfstripe eventually spoke.
"Yes - yes, she is."
They mewed their goodbyes to Rabbitswift, and went to Rosestar. Lightningheart whispered in her ear:
"Your prediction was right."
"I was right," she replied. "And now the future of ThunderClan looks dire."
"Let all cats gather below Highledge for a Clan meeting."
Halfstripe moved towards the Highledge, where Rosestar flicked her furry tail. She sat near Heronflight, the friendly dark tabby, who nodded as she sat down.
It was the morning after the Gathering. The ThunderClan cats gathered below Highledge. Halfstripe was nervous.
What will she say about Skystar?
Never before had she been more afraid. Skystar's ambition could destroy the Clans - especially ThunderClan.
The pride in her adopted Clan had surprised her. She thought, way back when she was a kit, that she would be ShadowClan, always ShadowClan, and she would protect them to the death. Now, moons onwards, she hated them. She wanted revenge.
And they deserve it. Snakestar's cruel ways had terrorized her.
"As you all know," Rosestar meowed. "The Gathering was last night. And there has been some shocking news."
"What is it?' Nutfall called from near the back of the crowd.
"Snakestar is dead. Skystar is the new leader of ShadowClan."
Silence came over the cats. Then words of outrage:
"She can't be leader!"
"Well," Rosestar mewed thoughtfully. "Snakestar became the ShadowClan leader after me, when Newtstar died. And Snakestar wasn't overly bloodthirsty..."
"So you're saying that Snakestar wasn't evil?"
"No," Rosestar replied calmly. "He was just proud. Yes, he didn't like half-Clan cats, but he treated one fairly."
"Who?" one cat asked.
"This is ironic, but Skystar herself. She was half-ThunderClan." She shot an annoyed glance at Nightshade as she spoke.
Halfstripe's mouth fell open. Are you saying that Skystar, a half-Clan cat, like me, forced hard labor on me?
"She did it, then," Halfstripe growled. How could she?
"Let's challenge her," Burningcinder yowled.
A thoughtful look crept onto Rosestar's face. Eventually, she spoke:
"Very well. I will go, and Oatclaw, Nightshade, and Halfstripe."
"Why Halfstripe?" Heronflight asked.
"She knows ShadowClan, and Skystar, the best," Rosestar replied. "Now, let's head to ShadowClan."
She stepped worriedly over the border, nervous. Halfstripe would hate to think what the ShadowClan cats would think of her staying in ThunderClan. What would they say, knowing that they exiled her?
Snakestar lied, Halfstripe thought. I don't care what they think anymore.
"Ahem? What are you doing on ShadowClan territory?"
A patrol emerged, Flywing was leading. Dawnpaw, Toadspring, Yarrowpaw, and Duskclaw were behind him.
"We wish to see Skystar."
"Wait - is that Halfpaw?"
The ShadowClan cats stared at Halfstripe for a moment. Halfstripe returned their cold stares.
"She's not welcome on our territory," Dawnpaw meowed, in a shrill voice. "She's a murderer."
"That was a lie," the ThunderClan cats meowed. "Snakestar was lying."
Their gazes turned from Halfstripe to Rosestar. None of them spoke.
"Well, then, ThunderClan cats," Toadspring snickered, lashing his tail. "Who did it then?"
The five ShadowClan cats now moved their cold gazes to Oatclaw.
"So you're saying that Snakestar lied?" Flywing mewed hoarsely.
"Yes," Halfstripe mewed.
"Don't interrupt me, apprentice," Flywing hissed.
"Actually, I'm a warrior now," Halfstripe retorted. "You don't have the right to tell me what to do."
Halfstripe noticed that Dawnpaw's gaze changed from a mocking fashion to envy. Yarrowpaw, too, stared. Even though the dark brown tabby tom was a kit when Halfstripe was exiled from ShadowClan, he must've got told about Halfstripe's fake tale of her murdering Shinedusk.
"Prove it," Duskclaw snarled.
"She's not lying."
A cat, stars in its pelt moved forward. A brown-and-white she-cat, scent from ShadowClan...
