It was a few moons later.
Lily still grieved for her mother. No matter what she did could vanish her kind face from her memories, nothing anyone could say to ever make Lily forget her.
But there was nothing they could do to bring her back; all they could do is make sure that she was avenged.
"Scratch, we're not staying in BloodClan anymore," she mewed to him in their den. Her tears had dried up awhile ago, leaving her eyes shining and ready to fight.
He rounded on her. "What do you mean?"
"Don't you see? We need revenge for what the Clans have done."
His muscles instantly tensed. "Right. We'll show them that they can't just get away with what they've done to Scourge."
Lily slowly shook her head, ever so lightly. Scratch was a changed cat. No longer level-headed and ready to fight for what meant most to him: family. Now, his hunger for revenge was directed at the wrong cat.
Lily decided that she wouldn't tell him different. To deal with him now, it seemed like she must be manipulative. Slippery like a snake. Unable to be trusted more than Bone.
Awkwardly, she peered outside of the slender branches of the bush. There was one thing that caught her eye right away.
The Twolegs. They were much more active than usual, shouting in their loud gibberish voice, clunking about in their heavy boots.
Near them, clogging up the streets, were bigger cars. Trucks, Lily believed that they were called. They seemed to have long talons, reaching towards her. Dangerous.
And just like that, a Twoleg hopped in, and started it up. Making an obnoxious screeching noise, it moved away, slower than the average Twoleg car. One by one, the others followed. Moving away, obviously for a purpose, but Lily didn't have the slightest idea what.
"Did you see that?" she hissed over her shoulder at Scratch.
He instantly snapped back, giving her all of his attention. "See what?"
"Those Twoleg trucks! They were huge and they had claws! I think something weird is going on." Without waiting for Scratch's approval, she slipped out of the bushes.
A realization hit her. She wasn't Scratch's shadow anymore.
She was the leader, the decision maker. The strong one. At last.
Padding along the streets, trying to figure out the commotion, Lily had some time to reflect.
BloodClan had changed since Scourge died. It was no longer even "BloodClan", either. It was just a group of cats, slowly splitting apart, just trying to find food and shelter.
Things were somewhat better without Scourge. Less cats died, for the rules were let up since he and Bone were dead. Families could take care of each other. There were no more brutal and gory executions.
But the cats just weren't quite as tightly-knit. Everything just seemed more primitive.
Lily's pads began to ache from the abrasive earth, as they drew nearer to the edge of Twolegplace. Houses grew sparser, Twolegs less common. Everything seemed dirtier, too.
After some more awkward time, tensely walking along the Twoleg trucks' path, Lily and Scratch found themselves staring at what seemed to be at what seemed to be a solid, thick wall of deep green pines. After that, it just seemed like darkness and chirpring noises, little creatures that could only thrive in the forest. Her mouth watered. Just think of all of that you lost, in that one battle...
To her right, she could see the Twoleg truck slowly moving, the wheels twisting slowly, picking up dirt and much from the dust clearing spanning all of the forest's edge.
She could remember the prickle of pine needles beneath her paws, as she walked through to the four trees for battle.
Scratch began to creep closer to the action. Shaking herself out of her memories of moons ago, she followed after him.
Snaking around bushes, she realized that she felt more natural moving among the forest than before. Beginning to feel excited, she soon forgot about her surroundings, just enjoying the cool forest air. The green leaves rustling above, reflecting every shade of green existing. The ground felt cool and moist beneath her paws.
Suddenly, noise erupted from close by, jolting out of her utopia. Bushes crackled, branches splintered.
"Run!" Scratch yowled. Without needing to be told twice, Lily bolted after him.
From living among the Twolegplace and all of its twisting paths and shortcuts, she had developed a very good sense of direction. So tearing through the forest, with no path or anything to direct them, she just let that kick in.
"This way!" she called out to Scratch. Turning around a bush, she felt confident, for she thought she could smell a bit of filth, meaning that Twoleg inhabitation was nearby.
