“Jetpaw! Get over here!” Hissed a rust-coloured tom to his companion, a white tom with thick black stripes. “No!” Screeched Jetpaw. “These foxes have hurt my sister, and I’m not leaving her!”
The rusty tom looked at the small tortoishell body. “There’s nothing we can do for Deerpaw now.”
“There’s plenty we can do!” Cried Jetpaw. “Help her! Find some cobwebs! Get Nightleaf! Rusttail, do something. Please.” He looked up pleadingly at the rust-coloured tom.
Slowly, a pair of dark blue eyes opened. “Jetpaw, I... I love you.” Meowed Deerpaw feebly. Her eyes dulled, and she fell still.
“Deerpaw! Come back! Please!” Jetpaw howled into the sky. “Come back...” He meowed softly.
The tip of Rusttail’s tail came to rest on his apprentice’s shoulder. “Jetpaw...” He meowed. “She’s dead.”
“Cleverpelt will be sad,” meowed Jetpaw sadly as he and Rusttail began to walk back to camp.
A blue-furred she-cat walked on the edge of the twolegplace. An agonizing pain gripped her stomach. Not the kits, she thought. Not here. Not now.
She was lying on the ground as a grey tabby kittypet appeared over the side of the twolegplace. “Need help?” He asked. “Yes, please,” meowed the she-cat through clenched teeth.
“Very well,” meowed the kittypet. “Ginger!”
An orange she-cat appeared beside the grey tabby. “What’s wrong?”
“This cat is kitting,” the grey tom nodded to the blue she-cat lying on the ground. “She needs wet moss.” Ginger sped off into the forest.
The grey kittypet leaped down and began massaging the blue she-cat’s belly. “My name is Eagle. What’s yours?”
“Streamfur,” gasped the she-cat. Just then, a little blue she-kit slithered out. “Lick it the wrong way!” Hissed Eagle to Ginger, who had returned with a dripping wad of moss. She dropped it in front of Streamfur, and began licking the kit.
Another spasm shook Streamfur as a silver tom slid onto the ground. “He’s the last one,” meowed Eagle.
“Thank you, Eagle,” meowed Streamfur. “But now I have to name them. I will name the she-kit Seakit. But I don’t know what to name the silver tom.”
Eagle looked fondly at the kit. “He looks like steel,” he meowed.
Streamfur looked at him strangely. “Steel?”
“It’s a twoleg thing that’s shiny and silver,” explained Eagle.
“Oh.” Streamfur smiled at her kit. “Steelkit it is.”
“No fair!” Screeched Steelkit. He looked pointedly at Seakit. “I bet she didn’t groom you this much!” He accused his sister. She had been groomed when Steelkit was at the Dirtplace. Seakit laughed. “Trust me. She licked me just as much.”
Steelkit turned around. Rosestar called him.
“Yes?” Asked Steelkit, trying to hide his excitement.
“You will be named Steelpaw. You were born outside, and so was your sister. You have always had lots of energy. I will mentor you.”
Rosestar paused as Steelpaw went to touch noses with her. Unfortunately, he tripped on his paws.
“Seakit, you will be named Seapaw. Catminttail, you had good mentoring in Lapwingfeather. I hope you pass these qualities onto your apprentice.”
“Wait!” Cried Rosestar. “We still have apprentices to name!” She turned her head towards Newkit. “Newkit, you will be named Newpaw. Braveheart, you have been brave and loyal all through you deputyship. I hope you will teach these qualities to Newpaw.”
Next Rosestar turned to look at Fluffkit. Then she looked at Nightleaf. “Nightleaf, you are a gifted medicine cat. You had great mentoring in Floodwater. I should hope you will pass all she taught you onto Fluffpaw.”
“Steelpaw, Seapaw, Newpaw, Fluffpaw!”
Rosestar leaped down from the Highstone. “Alright, Steelpaw.”
“Huh?” Steelpaw turned around to find himself staring into the leaf-green eyes of Rosestar. “I just need to check on the kits and then we’ll tour the territory.”
“Okay,” meowed Steelpaw. My mentor is the Clan leader! He thought.
