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Okay.

First- close your eyes... and imagine.

You're hunting with your best friend when you're attacked by strange cats. They swear to take over the forest- and only these two cats can stop them.

But there are strange things going on, related to revenge, broken hearts, and abilities. Not necessarily in that order.

What will you learn? What will you lose? And who will win?


Important Cats

  • ThunderClan
    • Ripplefoot- a blue-gray tom with blue eyes.
    • Lionface- a ginger tom with amber eyes.
  • Rogues
    • Layzer- a reddish tom with red eyes.
    • Stone- a gray tom with gray eyes.
    • Stretch- a tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes. (Mate: Dunce)
    • Dunce- a white tom with bright gray eyes. (Mate: Stretch)
    • Rio- a black tom with hollow-looking blue eyes.

Not-So-Important Cats
Or so you think.

  • ThunderClan
    • Thornstar- a golden-brown tom with amber eyes and sharp claws.
    • Scarfur- a brown tom with a scar down his side. (Mate: Featherheart)
    • Featherheart- a gray she-cat with feathery fur and blue eyes. (Mate: Scarfur)

Intro

"Travel with me," the black cat continued, his gravelly, deep voice echoing.
A she-cat with tortoiseshell fur that looked stretched over her body replied loudly, "We've only just met you, and we've never seen you. We have no reason to trust you and we have no reason to know you. Leave us now."
The gray tom next to her looked appreciative, but the red tom on his other side shot her a look to say, "be quiet".
The black tom's gravelly voice seemed to echo in the cats' ears as he replied to the tortoiseshell. "My name is Rio," he mewed.
The red tom stepped forward. "I am Layzer," he replied respectfully. "My companions are named Stone, Stretch, and Dunce."
The tortoiseshell pressed close to the white tom. "Dunce," she whispered, "stay close."
The tortoiseshell's mate's eyes gleamed as he looked at her.
"Your names all sound powerful," Rio mewed, looking at them. "I should give you the power deserved."
Stone looked around uneasily, but Layzer took charge once again. "What do you mean?" he asked firmly. He obviously wanted an answer, but he didn't get one.
"Come forward, red one," Rio told him. As Layzer obeyed, Rio continued, "I am giving you the power to shoot fire from your eyes. Use it wisely."
Layzer winced visibly as Rio's tail touched his head, and then it was finished. As suddenly as he appeared, he had left Layzer looking stronger and visibly more confident.
"Stone," Rio called to the gray tom. The tortoiseshell felt a sinking feeling. Layzer hadn't given the cats names, only told Rio that they were there. How would he know who was who?
Stone walked forward. His silent, but still muscular, body, didn't make a sound as he crossed the clearing to Rio.
"I am giving you the power to turn other cats to stone with one touch," Rio mewed, touching his tail to Stone's head. "Use it wisely."
Then he was standing in front of Stretch. She hadn't seen him move across the clearing, or move his tail from Stone's head. She kept herself from flinching.
"Stretch," Rio whispered. His voice had a strange echo in her ears that she had forgotten about- or gotten used to. "I am giving you the ability to stretch your limbs to your furthest extent."
Stretch felt small as she felt Rio's tail touch her head, but as she felt strength rush through her, she forgot all about it. She let herself absorb the new feeling, and it seemed to spread from tail to claw-tip.
Rio granted Dunce the ability to cause pain with only simple concentration and turned back to Layzer. "Will you travel with me?" he asked again. His voice no longer had an echo.
Layzer nodded. His eyes seemed to have a new fire in them.
Stretch looked at her other companions. Stone seemed more blocky. His muscles looked much bigger. Dunce seemed to have shrunk, but his gaze was more piercing then ever before.
"Let's go," Layzer mumbled to his followers. "We have a long way to go."