"Shinedusk," Dawnpaw whispered. "Tell us the truth."
"Halfpaw - well, she's actually Halfstripe now - didn't murder me." Shinedusk held her green gaze at Flywing. "Oatclaw did. I actually deserved my death, she mewed sadly, shaking her head.
She faded away. All nine cats were silent.
"The truth has been revealed," Flywing muttered softly. He turned his gaze to the ThunderClan cats. "Come on, let's go for what you're after for. Let's go and see Skystar about this."
She entered her former camp, cats staring. Yowls arose:
"Is that Halfpaw?"
"Has she been on our territory?"
"Why is there ThunderClan cats here?"
"Did she join ThunderClan?"
The yowls alerted the ShadowClan leader.
"What's going on?" Skystar meowed sweetly, padding through the camp. She stopped when she saw Rosestar. "ThunderClan cats!"
"Yes, you filthy mousebrain," Oatclaw hissed.
"Silence!" Rosestar snarled at her deputy.
"What are you doing here?' Rosestar continued.
"We want to see you."
"It can be done here." Rosestar said dismissively. "We're not going to attack you."
"Hmph," Skystar grunted. "Is this about Snakestar again? Mistysplash, the RiverClan deputy, has been complaining of Snakestar's death being suspicious."
"It is, actually," Primrosewing, the ShadowClan medicine cat, commented. "The day before he died, he had three lives left. When he had his vigil, I saw some fur in his claws. It was blue-gray and white. And there was a nasty cut in his throat." Primrosewing turned her amber gaze to Skystar. "Are you saying that you killed your leader, so that you could become leader yourself?"
Outraged cries lifted from the ShadowClan cats. Skystar said nothing.
"You murdered him," Nightshade snarled, slashing claws over his former mate's backside. "I'd never thought you would do that."
"I just hate being half-Clan!" Skystar yowled angrily.
At this, a couple of the ShadowClan cats started to jeer at Skystar. Skystar ignored them.
"And my kit is half-ThunderClan," she added. "Nightshade..."
Halfstripe strode up to her. "You were cruel," she snarled. "You deserve to die."
"You can't tell me what to do!"
"Neither can you," Halfstripe spat. "You're not my leader."
Silence came again. Then Nightshade spoke three words.
Three worlds that changed everyone forever.
"This. Means. War."
Silence overtook all the cats. Then Skystar spoke:
All the ShadowClan cats stared at Skystar, unable to believe her words.
"Wait a moment," Eaglesong mewed, as the ShadowClan deputy padded over. "Are you saying that him," he flicked his tail at Nightshade, "is the father of your kit?"
"Yes," Halfstripe yowled, before anyone could say anything.
"Traitor!" Flywing mewed, leaning in close to Skystar. "I will never listen to you again!"
"You're exiled, then," Skystar mewed, flicking her tail at the ThunderClan cats. "Go with those mangy half-breeds."
Flywing growled at Skystar, but said nothing. He joined the group of ThunderClan cats in their line.
"Anyone wish to join the ThunderClan cats in their cause?" Skystar meowed loudly.
Dawnpaw joined them in their cause. "You let Beetleflight and Hailstorm have their warrior names," she hissed, "but not me. I despise you." She went beside her mentor, Flywing.
"We will hold this battle at the new moon," Rosestar mewed, facing nose-to-nose with Skystar. "Prepare your forces, and may the best Clan win." She turned her tail towards the ThunderClan cats. "ThunderClan! It's time to return to our own camp!"
"Flywing, Dawnpaw," Halfstripe mewed towards the two ThunderClan cats, "come with us. It's the least I can do for you."
Please say yes, Halfstripe thought. They could tell Rosestar more about Skystar's bloody reign.
"We'll come with you," Flywing meowed. "But I can't be sure about if we'll stay permanently."
"Thank you." Halfstripe dipped her head. "Your information could prove useful in the battle to come."
"It's not a problem," Halfstripe mewed. "Follow."
