As the Tribe cats become more and more used to their mountain home, the eagles there go from being hunters to the hunted. In this particular story, the main Flock of eagles that lives in the mountains, the Flock of Rolling Stones, must deal with this problem. But when their leader's daughter dies, leaving her two chicks alone, a father's revenge and grief must be quenched and the Tribe cats have to pay....
She flew through the air, her heart soared.
It was a great time to be an eagle, there was plenty of prey and plenty of shelters.
She scanned the ground intently, looking for food, remembering how her mentor had taught her.
Her large, yellow eyes were concentrating on the ground so she had to swerve to miss a rock.
That was a close one. she thinks.
She continues looking for food, her wings are getting cold, she'll have to go back to her nest soon, the chicks would go hungry again.
She pushed on, determined to feed her hungry family,
Determination clouded her mind and she did not notice she was being watched, followed.
She saw a mouse, swoop! She turned, mouse in her talons, ready to fly back to her nest.
She saw them.
Their selfish, hungry eyes stared not only at the mouse but at her.
Her heart thudded in panic.
She gave a cry of warning, alarm to the others.
Then she took off.
Her nest wasn't far away, she could make it!
She could see the ledge, her home, the others called to her.
She called back and tried to go up but a ripping sensation spread through her feathers.
They had caught her.
She screamed as they pulled her down to the hard, uncaring earth, claws unsheathed, ready to bite at her, eat her alive.
Her chicks cried out as their mother was killed before their very eyes.
The head eagle sat in the nest on the tallest ledge.
Below him, in different levels of ledges sat the flyers, then the fledglings, then the chicks and their mothers, and finally the old wings.
The head eagle was in a state of sorrow and shock.
His daughter, the newest flyer and chick mother had just died while hunting.
His family, his Flock was frightened.
His enemies, these cats.
They needed to be punished.
He wanted to kill them all.
Her chicks waited four moons for their mother to come home.
They had been raised by another bird but it wasn't the same.
They wanted their mother.
It was about time they became Fledglings of the Flock of Rolling Stones.
But with all the cats, the hunters around, they were afraid, their ceremony was delayed.
The cats were a huge threat, something that had never killed an eagle before was killing off not only individuals, but flocks.
The whole Flock was in turmoil.
But eventually, everyone got used to this new way of life.
But no one could forget.
And as if life wasn't bad enough, something else happened.
These cats, this Tribe, they had always been alone.
A Scout had seen a group of cats fall from the rocks, land in the water.
They joined the Tribe.
The Flock was in distress.
More cats to hunt them, more mouths the Tribe had to feed.
More eagles dead.
The new cats weren't good at hunting or hiding in the mountain.
At first it was easier to hide from them.
But the best hunter in the Tribe, she taught them. She seemed to have a soft spot for one of them. With her help, he learned.
And he killed.
The eagles began to hunt at night, stay away from the places the cats hunted at.
All but their leader.
He had not forgotten his desire for revenge, his thirst fr the blood of the cats.
His hatred, his pain. His loss.
So, he started to hunt the cats as well.
He always hunted alone.
No one wanted to come with him, even if he asked them too, which never once happened.
He killed many cats, although he did have competition.
A mountain lion, Sharp Tooth killed a few cats.
But most were taken by him.
But the big cat got the blame.
The leader continued, stealing all the cats he could, not always killing them, but leaving them in place where they couldn't reach home.
Where they would eventually die.
And yet, he still felt unavenged.
But one day, he was out hunting and he spotted a queen and her two kits.
He saw his opportunity.
He gave a battle cry and dived.
The she-cat yowled in shock and fear, her kits huddled beneath her.
He saw in his mind's eye, his daughter, cowering over her chicks, the cat bearing down on her...
But he was in too much pain to stop himself.
He gave a cry again, but now it was one of loss, sorrow, a father's final words to his daughter.
His heart broke as he swooped, as the she-cat tried to raise on her paws and slash him.
So much like his daughter.
Her children ran away, hiding behind a rock.
Like they were pretending he couldn't see them.
He swooped again.
He knew it would be the last time, the last time he attacked. The last time he killed a cat.
He wasn't sure how he knew.
Was it the way her kits tried to get to her as she faced him again?
Or the way there was a final noble sacrifice in her eyes?
Perhaps how he felt, the cats had taken his daughter, he was going to take one of the Tribe's?
Whatever way, he knew it was going to happen.
He clawed at her, almost the same way the cats had killed his child.
Her eyes grew wide and she gave a cry, her kittens cried behind the rock, it could not shelter them from the harsh truth of what was happening.
He flew into the air and watched her body fall.
He had been avenged.
He soared back home feeling happier then he had in moons.
He had been avenged.
The Flock was more assure knowing their leader was back and there were less cats to kill them.