“Okay, I’m finished,” meowed Rosestar. That was quick, thought Steelpaw. They walked through the Bramble Tunnel, closely followed by Newpaw and Braveheart.
They walked pretty far, and Steelpaw was beginning to feel tired, until Rosestar sniffed at the border. “Stinks of MoonClan,” she murmered. Suddenly her tail went straight as there was a slight rustle in the bushes. There was very quiet murmering. Rosestar tasted the air. Stiff with fear, she moved closer to Newpaw’s ear and whispered in a hoarse voice: “Go back to camp and get help. MoonClan is invading.”
“MoonClan! Attack!” The call went out and several cats sprang from the bushes. Steelpaw was terrified. “Rosestar! I don’t know any fighting moves!”
Rosestar, who was tussling with a battle-scarred silver tabby tom, yelled at him: “Use your instincts!”
Suddenly a grey tom leaped onto him. “You smell like kittypet,” taunted Steelpaw.
“Don’t you dare make fun of my origins!” Hissed the grey tom, his light blue eyes blazing with fury. He held Steelpaw down and bit his ear.
Yowling in anger, Steelpaw flipped over the grey tom and scratched his soft underbelly. He wailed in pain, and ran away from Steelpaw.
The tabby Rosestar had been battling had a fresh scar across his face as he shouted; “retreat!” The MoonClan cats fled, leaving a thin trail of blood.
The SunClan cats walked back to camp, licking their wounds as they went. When they got back, nerves were high.
“Is the invasion over?” Fangkit and Fruitkit were asking Smallflower anxiously. “Yes,” their mother would assure them. “The big warriors are back now.”
Rosestar leaped atop the Highstone. “Clanmates, MoonClan has lost. SunClan is victorious once again!” She meowed.
“SunClan, SunClan!” Chanted the Clan . “Now,” continued Rosestar, “All cats that are injured go to Nightleaf’s den.” Rosestar leaped off the Highstone and followed the few cats that decided to get their wounds treated. Most stayed behind, sharing stories with the elders, kits, and queens that hadn’t taken part in the battle. Steelpaw was one of them.
“And then this grey tom leaped on me...” Meowed Steelpaw. Blackkit gasped. “Did he bite you?” She meowed. “Yes he did,” meowed Steelpaw, showing the kits the nick in his ear. “Wow!” Meowed the kits breathlessly. Steelpaw continued. “Then I flipped him over and scratched his underbelly.” He showed them the remaining light grey fur under his claws. The kits scrambled over him. “I’m MoonClan! Roar!” Steelpaw laughed. “Okay kits. Now go tell your mothers my story.”
“Okay!” Coursed the kits. They swarmed off Steelpaw and into the nursery. “Telling the kits a story?” Asked a voice behind him.
“Rosestar!” Meowed Steelpaw in surprise. Rosestar had managed to sneak up on him again.
“Steelpaw, without any training, you are an amazing fighter. StarClan knows you will be a great warrior.” Meowed Rosestar.
“Th-thank you, Rosestar,” stammered Steelpaw. He looked over and saw a black tom named Blackstorm eating some prey.
Rosestar laughed. “You’re welcome. Now get some sleep. You must be tired after the battle.”
Just as Rosestar whisked into her den, Steelpaw saw Blackstorm sneaking through the bushes out of camp.
“Seapaw, try again. That Leap-and-Hold attack isn’t going to learn itself,” called Catminttail.
Steelpaw watched his sister’s failed attempts to leap on him and hold him down. He began to think. It had been two moons since the battle with MoonClan, and what Steelpaw saw that night. Why had Blackstorm snuck out? Where was he going?
Steelpaw had been so absorbed in his thoughts, he hadn’t noticed that his sister had finally leaped on him and held him down.
“That’s enough training for now,” meowed Cleverpelt, who was stepping in for Rosestar while she had a Clan meeting with her senior warriors. “How about some hunting?”
“Us too?” Asked Sparklepaw and Newpaw who were fighting in the undergrowth pit beside them. “If it’s okay with your mentors,” meowed Cleverpelt. Newpaw and Sparklepaw looked pleadingly at their mentors. Braveheart and Rockstorm nodded.
