Episode three, season one of War. Enjoy!
Tall Rock Tumbles
It's everywhere. I leap to my paws and slide on the slick stuff, nearly falling. "Gorsefur!" I call, "Badgerstrike, Shadowsong, Oakclaw, help!"
But no one answers me and the blood laps at my paws, getting closer and closer. I hear my mother crying, and then she's standing in front of me, a ghost.
"Mom!" I wail.
She stares at me, her eyes glassy with tears, "My beautiful little kitten. I told them not to take you, but what could I do?" her voice drops to a whisper, "You'll get yourself killed... my beautiful little kitten."
And she's gone and the blood is washing over my pelt, and I let out a shriek before it begin to drown me.
"Brookfall, wake up! Oh, StarClan, she just tried to swat me! Did you see that Shadowsong?" a high pitched breathy voice meows.
"Yeah, I saw." another she-cat sighs, "Brookfall, much as we all appreciate your morning rituals of trying to kill whoever wakes you up, we need you to get up now."
I lift my eye lids and swear I can still feel the sticky blood on my pelt, the stench in my nose...I jerk up and sit, breathing quickly.
"You okay?" Silverflower asks. Her wide blue eyes and silver pelt go perfectly together in a way that both makes me want to be sick and more jealous then I've ever been of any she-cat before.
"It was a nightmare, she'll be fine," Shadowsong meows harshly, rolling her eyes. Her black fur and deep amber eyes make her look full of a dark fire that would frighten me if she weren't so... Shadowsong.
A golden tom pokes his head in one paw over his eyes, "Um, you guys ready yet?"
"For StarClan's sake Oakclaw, it's the she-cats den, not some kind of-of..."
"Yeah, whatever. Anyways, we're preparing the raid. So get out here."
Creeping over the ridge is easy for me and the other she-cats, but Adderscar and Gorsefur look uncomfortable and Oakclaw and Badgerstrike are hissing curses back and forth. I roll my eyes and share a smirk with Shadowsong who is trying hard not to laugh.
We get closer to the FireClan camp and Badgerstrike bares his teeth in a cruel semblance of a smile, "Finally, the good part."
He stands and we close ranks, Gorsefur on his right and Shadowsong on his left. Adderscar is mumbling something about a triangular pack theorem and Oakclaw, Silverflower, and I fan out with the others.
After last week, when a gorgeous golden tom named Sunstreak betrayed us and his squad to the FireClan warriors, we were sent a new squad to assist us in taking down the FireClan warriors stationed here. We cleaned them up in a sort amount of time once their traitor was taken care of, but a little bit after they left we found traces of a group of FireClan warriors living outside of the other camp to ensure FireClan dominance here even if the bigger group was defeated. We're here to fix that mistake.
Badgerstrike is prepared to charge when Adderscar tackles him. Even knowing Adderscar for only a couple weeks, I know he is not one to go tackling his Commanders. Badgerstrike was smart enough not to let out a snarl, but his eyes were fiery as he glared at the small warriors, "WHAT?!" he hissed.
"They're not outside like we thought they'd be." Adderscar explains breathlessly, "Which means they've set traps, which means they're expecting us. We need to get more information before we can attack."
"Are you saying we need a spy?" Badgerstrike asks, his growl tense and conveying none of the hurt he must be feeling. The last spy we dealt with killed his best friend and nearly the rest of us as well. Adderscar nods and all eyes reluctantly turn to Silverflower and me. As new she-cats, we're not well known and neither of us looks very fierce.
"Brookfall, go," Badgerstrike meows gruffly, "Pretend you're lost or something."
He shoves me out of the ditch and the momentum sends me tumbling across the dusty Tall Rocks plains and into the clearing that houses the FireClan compound. I squeal and in an instant, three cats have ducked down from the trees and surrounded me. One darts over to the ditch where I came from, and nods, "All clear." The others must have hid or run.
"Who are you?" the tom asks me. His ginger fur is so bright it almost hurts to look at.
"My name is B-Brook." I begin softly. "I-I got lost and I d-don't know where my fa-family is..."
The small light brown tabby beside the ginger tom looks sympathetic, "Look at her Firetail, she's shaking!"
He sighs, "Alright, she can stay the night and I'll send someone to help her find her family. But those WaterClan cats are nearby..." he turns to me, "Did they hurt you?"
"Who?" I ask bemusedly.
"The WaterClan cats," he looks at my fur, "They're mostly blue or silver fur and fierce and cruel."
I'm thankful for my brown pelt which should hide my Clan, and I nod, "Oh, them... no, they didn't bother me."