The ThunderClan cats, Flywing, and Dawnpaw went back into ThunderClan territory. When all the cats were deep in their territory, Rosestar turned.
"We have to win," she mewed tersely. "How should we win?"
"WindClan..." Nightshade muttered.
"Nightshade?" Rosestar meowed, turning her green gaze onto the black warrior. "What did you say?"
"He said WindClan," Dawnpaw interrupted.
"Yes, I did," Nightshade mewed. "With another Clan, we could be stronger. We will have a better chance of defeating ShadowClan."
"You're right," Rosestar replied. "Very well. Tomorrow, we will ask Applestar if she and her Clan will join our fight." She then nodded to Flywing and Dawnpaw. "You've helped too."
Flywing and Dawnpaw nodded, but said nothing.
"Come on," Rosestar meowed, flicking her tail towards Halfstripe and the rest of the cats. "Let's rest for tomorrow."
The cats followed Rosestar into the ThunderClan camp. Halfstripe was nervous. What would become of the battle, yet to be fought?
"We wish to see Applestar."
"Very well." Greenoak, the WindClan deputy, nodded. "We'll take you there."
Halfstripe watched the WindClan cats on the moor. They suited it more than she did.
And to think they hunt woodland prey as well! Halfstripe thought. It was a wonder how they could do it.
Greenoak led the patrol back, Rabbitswift behind her. A gray tabby tom was near her, with a brown-and-white apprentice - a tom - at the back.
When they got to the camp - a wall of gorse - they waited, while the apprentice went to fetch Applestar. A moment later, the mottled brown she-cat appeared.
"Rosestar?" she asked.
"We need your help," the ThunderClan leader replied. "This is not a threat."
Applestar paused, then spoke. "Very well. What is it you seek? Come in," she added, as a WindClan patrol started complaining about the entrance being clogged with ThunderClan cats.
When they had moved out of the way, the six cats sat down. Applestar asked: "What is it? Speak."
"War is coming," Oatclaw meowed, dipping his head to Applestar.
"War?" Blackstripe, the WindClan medicine cat, padded over and joined their circle. "What's this about?"
"Skystar has been lying," Nightshade meowed. "It started moons ago. Snakestar had been thought to be cruel, but that was just his ambition. Skystar had been treating many cats unfairly." He flicked his tail at Halfstripe. "It led to her lying about the murder of Shinedusk, and Snakestar revealing what she said."
"Snakestar trusted her?" Blackstripe asked.
"Yes," Nightshade confirmed. "When Crowsong retired, she made her his deputy. But less than a moon later, Snakestar lost his remaining three lives at the paws of Skystar."
"What - she's a murderer?" Applestar gasped.
"Yes," Halfstripe mewed, taking over from her father. "She then became Skystar, leader of ShadowClan."
"Yesterday," Rosestar meowed. "Nightshade, Halfstripe, Oatclaw, and I visited the ShadowClan camp. We revealed this information. Skystar exiled a ShadowClan cat, Flywing, for calling her a traitor. His apprentice - Dawnpaw, now Dawnstorm - joined him, due to the fact that her brothers got warrior names when she didn't."
"Oh, dear," Applestar mewed. "What's this about war?"
"Apparently," Heronflight mewed scornfully, flicking his tail at Nightshade, "this mousebrain declared war."
Nightshade shot an annoyed look at Heronflight, but said nothing.
"This battle is going to be held at the new moon," Rosestar added. "You can have some-"
"No," Applestar mewed, flicking her tail at Rosestar. "I don't need to think about it now. WindClan will join you - Skystar is dangerous, and you just proved it."
"ThunderClan thanks you. Meet by the stream at sunset on the night of the new moon."
"Agreed. Now get out of our camp!"
Rosestar flicked her tail at the ThunderClan cats. Halfstripe was proud. Now, they - ThunderClan and WindClan - would have revenge on ShadowClan - and in particular, Skystar.
They were training. Warriors and apprentices. For the battle.
Halfstripe had never seen so many cats in the mossy clearing. When she first arrived, she remembered going there.
But then again, she thought, I only trained with a few other cats at a time.