Rio halted and stared at the lake. "I have a mission for you."
The four cats following him- for moons, now- pricked their ears. "What, master?" Layzer asked cautiously. His voice had the same ring to it as Rio's did, now, as did the other three.
"Find two toms hunting tomorrow in the forest across the lake," Rio murmured. "Have them show you to their leader and take over everything they know."
Shock rippled through the other four, but none spoke for a long while.
"What will you be doing?" Dunce asked, his voice high-pitched.
"I will be preparing for the biggest fight of my life," Rio mewed, turning to face his companions. "I will leave you know," he added briskly. After staring at all of them, he raced away, back to where they came.
"We're in for the fight of our lives," Stone mumbled.

Part 1 - Rage

Chapter 1

Ripplefoot hid behind the bracken, watching as Scarfur play-fought with his mate, Featherheart. They're really in love, he thought, wishing for a cat that would love him the same.
He was waiting for his best friend, Lionface, to emerge from the trees behind him. Today they were finally able to get time to just talk- no battles to worry about, no gossiping. Just them.
He heard a rustle in the trees behind him and turned as the ginger tom emerged, looking proud as ever. His eyes glowed with a happiness that could only come with being with his best friend.
"Thornstar barely let me come," Lionface explained. "I had to let Spikepelt train Flamepaw." He seemed satisfied.
Ripplefoot purred. "Let's get away from these two lovers," he mewed, gesturing to Scarfur and Featherheart with his tail.
Lionface twitched his whiskers with amusement and led Ripplefoot into the forest, and they emerged in a clearing dappled with the leaf-fall leaves. Colors floated in Ripplefoot's beauty, and he let himself relax. There were no threats here, not anymore.
But even as he thought it, he heard a rustle in the shrubbery behind him that only a threatening cat could make, and he spun around, hissing.
Lionface was the only cat there, stalking a mouse. He fell over with surprise at his friend's sudden outburst and Ripplefoot saw the mouse scamper away.
"I heard some cat, it sounded threatening," Ripplefoot explained bashfully, feeling his muscles flex beneath his fur.
"I'm threatening to the mouse," Lionface pointed out, helping his friend out of embarrassment.
But there it was again- the threatening rustle, this time louder.
A red tom emerged from the undergrowth, followed by two other cats- a gray and a white tom.
"Take us to your leader," the red tom mewed. His voice echoed in Ripplefoot's ears.
Ripplefoot shook his head and forced himself to look threatening despite his surprise. These cats weren't ShadowClan or RiverClan! They were rogues.
Lionface winced. "I think we should," he murmured.
The white tom looked at Ripplefoot and he felt a jolt of pain rush through him. "No," he mewed.
A tortoiseshell paw stretched from a branch above them and was put on the ground. Ripplefoot admired the feminine claws and watched as the cat appeared- stretched, but otherwise normal- from the tree. She stepped to the ground as if it was only a pawstep on even ground.
Lionface's face looked awed and surprised. "How did you...?"
"Special ability I have," the she-cat purred. "I am Stretch."
The red tom glared at her as if she had made a horrible mistake, but then relented and added, "I am Layzer. My companions are named Stone and Dunce." He gestured to the gray and the white toms in turn.
Stretch retreated to stand very close to Dunce; Ripplefoot realized that they must be mates.
"Take us to your leader," Layzer repeated. His voice was firm this time. "We don't want to fight, but we will if we have to."
A glare from Dunce made Ripplefoot wince in pain again. "Fight us?" he asked, pretending to snort. "We would win."
A brilliant flash in Layzer's eyes caused the plants to catch on fire in front of Lionface. "Will you?"
"We will," Ripplefoot replied firmly.
"Stone," Layzer directed, shooting a glare at the gray tom.
The gray tom leaped at Ripplefoot, landed right in front of him, and stretched out a single claw and why was Lionface staring at him so surprised? All the cats had moved, and Stone had retreated back to his comrades.
"What happened?" Ripplefoot asked Lionface quietly.
"Stone turned you to stone," Lionface mewed just as quietly.
"Fine," Ripplefoot sighed. "I'll take you all to Thornstar, but no tricks."
Layzer's eyes lit up. Ripplefoot felt a strange sense of dread wash over him, but he turned and beckoned for the other five cats to follow.
Oh, StarClan, help me, he thought.

