This is the third episode of The Hidden. It is dedicated to Robo, who not only came up with the title, but encouraged me to make a show in the first place, besides being one amazing turtle-bud. Hope you like it!
The sky was a sunny blue overhead, mirroring Silverbreeze's eyes and her mood. Snowy caps of clouds littered the azule stretch like a giant paw had scattered cotton into the breeze. The silver she-cat took a deep breath of clean air, twitching the end of her tail and walking slower then ever. The rabbit, her excuse for taking so long outside, clamped in her jaws gave off delicious odors, but food could wait. Being out in nature was more nourishing for her soul, after long hours in the dark Tunnels.
Just then, she heard voices drifting out from between the two slabs of rock outside the entrance. Seconds later, one of her best friends, Finchnose, stepped out, followed by two other cats, Ivyfleet and Tornadoheart. They were the newest members of the rebellion.
"Hey guys," she greeted them, giving a glittering smile. "Enjoying your tour?"
Ivyfleet grinned back, the scar that stretched across one of her green-blue eyes rippling. "Yeah. There's so much to see, even underground. It's amazing. If we ever do get invaded, which I'm sure we won't, the intruders won't stand a chance navigating in there."
Silverbreeze nodded. "Yet we all know the place like the back of our paws."
Torandoheart cocked his head. "I never understood that phrase. How much time do cats spend studying their paws anyway?"
Ivyfleet giggled and nudged him with her small silver tabby frame. Silverbreeze noted she was blushing. Hm... This could be an opportunity to play Cupid. Finchnose seemed to read her thoughts, and shot her a glare.
"Hunting?" her friend said out loud, obviously to change the subject.
"Yeah," she said. "And enjoying the day. It isn't often we have such nice weather in leaf-fall."
"True," Finchnose agreed as they reentered the darkness of the Tunnels. Silverbreeze felt the hairs on her pelt stand up at the closing in of the oppressive walls, and she bristled. No matter how much time she spent outside, it was always back to this eventually. This was her life.
She reminded herself of their cause as they split up, Finchnose and her to the Chamber, Ivyfleet and Tornadoheart to the Sleeping Quarters. It wasn't exactly that they didn't trust the new cats, it was more like the Chamber was full enough with the previous four additions. It was becoming a kind of exclusive place, and it was unlikely any more cats, no matter how trusted, would be taken in there.
They bumped into Aquatail and Fallensky coming out. "Hey guys," Aquatail greeted them, her wide cerulean eyes friendly. "We were just on our way to check the borders." The rebellion didn't exactly have set borders, but they had imaginary ones to section off their little territory from the vast expanse occupied by GreenClan. Not that any GreenClan cat would respect them anyway. It was mostly for their own good.
"Cool," Finchnose said. The two she-cats entered the Chamber together, and Siilverbreeze gave a happy sigh. If there was one place in the dank Tunnels she liked, it was here, with the familiar scents of her friends and their laughter all around her, cozying up the harsh earth walls.
Fernheart and Wetstream were sharing tongues together, Violentclaw was poking the ground with a stick(she didn't dare ask) and Strongheart, Reedfur, and Bramblepath were bent over some plans sketched in the dirt, talking intently.
Finchnose headed for Fernheart and Wetstream, but Silverbreeze, always wanting to be in the action, joined the bigger group. Sitting down beside Strongheart, she said, "What are we doing?"
Bramblepath made a face. "Coming up with battle strategies."
Strongheart's amber eyes flashed. "I don't see the use in them, since we never actually get a chance to fight."
Silverbreeze sighed. "Well, we might as well be prepared. What else can we do?"
Reedfur looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of Fallensky's dark blue eyes before she knocked him into a wall. "Watch where you're going!" the she-cat spat huffily.
He got to his paws gingerly. "Sorry. What's the rush? Where's Aquatail?"
"She's outside. We've got company," Fallensky said grimly. His eyes widened.
"GreenClan-" But she was already gone, running towards the Chamber to alert the others. He sighed and decided he might as well check it out. "Hello?" He poked his head out of the boulders, then ventured a few more steps.