"Okay!" Oatclaw mewed; he was in charge of the battle training. "You've all done well. Let's head back to camp!"
Cats stampeded out of the mossy clearing, looking forward to getting something to eat.
Halfstripe leaned next to Heronflight. The dark tabby tom purred.
"Do you think that we will win?" he asked softly.
It was a good question, Halfstripe reflected. What if ShadowClan had recruited RiverClan to help them?
"We will win if we face only ShadowClan," she replied, "but if ShadowClan and RiverClan fight together, I do not know."
Halfstripe had to admit she liked the tom. He was strong, and loyal. He would make a good leader. He'd got an apprentice a few days ago - Cedarpaw. Rosestar had given Lightningheart Briarpaw, and Halfstripe had been happy for her close friend to get an apprentice.
As they entered the camp, Rosestar padded over. "How was it?"
"We are strong, Rosestar. Let's hope that we win this battle."
Rosestar nodded. "Have some fresh-kill."
Halfstripe nodded. Heronflight got two plump mice for them to share. The early greenleaf breeze ruffled her pelt as they sat down outside the warriors' den.
They twined their tails and purred. Halfstripe had never been happier.
I'm staying here now. I'm not leaving.
She remembered the doubt she had when she first joined ThunderClan. Now she knew this was her home, and she wouldn't return to ShadowClan ever again. Not ever.
"Adjusting well?" she asked Flywing and Dawnstorm, as they passed by.
"Fine, thanks," Flywing mewed. "You never know, but I can see a future here."
"Me, too," Dawnstorm purred at the white warrior.
I sense that those two will have kits one day.
She'd never felt happier, that was for sure. But what would happen when the battle broke out?
Something that would change the Clans forever.
Halfstripe waited nervously. Rosestar was about to announce the battle patrol.
"The patrol that will be getting the WindClan cats will be Oatclaw, Oakrise, Burningcinder, and Vixenpaw. All of these cats will be participating in the battle."
It was the half-moon.
It was time for battle.
Halfstripe had never been in battle before. What should she expect?
The last fight came back to her. Blood. Unsheathed claws. Yowls.
That was what she would see, if she got chosen.
"Okay, the battle patrol will be: Me, obviously, Nightshade, Foxpaw, Waspstrike, Antfoot, Heronflight, Flywing, Dawnstorm, Pebblefall, Nutfall, and Halfstripe. If your name has been called, you will meet me here now to discuss the battle."
Halfstripe's heart leaped. She was on the battle patrol!
Now I can have revenge on Skystar.
The patrol leaving to get WindClan went out of the camp as Rosestar started to speak.
"There will be three patrols. The lead patrol will be me, Heronflight, Dawnstorm, Antfoot, and Halfstripe. And I'm leading," she added, when Antfoot opened his mouth to ask who was leading the patrol.
"Why is Dawnstorm on that patrol?" Nightshade asked.
"She knows ShadowClan territory," Rosestar replied. "The backup patrol will be led by you, Nightshade. Foxpaw, Waspstrike, Flywing, and Pebblefall will be with you."
"What about me?" Nutfall meowed, realizing that he wasn't on either of those lists.
"You will be in the other backup patrol, which Oatclaw is leading. All the cats who are getting WindClan will be with you."
"When I yowl the battle signal, your patrol," she nodded at Nightshade, "will strike. When you do your battle cry, Oatclaw's patrol will strike." Rosestar turned her head to Nutfall. "Tell Oatclaw this information."
Nutfall nodded again.
"Now," Rosestar meowed, "we will wait."
After a while, the WindClan cats arrived. Rosestar and Applestar organized the WindClan warriors into the ThunderClan patrols, and the WindClan cats were told the battle plan.
Soon, it was time to leave.
It was time for revenge.
"Let's go!" Applestar yowled, and the ThunderClan and WindClan cats exited the ThunderClan camp, ready to punish Skystar for what she had done.
Waiting for the call.
Then she would spring into battle, and defend her Clan.
And punish Skystar.