Chapter 2

Ripplefoot led Lionface and the four rogue cats through the territory, Lionface telling him in a low voice what had happened while he was stone.
The four cats had revealed their powers. Layzer could shoot red fire from his eyes. Stone could turn cats to stone with a single touch. Stretch could stretch any part of herself as far as she could go, while her mate, Dunce, could cause pain just by concentration.
Ripplefoot couldn't contain the astonishment. He knew these four cats were dangerous, but not in this way. He felt daunted, and part of him wished for the obvious benefits of a power similar to theirs. Who wouldn't? he reminded himself.
As he led the cats through the forest, the ground strewn with the beautiful colors of leaf-fall, he began to sense a deeper danger that couldn't be expressed in thoughts.
Did these cats have secrets, ones that they kept from even each other?
He didn't have time to ponder this, because he was approaching the camp.
He heard a cat's cry from the inside of the protective bramble wall: "Intruders!"
He beckoned Lionface to enter last, and crept through the tunnel, yowling to his Clanmates that these cats were friends.
He didn't share the thought boiling inside him: Or maybe they're enemies.
He saw his leader, Thornstar, look up from where he was sharing tongues with his mate.
He looked scornfully at the rogues. "Who are they?" he asked Ripplefoot.
"These cats are Layzer, Stone, Stretch, and Dunce," Ripplefoot told Thornstar, pointing to them each in turn with his tail. "Layzer seems to be the leader."
Thornstar nodded even more scornfully at Layzer. "Strange name," he commented.
"Yours is strange, too," Layzer retaliated. "Tell me, how large is this Clan of yours?"
"We have just enough prey to feed all of us," Thornstar replied levelly. "And there's a lot of prey," he added.
Layzer didn't show any surprise. "You have more than enough territory for you, right?"
Thornstar's eyes narrowed. "Why should it matter? You're a rogue."
"I would like to start a Clan of my own." Layzer's voice was loud and demanding. "I will call it ThunderClan."
Thornstar sputtered before snapping back, "Our Clan is ThunderClan!"
Layzer looked at his comrades and murmured, "Stretch, quiet."
I didn't notice her talking, Ripplefoot thought. But he did notice Featherheart and Scarfur whispering to each other over to one side of the bramble wall. Ripplefoot hadn't noticed them come back.
Dunce shot a glare at Featherheart and Scarfur and Stretch lashed out a claw.
"No!" Scarfur screeched.
Featherheart lay on the ground, dead. Stretch had somehow managed to kill her with one powerful, extended swipe with her claws.
Scarfur buried his nose in Featherheart's fur, his cries of disbelief muffled.
Thornstar hissed at the four cats. "What just happened?" he boomed.
Ripplefoot moved to guard Scarfur and his mate's body, while Lionface moved to guard Thornstar.
"I killed her," Stretch announced cooly. "That tom over there is a little bit too attached, don't you think?"
Ripplefoot watched as his leader grasped for words. Finally, Thornstar replied, "They're in love!"
"Now the she-cat is dead. Done. We want to take over." Stretch seemed to have the ultimate control over the conversation, Ripplefoot noticed. Trailing back could be a deadly mistake.
"This is our territory!" Thornstar hissed. "Warriors, attack!"
Warriors raced from the edges of the hollow, aiming to attack the four rogues, but two fell for seemingly no reason at all, one was clawed by stretch, and one was forced to roll on the ground to get fire out of his fur.
There were only eight warriors after that to try and match the powerful rogues.
He watched as all of them but two were thrown away, some bleeding and one turned to stone. He watched as the other two warriors retreated, tails flattened to the ground.
"StarClan, help us," Ripplefoot prayed, crouching to the ground.
"You have one night to surrender," Layzer announced. "We will be here tomorrow morning for your decision."
As the left the camp, his followers quickly fell into step. Just before ducked into the tunnel, Stone stopped and mewed loudly, "Fight, or die."

