Episode Six, Season Two, of Solitary.
This episode is dedicated to Seacat - thanks for being awesome and a great friend. <3
Searching For Revenge
When I’d come across Oak before the Clan cats had arrived, I had cowered underneath the tom, let myself fall to his taunting of being ‘that loner’. However, that was something now that I wouldn’t dream of doing. Instead, I looked up at the larger cat – not speaking, not reacting to his words.
I could tell that getting no response was annoying the older dark tabby. His tail lashed in frustration when I didn’t reply, and he spoke again: “Wisp, what are you doing with these… Clan cats?”
His voice was quieter now: silky and smooth. I could tell that he was unimpressed. The patrol of cats behind him, meanwhile, snickered slightly in agreement with their leader, their gazes all set on me.
My tail twitched slightly as I responded, trying to make my voice sound calm. “…What I am doing with the Clan cats, Oak, is none of your business.”
Oak narrowed his eyes, and hissed quietly. He paused slightly, before looking back into my eyes again. “Wisp, I know that you are doing something… something with these Clan cats.” Another pause followed, as his dark paw scuffed against the ground. “I’ll give you another shot at the question. This is your last chance. What are you doing with the Clan cats?”
Despite the warning, I wasn’t going to give in. “It’s none of your business,” I repeated, narrowing my eyes.
Oak looked furious at my lack of response. I saw his claws unsheathe and sink into the ground, and I saw a light in his eyes that was not pleasant. “Hmph.” Calmly, he sat down on the ground, shooting a look at the other cats.
Meanwhile, behind me, I heard some of the group murmuring in the silence. “I don’t think he’s going to attack,” Waterfall mewed. The blue-gray she-cat’s fur was fluffed out – I guessed that she was still slightly alarmed by these unwelcome visitors.
“Yeah, they’re outnumbered… thank StarClan,” Molefrost mewed darkly from beside his Clanmate.
Unfortunately for Molefrost, one of the cats on Oak’s patrol overheard him. “StarClan? StarClan?” A black-and-white cat sneered at the TreeClan warrior, baring his teeth. “What is that, Clan cat?”
Molefrost looked annoyed at the cat’s remark, and he narrowed his eyes at him. “They’re our warrior ancestors,” he mewed. “The cats that have been part of the Clans once upon a time, who have now passed on. They look over us, and –”
“Look over you?” The black-and-white cat interrupted Molefrost as he was speaking, looking displeased. “If they were looking over you, they surely wouldn’t have sent you here in the first place, hmmm?”
As soon as he made that comment, Molefrost padded over to the black-and-white cat, looking as though he was about to lose it. Gorsetuft, Tawnydapple, and Waterfall also looked annoyed, and their fur has bushed out in defiance. These were the cats that made the journey to her from wherever they came from originally, I realized, watching them. Cinderfire and Pouncestep only joined them when they arrived here.
“Don’t you dare offend our warrior ancestors in front of us,” the black-and-brown cat hissed. “Do it all you want behind you backs, just not in front of us. We don’t want to hear it, non-Clan cat.”
“I have a name, y’know,” the black-and-white cat hissed. “My name is Cedar, and I would rather prefer you used that instead of –”
“Nice to know,” Molefrost interrupted bluntly, cutting Cedar off. “We’ll keep that in mind for next time.” He then backed away from the rogue group and joined my group again, sitting down with a muffled thump on the ground.
I saw Cedar glaring furiously at Molefrost as he sat back down, then saw him shoot a look back at Oak, the obvious leader. The dark brown tabby cat met Cedar’s gaze for a moment before something else caught his attention. Looking over in the direction he was staring at, I noticed that his gaze had set on Scorch, who was at the back of the crowd. “It also appears that traitors run in the family,” he mewed smoothly at the ginger she-cat.
I could hear my sister faintly hissing at Oak, before she rose to her paws in defiance. She then shouldered through the Clan cats, whom let her go through reluctantly. “Out of my way,” she mewed quietly to me as she approached me, and I moved to the side. Now, she was a few pawsteps away from Oak, who was still looking at her. “Say that again,” she challenged.
Oak seemed unfazed. “Have you forgotten how to hear?” he drawled carelessly. “I said that traitors run in the family.”
At this, Scorch growled. “I am not a traitor just because I left Flame’s group,” she mewed flatly, eyes blazing with fury.
“Oh, yes you are,” Oak replied, a hint of a snarl in his tone. “You’ve betrayed Flame’s group and joined the Clans, as I have no –”
“Flame’s group, which is now part of your group of losers,” Scorch retorted. I saw her claws unsheathe and dig into the ground as she spoke: she was obviously offended by this. “And I haven’t joined the Clans, for your information, I’m just –”
“Whatever you’re doing with the Clans isn’t good, Scorch,” Oak interrupted, his claws too unsheathing. “It’s –”
“You don’t control my actions, Oak.” Cutting off the dark tabby, Scorch’s tail lashed in anger. “Only I do. Stop trying to control me. You’ve never led me and you never will. I was part of Flame’s group in better times, when they weren’t associated with… you and your group.”
For a moment, Oak was left without an answer, but I saw that the fury he was obviously feeling hadn’t left him yet. I could see a light in his eyes that indicated that he was still very displeased with Scorch’s choice. “Fine, then,” he mewed with a huff. “I’ll get you back for this, though: mark my words.”
“Whatever.” With that, Scorch shouldered back past the Clan cats and I to the back of the group, and I returned to being at the head. Oak had finally turned his gaze away from Scorch: now, his gaze returned back to me.