Four other ThunderClan warriors were beside her, and five WindClan ones: Rabbitswift, Heavyfoot, Swiftstep, Lightsky, and Applestar herself.
She hadn't met Swiftstep and Lightsky before. Halfstripe had already seen Rabbitswift multiple times, and Heavyfoot was one of the cats who escorted her to the WindClan camp, with his apprentice, Tumblepaw.
"ThunderClan, and WindClan, attack!"
The patrol jumped in. Ten cats unsheathed their claws.
"ShadowClan and RiverClan, attack!"
Skystar's yowl split the air. ShadowClan and RiverClan warriors met ThunderClan and WindClan, and battle started.
Nightshade's patrol rushed in, followed by Oatclaw's. They mixed together.
Rosestar jumped at Eaglesong, the ShadowClan deputy. The silver tabby clawed at the ThunderClan leader.
"Your Clan is filthy," Rosestar muttered.
"It's Skystar!" Eaglesong panted. "I did nothing!"
Halfstripe met up with Nightshade. The black tom clawed a RiverClan warrior - Dustthorn - down his side. The brown tom screeched in agony and pain, and fled from his attacker.
"Good riddance," Nightshade growled.
Halfstripe nodded, and braced for ShadowClan and RiverClan warriors. Beetleflight ran at them.
"Get out of our camp!" the black-and-white warrior snarled.
"Not until we kill Skystar," Nightshade meowed, as he pinned the smaller tom down. Halfstripe then clawed him.
"This is my payback for all the teasing you gave me during my apprenticeship!" she snarled, sinking her claws in.
Neither of them let go until Beetleflight screamed for mercy. When he had gone, they knew who to target next.
She was doing nothing.
Looking at cats with cold eyes.
Without thinking, Halfstripe yowled. "Skystar! Come here and fight!"
The blue-gray and white she-cat spun around.
"Hah," she laughed. "Me, fight you, and him?" she mewed scornfully. "I have nine lives. You can't stop me!"
Halfstripe leapt at her mother, the cat who cat caused the most misery in her life. Nightshade followed, scratching her down her flank. Skystar screeched in agony.
Sinking her claws in, Halfstripe held on. Nightshade fought her. Halfstripe rolled off so that the black tom could pin the ShadowClan leader down.
Skystar struggled under Nightshade. "Save me," she gasped.
"No," Nightshade snarled. "You caused too much misery for myself and Halfstripe." He beckoned Halfstripe over.
"Pin her down on one side," he mewed.
Halfstripe pinned down one side, Nightshade on the other. Battle cries rang above her head.
"Say goodbye, Skystar," he meowed, sorrow, hope, and disgust twined into three words. He then unsheathed his claws, and slayed Skystar, from her chin to the tip of her tail.
Skystar yowled in agony, and twitched on the ground. Blood pooled around from where she lay, red, thick, and flowing fast.
Halfstripe turned to face Toadspring and Littlewhisker, ready to lease on a fresh attack. Nightshade growled.
"Oh yeah?' Toadspring mewed scornfully. "You've killed our leader!"
Halfstripe turned to see Skystar, who was still, but as she looked, she sprang back to life ah=gain. The wound hadn't healed. Her blood continued to flow, and she yowled in her waves of pain again.
Littlewhisker jumped at Halfstripe, Toadspring at Nightshade. She dodged the small tabby's blows at once. Sneaking under her belly, she pinned the tabby down. Littlewhisker squirmed under her paws, then submitted, and relaxed.
"You don't know how much pain ShadowClan caused me," she snarled, as another shriek from Skystar split the air.
"You killed Shinedusk!" Littlewhisker spat.
"Oatclaw killed Shinedusk," Halfstripe retorted. "Ask Toadspring."
"He actually did," Toadspring huffed.
Littlewhisker stared at her. "You didn't need to be exiled, then."
"I know. But ThunderClan is my home now."
Littlewhisker's gaze was full of sorrow. "I'm sorry we lost you."
"It's fine." She turned, and saw Skystar take her last breath, gag, and fall still for the last time.
Skystar was dead.