Chapter 3

"What were you thinking, bringing them here?" Thornstar asked loudly.
Lionface hung his head. "They forced us to," he mumbled. "They made me. Or they wouldn't change Ripplefoot back."
Ripplefoot felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. Even if he had refused, Lionface would have been forced to.
"I don't care," Thornstar snapped. "You should have thought about your Clan. One stony cat, compared to-" he paused- "one dead cat and another turned to stone, in addition to many injured warriors. They won't be recovering from this quickly. I should punish both of you for this..."
Ripplefoot felt no shame. "How would we have known?" he snapped. Then he flattened his ears. They told us, he thought.
"Don't attack me," Thornstar snapped, obviously thinking the wrong thing. "You don't need more trouble."
"Wasn't going to," Ripplefoot snapped.
"Quiet!" Thornstar commanded, then became quieter. "I know two are very close, but your Clan comes first. These cats are very threatening." He paused, then continued. "I will be punishing you. You- as a pair- must figure out how to defeat these cats on your own. I will gladly provide warriors to help you.
"Tonight," Thornstar continued, "you will be guarding the camp. Let me know if anything occurs. Your sentence starts now." He turned away, leaving Ripplefoot and Lionface to leave the den, tails dragging.
The sun was low in the sky. Most cats were beginning to retire, but the sunset patrol was just leaving.
"We're in for a long night," Lionface sighed. He climbed down the ledge, leaving Ripplefoot to follow.


The sun had fallen into the horizon, now the moon was shining above Ripplefoot's head.
The two toms sat in silence, almost in vigil, mourning when life wasn't plagued by the rogues that wanted to invade.
And suddenly, a voice: "You will fight."
Ripplefoot jumped a bit, then saw a black tom standing across the clearing, almost shadowed. But knowing what's going on lately, he thought, he could be a shadow.
"I am real," the black tom told him. To Lionface, he added, "I am not here to hurt you."
"Then why are you here?" the ginger tom asked.
"To help you," the black tom replied. "I am Rio."
The name sent a chill down Ripplefoot's spine.
"How will you help us?" Lionface asked, standing up.
"I'm going to even the battlefield," Rio replied, his eyes glinting. Then he was directly in front of Lionface. Neither cat flinched.
"You will have the power to transform into a mighty lion," Rio whispered. His voice carried across the clearing to Ripplefoot as Rio placed the tip of his tail on Lionface's head; then he was standing in front of Ripplefoot.
Ripplefoot flinched.
Rio studied Ripplefoot for a long while. "You have a strange aura, young one. I will do my best to interpret it."
He interprets our auras? Ripplefoot thought in wonder.
Placing his tail on Ripplefoot's head, Rio whispered, "You will have strength enough to kill one thousand cats."
"Thank you," Ripplefoot whispered, but Rio was already gone, standing across the clearing.
"The four rogues only need to hear one cat to say there will be a fight. They will attack right then and there, so phrase your words carefully."
A single word popped into Ripplefoot's head as Rio waved his tail, then he was gone.


"Let us fight," Ripplefoot pleaded to Thornstar.
"No," Thornstar snapped. "We can find a new home. They're too powerful."
"We can fight!" Ripplefoot protested. "You're calling your own Clan weak."
Thornstar flinched, but didn't back down. "Sometimes it's best," he whispered.
Ripplefoot sighed in exasperation. Now he was going to have to defy his leader.
"You're a good cat," Thornstar murmured, "but sometimes you just can't admit your weaknesses."
"They're here!" a cat cried from outside.
Thornstar gasped and shoved Ripplefoot from the den; the decision was made. Ripplefoot leaped down the rocks as Thornstar appeared to the rest of the Clan.
"Well?" Layzer asked impatiently.
"It is war," Ripplefoot growled.
Thornstar yowled in anger, trying to contradict his warrior's words, but the deed was done.
"Good," Layzer whispered, his eyes glinting. He seemed to sense something, as he added, "Send two, and only two, of your warriors"- he waved his tail suggestively at Lionface and Ripplefoot-" to talk about the limits of this fight. We will meet them at the edge of the forest, at the moorland, at moonhigh tomorrow."
Ripplefoot felt Thornstar's eyes boring into him, but he forced himself to stare straight forward as Layzer led the rogues away from ThunderClan, through the tunnel.
As soon as they were gone, Thornstar yowled, "Ripplefoot! Lionface! Come here!"