But one day, as the leader was hunting, he felt a talon of grief pass through his heart.
The Tribe was at the top of the waterfall, mourning it seemed.
A grave had just been dug.
The she-cat he had killed lay inside, her kits next to the grave crying.
The lead eagle felt a little ashamed and he swooped closer to get a better look.
The cats were listening to their leader.
"...after Sharp Tooth attacked Star ran off and was killed by an eagle..."
But the lead eagle heard no more, Star had been his daughters name.
He couldn't help it.
His pain was too much.
He let out a cry of sheer agony.
The cats turned.
He couldn't see them, all he saw was the body in the grave. The pain he felt in his heart.
But he could hear when a small voice cried, "Him! He killed my momma!"
It was one of her its. He saw the familiar hatred in its eyes, the sadness, anger, desperate for her mother to be real again.
He had seen it in Star's chicks.
His heart broke again.
The cats were snarling and hissing at him, he gave a cry of shock as one tried to attack him.
It was one of the other kits the she-cat had.
He gave another call of pain, he wondered if his daughter could hear him, he wondered if his shattered heart would ever be whole.
He wondered why he was being punished.
He flew away into the sky but one of the kits claws caught his wings.
He wrenched it away, felt it break.
He fell to the ground, the kittens sobs still echoing in his ears.
He was sure he was going to die.
Tears flew into the air as he plummeted.
He was sorry, sorry he had killed the she-cat, sorry he had caused so much pain, sorry he had become the very things the cats were.
He tried to give a call to his Flock, perhaps someone could save him.
But he couldn't, he knew he deserved this.
He stayed silent.
But something caught him.
He looked up and gasped.
Nothing was there.
He was surprised as what ever it was dropped him a on his ledge.
He turned to it.
She smiled but didn't speak.
He wasn't sure if he wanted to smile or cry.
He wondered if he was dreaming.
She hopped over to him and smiled, big yellow eyes reflecting the moon.
He knew it was real.
He tried to hop over to her but she smiled and looked to his broken wing. He gave an apologetic shrug.
She laughed, he couldn't hear it but he remembered, it had been a sweet twinkling sound, not the embarrassing caw most eagles had.
He wished she was still alive.
He gave a sad call, softly and her eyes locked onto his.
He got the message.
She had told him she would always be with him, to forgive and forget the cats.
He resolved to do that.
He made the gesture with his wing and she smiled.
It meant promise.
He tried to step foreword, hold her in his wing one last time.
But the wind picked up and he shrank back, when he looked out again, she was gone.
He stepped away from the ledge carefully and gave a small 'caw'.
There was no answer.
He lay down and waited for someone to find him.
It was her first day as a Fledgling.
It was time for her to learn the way of the Flock, to become one of them.
Ever since her mother's death, her Grandpa had taken care of her and her brother.
He had been obsessed with killing the cats, it had frightened her.
But suddenly, he had gone back to normal.
At their Fledgling ceremony, he had given her and her brother their names.
Her brother had been named Talon, it was a great name, he was proud.
She on the other hand had been named Starling.
She hated her name, wondered why her Grandpa gave it to her.
Starlings were weak and small, she was a strong, big eagle!
Her Grandpa had said something about her mother.
Starling didn't care, she just knew she would always protect her Flock, just like her Grandpa and her mom.
She rode on eagles wings.
She flew high in the air, her wings spread out far.
She wanted to get some food for her new chicks.
She spotted a mouse on the moonlit ground below her.
She dived, she caught the struggling creature in her talons.
She soared back into the sky, heading home, unaware she was being followed.
She had almost reached home, she could see her nest, the sleeping bodies of her chicks.
She saw them.
There were five of them.
She gasped and flew fasted.
She felt claws rush past her wings, she turned and looked at the cats in terror.
She felt them stare at her, the cat in the lead looked at her, then to her nest, her chick, and back to her panicked face.
Then it gave the tiniest nod. And sprinted away.
She gave a sigh of relief and sped home.
* * *
He smiled at her.
"Starling, it's my time." he told his granddaughter.
She sniffled, Talon glared at him, daring him to carry out his plan.
They had both become great members of the Flock, strong and confident.
But they were both still stubborn and young.
He sighed. "I have to go" He told them. They bothy had expressions of uttermost horror on their faces.
He nuzzled them both, letting his still broken wing hang still.
Ignoring their cries of protest, he made his way up to his ledge.
He smiled down and them and then, as best as he could with his broken wing, he took off.
He flew into the air, enjoying the cool rush of wind on his face.
He was going to fly as far as he could.
He knew it was his time to pass, he wanted to be alone.
He soared, farther and farther away, but he knew he wasn't alone. He would never be alone.
She glided next to him, a ghost riding the wind. she caught his look and grinned.
He smiled back and with determination soared on.
Star by his side.