Halfstripe shot one more look at her mother's body, then turned away. She deserved it.
"Skystar's dead!" Toadspring screeched.
All the ShadowClan and RiverClan cats turned in shock. Eaglesong rushed over.
Panic flared in Eaglesong's eyes. "I didn't expect to become leader..." he gasped, staring down at Skystar's bloody body. "ShadowClan, retreat!"
The ShadowClan cats scurried towards Eaglesong, in a panic.
Bravestar did the same. It wasn't worth fighting two Clans, when only one was on your side.
The ThunderClan and WindClan cats gathered. Oatclaw lay on the ground, body unmoving. Rosestar was nearby, gasping.
"No..." she whispered, and then fell.
"Oh no..." Primrosewing , the ShadowClan medicine cat, meowed. "That was her last life, and her deputy's dead..."
Rosestar's dead? Halfstripe fidgeted uncomfortably. How would ThunderClan have a leader now?
"I pray that StarClan will send you a sign," Primrosewing mewed. "I'm pretty sure that ShadowClan will become better now." Her gaze dropped. "Skystar almost destroyed ShadowClan."
"Primrosewing," Heronflight meowed, shouldering his way to the front. "ThunderClan will let you hunt in peace until the next full moon. We wish that it will take you that long to recover." He then dipped his head to Eaglesong. "ThunderClan accepts your leadership, and we wish you good luck."
"And you," Eaglesong replied. He turned his gaze to Flywing and Dawnstorm, who were sitting nearby. "Do you want to return, or stay with your new allegiance?"
Halfstripe held her breath. Where would Flywing and Dawnstorm stay: ThunderClan or ShadowClan?
Flywing sighed. He looked around the ShadowClan camp. "I don't think I can ever live here again," he sighed. "It brings too much memories - too many bad memories - back to me. Having to treat Halfstripe harshly, for one." As he said this, Flywing shot a glance at her. "And being exiled. I will never forget that. And the battle..." Flywing sighed again. "I'm staying with ThunderClan."
"I'm not leaving him," Dawnstorm added, shuffling closer to Flywing.
"I'm sorry we lost you to this," Eaglesong mewed. "May StarClan light your path, Flywing and Dawnpaw-"
"Dawnstorm," Dawnstorm corrected.
"Oh - sorry. Flywing and Dawnstorm, may StarClan light your path."
"And yours," the dark ginger she-cat replied.
The ThunderClan cats gathered. Some prepared to carry Oatclaw's and Rosestar's bodies back to the camp. Halfstripe felt wrecked.
When will StarClan give us a new leader?
Halfstripe yawned and arched her back. The warm sun touched her pelt.
It had been three sunrises since the battle. StarClan hadn't sent a sign yet to ThunderClan.
Apparently, ShadowClan had been thriving. After he had received his nine lives at the Moonpool, Eaglestar had decided to pop into the ThunderClan camp.
"ShadowClan is doing well, thank you," he meowed, when old Eelfish had asked him how ShadowClan was.
"Who's your new deputy?" Dawnstorm had asked, her amber eyes shining.
Halfstripe had thought that the dark brown warrior, ambitious as he was, deserved to be deputy. He was a strong, fair leader - and respected Snakestar, Skystar, and now Eaglestar with undying respect.
Heronflight's mew awoke her. The dark tabby warrior had been in charge of camp since the deaths on Rosestar and Oatclaw.
"Take Vixenstep, Antfoot, and Nightshade on a hunting patrol."
The reddish-brown she-cat dipped her head, and was about to exit the camp with her patrol, when Shimmerwater rushed out of her den.
"Wait right there," she mewed, as she bounded onto Highledge, and yowled Rosestar's call.
"What's going on?" Vixenstep asked. She and Foxpad were made warriors after the battle, named by Heronflight.
"Maybe it's the sign," Halfstripe mewed, as she padded over. "It's about time."
Vixenstep nodded, and sat down, as the Clan listened to what Shimmerwater had to stay."
"I have had a sign about our new leader," she meowed. "I saw a big bird - a heron - flying. Heronflight will be the new leader of ThunderClan."