Chapter 4

"What were you thinking?" For the second time that day, Ripplefoot listened to Thornstar's patronizing voice.
"We can take them!" Ripplefoot told Thornstar. "Me and Lionface can."
"Do you know any weaknesses of theirs?" Thornstar asked slowly.
"We know our strengths," Ripplefoot told his leader. "We know when to back down."
Thornstar sighed. "You two, as Layzer suggested, are going to meet the other four rogues where and when he told you to. Good day."
This was obviously a dismissal, and Lionface led the way out.


"You made it."
Ripplefoot stiffened. He wasn't aware of the trek to the moorland, let alone hiding.
But he was there. His vision grew hazy for a brief moment, then it sharpened again, and he realized he was not alone. A mighty lion stood next to him.
On his other side stood Stretch.
A strange, surprising cat stood in the clearing where Layzer, Stone, and Dunce stood.
A deeper, darker voice rang in Ripplefoot's head. "Beware, Ripplefoot, some dangerous things must occur for you to win."
The warning echoed, then his vision faded away, followed by a faint voice of congratulations.
A claw prodded his side, and Ripplefoot woke to blinking sunlight.
Lionface was right in front of him. "Get up. Long day."
Ripplefoot stood and yawned. While he stretched, he remembered the day's agenda: practice powers with Lionface, eat, then travel to the moorland.
"You're on a sunhigh hunting patrol," Lionface muttered. "Get up, hurry, and meet me by the Sky Oak." With that, he left the den, kicking up moss as he went.
Ripplefoot grunted a reply that he knew Lionface couldn't hear and tried to stretch himself awake. When that didn't work, he decided that a trek through the forest would and went to see who would be on the patrol with him.
He blinked, surprised. The sun was already high in the sky, and a group of cats- including Scarfur- was already waiting for him. "I'm sorry," he apologized, greeting them.
"Oh, no, we're sorry," Scarfur snapped back. "The cat in charge of defeating the cats that killed Featherheart gets to sleep late. You need all the rest you can get, while the rest of us wait for your orders. Yeah, that works out." The grieving cat's eyes were glazed with sadness and anger.
The other cats waited for Ripplefoot's reply, and when he gave none, Scarfur led the way out of camp.


Upon arriving back at camp, Ripplefoot found Lionface- although he was supposed to be waiting by the Sky Oak- by the fresh-kill pile, which was now only a squirrel and a thin thrush. Ripplefoot deposited his catch- three mice, carried by their tails- on the pile and turned to his friend. "Let's go."
They raced each other through the forest. This wasn't a race to win. This was a race to live.
As they approached the Sky Oak, Lionface skidded to a stop, his claws gripping the dirt.
"What?" Ripplefoot asked, feeling annoyed.
"I don't know..." Lionface murmured. He shook himself off and seemed to concentrate.
Ripplefoot watched, interested.
Then, suddenly, with a screech of undeniable pain, Lionface shot up and out. It was over- he was a lion.
Ripplefoot asked slowly, "Lionface?"
The mighty lion tilted his head, looking at Ripplefoot. He seemed to ask, 'Yes?'
Ripplefoot felt satisfaction. His friend might not have been able to communicate with him with speech, but there was still body language.
"Attack me," Ripplefoot commanded.
Lionface flung himself at Ripplefoot, but the smaller creature easily sidestepped the larger. Lionface landed in a cloud of dust and debris, but he was up quickly and attacked again. This time, Ripplefoot allowed himself to be pinned. Lionface had a gleam in his eye as if to say, 'I beat you!'
Ripplefoot knew better. Summoning his own power, he kicked out at Lionface's belly. With a cry of surprise, the lion was thrown back, stirring up dust again.
The two sparred, getting used to themselves and each other, learning strengths and weaknesses that would be absolutely vital for battle.
They finished with Lionface on top of Ripplefoot, looking absolutely exhausted. Ripplefoot was, too, but he tried not to show it.
Lionface clambered off of his friend and changed from a lion to a cat. "It hurts to change," he mewed huskily. "A lot."
Ripplefoot grit his teeth. This would be a problem later, but for now, it prevented his friend from using his power to his advantage.
"The sun is setting," Lionface noticed out loud.
"Let's get food," Ripplefoot suggested. "We'll need it. We also need to consult with Thornstar," he added. "We've scared all the prey here away."
Lionface purred and the two returned to camp.