“Yay!” The apprentices sprinted deeper into the forest.
Steelpaw spotted a plump vole nibbling a seed on the roots of the Hollow Beech. Sneak. Steelpaw dropped into a hunting crouch and moved slowly towards the vole. Pounce. He leaped onto it, killing it with a swift bite to the neck. There was a mouse in the bush beside him, and it was startled by the noise. Steelpaw whacked it with his tail, stunning it for a moment, long enough for him to bite its neck.
Steelpaw buried his catches and headed towards the shared border between SunClan and MoonClan. He saw Sparklepaw stalking a rabbit that must have hopped all the way from FlameClan territory.
Steelpaw squinted his eyes and saw that there were two cats on the border. He looked closer and saw that one of the figures was Blackstorm. The cat he was meeting didn’t smell like SunClan.
A MoonClan cat was on their territory!
Steelpaw stared at the MoonClan cat. It was Speedclaw, from the looks of it. Steelpaw recognized the silver tabby tom from Gatherings. Twistedtail, one of the diggers, looked up at him from the leaf pit she was digging. Diggers were responsible for digging out dens and expanding them. They were also responsible for digging traps.
“What’s wrong, Steelpaw?” Asked Twistedtail.
“There’s a MoonClan cat on our territory!” Spluttered Steelpaw. Unfortunately for him, Blackstorm and Speedclaw had fled to their sides of the border.
“Huh?” Meowed Twistedtail and she looked around. “Steelpaw, you need to get some rest.”
“Yeah,” meowed Steelpaw, sort of dazed. “I need some... rest.”
Steelpaw padded back to camp. He dropped his catches on the fresh-kill pile. Cleverpelt walked over to him. “Back so soon?” She asked.
“I must be hallucinating,” meowed Steelpaw. “Twistedtail sent me back to camp. She thinks I’m seeing imaginary MoonClan cats.”
“Well, get some rest then,” meowed Cleverpelt. She walked back over to Meltystripe and Catminttail. Steelpaw reached for a piece of prey. Blackstorm knocked him out of the way. “you better watch yourself, apprentice,” he hissed.
Steelpaw blinked. He hadn’t been seeing things! Blackstorm had been meeting a MoonClan cat! Steelpaw bit into a plump shrew. Sparklepaw returned with two mice and a squirrel. Shortly after, Newpaw returned, two water voles swinging from his jaws.
Suddenly there was an explosion from the Bramble Tunnel and Brightclaw burst into camp. Her eyes were wild, her fur stood on end. She was bombarded by questions.
“What took you so long?”
“Are the foxes gone?”
“Where are Jetpaw and Rusttail?”
After all the questions were answered, Jetpaw and Rusttail walked in slowly carrying the small, lifeless body of another cat.
Filled with grief as his mentor dropped the tortoiseshell body onto the ground, Jetpaw howled to his Clan.
“Deerpaw is dead!”
“Jetpaw? Do you want to hunt with me?” Steelpaw asked his friend. It had been a moon since Deerpaw died, and Jetpaw was fighting to cope.
“No,” meowed Jetpaw sadly. “I already hunted.” Steelpaw’s eyes widened when he saw his friend surrounded by prey, which he was knocking into an expanded prey-hole.
“Jetpaw, you need to get over this,” mewed Steelpaw.
Suddenly Jetpaw turned on him. “Of course you would say that, Steelpaw!” Hissed Jetpaw, eyes bright with fury. “Your sister isn’t dead! Seapaw is still alive!” He ran to the Apprentice den. Suddenly Braveheart, whom was tasting the air, let out a screech. “Attack on camp!”
“Huh?” Jetpaw poked his head out of the Apprentice den. WaterClan cats streamed through the Bramble Tunnel. Others leaped from the bushes. It wasn’t long before Steelpaw was leaped on by a ginger she-cat. “Jetpaw!” Cried Steelpaw.
“Yes?” Answered Jetpaw.
Steelpaw bit one of the ginger she-cat’s white paws. Time seemed to stop. “Fight beside me?”