But as soon as they burst through the line of trees, they realized it was a completely different lot. Nothing familiar, no landmarks, nothing.
"We're lost," Scratch whispered hoarsely.
Keeping calm, they scanned the clearing. She was almost expecting a dust bunny to blow by. Snickering at her ridiculous stereotypical thoughts, she turned to Scratch.
"This shouldn't be to hard to get out of. Just go back into the woods, and follow the path of where our pawsteps trampled."
A distant rumbling echoed through the forest, a new flock of birds bursting from the treetops. Skeptically, he shot her a glance. "And how will we do that, if we're crushed to smithereens?"
Unable to bear the silence, she opened her mouth to give another "excellent" plan. But suddenly, voices were heard, muffled from the rumbling sounds of the forest. Pawsteps pattered on the stone ground of the desolate lot.
"Quick, hide!" she hissed, although there was nothing to hide behind. Feeling stupid, she scurred to the edge of the forest, and tried to station herself behind a few curling fern fronds. Scratch just flattened himself, hoping for the best.
"... Blackstar, we can't just keep doing this!" a feminine but tough hiss sounded, "The monsters are just going to tear through the forest until we have nothing left."
Lily peeked out from behind a particularly large fern leaf. That huge tom with black paws was present, along with a huge group of other cats. She remembered him, charging into battle against them. Next to him, stood a tortoiseshell she-cat.
He simply twitched his ears irritably. "We will have a home after the forest is destroyed. You know that."
"But will the Twolegplace be sufficient? And think of all the rogue cats that are still living, after the defeat of Scourge. They might have a bone to pick."
She froze up, casting a rushed glance at Scratch. He glanced back.
"Hey, I think I just saw something!" a cat in the crowd called. Heart pumping, she quickly sidestepped into the shrubbery. With the distraction, mutterings broke out in the crowd, most unsure or foreboding.
"Silence, ShadowClan!" Blackstar hissed. Chills ran down her spine at his words. ShadowClan. ShadowClan.
Shade's throat slowly gushing blood, as she collapsed and lay limp on the earth. The ShadowClan tom scampering away, like he hadn't just committed murder. Like murder is a stranger to us.
I just want my mother back.
The growling noises omitting from the forest eventually began to cease. Relaxing, the ShadowClan cats began to pad back into their territrories, to her relief. Slowly, she began to stalk out, and Scratch unflattened himself. Surprisingly, no one had even noticed him.
But there was one little thing that she saw as the cats walked away. A familiar gait, a ginger pelt that was similar to her own.
Dramatically, his head turned around, allowing them to see exactly who he was. Green eyes glimmered.
It was Scorch.
Strangely, she felt calm, like she had the upper paw even though it wasn't a fight.
He was no better than a rat. Abandoning Shade while they were still kits, repeatedly leaving them, then joining the malevolent Clan that murdered their mother.
"We're going after him," she stated, confidence practically radiating from her. Scratch seemed to understand.
How could he just side against them like that?
Dashing after the retreating ShadowClan cats, she had a fleeting thought. What if she joined ShadowClan, like her father? Maybe not for the same reasons though. She could strike down, executing her revenge, if she could just worm her way into the heart of the enemy itself.
"I can see him," Scratch whispered. Lily nearly leaped a tail length into the air. He looked at her quizzically.
"Oh-- sorry," she muttered back. Regaining her poise, she sent out a tense whisper to her father.
"Scorch! Scorch!" she murmured. His head cocked around, seeing them. Turning to his Clanmates, he mewed, "Just a moment. I think I saw something."
The she-cat in front of him rolled his eyes. "Like what?"
"Twoleg-related," he improvised.
"Ah." She nodded her approval. Lily guessed that she must be some sort of authority. Giving a respectful dip of the head, he trotted off into the undergrowth. Before she knew it, she was face-to-face with the father who didn't want her.
Lily didn't really believe in formalities.
"What do you think you're doing here?" she growled quietly.
"What do you think?" he answered coolly, "I've decided that the streets were no longer right for me."
"You're joining your mate's killers!" she snapped back. "How could you do this?"