"Lucky." the she-cat breaths, "I'm Leafpelt, FireClan. You can stay with us for the night and we'll help you find your family."
I nod, my shakes stopping. To the FireClan cats it must look as though my fear has been sated, but that's not true. I've been raised on the image of these blood thirsty monsters being FireClan cats, but these kind souls... it contradicts everything I've ever known.
They take me into the compound and show me around the fairly small den which is nothing close to the Barracks I was in, both at Tall Rocks and when I just joined up. Leafpelt makes up my nest and winks at me when she puts in a few extra things of padding, "You poor thing, probably didn't get much sleep looking for your family."
"Thanks- I, uh....no."
She smiles and heads out, leaving me to curl up awkwardly. Less the a moment after I do, there's a tap on the woven walls of the compound, "Brookfall!"
"Gorsefur, what?" I meow quietly, shocked.
"Are you ready? What have you seen?"
"It's a small compound, only about five warriors...but Gorsefur, you can't attack them. They're really nice and sweet and they-"
"What?" Badgerstrike hisses. I flinch at his tone. "You signed up to fight a war Brookfall, and that's what you're going to do. I don't care if they're your friends, they're the enemy!"
"Brook?" I turn and see Leafpelt looking at me confusedly, "What are you doing? Who are you talking to?"
"Er, no one Leafpelt-"
"Now!" Badgerstrike's command comes through the walls. The squad heaves and the wall explodes, the squad tumbling in. Leafpelt backs away and her eyes are a world of betrayal and pain, "Of course..." she whispers. Her eyes harden and she caterwauls a warning. The others of her squad race in and hiss at the sight of WaterClan warriors.
"No, please wait-" I beg.
"Attack!" Firetail and Badgerstrike shriek at almost the same time. The two patrols move forward and I'm caught in the middle.
"Stop it! Please-"
Suddenly, something hits me in the side. I'm looking into Leafpelt's green eyes. "Leafpelt-"
Her eyes are fill of fury and she lifts her paw. I flinch as she brings down her claws.
Fire scrapes my throat, but Leafpelt's weight is lifted off me as Gorsefur yanks her off me.
"Fight back!" he commands. The crisp voice of the second I follow, not the tom who I may love.
"Brookfall, they will kill you. Fight back!" he yowls at me before heading for Firetail.
I feel a sense of dread. I know that I wasn't friends with these cats except for the last hour or so, but they were kind. They took pity on me. And I clawed them in the back.
The fight is over in minutes. Oakclaw has a nasty neck scratch and there's my belly wound, but the FireClan warriors have all run except for Firetail and Leafpelt.
"We're to guard you two until a squad can come and take you away," Badgerstrike tells them, "To the Main Camp."
Firetail looked at me, "I hope your happy Brook."
I open my mouth, wanting to explain, wanting to apologize, but Shadowsong and Silverflower are leading the prisoners away before I can. I choke on empty promises and forgotten loyalty. Badgerstrike pads after the two she-cats and Adderscar leads Oakclaw out to get treatment for his wound.
Gorsefur turns to me, "My first mission was like this," he told me. "I had to go and befriend a new Recruit from the FireClan side. He was the son of a Commander and in the end my squad kitnapped him and made his father give us all their supplies in return for his life," he's silent, watching a squirrel skitter up a tree outside.
"What happened?" I asked cautiously.
"We took the son back to Main Camp. The others were killed trying to rescue him." his voice is hard, emotionless. But his eyes convey a little bit of pain. Shame. He turns to me, "You can't let these cats be your friends. Because it will hurt when you have to fight them."
"I know..." I whisper, "I know."
He wraps his tail around me comfortingly. My heart would have lifted if the tears in my eyes hadn't been cascading down my cheeks. Gorsefur held me close and I thought about all the cats I had left to betray and kill and fight and how meaningless it all was in the end.
Finally, the tears stopped coming. I shivered, even in the Tall Rock heat. Gorsefur opened his mouth, then pulled quickly away as Shadowsong padded in, "You two okay?" Twin nods. "Well we're leaving now. So come on."
We padded out after her, across the dusty path. Weaving through the rocky spires, I looked back at the destroyed compound, and further beyond that our old outpost. I could see the squad that had come to take Leafpelt and Firetail away and their pelts smudged against the brown and orange landscape. A place that seemed FireClan by nature, but had fallen into WaterClan paws because of lies. Lies and spies.
"Where do you think we're going now?" Silverflower asked me.
"I don't care," I sigh, "As long as it's not here."