Birdsong had apparently run into them too; she and Aquatail stood facing a group of three strange cats. Reedfur felt his hackles raise in warning as he stepped out to join his friends. "Who are they?"
Aquatail frowned. "Reedfur, meet Snowdrift, Angelcloud, and Jaywalker. They say they have news for us."
"Nice to meet you," said Snowdrift, a pale gray she-cat.
He nodded curtly and turned to Aquatail and Birdsong. "News for who?" he whispered.
Birdsong's amber eyes were wary, yet held a tinge of panic. "Us. The rebellion."
"What!?" he yelped, forgetting to be quiet. "How? How on earth-"
"We don't know yet," Aquatail said determinedly. "But we're going to find out." She turned back to the newcomers. "You have no proof of who we are. But since you guessed wildly, we'd like to know what evidence you have to back your claim up."
"Yeah," said Strongheart. He and Silverbreeze had appeared, Finchnose and Bramblepath behind them, and all of them had obviously been listening in on the conversation.
Jaywalker took a step forward, tripped over a rock, regained his balance, and smiled disarmingly, all without disturbing a hair on his glossy blue-black pelt. Reedfur frowned. "Come on. A settlement of cats, out here, not following GreenClan rules? What else could you be?"
"Okay..." said Silverbreeze. "But how did you find us?"
A large she-cat, Angelcloud, he decided, with a splayed paw, stepped forward. "We were hoping that was the fact that would make you trust us. We heard it through the Network."
Reedfur glanced up in surprise. He had heard about such a thing existing; an anti-GreenClan stream of messages throughout the territory, but he hadn't been sure whether to believe it or not. "Really?"
"Yes. And we came here because," Snowdrift glanced at her paws, then looked back up. "We kind of need your help."
Aquatail arched her brows, waiting for an explanation. Angelcloud took over, her voice clear and steady. "We are, or tried to start, a rebellion. That's right. Just the three of us." Reedfur opened his mouth to tell her that they had started theirs with only four cats, but she pushed on without giving him the chance. "Let me finish. We used to have six cats. However, one was murdered, and the other two left after that, growing scared of what Viperstar would do to us. We have had to go into hiding for several weeks, but recently, after recieving a tip that the GreenClan warriors are off our trail, we've come back. Then," she added. "We found out about an opportunity. A very interesting one that could strike a good blow to GreenClan. But we don't have enough cats to do it. Will you help?"
"That depends," said Strongheart firmly. "On what it is."
Birdsong looked around. "Oh for StarClan's sake, let's take them into the Hall. We can talk there."
Finchnose watched the three cats carefully as they oohed and aahed over the Hall's high ceiling and all of the various connecting tunnels that entered it. They seemed to genuinely need and want help. She had a feeling they could be trusted. However, she would reserve final judgement for when they actually heard what this "opportunity" was.
The other cats formed a circle, with her, Strongheart, Reedfur, Shimmerbreeze, and Angelcloud, who seemed to the be three's spokes-cat, in the middle. Strongheart nodded once. "Okay. Let's hear it."
Angelcloud took a deep breath. "Let me start out by saying this is a very dangerous mission, and you don't have to join if you don't have to. It requires going towards the heart of GreenClan territory, where Viperstar and all his most trusted cronies are. This is what we heard: tomorrow, at midnight, Viperstar is going to give a speech to some cats in a place where apparently no one is as loyal to him as he wants. For the first time, he's leaving a new cat in charge. Her name is Firesoul, and, according to the Network, she believes in our cause. She's going to help any group of rebel cats who can get there by tomorrow night launch an attack on Viperstar's headquarters. That's right, headquarters. We can kill off some of his main cats. By my calculations, from here, if we leave tomorrow at dawn and make good time, we'll get there with time to spare. This could be the making of any rebel group, and the start of something huge against GreenClan. Or," she admitted, "a disasterous trap to get us all killed."
Finchnose's jaw dropped, and she exchanged glances with Strongheart. The ginger tom turned to Angelcloud. "We appreciaate you telling us this, but we'll need some time to think it over. Is that okay?"