Heronflight stared at Shimmerwater for a moment, before the medicine cat jumped down. Heronflight went up in her place.
"Cats of ThunderClan!" he meowed. "I am honored to be chosen to be your leader. Now, I must choose a deputy. I say these words, to StarClan, and to the spirits of Rosestar and Oatclaw, that they may hear and approve of my choice. Burningcinder will be the new deputy of ThunderClan.
The large smoky gray tom nodded, as his kits, Firekit, Winterkit, and Flashkit jumped on him. Burningcinder shooed off two ginger kits, and a silver one, before they went back to their mother, Echolight, who was scowling at her kits.
"I am honored to become the deputy," Burningcinder meowed. "I will promise I will serve ThunderClan well."
After he had spoken, a few cats chanted Burningcinder's name.
"Tonight," Heronflight added, "I will go to the Moonpool to receive my nine lives. Until then, I would appreciate it if you called my by my warrior name."
Heronflight quickly dismissed the meeting. Burningcinder started to sort out the remaining patrols. Halfstripe went to the dark tabby tom.
"Good luck," Halfstripe whispered.
"You don't need to wish me good luck," Heronflight purred. "I'll still be here tomorrow - I'll just be called Heronstar."
"I know," Halfstripe mewed. "May StarClan light your path."
"And yours," Heronflight mewed, before he padded away.
Halfstripe knew this was the end of the road. ThunderClan was safe. She was cared about, she was loved, and she was loyal - more than she could say about herself three moons ago.
I have changed for the better. And I can feel it.
She looked down. Two kits were at her belly.
Hers and Heronstar's.
"Come in," Shimmerwater mewed to the dark tabby leader.
Before she looked at her mate, Halfstripe looked at her kits again. One was a black tabby tom, the other, an half-dark brown, half-white she-kit.
She then looked up, staring into Heronstar's blue eyes.
It had been three moons since Heronstar became leader of ThunderClan. All was peaceful, with all four Clans. Since the battle in which Skystar got brutally murdered, no other wars had taken place.
"They're beautiful," Heronstar whispered. "What are you going to call them?'
Echolight leaned over to see. "They look like fine warriors," she purred.
Dawnstorm also looked at the two kits from her nest. The dark ginger she-cat was a moon away from having Flywing's kits.
"I'm going to name the cats after two warriors of ShadowClan. To remind me of my heritage, but also for two cats who probably should be alive."
The cats around her nodded.
"It's a good idea," Dawnstorm mewed. "I could do that, too. Name them Hailkit and Beetlekit, after my brothers."
"Nope," Halfstripe mewed. "When you have your kits, name them that, if you want. I'm not naming them those names."
Dawnstorm shoot a cheeky glare at Echolight.
Halfstripe rested her tail on the black tabby, the oldest kit. "This kit shall be known as Snakekit, in memory of Snakestar, who should be ShadowClan leader."
"You're right about that," Dawnstorm mewed. "If Skystar hadn't killed Snakestar..."
"I know," Halfstripe sighed. "But the past is the past. We can't change it."
Dawnstorm nodded. "Sometimes I wish I'm back in ShadowClan."
"Halfstripe, what are you going to name the other kit?" Heronstar asked.
Halfstripe shot another gaze at the kit who looked like her, just dark brown, not black. It was like Snakekit and her had a colour swap.
"She looks like you," Heronstar added.
"And Snakekit looks like you."
Heronstar purred in delight.
"This kit will be known as Shinekit, in memory of Shinedusk, my mentor."
"Nice name," Dawnstorm purred.
"Snakekit and Shinekit," Heronstar meowed. "Welcome to ThunderClan."
Wow, I think this is my best fanfiction yet! It's my longest, too. :)
- *EPIC UPDATE* I'm making a sequel!!! :) Yay for Brams! Click here to see!
Hope you enjoyed my story! :)
--Beetlenose to Crookedpaw, Crookedstar's Promise 02:09, August 10, 2014 (UTC)
Fanart from Blazey