“We know what you’re doing, by the way,” he mewed to me, his voice sounding unusually pleased. “We know that you’re trying to find a… what do you Clan cats call it, a Gathering place? We’re not going to let you find one. We know where you are, and we’ll be ready for you.”
What the…? How does he know that!? Hawkstar and Whitestar – or in fact, any Clan cat – wouldn’t have told him that, surely?! I stared in surprise, and Oak, and I swore that the whole patrol did too, all thinking the same thing. After a moment of silence, a cat spoke up:
“How do you know all of this!?” It was Gorsetuft who had spoken those words: he had risen to his paws, black tabby fur lifting in hostility. “How do you know what we are doing, you filthy rogue sc –”
Oak purred softly as Gorsetuft asked that question. “I have my ways, Clan cat,” he mewed softly, before turning back to Cedar and the rest of his patrol. “Okay, we’re going back. Flame needs to hear about this.” And before any of my group could do anything, Oak had turned around, summoning his group with him. A few moments later, they were gone.
I blankly looked in the direction that they had left him, questions running through my mind. One in particular stuck with me, and that question was this:
How does Oak know about this?
The topic on Oak was a topic that nobody forgot for the rest of the day. Between diverting away from TreeClan’s borders to look for a potential Gathering place, there was usually someone muttering something about the dark tabby rogue and how he knew. By the end of the day, I was getting sick of it - I’d heard it all before and I just wanted to move on.
“How does Oak know that we’re searching for a Gathering place?” Waterfall had spoken out loud, as the blue-gray she-cat had returned from a failed search attempt. “Hawkstar would’ve never let slip that to them – and she wouldn’t have let any of our warriors tell them either.” Her claws unsheathed and skimmed the ground in frustration.
“Whitestar probably wouldn’t have told them either,” Tawnydapple reflected. The tortoiseshell cat looked confused. “I don’t know how this could’ve happened. Maybe they overheard some Clan cat talking about it or something.”
“Bet that’s what happened,” Molefrost huffed in reply. “Some of TreeClan’s warriors can be careless.”
Tawnydapple nodded in agreement. “Same with ForestClan.” At this, her gaze slid to Pouncestep. “Like him. I don’t even know why Whitestar selected him, out of all cats.”
Pouncestep winced at this, looking displeased. “You just wait, I’ll prove to you that I am loyal,” he mewed quietly, his gaze on Tawnydapple’s paws. Tawnydapple herself looked unconvinced by his answer: she snorted and then looked at Waterfall.
“Waterfall, do you want to try again to find a good place? Let’s talk about this some more.”
Waterfall’s tail waved happily. “Sure.” The two warriors went off together at that. Despite the two being in different Clans, I couldn’t help but notice that they appeared to be good friends. Maybe when they journeyed over here from wherever they lived before… that helped.
Now, there only three of us here: Pouncestep, Molefrost, and I. Apart from Waterfall and Tawnydapple, Cinderfire and Scorch had gone out together, and Gorsetuft had gone on his own, claiming that he needed some ‘alone time’. The three of us that remained didn’t really want to talk about that incident, so Molefrost and I shared a look. “We might as well go look ourselves.”
Molefrost nodded. “That’s probably a good idea.” The black-and-brown tom then paused, thinking for a moment about what he should do, then continued: “I’ll deal with the Pouncestep for a little bit. You go out on your own. Just be careful, Wisp… especially after what’s happened.”
I nodded. “I’ll definitely be careful,” I mewed in reply.
Molefrost nodded as well. “Good.” He then turned to Pouncestep. “Oi, Pouncestep, you’re out searching with me now.” “…Okay then.” I watched as Pouncestep got ordered around by Molefrost, and eventually they started to pad off. I turned away from them, looking into the distance, before padding off as well.
Whatever happens… I will make sure that the Clans get their Gathering place. I promise them that.
A near-full moon rose in the sky that night as two cats padded through the forest. Both had tabby markings on their fur, but one cat – the tom – was larger and darker-furred than his she-cat companion. They were talking in hushed voices, obviously not wanting to be overheard.
“So on that patrol with Cedar, Iris, Shade, and Walnut… you bumped into them and caused some tension.” The she-cat spoke after the tom had finished telling her something. “Was that really wise?”
The tom nodded in reply. “I do like to, with my enemies, let them know that they are under threat,” he meowed, a hint of a hiss coming into his voice at the end of that sentence. “I want them to be aware of who they are up against.”
“I know that,” the she-cat mewed bluntly in reply, after the tom had finished speaking. “That is obvious. However, from what you have told me, you have alarmed the Clan cats. That’s not good. I thought you wanted…”
“They won’t guess,” the tom interrupted, cutting off his companion mid-sentence. “They’ll never guess. Clan cats trust too easily, that’s for sure.” He sounded confident, but the she-cat had a look on her face that she wasn’t as much so.
“Well, if you’re sure it’s going to work…” The she-cat still sounded unsure, but nodded anyway. “We’ll see how it goes. So, are we just going to keep an eye on them for the meantime?”
The tom nodded. “I don’t think we need to interfere for the meantime. We’ll just see what they do, okay? And if they find a place for their stupid Gathering or whatever they call it, we’ll defend it no matter what.”
“Okay, then. Sounds like a plan,” the she-cat agreed, with a brisk nod. “We’ll just watch them.” There was a pause as the two cats wandered on for a moment longer, before she stopped and looked at him. “We might as well go back, hey? We’ve discussed it now.”
“Sure,” the tom mewed, turning around. The she-cat followed his lead, and together, the two cats went through the forest, back in the direction they came in.
Those two cats had made their decisions about what would happen with their group. Now, all they could do was to wait.