"Sure," Jaywalker spoke up. "Take your time. We wouldn't want to rush you into something this important."
Strongheart gave the other members of the rebellion an apologetic glance, and Finchnose knew why; this was for them only. "Silverbreeze, Finchnose, Reedfur and I need to meet in the Chamber. Fallensky, can you make sure we're not disturbed? The rest of you, make our guests welcome in the Hall." He led the way out, and Finchnose hurried after, her friends on her tail.
They pushed through the trailing lichen and vines and sat down facing each other in a square. Finchnose found herself reminiscing of what it had been like when it was just the four of them. No, she told herself firmly. No more remembering, especially not when our rebellion is bigger and better then ever.
"Okay," said Strongheart ."We're going to discuss this at length, but right now, I want your opinions straight up."
"Yes," said Silverbreeze. "We haven't been doing anything really, let's face it. Recruiting a few members is nothing compared to all the cats still under GreenClan's rule. We need to seize this."
"And if cats die?" Finchnose said angrily. "It's not worth it. This could be a really dangerous trap guys. Can't you see that?"
"I'm with her," Reedfur put in. "Firesoul? If she's risen up in GreenClan's ranks enough for Viperstar to leave her in charge, she's too far gone. It's a trap. Angelcloud said so herself."
"She said it could be one. I have a feeling she doubts it," Strongheart frowned. "I think we should go. It's not every day that we'll get a chance this big."
Finchnose sighed. "Well, so much for that idea. Two and two, straight down the middle. Okay, how about this? Reedfur and I present all the pros of our side, and Silverbreeze and you do the same for yours. Then we can try to see each other's point of view."
Strongheart nodded spectulatively. "Interesting. Okay. Who wants to start?"
"We will," Reedfur offered. "Okay. Not going allows us to not risk the lives of everyone in the rebellion, trusting cats we don't know and following them straight into the belly of the beast. It also stop sthe rsik of beng exposed by Firesoul or whoever for what we are, giving us the opportunity for more acts of rebellion later on down the road."
Finchnose nodded. "Not to mention that we could get lost or be attacked or run into a GreenClan patrol on the way there. We're registered, but we haven't deposited prey payments in moons. We'd be arrested for sure if they found out."
While Strongheart appeared to be lost in thought, Silverbreeze stepped forward. "Here's our side of it. Without this, all we are is a bunch of sittind ducks, hiding underground, waiting for GreenClan to come find us. If we go on this adventure, sure we're risking things, but isn't that what we're all pledged to do as part of the rebellion anyway? And besides, this could be the first in a long series of strikes to the core of Viperstar's power."
"Also-" Strongheart began, but Finchnose cut him off.
"You're right," she admitted. "It's nice to stay protected, but that just won't work."
"Really?" he said, looking shocked. "Reedfur?" The black tom nodded.
"Say no more. We need to do this. For the warrior code. For everything we stand for."
Finchnose smiled. "So. Let's start planning."
All the cats fell silent as Strongheart went to the front of the Hall and faced them. "Angelcloud, Snowdrift, Jaywalker, we have decided. If it's okay with the rest of our friends... we'd like to come with you."
All at once everyone erupted into noisy talking and exclamations. Aquatail stood up, her eyes blazing. "We're with you. Every step of the way."
"Yeah!" Wetstream called. Several others echoed the word. Strongheart smiled, as did the other three.
"Great!" Angelcloud said. "So we leave tomorrow?"
"On one condition," Strongheart said. "You've done so much for us, more then you know. If it's not too much trouble though, we'd love to have you as official members of our group."
The three cats smiled. "We accept," they chorused with one voice.
He nodded and faced the crowd once more. "It's time to leave this place and embark on a new journey." Seeing the shock on their faces, he hastily amended himself. "Oh, we're coming back. But what I meant was, we're not going to sit around anymore. We're seizing the opportunity and taking control of this ship. Firesoul won't be disappointed. And GreenClan, Viperstar, watch out! We're coming! We've found and decided to take this road. The road to rebellion."