Jetpaw smiled. “Always.”
Jetpaw leaped on the ginger she-cat, scratching her flank. Steelpaw nipped her ear. She screeched and fled back to a bush, preferably where their medicine cat was hiding.
“Look!” Cried Steelpaw. In the middle of it all, Braveheart and Strongfeet, the WaterClan deputy, were having an intense battle. “Let’s go help him!” Steelpaw couldn’t stand watching his deputy get hurt.
“Too late,” whispered Jetpaw. Braveheart slumped slowly to the ground, and was a huddled pile of brown fur.
Steelpaw stared in horror at his deputy. He whipped his head to look at Strongfeet, and he drew his lips into a snarl.
“You are a disgrace to the Warrior Code,” hissed Steelpaw. “So we’re going to have to”—
“Teach you a lesson.” Finished Jetpaw.
“You two?” Snorted Strongfeet. “Bring it on.”
The apprentices leaped on the deputy, yowling in fury. “An honourable warrior does not have to kill to win his battles,” hissed the apprentices in between biting and scratching.
“Neither do apprentices,” growled Strongfeet. He threw Steelpaw and Jetpaw off. “Retreat, WaterClan! Retreat!”
Cats ran off in all directions. You better run, he thought. Injured SunClan cats limped towards Nightleaf and Fluffpaw’s den. Rosestar looked utterly defeated as she stared at the body of her deputy. “Oh, Braveheart, what will I do without you?”
Stonefeather looked at her. “Rosestar, it’s almost moonhigh.”
“Oh, yes.” Meowed Rosestar. “Let me say these words before the body of Braveheart so that StarClan may hear my words.” She closed her eyes. “Rusttail.” She opened her eyes. “Will be the new deputy of SunClan.”
The Clan cheered for him, yet there were murmurs of uneasiness. “He’s only mentored one apprentice, and he’s not even done!” Murmured the Clan in hushed whispers.
Rosestar still heard them. “I beg to differ. Steelpaw, Jetpaw, come forward.”
“Huh?” mewed Steelpaw questioningly. He looked at Jetpaw, but his friend had the same puzzled look.
“These apprentices showed compassion, bravery, and teamwork in defeating Strongfeet after he killed Braveheart.” Meowed Rosestar. “Steelpaw, Jetpaw, do you promise to uphold the Warrior Code and protect and defend this Clan, even with your very life?”
Steelpaw froze. This was their warrior ceremony! “I do.”
“I do.” Meowed Jetpaw.
“Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior names. Steelpaw, from this moment on, you shall be known as Steelclaw.” Rosestar bent her muzzle to tap Steelclaw’s head. “StarClan honours your bravery and we welcome you as a full member of SunClan.” She paused and looked at Jetpaw.
“Jetpaw, from this moment on you shall be known as Jetfoot. StarClan honours your speed and we welcome you as a full member of SunClan.”
Steelclaw was proud. He looked over to the Bramble Tunnel. Blackstorm was sneaking out. Funny how he didn’t sneak out during his ceremony.
Someday, Blackstorm, you will be proven traitor. I hope you know it’s all your fault.
A silver tom poked his head up. Nothing but the rising and falling of different coloured flanks. Everone’s asleep! He quietly stood up and walked out of the den. Treetail’s on watch. The long-legged tortoiseshell looked around, and sprinted to the Dirtplace.
Now’s my chance! The tom leaped into a hazel bush. He peeked through the leaves. He suddenly began to wobble. He fell out of the bush out of camp. The tom let out a hiss. There was the sudden sound of cracking twigs. A night-watch patrol! He thought.
“I smell Clan scent,” hissed one of the cats. “It’s your own, stupid.” Meowed another. The talking faded as the cats went back to camp. The tom let out a sigh of relief. Nobody had seen his silver pelt flattened against the moonlit path.
He rolled around in the dust. He didn’t want another encounter like that. He rolled around until his moonlit silver pelt was a dull grey.
Looking around, he dashed into the night.
The silver tom saw a black tom on the other side of the border. The tom was sniffing at the border, looking confused. The silver tom addressed the black tom.