Chapter 5

As the moon rose in the sky, Ripplefoot's heart pounded faster and faster. Thornstar's words rang in his head: Stay safe, stay safe, they chided endlessly.
Next to him, Lionface's paws kneaded the ground nervously.
"Just go!" Scarfur snapped. He had been watching the two for a while, and he seemed anxious, too. Probably because these cats killed his mate, Ripplefoot thought.
Ripplefoot nodded, beckoned for Lionface, and whisked out of the camp. Best to do it before you can think about it, he thought.
He raced through the trees, weaving as if he was part of the forest himself. He ran with powerful strides, as did Lionface.
They stopped running at the WindClan border: the river. The moon was almost at its peak. Lionface crossed first, forced to get his paws wet, but Ripplefoot wanted to try something. He backed up and took the most powerful leap he could imagine himself to. He landed in front of Lionface.
"You have powers?" an astonished voice asked. A she-cat's.
Lionface gritted his teeth, but Ripplefoot took a step forward. "Who are you?" he asked.
A tortoiseshell she-cat stepped from the shadows: Stretch. "I am Stretch," she reminded him.
"Where are the others?" Lionface demanded.
"I am the only one here tonight," Stretch replied quietly. "Layzer may come soon, but Stone and Dunce have a mission."
"A mission?" Ripplefoot echoed, confused.
"Yes, they must seek out a tomcat called Rio."
Ripplefoot gave Lionface a warning glare before the ginger tom could speak up. "Who is he?"
Stretch sighed. "We traveled with him for many seasons. He trained us. He gave us our powers."
"Is he involved with your takeover?" Lionface asked.
Stretch opened her mouth to say something, but seemed to rethink her words. "No," she mewed slowly. "He left a while ago."
"Lies," Lionface muttered.
"Why are we here?" Ripplefoot asked aruptly.
"I can answer that question," a tom's voice mewed from the shadows. Bright red eyes glinted before a red cat stepped from the shadows.
"Layzer," Stretch greeted him formally.
"We are here to discuss the war with you," Layzer mewed, so quietly the cats almost couldn't hear him.
"What about?" Lionface demanded.
Layzer continued to speak in the same quiet voice. "Oh, I'd like to even the battlefield a little bit," he murmured.
Stretch seemed to know what he was talking about.
"What?" Ripplefoot asked dubiously.
Layzer smirked. "We have four cats. You have two. Won't it only be fair for us to give you one?"
Lionface's eyes narrowed.
"You can trust this cat," Layzer mewed, obviously trying to be reassuring. "It's just- with your abilities- we've finally met our match."
"He knows," Ripplefoot murmured to Lionface.
"You think?" Lionface snapped back.
"Is this cat... chosen?" Ripplefoot tried.
"No," was Stretch's reply. "You can choose any one of us- including Stone and Dunce."
"We need to think about this," Ripplefoot mewed. "Can we meet you here tomorrow at moonrise?"
"Not moonhigh?" Layzer asked in a simpering voice.
Lionface's eyes narrowed. "No," he mewed. "Sorry."
Layzer nodded. "Sure. But when you make your decision, remember..."
Ripplefoot waited politely.
Layzer continued, "All of us are deadly."

Chapter 6

Ripplefoot was given the responsibility of choosing the cat, but Lionface insisted on telling the four rogues.
Ripplefoot didn't mind. But he saw the way Lionface's eyes had glimmered with hope. He was up to something.
It was up to him to find out. Not now, because he had a decision to make, but later. When the decision was made.
Now he had to choose from four extremely dangerous cats. All of them were capable of death. Or murder.
Layzer was eliminated instantly. He seemed to be the ringleader of his group of rogues. Calling him over would just end up in betrayal.
Stone was also eliminated. He was big, he was intimidating, but Ripplefoot had never really been bothered by the quiet gray tom.
He murmured the last two cats to himself. Something echoed in his head. Images flashed in his mind: Dunce's painful stare, Stretch's flashing claw. How close the two were.
He remembered something else, and the decision was made.