"I have my own reasons," he answered coldly, although the hurt shone through his eyes.
Lily looked over him critically, a scowl drawn over her soft features. Scratch tore at the earth with his claws, stressed.
"But I must warn you."
"Of what? Those trucks?" Lily inquired.
"We already saw them," Scratch chipped in.
"Well, partially." He took a deep breath. "ShadowClan will be leaving the forest, along with the other Clans. Because the Twolegs are destroying the forest. I'm going with them."
Lily didn't know if that was supposed to be shocking news for them or what. Their father was never a part of their life, and it wouldn't make much difference if he completely left.
"Here. You had better go," she said sharply. "Your new Clan will be waiting for you."
Without another word, she whisked away.
"Don't you see? This is our chance!" her brother exclaimed to her, as they left the forest. "We can get our revenge, if we tag along with the Clans. Revenge for what happened to Scourge!"
Her heart sank. It was just Scourge that he really cared about.
"But what if they recognize us?" she pointed out. "It's best to travel by ourselves to where they're going."
"Leave at dusk?"
"... I guess that sounds good."
We're going to avenge you, Shade. I promise.
"Are you sure you can make it?"
She grunted in agreement, gripping the honeysuckle vine like it was her only thing between life and death. With a great heave, she hauled herself over the edge of the roof.
Ruffling her fur, she gave her shoulder a conscious lick.
"I shouldn't have let you do that," Scorch sighed.
Shade gave her tail a flick. "Just because I'm expecting kits doesn't mean that I should be left in the den to be treated like a cripple."
"Yes, but you are very close to giving birth."
He purred. "Street she-cats. Always waiting until the last second to admit that they're about to burst."
"I wasn't always a street she-cat," she mewed softly, remembering her beautiful times with her housefolk.
Scorch seemed to understand, but said nothing.
Deciding to focus more on the beauty of the view, she dropped all thoughts about her past, and gazed upon the setting sun, slowly turning a golden-orange as it dipped over the horizon. Tall trees stretched up, blotting out her view of some of the sky. Which was all right, because they provided a breathtaking silhouette.
"Pretty, isn't it?" he muttered.
"Yeah," she replied, in the same manner.
Suddenly, a jolt passed through her. Ignoring it, she just scooted a bit closer to Scorch, and kept her eyes on the beautiful pinkish clouds of the sunset.
A sharp pain stabbed at her stomach, slowly knawing at it. This time, it couldn't be overlooked. Shade hunched over, groaning. "Scorch..."
"Shade? What's the matter?"
Spasms passed through her body. She flopped down onto the scratchy surface of the roof, panting. Scorch placed a comforting paw on her heaving flank.
A new lurch came, bringing intense pain and pressure with it. She cried out, despite her efforts not to, pushing as hard as possible.
"Well done, you have your first kit!"
Confidence built up, she forced out her second kit. Taking a deep breath, she turned around to look at them, squirming around the rooftop. Using her fluffy tail, she pushed the kits closer to her stomach. Instantly, they latched on to suckle.
"Aren't they beautiful?" she whispered. There was a tom, a she-kit, and another tom, all amazing. The tom had black and white patches, while the she-cat was covered in ginger fur that matched Scorch's. The last born was a dark ginger.
"You can name the first one," she mewed.
Widening his eyes, he replied. "All right. I think... I think I'm going to call the black and white tom Jacques, after my brother that died."
Shade nodded, embracing the seriousness of the moment.
Hoping that Scorch wouldn't object, she moved on to name the fluffy ginger nuisance pawing at her stomach. "I think the she-kit should be named Susan, after my housefolk from so long ago."
To her relief, Scorch didn't say anything. Just gave Susan a lick on the head.
"And the last one... Blaze."
If getting up was tricky, getting down with a squealing kit was harder. Shade had to completely wrap her legs around the wood bars where the honeysuckle vine was growing. Susan nearly slipped, but grasped the wood just as she was about to fall. She would grow up to be a fighter, Shade was sure of it.
They would all be.