That night, as the full moon shone, Ripplefoot and Lionface separated themselves from the ThunderClan cats. They stalked a shadow, a dream, a promise, towards the moorland.
The four rogues were standing in a row by the lake. Stretch was pressed to Dunce's side, and Ripplefoot felt a pang of sadness that the two cats would soon be separated.
Stone asked the question: "Who did you choose?" His eyes glittered with a strange longing, but Ripplefoot felt no obligation to change his decision.
"We chose..." Lionfoot took a deep breath before continuing with a sharp exhale to form a single word, "Stretch."
The tortoiseshell's eyes widened considerably.
"Very well then," Layzer replied, taking over the conversation. "But to gain one of our cats, I need one of you to cross over."
Ripplefoot felt his heart sink in his chest. To be turned against his friend? For his friend to be turned against him? Both were not options.
"You have some time to choose," Layzer permitted quietly, obviously sensing the shock.
"They don't have to," a daring voice said loudly. It was tinged with fear. "They made the decision I wanted them to."
Lionfoot mouthed the word no as a familiar brown tabby figure stepped from the trees, revealing itself to the other cats in the clearing.
Stretch's eyes were wider.
"Yes," Scarfur mewed, "I can't stand being on the same side as Stretch. My goal is to kill her, because she took my life and my love away from me." Puffing out his chest, he mewed grandly, "I have chosen to do whatever it takes to rid her of her soul."
Stretch, who was still standing next to Dunce, took a hesitant step forward. "So be it," she mewed quietly. "I accept your challenge. May the best cat live."
Scarfur's breath exhaled with a shuddering voice, and he let out a low moan. As he padded towards the opposite side, he whispered, "I'm sorry."
Ripplefoot watched as the two cats- a powerless tom and a scary she-cat- passed without incident.
Then it was done. Stretch was standing next to Lionfoot and Scarfur had taken his place between Dunce and Stone.
The four cats- Scarfur's eyes filled with regret- departed, leaving Stretch staring at her paws and Lionfoot staring into the distance.
"If I had known..." Ripplefoot murmured to himself. He turned and padded away, not caring if any cat followed him.

Chapter 7

Hunched shoulders marked danger, in Ripplefoot's opinion. As he watched Thornstar admire Stretch, trying to decide if she was trustworthy, he noticed her hunched shoulders.
A warning sounded in his head, but he didn't dare attack. This was Thornstar's decision.
Lionface said something to Thornstar. He looked almost desperate. Thornstar flashed something angrily back.
Stretch's shoulders relaxed as she watched the pair argue.
Ripplefoot didn't dare approach. He watched from inside the den, where he had been confined until the morning. He had brought this trouble to ThunderClan, and now he had to fix it.
"Stop!" he yowled, stepping out of the den. "I can explain everything."
Thornstar bared his teeth at Ripplefoot, but didn't reply, which meant for him to continue.
"Layzer let us take one of their cats, we chose Stretch," Ripplefoot explained. "They didn't tell us that it would cost one of us"- he gestured to Lionface- "so we didn't think about it. When we learned, Scarfur- we didn't know he was there- volunteered himself, as he couldn't fight on the same side as Stretch."
Thornstar looked sorrowful. "Featherheart wouldn't want him to do that," he mewed quietly.
"He's blinded," Ripplefoot agreed. "But he's our enemy now, we can't let that get us down. We have another cat."
Stretch looked a bit happier.
Lionface looked gratefully at Ripplefoot, but Ripplefoot ignored him.
"Very well then," Thornstar mewed after a while, "Stretch may stay." After a moment, he added, "With a guard. Lionface, you guard her." Thornstar's eyes flashed in Ripplefoot's direction, and Ripplefoot knew Thornstar understood the same thing he did: something was going on.

Part 2 - Roar

Part 3 - Run

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